I have just returned from a vacation which took my family and I to some glorious destinations. First we hopped on to one of Disney’s cruise ships and travelled across the Atlantic Ocean. Our first port was Madeira, followed by Cadiz, Gibraltar and finally ending the cruise in Barcelona. I really admire how the Europeans like to display there artisan products freely from the sidewalks or open store windows and don’t particularly worry about contamination. Here in the U.S. due to local health regulations everything has to be sealed or be behind glass sneeze guards where it ends up losing the oldie world touch to it. I remember when I also visited Paris and eyed rows upon rows of freshly baked baguettes and danish just sitting in baskets yards from busy roadways, but no one cared.

I used to work for Whole Foods Market as a bakery manager and when they opened their first store in London I was lucky enough to be able to visit it. I was in awe of the huge displays of cakes and pastries just piled up high for the customer to choose themselves, no covers or security to watch for dirty fingers. People were trusted to use the tongs provided and be mindful of others.

I missed blogging while I was gone and Internet service was scarce so I feel like I need to make my return post a really good one….check out my pictures and I’ll let you be the judge of that.

If you are ever in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean this is how you want it to look.
 Some of the thousands of barrels of sherry from the Tio Mateo winery in Madeira.
 Of course no winery tour is complete without a taste at the end. Tapas were also served and among them was thinly sliced bull meat. It tasted amazing!
 An ice sculpture which was the center piece for the midnight dessert buffet on the ship.
 This is just a tiny amount from the buffet.
 The narrow streets of Barcelona.
The Boqueria market in Barcelona. This amazing place dates back to 1217. I could have spent my whole vacation just making my way around the 300 market stalls eyeing the fresh seafood which can be seen still writhing around and sniffing the hundreds of different aromas. Unfortunately I only had a day and a half in Barcelona and my visit to the market was with a tour group so we only stayed 30 minutes or so. I barely scratched the surface of this food mecca. It’s open from 8.00am until 8.30pm and next time I visit Barcelona I will be there for the whole day! Here is a link to the official website,
As I mentioned earlier my time in this great city was limited but I knew I had to at least have some tapas and paella. There are so many tapas places around it’s hard to choose and the one we eventually went to ended up being pretty good. I didn’t get very many pictures but this popular Catalan bread, Pan Con Tomate was really tasty, bread spread with garlic,olive oil and fresh tomato! The paella was just okay. My mission while in the city was to bring back my own paella pan but I couldn’t find a place which sold them. I had to laugh though after a google search came up with paellapans.com. Nothing like the Internet to dash your visions of authenticity.