Vera (2/22)

First: we loved it! We seem to have a love relationship with restaurants with female names, think Fiola in WDC, now Vera in CTG!

But let me start over…I was in need of a special place to celebrate husband man’s birthday! Well, after reading several blogs, I found Vera. I loved the pictures, the website of Hotel Tcherassi, where Vera is located and I liked what I read in the New World Review. I don’t make decisions for restaurants based on reviews, but I use them to learn more about the restaurant, location, how long has It been open, etc. What’s important to me, might be at the bottom of your priority list, I prefer personal recommendations and let the menu selections guide me into making a decision and a reservation!

I selected well if I may say so!! We both loved the restaurant, the food was amazing, great wine, the half inside/outside setup, the feel, it was truly a perfect birthday dinner (I think!!).

Here’s what we ate
Snapper Carpaccio — probably my least favorite dish, yet lovely! I had expected more of a sashimi versus ceviche gone carpaccio…

20140225-223955.jpg

Pulpo with potatoes — amazing! We have a weakness for grilled octopus, this dish definitely ranks high in this category!

20140225-224040.jpg

Penne with Tomatoes and Eggplants — Husband man’s dish! Loved it, but to be honest, I think my dish was tastier!

20140225-224104.jpg

Penne cacio e pepe — my dinner. Amazing, how pepper and pecorino cheese can make a pasta dish a culinary experience!

20140225-224133.jpg

I don’t have a picture of the White Chocolate with Mango Sorbet Dessert we inhaled, but I’ll be surfing the internet to its end and back for more ideas with these two ingredients.

Since we had some vino, we decided against going to the bar, but the aquabar looks like so much fun and we will have to ensure we take the time to have a drink there next time!

20140225-224641.jpg

The pictures we took and on the website don’t show the beauty and special ambiance of Vera — go check it out, I’m pretty sure, you won’t be disappointed!

My workout week

Yes, I’ve posted a lot about food, to be able to eat my way through the 296 (that’s what Tripadvisor claims!) restaurants here in CTG, girl’s got to workout. Combine that with lots of time and a quote from a CTG friend “if you’re not in the best shape of your life after being here, I don’t know when else…” and my competitive self, you know I’m working out, a lot.

What does my week look now vs. NoVA? Here’s the comparison…

Sunday:
BodyStep in NoVA
OFF in CTG

Monday:
BodyAttack in NoVA
Tae-Box, BodyPump, 2-3 mile walk and shoulders and abs in CTG

Tuesday
BodyAttack and BodyPump in NoVA
Circuito, Back, biceps, abs and 2-3 mile walk in CTG

Wednesday:
Hit or miss in NoVA
4-5 mile walk or BodyPump and Pilates and chest/triceps/abs and 2-3 mile walk in CTG

Thursday:
BodyStep in NoVA
4-5 mile walk, legs and abs in CTG

Friday:
OFF in NoVA
4-5 mile walk and some outside stuff in CTG

Saturday:
BodyStep in NoVA
Tae-Box in CTG

Yes, I know. I’ve got the luxury of time, so I’m going to the gym 2x per day, additionally, I’ve got the motivation of permanent bikini season and lots of people being in great shape. I’m definitely taking advantage of this time in my life…(and loving it!!). Most classes here are only 45′ and my evening sessions are usually 30′ on the treadmill, walking with husband man and then a 30-45′ workout. I don’t spend hours at the gym, I actually research my workout and come with a plan and a back-up plan in case lots of the weights are taken or the (small) gym is overly packed.
Additionally, we walk everywhere, which gives some additional time on the move — I love it.

Rear view mirror: week #5

Time flies when you’re having fun and loving where you live!
CTG has yet again shown itself from a wonderful side and husband man and I had an eventful week!

Valentine’s Day at Karib
Valentine’s cookie delivery by Jeanette and her family (yummy,)
Saturday at Berta’s house in Baranquilla (BQ) and the best meal yet
Sushi at Juan del Sushi in BQ — CTG friends, check it out, it’s amazing!!
Farewell boat trip for Liza

20140222-082114.jpg

Daily 4-5 mile walks in the bay
Signed up for The Maltz Challenge
Learning Spanish and getting more and more comfortable with it
More Olympics — I guess I’ll focus on world history and world events again after Sunday

20140222-082500.jpg

Staying in touch…

(This post is not negative, it’s just a lesson I have learned!)

I haven’t lived near my family and Swiss friends since 1998. I moved to Washington, DC on August 1, 1998 and lived there till January 12, 2014. Now, we call Cartagena in Colombia home!

Staying in touch with loved ones has gotten progressively easier, but then I miss getting real mail. Letters from my mom (best letter writer, ever!) or friends were always the highlight of my days and weeks. Now, we got email, text, iPhone to iPhone or iPad to iPad, there’s Skype, what’s app, BBM, Facebook, IG and I’m sure, more! I’m using it all, I love to chat with my friends all over the globe! Since getting to CTG, I’ve made conscious efforts to chat and reach out to my friends and family — but I’ve got a new life to live, new friends I’d like to get to know better, learn Spanish…

I’m a big believer of cherishing friendships while cultivating new ones. People stay in your life for a reason, my family and friends keep me grounded, keep me real, make me laugh and cry and put things into perspective.

The last 16 years have taught me many things, but definitely that it’s almost expected from the ones living abroad, to stay in touch, to reach out, and to spend all vacation at home (Switzerland home, or WDC home). Well, I disagree. Friendships are a two way street, we all have the technology of the 21st century available to us, make a call, send an email, or a hand written note, because maybe, us ex-pats or adventure seekers are in need of some love from home, where ever and what ever home might be. I promise to write and call, to stay in touch — I might be over posting on FB and IG right now, but I want everybody to get a taste of CTG, of Colombia, of what I consider home now!!

Confessions of a GGX fanatic

As you all know, I used to teach GGX classes. GGX = Gold’s Group Exercise, Fitness Classes, Aerobics classes or what ever you like to call them.
I taught for 7++ years, several times a week and made the most amazing friends! Friends for life who I miss dearly. Prior to teaching, I was a groupie, following my favorite instructors around from gym to gym…

Clearly, teaching that very last class, BodyStep on Jan 4th, was very emotional! I think I was more nervous than for the three tapings, teaching with a GFM (aka one of my bosses) in the room. I wanted to nail it, wanted to deliver the magic one more time — and I think I did! 60 or so of “my” members and friends came out and we got to celebrate for an hour, the best GGX hour of my life!! I still remember the chorey, I still remember the playlist, I still remember what I said, I still remember the emotions I felt running across the floor into Anthony’s arms, but above it all, I remember all of you! I can hear you, see you, feel your energy — over a month later, on a different continent — and I think I’ll carry those memories with me for a long, long time!

I didn’t cry during that class, I cried for all my other “last” classes, not this one. I felt too complete, too accomplished, it was too special for tears…but: confession #1: I’ve cried several times over the past month. Just because I love and miss you all, because it was so amazing to see you all step with me (and maybe a little bit for me?!). And yes, I got emotional writing this bit as well….(see below — what’s not to love?!)

20140220-104522.jpg

20140220-104528.jpg

I have had a gym membership for a bit over a month now, I’ve been taking BodyPump a few times a week, enjoyed Tae-Box once or twice a week and attended mat Pilates as well as circuito (think CXWorx gone 80ies aerobics sculpt class)! All classes are fun, very different, much smaller classes and for starters, the classes are 45′ and of course, en español! Confession #2: I don’t miss teaching — here I said and wrote it! I enjoy (for now!) the flexibility of being a member and being able to come and go as I please! And, confession #3: I have rediscovered my love for lifting weights, muscle group by muscle group as well as working out outside!

So maybe, maybe this move came at the right time, maybe it was time to stop teaching to rediscover old loves but also, truly appreciate what I’ve been able to do, what all of you, my friends and most loyal members, EVER (!!!!!), allowed me to do!

Words cannot describe the love I have for group fitness, I’m sure it will resurface! But for now, I love being on the other side of the GGX room but also, walking 3-4 miles in the bay and lifting weights!!

20140220-105222.jpg

20140220-105228.jpg

Rear view mirror: week #4

Another great week comes to an end. We have officially been in Colombia for over a month and last Wednesday marked our 4 week anniversary in CTG.

We have been following the Olympics, I’ve been routing for the Swiss and gotten emotional once or maybe five times when the athletes representing my small country stood on top of the podium. I love the Olympics, love to follow the stories of the athletes and learn about their inspirations and motivations (besides winning gold, of course!).

As always, here are a few bullet points summarizing week 4:
First pedicure & manicure
Casa del niño — spent another afternoon volunteering
More new fruit (see picture below)
First mat Pilates class — ever!!
Our car is in country — it will take several months for it to clear customs
Our HHG (household goods) is in country as well, ETA at our apartment is early march
Mail day is like Christmas morning
I truly love walks at the bay — nothing new, but loved it all over again
Day trip to Baranquilla (see separate blog post!)

20140216-153531.jpg

Karib (2/14)

Usually, husband man and I do not really celebrate Valentine’s Day, we don’t go to dinner or buy each other gifts, but we do exchange cards…well, not this year since we couldn’t find any! I wrote a little love message with mini Toblerone chocolates — and we went to dinner at Karib.

20140216-145542.jpg

The original plan was to have dinner with my dear friend Aviva and her husband Alan, but the snow in Northern VA kept them from traveling, flight was cancelled! We so hope the two of them can join us for another dinner soon!

Since we already had the reservation, off to Karib we went. Karib is not in the old city, but located near the Convention Center. The restaurant is located in the Allure Chocolat Hotel, the entrance to the hotel is on Calle 24, the restaurant’s entrance is on Calle 25 or Calle Larga. We walked through the hotel (it’s worth it for a) the cool decor and b) for the chocolate smell!!). The restaurant serves a variety of small dishes, their 100g menu, which allows you to experience a variety of dishes…envision a tapas menu. In addition to that, there’s salad as well as main courses. We decided on a few 100g dishes: lobster medallion, pork prepared in three different ways, a seafood creation and a fourth dish. We did also share arroz con marisco and a mixed salad!

20140216-152629.jpg

20140216-152635.jpg

20140216-152643.jpg

20140216-152650.jpg

The entire meal was great, we didn’t pick the best wine, but that happens once in a while. We will definitely go back and try additional dishes. I love that you can order many small dishes and experience a variety of tastes and favors!

No dessert for us at the restaurant, since Jeanette Talbot and her family had left us a sweet Valentine’s treat — gracias a todos!!

20140216-152906.jpg