Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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.

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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.

Fun Times in Berlin

October 2, 2008

Tiergarten has many playgrounds and welcoming open spaces. It is also possible to hire rowing boats on the Neur See. Along Strasse des 17.Juni, the main road which runs through the park, there is a busy, buzzing flea market every Saturday and Sunday, which sells art and other interesting things. In the furthest bottom left corner of the park, Berlin’s beautiful zoo can be found and its large aquarium. As well as this, the Gemäldegalerie in Matthäikirchplatz runs Sunday afternoon tours for kids! There are plenty of Berlin apartments and Berlin hotels to be found in this part of the city.

The Gemäldegalerie can be found at Stauffenbergstrasse 40, taking the metro U2, S1, S2, S26 to Potsdamer Platz. It is open 10am-pm, Tue, Wed, Fri-Sun; 10am-10pm Thur and admission is €8; €4 concessions. The gallery has a sizeable collection of English, Spanish and Italian art but the real gems are the Dutch and Flemish art.

The Gemaldegalerie houses 20 Rembrandts – the best of which are considered the portrait of preacher and merchant Cornelis Claesz Anslo and his wife, and an electric Samson confronting his father-in-law. Other gems include a version of Botticelli’s Venus Rising and Corregio’s Leda with the Swan. To accompany you round the gallery there is a really useful free English audio guide.

The Berlin zoo was opened in 1841 and is Germany’s oldest zoo and with almost 14,000 animals, it is considered one of the most important zoos in the world today. It also houses more endangered species than any other zoo, save for the zoo in Antwerp. Here you will find creatures great and small, including hippopotami, elephants and penguins. This well designed zoo is perfect to visit on a rainy day with the children, as much of it is indoors. The zoo was designed by Martin Lichtenstein and Peter Joseph Lenné and it is really striking, with pretty landscaping, cafes and architecture. The highlight of the zoo over the last few years has been the polar bear “Knut” who was born on 5th December 2006 and was the first polar bear to be born in Zoo Berlin in over 30 years. In 2004, the bear enclosure was increased to make more room, as has the birds of prey enclosure and the blah. Make sure you visit the crocodile enclosure and the Elephant Gate, which can be found on Olof-Palme-Platz. Visit; zoo-berlin.de/en/ for more information.

Kreuzberg is definitely worth a visit as it is full to bursting with pretty boutiques, high quality good value restaurants and a child friendly atmosphere. Kreuzberg is home to the Haus am Checkpoint Charlie, particularly enjoyable for older children, it gives an insight into the lives of those living in East Berlin, and displays the old cars and balloons people used to try and escape from the DDR by getting around the Berlin wall. For more information visit mauermuseum.de and why not book your Berlin accommodation too?

Walking the Berlin Wall

October 2, 2008

Possibly one of the most exciting and fulfilling things there is to do in Berlin, walking the Berlin wall and learning about its history is imperative whilst on a trip to Berlin. This guide aims to show you how to make the most out of your visit to the Berlin, by booking your Berlin apartment or Berlin hotel early, and seeing the bits of the Berlin wall that are still left!

Understandably, most of the wall was demolished between June and November of 1990 after reunification. The wall represented separation, desperation and the inhumanity of the East German regime and it was for this reason that the wall was crushed and reused for road fill.

However, starting at the wall on the southern border of Wedding, you can get a feeling for what the wall was like. On the way you will see some of the remnants including the restored segment at the Gedenkenstätte Berliner Mauer and gain an impression of just how dividing this monstrosity was.

Although the wall divided the city and particularly during the first 20 years, strict patrolling of the wall to stop residents coming was high, towards the end of the Cold War, Berliners increasingly saw the wall as a joke and a symbol of the backwardness of the USSR which eventually crumbled in 1991. With this in mind, people became less and less scared of the authorities and graffiti began appearing on the wall at the start of the eighties. As well as this, the wall they painted on was a wall erected in 1976 by East German Border Troops, known as the ‘Border Wall 75’. This concrete Wall was 3.60 metres high and painted white. Although painting was not allowed, the complete Wall system was on the territory of East Berlin many artists begun to paint on the Western side. There is lots of Berlin accommodation available, make sure you book in advance though!

Start at Invalidenstrasse, continue eastwards, a little further on is the Sandkrugbrücke, a former border crossing into East Berlin. A stone by the bridge commemorates the death of Günter Litfin, the first person to be shot dead attempting to escape to West Berlin. Turn left down the promenade by the canal continuing to the Invalidenfriedhof. The wall once ran through this graveyard and you will notice that the headstones of many graves are missing, done so as not to impair the sightlines of border guards. Victims of air raids and the Battle of Berlin are buried here and it is also the sight that West Berlin police shot dead an East Berlin guard to save a 15 year old boy who was in the process of escaping in 1962. Between here and Chausseestrasse there are few traces left of the wall, which ran roughly parallel to the canal before veering right. At the end of the street, pavement markings indicating the Wall’s former course. A short section of the wall appears before the railway bridge at the junction with Gartenstrasse and left on to Bernauer Strasse is where many desperate escapes took place.

The wonder that is Rome Trevi Fountain

August 1, 2008

You will not find any other place in the world that celebrates the incredible power of water like Rome. The Trevi Fountain is a fantastic work of art that is much more than a mere sculpture. This triumphant example of Baroque art with its soft, natural lines and fantasy creatures embodies movement as the soul of the world. The fountain is a true wonder, a jewel of water and stone that is nestled between the palaces of the historic centre of the city.

Rome’s Trevi Fountain is one of Rome’s best attractions, and tourists from all over the world come to see it each year. A popular attraction for locals too, this fountain is at the heart of Rome and quite probably Italy’s most famous fountain.

The “Fontana di Trevi” or Trevi Fountain is situated in the small Trevi square located in the Quirinale district and is surrounded by pretty cafes and Geladerias. Easy to access and really central, it is simple to catch the metro at Barberini A. There is plenty of Rome apartments and Rome hotels nearby for your use.

The Trevi fountain is magnificent as it is made out of bright white marble and is the result of a request in 1732 when Pope Clement XII commissioned Nicola Salvi to create a large fountain at the Trevi Square. It’s history does go back to the Roman times however, as it was the terminal point of the Aqua Virgo aqueduct commissioned by Augustus, which was used to provide water for the thermal baths. The water that flows here has two names: Virgin Waters and Trevi. The first refers to an ancient legend about a young Roman girl who showed the source of the spring to some thirsty soldiers; whereas Trevi derives from the old name for the area, which was originally called Trebium.

The central figure of the fountain, in front of a large niche, is Neptune, god of the sea. He is riding a chariot in the shape of a shell, pulled by two sea horses. Each sea horse is guided by a Triton. One of the horses is calm and obedient, the other one restive. They symbolize the fluctuating moods of the sea. On the left hand side of Neptune is a statue representing Abundance, the statue on the right represents Salubrity. Above the sculptures are bas-reliefs, one of them shows Agrippa, the girl after whom the aqueduct was named.

Finally, after making sure you stay in central Rome accommodation, make the most of your trip to Trevi Fountain why not keep up the following local tradition… Legend has it that you will return to Rome one day if you toss a coin into the bottom of the fountain (said to represent the sea) Make sure you toss the coin over your shoulder with your back to the fountain though!

A Taste of Rome

July 7, 2008

Pizza, pasta, risotto; just some of the foods we associate with Italian cuisine, and where would we be without it? What we eat on a Friday evening with our friends? What would we do if we got home late from work, couldn’t be bothered cooking and there was no pasta dish we could make rustle up? Italian cuisine has become part of modern day eating in many British homes. So why is it that we love Italian food so much and where can we find some of the authentic Italian food? Read on to discover where you can go to enjoy a good Italian meal in Rome.

Perhaps one of my favourite foods to eat in Rome is gnocchi. Made from potato, semolina, ordinary wheat flour, bread crumbs, or other ingredients, gnocchi is simply a variety of Italian dumpling. Gnocchi is served in all Italian restaurants and is a popular dish with tourists and locals. Local vegetables, especially globe artichokes, are also popular in the Roman cuisine and is served in many different ways; ‘Carciofi alla romana’; grilled with the outer leaves removed, stuffed with mint, garlic and breadcrumbs and ‘Carciofi alla giudia‘ – artichokes fried in olive oil, typical of Roman Jewish cooking. Other popular Roman dishes, particularly meat dishes are ‘Saltimbocca alla Romana’ which is veal cutlet, Roman-style; topped with raw ham and sage and simmered with white wine and butter, this is most definitely my favourite dish, be sure to ask for this wherever you go or keep an eye out for restaurants that serve it. When I was in Rome I stayed in Rome accommodation just off Piazza Navona and ate this particular dish at the ‘Restaurant Grappolo d’Oro’ at Via Palestro 4/10, Rome, although I’m certain that plenty of restaurants serve this dish.

To enjoy all the haute-cuisine Rome has to offer, stay in a Rome apartment or Rome hotel deep in the heart of the city. From here you will have access to the picturesque streets that offer hidden away restaurants, where the locals tend to gather. It is true to say that Romans are fine judges of food, so where crowds of locals go, you can be sure that the food and atmosphere is of the highest quality. Some of the best restaurants are in the centre, but be sure to avoid the very touristy restaurants as they tend to be over priced and sub standard. Instead, sample the local delicacies at Dar Poeta (Vicolo del Bologna Trastevere) where they serve legendary pizzas and the restaurant is buzzing from 5pm till close.

Other excellent eateries are; Da Tonino (Via del Governo Vecchio, 18). An old-fashioned Roman eating place, with a few, sought-after tables and good, cheap pasta. Da Francesco (Piazza del Fico, close to Piazza Navona) is another simple and crowded eating hot spot, very popular with the locals. If you are looking for somewhere to relax on a Sunday afternoon to catch up with what is happening at home, ‘Gusto’ at Piazza Augusta Imperatore,9 (near Via del Corso and the Spanish Steps) is a fantastic restaurant, pizzeria, wine bar and bookshop serving hearty meals and simple pizzas. Holiday makers looking for a slightly more elegant and expensive restaurant should try restaurants located close to the Spanish Steps, this seems to be the place for people looking to really wine and dine in style.

Enoteca Antica and Di Fronte A are worth a try, situated at Via della Croce and Via della Croce, 38 respectively. Both restaurants are cosmopolitan and have a certain trendy, cosy atmosphere about them. Both serve delicious and reasonable food, the menu is varied in both restaurants and I particularly enjoyed the chocolate cake for desert at Enoteca Antica!

When in Rome…Live Rome like the Romans do

June 30, 2008

When holidaying in Rome, it is important to sample the local delicacies, talk a bit of the language and mingle with the locals. Here you will find a guide which shows you how when in Rome, to do what Romans do…

In terms of places to go and see, one attraction that is totally free, and in which you can join the locals, is the ritual known as “la passaggiata”, the evening stroll. After smartening up in one of the Rome hotels or Rome apartments and dining in a fantastic restaurant, tourists and residents alike promenade the piazzas. Their dress is usually more suited to an evening out, than what they were touring in during the day. Two of the most popular hangouts, are the Via Condotti from Piazza di Spagna to the Via del Corso, and the Piazza Navona.

The Piazza Navona was originally built as a stadium in the first century for athletic contests and chariot races, but now, the Piazza Navona is lined with luxurious cafes and Baroque palaces and is the home to three lavish fountains. The Piazza is a lively, modern place, where both locals and tourists tend to gather, and is also full of local artists and artisans. At night the square buzzes with people but if you want to really appreciate the beauty of the square itself, it’s best to go in early morning to avoid the crowds. Make sure you stay as close to the heart of Rome as possible by renting Rome accommodation, so that you not only sample Rome´s buzzing atmosphere during the day, but its fantastic bars and restaurants at night.

Italians are proud of their artistic heritage. Museums, churches, courtyards and statues all over the country proudly display to a watching world the treasures of some of the greatest artists: Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael, to name just a few. As well as this, Italians enjoy a night at the opera, dressing up generally, and although jeans can very occasionally be glimpsed at the theatre, a certain degree of smartness is expected. Evening dress is often worn to first nights, which can be glittering, paparazzi-attended occasions. Whatever you choose to wear to a performance, you are unlikely to feel over-dressed. One of the most popular theatres that Roman´s visit is Rome´s leading theatre, known as the “Teatro dell´Opera” or “Teatro Costanzi”, an attractive opera house, which puts on extravagant opera productions, interspersed with ballets. The Teatro dell’Opera has its own orchestra and ballet company, both of a very high standard and the outdoor theatre at the Baths of Caracalla, with the Roman ruins as the backdrop, is the venue for the opera company’s summertime presentations in Rome.

Prices vary depending on the production: opera is more expensive than ballet, first nights are more expensive, and the summer season can be very cheap as few Italians go to the theatre. Box office opening hours are generally Tuesday – Saturday 9am-5pm and Sunday 9am-1:30pm, opening again one hour before performances.

Find the Best Restaurants in Rome!

June 20, 2008

Who has not experienced a situation such as this? After a long flight you arrive tired and hungry at your destination. You head down to the restaurant around the corner from your apartment in Rome and the food is not exactly the typical Italian food you had hoped for… Thus, it is best to research economic and delicious restaurants that are scattered around the area before arriving.

If what you are looking for is a true Italian restaurant, I can recommend August Da, which is an old and traditional place in Rome. Sit at one of the tables directly on the Piazza and the waiter will run over to put down a paper table cloth. If you do not understand what the prattling waiter says, tell him to bring you the plate of the day without thinking twice. It may be “coniglio” (rabbit), “pollo” (chicken), etc. The restaurant is open Monday through Friday and Saturdays at noon. Address: Piazza De `Renzi 15. How to arrive: Tram 8.

Da Giovanni is also magnificent. However, you must arrive early because the small and simple Osteria (porterhouse, and one of the last of its kind) is frequented by workers and locals, thanks to the home-made pasta and delicious wine. Open Monday through Saturday. Address: Via della Lungara 41a. How to arrive: buses 23 and 280.

Finally, I want to recommend the Gino e Pietro. It is a family restaurant, where Mamma Adriana is an amazing chef and Papà Pietro chooses the very best vegetables. The restaurant is always full of regular clients. Rudi Völler went there once when he was playing for AS Roma. Open every day except Thursdays. Address: Via del Governo Vecchio 106. How to arrive: buses 62 and 64.

If you need any advice for your holiday accommodation in Rome, perhaps we can help you…

Enjoy delicious food and a wonderful stay in Rome!