May 23, 2010

Gina goes to Paris and Nancy

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Gina makes a business trip to Nancy with a short stop in Paris... where she meets up with Olga and her mom. What a small world!

April 13, 2010

Name that tune

Your guess is as good as ours, but we still enjoyed Marina’s serenade on our way to the local bar for a cappuccino in Lucca. She seemed pretty darned pleased with herself as well.

April 09, 2010

Tuscan Weekend Words

Marina's newer words seem to be mostly food related. Hmm...

  • Olive oil - as in mas olive oil please
  • Pizza – as in mas pizza please
  • Beans – as in mas beans please
  • Cheese – as in mas cheese please
We saw a "fuzzy guau guau."
  • Fuzzy – as in the things that stick to your toes from your black socks that come off in the bath water.
  • Guau guau – pronounced “wow wow” is a Spanish doggy (Catalan dogs go BUP BUP which is just about as ridiculous a sound as I’ve ever heard)

January 29, 2010

The thing about living in Europe…

… is that when your colleagues plan a “workshop” in Switzerland in the middle of winter, they do it right. Tyler and Marina tagged along on a business trip to Champéry – a rustic Swiss village situated in the Alps complete with awesome mountain views, authentic chalets, rösti, raclette and minus 13 degree winds on the lifts. Despite the fact that I was working, we managed to get in 2 half-days of skiing. I, of course, made the same mistake I usually make in letting Tyler convince me that the red slopes wouldn’t be too difficult despite the more than 10-year gap since my last skiing adventure. Marina finally got the hang of her snow “choo choo” (sled) by the end of our trip which isn’t to say that she didn’t enjoy the local swing-set and slide even more so. If only we had THAT view from OUR park!

December 22, 2009

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh California

Tyler and I managed to get in a spectacular run along the SF Coastal Trail that began with a jog through a green Golden Gate Park to the breakers, up to the Cliff House, over to the Golden Gate Bridge and down to the Marina to Brunch at Rose’s Café. Oh, how we miss BRUNCH. Rose’s special French Toast, Spinach Scramble and Beet Fennel salad…

December 20, 2009

Mixed Companions Reunited

They were all there – at least in spirit. Cathy from Seattle, Sara from Portland, Gina / Ken / Elias / Liana from DC, the locals Lila, Alder, Dav and Keli and then there was Ruth who made everything come together. Aaron, Lara and Audrey, we missed you! Thanks to Ruth for finding this awesome house and to Alder for stocking it with an endless supply of wine! What an awesome weekend - hot tub, wine, running, wine, eating, wine, playgrounds, the name game, oh and did I mention wine? I'm really impressed with our ability to all get together on such relatively short notice -- must repeat in 2011...

August 23, 2009

La vie en rose

Paris in August. I know what you’re thinking: the heat, the tourists, the shops all closed for their annual summer holiday. In our humble opinion, you are WRONG WRONG WRONG. The city of lights and poor service loses the latter in summer when everyone’s in a good mood with the longer days, fewer Parisiens and warmer weather. Paris is full of parks and carousels and terraces for a much need verre du vin and assiette du fromage. Not to mention the ice cream, the chocolate, the wide open spaces and PARIS PLAGE where the whole of Paris pretends that they live on the Riviera and it actually works. My friends who have lived in Paris swear that it is simply not as warm and inviting as it may seem to the occasional tourist, but I’d live in Paris in August anytime.

Walking up the Tower

Weighing in at nearly 12 kilos, Marina will likely not being going up the stairs of the Tour Eiffel again next summer in a backpack, but you’ll have to ask her dad to get the definitive answer.

May 01, 2009

75 terabytes per week

That's how much data is produced by the Sanger Institute running 37 Illumina Genome Analyzer II machines non-stop 24/7. Pedro and I went to the European Bioinformatics Institute (next door to the genome sequencing center, located in Hinxton, UK not too far from Cambridge) to learn a bit more about how to manage and analyze such copious amounts of genome sequence which are the direct result of lower cost next generation high-throughput sequencing technology. I also got to catch up with Arnaud (now at the EBI in the Ensembl Genomes group) and his wife Livy and son Tibor.

April 12, 2009

Lucca and Firenze

We took advantage of the Easter holidays to spend a week in Lucca, visiting Gina's cousins (Isa, Claudio, Robin and Gretel; Vincenzo and Graziela; Pauletta; Francesco; Bettina and Francesco and Francesco's mom and dad) and the usual series of Italian meals and cappuccino breaks. Lucca is quite toddler friendly -- ideal in fact for taking strolls along the ramparts and playing on the playgrounds. Marina had a blast playing with her third cousins, Robin and Gretel. If only we had had more time...

December 23, 2008

Vrolijk Kerstfeest!

We just got back from visiting Maaike (6 months pregnant) and Alessandro in Oirschot, Nederland. At minus 7 degrees Celsius, we spent our days in lots of layers. We spent Christmas eve with Joost (Maaike's brother) and the rest of Maaike's family. We ate very well. On Christmas Day, we explored the village, tried some jenever, and then Gina, Marina and I had a nice quiet Christmas dinner on our own with lots of skypes from family. The day after Christmas (the 2nd day of Christmas in the Netherlands), I woke up feeling a bit ill, so we decided to stay close to "home". Later in the day, I went ice skating with Gina. In the evening Maaike's mom came over for dinner -- Ale made us fantastic homemade spinach gnocchi! On Saturday, we had pancakes at a pannenkoken house in the countryside and then spent the afternoon in a little town called Oisterwijk.Sunday we took the train to Utrecht, where Maaike used to go to school. Monday, Gina, Marina and I spent in Oirschot again, running in the countryside and enjoying the small shops and bars.Our last day we went with Ale and Maaike to enjoy a rare and sparkling sunny day in Amsterdam. We'll never forget the 4 straight days of rain on our last visit! Amsterdam was just beautiful! We bought some reypenaer cheese, tulip bulbs and some wooden clogs for Marina. A wonderful winter vacation! Most importantly, we were able to catch up with Maaike and Ale whom we MISS TERRIBLY.

We're now glad to be back in balmy(relatively speaking) Barcelona.

August 28, 2008

San Francisco

How do you choose just one photo to represent a 3-week trip to the place where we were born and raised? You don't. Click the photo and it'll send you to the gallery on smugmug where you can browse the hundreds of photos that document our trip.

We certainly enjoyed seeing all of you (our friends and especially our family) and wish we could've stayed even longer. Thanks Ryan and Jessica for coming out from Arizona and thanks Marisa for coming up from San Diego. We were really glad we got to spend some time with you after such a long time. Remember, you're always welcome here in Barcelona!

July 01, 2008


Tyler managed to extricate himself from diaper duty to travel down to Málaga for an overnight business trip. Tyler taught a class on gene prediction as part of a bioinformatics workshop held at a new node of the Spanish Supercomputing Network at the University of Málaga. The supercomputer ("Picasso") which they now have up and running is actually composed of some of the original nodes of the MareNostrum supercomputer (operated by the BSC, where Gina works) before it was upgraded to double it's number of CPUs. The workshop was a success and Tyler spent the evening sight-seeing and eating, among other things, "bocarones".

June 23, 2008

Provençal roadtrip

Despite the heat and mosquitoes and the seamingly endless driving, we managed to enjoy the south of France, with night after night of sumptuous meals outweighing the difficulties of traveling with a 3-month-old baby.

May 23, 2008

Lucca: Marina's first international trip

the relatives

At just two months old, Marina got to test drive her new American passport on a trip to Lucca to see her distant cousins, Robin and Gretel and the whole clan. We augmented the normal hanging out in Lucca with a quick side trip to Firenze, thanks to Lila, who met us in Lucca and offered to drive. Vivoli! Mmmmm.....

October 12, 2007

Tuscan Getaway

We enjoyed a 3-day getaway to Lucca to visit the relatives and to enjoy some delicious Italian cooking in early fall. Isa and Claudio picked us up late Thursday and took us to have our first in a long line of cappuccini at 1am Friday morning. We spent our Friday morning fast walking the walls before heading to the world’s greatest cappuccino at Di Simo on via Filalungo. That evening, we made focaccia, roasted fennel and cannellini bean hummus to enjoy with fresh mozzarella from Salerno for Isa, Claudio, Robin and Gretel. The hummus was a big hit with Claudio – despite the fact that he hates cannellini beans! On Saturday, we joined the entire family for a wonderful lunch at Osteria Baralla. Tyler had gnocchi with tomato and marscapone, and I enjoyed some delicious ravioli filled with spinach and ricotta. We also attended Robin's soccer game before another trip into Lucca for a late evening walk. When we got back to Isa’s house, we had a bowl of homemade Minestra, but we were too full from lunch to eat anything else. We met Kate and friend Gretchen in downtown on Sunday and went to Da Leo. Isa and the kids were going to join, but they were too busy with compiti. Instead, they met us for a gelato at Pinguino.

We also made some lemon and blueberry scones, but we couldn't find baking powder which made them a little different then normal...

September 14, 2007

Instanbul was Constantinople -- and the Greeks won't let you forget it!


This time we budgeted more time in Istanbul than last summer, which made our visit a bit more relaxed. Cappadocia (Kapadokya) was perhaps one of the most interesting mixes of natural beauty and history we've ever experienced.

July 07, 2007

Belgian Fries

belgian beer
Brussels cuisine is definitely on par with that of France as long as you find the right restaurant… not to mention, the waffles, the chocolate and the beer. I spent most of my 3-day business trip to Brussels in meetings, but I did manage to sneak out every evening to sit in one of the ubiquitous beer gardens on the Grand Place and enjoy a beer. I also went to see the peeing statue (Manneken Pis), but I think I enjoyed the hot-off-the-press waffle that I bought next door much more than the statue. Both nights, I went a wonderful restaurant called Belga Queen. The first night, I ordered an amazing salad with local goat cheese and a beer reduction. The second night, I ordered a side of frites, but I can't say that I’d chose the Belgian fries over French Fries smothered in harissa sauce from L’As du Falafel in Paris. However, the Neuhaus chocolates that I picked up for Tyler and I to celebrate our anniversary definitely were some of the best milk chocolates that either or us has ever tasted.

June 10, 2007

Ahhhh Paris...

eiffel tower

In June, I headed off to a seminar in Paris and dragged Tyler along with me for a long weekend. Thanks to beautiful weather, we enjoyed a spectacular run to our favorite roving market at the Bastille (Richard Lenoir) where we picnicked on a fresh baguette, homemade fig jam, Saint Maure goat cheese from the Loire Valley, walnuts and fresh fruit. We also ran to the Eiffel Tower and walked up to the second floor – a Gina and Tyler tradition – before stopping by our favorite patisserie on Rue Saint Dominique for croissants aux amandes and café creme – another Gina and Tyler tradition. We even celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary a little early with an excellent vegetarian meal at Carole Sinclair’s restaurant just after stopping through the whimsical gardens of the Palais Royale. Paris wasn’t quite the same after Tyler left, but I managed to get away from work one evening to enjoy a lovely chevre chaud salad and crème brulee on the terrace of an old standby, Café Rousillon. It’s not a restaurant for the guidebooks, just a lively little place full of 7th-dwelling locals. I finished off the trip with a detour past the champagne bubbling lights of the tower…

April 12, 2007

Extremadura: the Texas of Spain?


Oh my gawd -- we are so far behind in blogging it's not even funny! A few updates, starting with our trip to Caceres with Raquel and Enrique to visit Enrique's home town and to see his parents and brothers and niece... They're all such wonderful people. And the old part of Caceres possesses a particular medieval atmosphere without the hoards of tourists that flood other similar cities throughout Europe, although during Semana Santa it's a bit somber.

From there we took a train to Lisboa to breathe some fresh Atlantic air. We were surprised at some of the striking similarities between the west coast of the Iberian peninsula and the West Coast of the U.S. Overall, I'd say the Caceres/Lisboa combo vacation was a success!

February 25, 2007

Going Dutch


To celebrate my great escape from the Frangi-pane Lab, Tyler and I spent 5 days in Amsterdam. We were both pretty torn about where to take a last minute get-away, but were convinced after our local Amsterdam expert, Maaike, told us about the pancakes…

We took advantage of our one and only clear day in Amsterdam by heading from the airport to the hotel and then directly to Koog aan de Zaan for some in-line skating along the canal roads near the local windmills.

Thanks to Maaike, we saw as many things as we could possibly fit into our brief stay; we enjoyed everything – except for the rain. We spent most mornings wandering the Tulip market and most afternoons wandering through the different neighborhoods The Jordaan, Vondelpark, BeethovenStraat and Pijlsteeg, a quaint little street from de Dam to the Oudezijds Voorburgwal. We spent a day at the Rijksmuseum which provided an excellent overview of the most well-known Dutch painters and a rainy evening in the impressionable Anne Frank house.

Most evenings, we stopped into the Wijnand Fockink (de jenever stokerij) jenever brewery for a glass of spirits before heading to dinner. We didn’t linger in the Red Light district, but we did manage to pass through one evening at about 10 PM to see what all of the fuss was about. As Maaike had warned us that Dutch food might not suite our vegetarian tastes, we focused on big brunch-style breakfasts and ohhhhhhhhhhh the pancakes, the poffertjes, stroop waffles and the appel flaps. We also found an authentic Thai restaurant run by a sweet family that served up some much missed favorites like green curry and pad thai.

November 20, 2006

Long weekend in London

look right

Tyler joined me for a long weekend in London after what seemed like an endless week of meetings. Aside from rain on the first of my "free" days, the weather was clear and crisp and cold and windy as one would expect in mid-November.

Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Tea and Scones at the Portrait Gallery after a fantastic run from our hotel near Paddington Station through Hyde Park through Kensington Gardens stopping in front of Buckingham Palace through St. James Park near the changing of the horse guard past #10 Downing Street past Big Ben / Parliament to and partially across London Tower Bridge back to a nice footbridge…
  • Tea and Scones at the Portrait Gallery every day! I just could not get enough of them.
  • The Unilever Slide Exhibition at the Tate Modern: tunnel slides (yes slides!) in the main gallery. Tickets for the slides were free; we rode 4 out of 5 of them and our favorite by far was the slide from the 5th floor to the ground floor.
  • Harrod's: Fabulous food galleries, the singing pizza chef, the performer on the Egyptian staircase - who needs to pay to see a show?
  • A Saturday afternoon stroll down Portabello Road. We snacked on cupcakes and veggie pot stickers - neither of which we could ever find here.
  • A Sunday afternoon stroll on Hampstead Heath and a decidely non-English lunch at a very English Pub, the Holly Bush (fresh goat's cheese salad?).
  • The Rosetta Stone at the British Museum. Can you believe that the Magna Carta has moved. I went on a nostalgic search from my first visit at age 13 and was told that it is now in the BM Library. St. Paul's, Westminster - both from the outside. We simply couldn't enter in our running clothes (short shorts).
  • Vegetarian food ranging from Kerala Indian Restaurant Rasa (It wasn't Saravana Bhavan, but it was fantastic just the same) to Maroush Lebanese to Tas Pide Turkish Restaurant.

October 12, 2006

Family, family and more family


Columbus Day 2006 was a day for celebration of both new and old worlds. Tyler and I passed on the Pinta and instead chose to take Ryan Air from Girona (near Barcelona, Spain) to Pisa, Italy. Mom and Dad (Jan and Santo) left from San Francisco to meet us in Italy before embarking on what would be their very first adventure on the high seas. We spent 2 days with Isabella and Claudio before moving into the perfect room at the Piccolo Puccini overlooking the piazza.

We arrived at Galileo Galilee airport late Wednesday night and cousins Isabella and Massimo were there waiting for us. Isabella and family (Claudio, Robin and Gretel) graciously hosted us for 2 nights - all the while reminding us of how lucky we are to have distant relatives so close at hand.

On Thursday night, we offered to cook and ended up making Tortilla Española (Spanish Omelette) for the entire Pierucci clan (Jan or Anna's aunt "Zia" Tina's children, Paoletta, Vincenzo and Francesco and grandchildren were all there). We also made green beans with coriander dressing and Isabella supplied the bruschetta. Graziella wasn't the only one who enjoyed the coriander dressing on just about anything but the green beans; however, the biggest hit by far were the Cinnamon Snaps (thanks to Didi Emmonds and the Vegetarian Planet cookbook!) that we baked in Spain and brought over with us. While the rest of the relatives feasted on cookie after cookie, "golosos" Vincenzo, Gina and Tyler finished off a small vegetable torta in under 10 minutes.

On Friday afternoon, we met Mom and Dad for a walk through town followed by a gelato at Venetta. Luckily, we had saved room for a typical Pierucci dinner complete with several courses, dessert, coffee and the traditional digestive glass of Limoncello.

Saturday mom was feeling under the weather, so dad, Tyler and I headed to Marameo for the best Caprese in town. We browsed the antiques fair in the afternoon and spent the rest of the day on a long leisurely walk until dinner. Mom unfortunately still wasn't very hungry for dinner, but Tyler, dad and I enjoyed a great meal at Giglio. We met Isabella and clan for ice cream that night.

Sunday was another leisurely day that started with 4 laps around the walls of Lucca for me. We had another great meal at Da Leo (my homemade pasta i funghi was wonderful) before saying our goodbyes. Despite Isabella's certainty that he'd be late, Massimo picked us up and swept us off to the airport right on time. We savored one last cappuccino and we were on our way home.

June 23, 2006


That could be the Golden Gate Bridge in the background... but it's not! It's the Bosphorous Bridge. And that could be any guy with a Wallace and Grommit shirt... but it's not. That's our friend Ogo from Turkey who lives in Barcelona with his wife Greta.