Celebrating the fall of the Berlin wall

March 20, 2009
People celebrating on the Berlin Wall

People celebrating on the Berlin Wall

Exactly 20 years ago everybody in the world could see the same thing on television, a thing that meant the end of an ongoing conflict between kapitalism and communism and a thing that would give many people their freedom back; it was the end of the Berlin wall.

For this reason it is the Berlin-mauer year in Germany and for me a good time to refresh my memory about the history of this 45,3 kilometers long stone wall.

Immediatly after the second world war the city Berlin was divided in three parts of which the eastern part was controlled by the Russians. The cold war meant increasing tensions between the kapitalist west and communist east side and a clear distinction between these two sides of the city arised. Since the creation of the DDR on the east side many people moved to the west side of Berlin, the reaction of the DDR to this was to place fences and guardposts at the border in 1952.

The border build in 1952 was no real strain for many people to still flee the east side, these people where mainly well-educated people like professors and doctors which obviously had a very negative effect on the DDR economy. When in the end the excistense of the country was engdangered the DDR decided to build the concrete wall, starting in the night of August 12, 1961.

When the Berlin wall was finished it consisted of a concrete wall on the border and a smaller one a bit further into the DDR. The space in between this wall was cleared of everything to make it impossible for people to escape, there would be no way for them to hide from the gunfire of guards on this ´no mans land´.

The wall was broken down on november 9, 1989 at the end of the cold war but there are still parts visible in the city. Although it is illegal, many tourist like to brake a piece from the wall to take home. Because of the anniversary there is an accommodation in Berlin who found a solution to this. The Westin Grand Berlin hotel has a special Mauerspecht package. If you book it you get the necessary tools to get a piece from the wall they have displayed in their lobby. I would say, book this accommodation Berlin and enjoy the fun!

Scams in Barcelona

January 19, 2009

carrerferran

Scamming in Barcelona, the Three Most Popular

For those of you out there who have ever been robbed, scammed or pick pocketed, you know what a horrible, humiliating and blood boiling thing it can be. There are so many of us that take care of our items as best we can but somehow, we still seem to be on the receiving end of pick pockets and scammers. For those of you who have never experienced the rage of being scammed, here’s a short guide to keep it that way and today I’m taking about scams in Barcelona. Staying away from the scamming areas are important, this means getting apartments in barcelona further away from Las Ramblas.

One of the biggest scams to watch out for is the “bird poo scam”. This nasty little scam involved the scammer dropping a foul smelling liquid that looks like bird poo onto your jacket normally from above (either whilst you’re on an escalator or walking down some steps). He then point this out to you in order to alert you to the fact a bird has pooed on your clothes and lo and behold, the scammer has a big bunch of tissues at the ready to hand you. Do not accept them! Whilst you are busy wiping yourself down he, or his mate will take that moment to rob you for all your worth, so don’t be surprised if your camera, wallet and iPod have gone by the time your done.

Another prolific scam in Barcelona is “the three cup” scam. Unfortunately this takes place on La Rambla all day long but it is not worth trying to alert tourists who are already playing because the scammers can turn nasty and you shouldn’t risk your personal safety in these situations. This scam involves the use of three cups and a small ball. Avoid at all costs. This game involves two or three scammers working together, as well as scammers watching out for the police.

Perhaps the worst scam, (in my opinion) is “the map scam”. This involves a group of tourists coming up to you in the street and asking for directions. They produce a map to show you roughly where they want to go and they hand it over to you, fully spread out. As you have a look at the map and try to show them where to go, some of them will either sneak behind you and open your bag, or put their hands in your bag underneath the map you are holding, so you have no idea that it’s going on. To avoid these types of scams, stay in apartments barcelona in secure districts such as Sant Antoni.

Murder at the Museum in Barcelona

December 30, 2008

It is your last chance to catch the amazing murder at the museum exhibition in Barcelona as it has been running since 12th Mar 2008 and will finish on the 6th Jan 2009. Found at the Museu de Ciències Naturals, this cross between an exhibition and game costs €4.10 to enter, with concessions paying €2.15, and opening hours are; Tue-Sat 10am-6.30pm; Sun 10am-2.30pm.

This exhibition lets viewers not only look but become involved in a murder mystery story. Visitors are plunged into the middle of a crime scene, where the director of the museum has been shot in his office. The aim is to gather as much evidence as possible – from bullet shells to DNA and fingerprints – before using real life forensic lab techniques to analyse the findings.

This gives children and adults alike, the opportunity to solve the murder and learn about solving murders in real life in the process and also opens peoples eyes to how today’s murders are actually solved and what types of leads investigators follow. Some results are eye-opening – for example, entomology (the study of insects) is vital in crime scene investigation. The larvae on the corpse can reveal exactly when the victim was killed and whether the body has been moved since death.

After interrogating witnesses and six suspects, visitors can declare their final verdict on who they think is the murderer, and the police give feedback on whether you’re a Sherlock Holmes in the making… or not. Don’t forget to look at apartments in barcelona for your trip, well in advance. There are many apartments barcelona that are perfect for families with children.

Work and Live in Barcelona

December 29, 2008

barcelona

Barcelona is a fantastic place to live and work, take it from someone who does both here!

Although, finding both can be a bit of a challenge, read this article to find out the quickest, easiest and most importantly, safest ways of finding work and apartments in barcelona.

Firstly, there is not much point moving out here if you do not have some sort of job to go to. Fortunately there are a whole host of websites where you can find jobs, including infojobs.com, where you register with your CV and automatically send this CV to companies that you are interested in. The whole process is online and this is how many people in Barcelona find jobs, I would highly recommend it, it certainly takes much of the stress out of finding a job.

As well as this, if infojobs doesn’t work for you, or you aren’t particularly looking for a serious job, or a job in an office, you’ve always got the option of waiting till you get out here and looking for work in Barcelona’s abundant bars, restaurants, shops and clubs, I can guarantee you’ll find something!

Secondly, and still as important, is finding some sort of accommodation. This can be done in many ways. When you first arrive in Barcelona I would recommend renting a cheap hostel for the first week and if necessary, the second. Then begin your hunt for apartments barcelona

This can be done by going on loquo.com, a really really useful website… Pick out the flats that interest you and are within your price range (anything from €300-375 is reasonable, above that a bit expensive) and have a look round, make sure you don’t go alone though, or at least let someone know where you are going.

Parc André Citroën

November 20, 2008

This park comprises glasshouses, computerized fountains, waterfalls, a wilderness and themed gardens featuring different coloured plants and sounds. An impressive park for far off, it gets better the closer you get to it, and if you plan to spend a weekend away in Paris, make sure you rent Paris accommodation or Paris apartments nearby.

The paved area by the fountains is perfect for walking around the park and really getting a feel for the postmodern design which is so characteristic of this park. The South edge of the lawn is bounded by a monumental canal — the “Jardin des Métamorphoses” — composed of an elevated reflecting pool that reaches through granite guard houses, lined by a suspended walkway. On the North side are two sets of small gardens: the six “Serial Gardens”, each with a distinct landscape and architectural design, and a “Garden in Movement” that presents wild grasses selected to respond at different rates to wind velocity. A 630-meter diagonal path cuts through the park, which constantly changes in its nature.

In addition to this, the park is home to a moored gas balloon operated by the Eutelsat company, which allows visitors to rise above the Parisian skyline. The balloon is filled with 5,500 cubic meters of helium. It is 32 meters high and has a diameter of 22 meters. It is moored to the ground with a hydroelectrically-activated cable. It can rise to an altitude of 150 meters and has a carrying capacity of 30 adults, or 60 children. The balloon provides a view of the Champ de Mars, the River Seine, Basilica of the Sacré Cœur and the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral.

Finally, a bit of history. The park was created on the site of the old Citroën factory, built in 1915 by André Citroën on the banks of the Seine, operating it until it closed in the 1970s.

La Conciergerie

November 20, 2008

This exciting 14th century fortress was the setting for Marie-Antoinette’s imprisonment before the revolution and looks just the part from the outside. Definitely worth a visit if you are planning a trip to Paris, get up early and leave your Paris accommodation or Paris apartments, and make your way to 2 bd du Palais in the 1st arrondissements.

The 13th century Bonbec tower, built during the reign of St Louis, the 14th century twin towers, César and Argent, and the Tour de l’Horloge all survive from the Capetian palace. Here you will be able to see the interior of the castle, including the Salle des Gardes, medieval kitchens with their four huge chimneys and the Salle des Gens d’Armes, an impressive vaulted Gothic hall built between 1301 and 1315 for Philippe ‘le Bel’.

After the royal family moved to the Louvre, the fortress became a prison under the watch of the Concierge. The wealthy had private cells with their own furniture, which they paid for. A list of Revolutionary prisoners, including a hairdresser, shows that not all victims were nobles. In Marie-Antoinette’s cell, the Chapelle des Girondins, are her crucifix and portraits.

Located on the west of the Île de la Cité, near the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, la Conciergerie is part of the larger complex known as the Palais de Justice, which is still used for judicial purposes.

You can get to this interesting castle by Metro: lines 1, 4, 7, 11 and 14 – Bus: 21, 24, 27, 38, 58, 81, 85 and Balabus – RER: lines B and C – Follow the Seine banks to Ile de la Cité. Open from Mar – Oct 9:30am – 6pm daily and Nov – Feb 9am-4.30pm daily. As well as this, admission is €6.50; €4.50 18-25s, with under 18s free when accompanied by an adult.

Zoo Bois de Vincennes, Paris

November 20, 2008

Parc Zoologique de Paris is an exciting place to visit whether you’re a small child or a fully grown adult! The French capital has two zoos, yet Zoo Bois de Vincennes is the official “Zoo de Paris”. Situated in the eastern part of Paris, the zoo can be found within a large, pleasant wooded area where you will find a castle and the botanical garden “Parque Floral” which also has a pretty lake, perfect for renting small boats.

So, leave your central Paris apartments or Paris accommodation and make your way to this lovely place. The zoo is special as it houses more than 200 species of animals. Monkeys leap around the trees, and the Giant Panda is the star of the show. As well as this, over-seven-year-olds can ascend the 65m Grand Rocher – either by lift or by walking up the 352 steps. Furthermore, there are notices at the entrance to the zoo stating feeding times and information about new born animals that you should go and see. One of the rarest residents of the zoo, the Madagascan “Aye-aye” is situated just after the giraffes. Rare due to native superstition, the characteristic long, spindly fingers of the Aye-aye are said to frighten villagers, who view the Aye-aye as a harbinger of evil. Others believe that should one point its long middle finger at you, you would be condemned to death. Some say the appearance of an Aye-aye in a village predicts the death of a villager, and the only way to prevent this is to kill the Aye-aye.

You can get to this exciting zoo by taking the metro to Porte Doree, walking to bois de Vincennes (5mins) then through the park alongside the huge boating lake to the entrance. The zoo is situated at 53 av de St-Maurice, 12th and is open in Summer from 9am-6pm Mon-Sat, 9am-6.30pm Sun and bank hols. During Winter the zoo is open 9am-5pm Mon-Sat and 9am-5.30pm Sun and bank hols.

October 22, 2008

Christmas time in Barcelona is to say the least, very special. This is a time for family, friends and fun, and whether you’re young or old, there is something for everyone to do here. It is important to have things to do at Christmas time because for many of us who have to spend copious amounts of time with family, (namely really old relatives or really young annoying cousins), the festive period can be a bit boring or trying, and thus it’s a good idea to plan ahead a bit in advance. This includes getting your flights and Barcelona apartment or Barcelona hotel sorted!

Then relax in your accommodation in Barcelona and put your Tio Nadal (Christmas Log) on the ground. This little chappy is the Catalan’s answer to Father Christmas and is a small figure with eyes, a nose and mouth. This log has the strange and magical ability to poo delicious treats such as sweets, nuts and torrons. Just like children believe Father Christmas is the one who brings all their presents on Christmas Eve, Caca Tió (the pooping log) brings the childrens’ presents too. When the children have sung the song to Caga Tió, (Caga Tió, almonds and turron, if you don’t poo sardines that are too salty or poo turrones that are the yummiest, Caga Tió, almonds and turron, if you don’t want to poo, I’ll hit you with the stick!) and hit Caga Tió with the stick, they lift up his cloak and underneath a heap of goodies is revealed. However, when the children find out that it is mummy and daddy who hide the sweets under Caga Tió’s cloak just before they sing the song, it is a sad day for all.

Make sure you stick around in Barcelona for 6th January. This special date is something that you should not miss, as it is the night of the Three Wise Men. This night is the night of presents and there are many parades with camels and trucks full of presents through the streets of Barcelona. The children of the city believe this is a unique event and thus every effort is made to pretend that it is only happening in Barcelona. The shops stay open until 12pm for parents to do last minute present shopping, and toddlers are weened off their dummies because they collectively give their dummies to the Three Wise Men.

Fireworks light up the sky, and at a certain time during the night, a special event takes place at the Town Hall, the mayor comes outside and presents the Three Wise Men with a huge magical golden key so that they can unlock all the doors of the city to bring the children their presents…

Tibidabo in Barcelona

October 22, 2008

This Magic Mountain can be seen from many different view points in the city of Barcelona and looks particularly striking at night when it is lit up and shines like gold. The Mountain of Tibidabo is 512 metres in altitude and is the highest point of the Collserola hills. Up until recently the amusement park there was in disarray but has recently been restored by the Generalitat of Catalunya. Famous for its hall of mirrors, it’s old charm and the fact that it was created 100 years ago, Tibidabo amusement park now has new attractions such as; the Plane, the Carrousel, the Automata Museum, the Talaia, the Panoramic and three children’s rides Les Llaunes, Pony Rodeo and Río Grande.

There is also a 12minute film, subtitled in Spanish and English in the Cel building which tracks the history of Tibidabo over the years starting from the 1920’s to the present day. It primarily celebrates the 100th anniversary of Tibidabo and shows its close links to the history of Barcelona. The amusement park dates back to 1899, to the founding of the “Tibidabo Company” by the pharmaceutical pioneer Salvador Andreu. One of his aims was for people to have somewhere in the city where they could come and relax and thus created this special recreational area on the hilltop.

After leaving your Barcelona hotel or Barcelona apartment, make your way over to Tibidabo by train (L7) to “Av Tibidabo”, then take the funicular, Tramvia Blau or Tibidabo Bus up to the top. You can also catch the Tibibus from Plaça Catalunya, which runs from 10:30 everyday. The Blue Tram and the Funicular were inaugurated on 29th Oct 1901, and shortly afterwards the first attractions were installed on Tibidabo. The park still conserves some of the most significant ones that have filled it during its hundred years of existence: for example, the Castle of Terror and the Big Dipper. One of its most unusual items is the aeroplane, which dates from 1928 and is a replica of the model that made the first flight between Barcelona and Madrid.

If you want to see a bit more than just the amusement park, Tibidabo is home to other interesting sites such as The Fabra Observatory and the Experimental Physics Museum.
As well as this, the two buildings erected between 1901 and 1905: the first by Camil Fabra, the Marquis of Alella, who built the astronomical observatory which bears his name, designed by Josep Domènech i Estapà, and the latter, nearby, in 1905, built by Ferran Alsina; the museum of experimental physics named “La Mentora”, which, due to the great interest of its collection of scientific apparatus of the time, has been conserved to the present day. Finally, in 1908 the slopes of the mountain were converted into a municipal park and it is lovely to take a walk here and leisurely make your way back to your Barcelona accommodation.


Fish and Chips in Barcelona

October 13, 2008

Finally, a little taste of England has come to Barcelona! On Rambla del Raval 26 has graced us with its presence. For those of you who don’t live in Barcelona as a Brit, you won’t know the craving that we get every now and again when think about what we would be eating if we were at home in England on a Friday night, or when we really cant’t be bothered cooking but don’t really fancy an Indian or Chinese. Yes, it’s that kind of hunger that only a lovely portion of home made chips, mushy peas and a lovely battered cod can fill. Make sure you get your Barcelona apartment and Barcelona hotel near to this wonderful smelling restaurant!

This fish and chip wittily named; “Fish and Chips”, has only recently opened and is the creation of two mothers; blah and blah. The cuisine here is taditional, authentic fish (just how we like it), where typical fresh cod in batter and chips made from freshly cut potatoes as well as all of the extra side dishes such as mushy peas, baked beans, curry sauce and much more are served. There are British drinks too, such as the lovely sugary obligatory drinks Vimto and Lilt, and for the Scots out there, good old Irn Bru and to add a Spanish touch you can even get a beer or a glass of wine with your meal.

In May 2008, the very special restaurant was featured in that months edition of Easy Jet Inflight Magazine and the two ladies who run the British food hot spot had their say. Julie, 43, who ran a bar in Liverpool, while Julia, 40, was in marketing in London, before they moved to Barcelona seven years ago.
After setting up a nanny service in the city, Tender Loving Canguros, the women seized upon the idea of running a fish and chip shop late one night, while trying to come up with money-making plans to ensure they need never leave Barcelona. (Aren’t we all!)
Besides the joys of the usual chip shop fare —everything freshly battered, cut, peeled and cooked on the premises—the Catalans have also been initiated into the pleasures of crumpets, haggis and English pies.

“As something new in Barcelona, it’s created a lot of excitement,” says Julie. “We’re the first stop for a lot of people straight off the plane. Some people come in every day and some find us at the end of their stay. We’re also fully licensed and sell the cheapest pint in town.”
“We haven’t had a day off in nine months, but we love it, especially now the weather is warm and we can chat to customers outside on our terrace. We also hold regular themed parties—Easter, Halloween, Christmas. All the locals watch us with amazement,” she laughs.
So, be sure to visit this spot on your trip to Barcelona, and right by it you will find a fine selection of Barcelona accommodation.


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