Tuesday 30 July 2013

Mario Kart in Barcelona

On a day of wandering and hanging out in the park, I came across Mario Kart painted onto the floor!

Thursday 25 July 2013

Walking around Barcelona

On the walking tour (from Travel bound) of Barcelona, we headed off around the gothic quarter of the city, hearing lots of tales about the complex and fascinating history of the fabulous city. I finally got to see my brother in tour guide action, although we had quite a small group so he was a little toned down than normal (or so I've heard). I didn't take the cycling tour of the city, which takes you further up to see Sagrada Familia and Gaudi's various houses. I'd seen these a few years ago on my last visit to Barcelona. I did walk up to the Casa Oriental (and therefore past Gaudi's house) on another day, only to find the place closed!

If you're in Barcelona, definitely take one of the walking tours, they are free (aside from a tip to your guide) and a great way to see the city and hear the story of Barcelona - from a person rather than out of a guide book.

On this second trip to Barcelona, I really enjoyed wandering around this very walkable city, despite my sandals gave me blisters (ON THE BOTTOM OF MY FEET!) on the first day! I found the nicest place for a wander was around the area to the east of Las Rambla, along to the Arc De Triomf with a stop off in Parc de la Ciutadella (and the very ornate Gaudi fountain) You could also take the Mario Kart challenge behind the Arc!

Picasso's favourite absinthe bar!
Follow the modernist trail around the city

Picasso's drawings on the school of Architecture

The old gate of the city

Reused bricks from an old synagogue (identified by the remaining Hebrew)
Wilfred the Hairy (founder of Barcelona - I think)
The same steps that Columbus walked up

George; patron saint of just about everywhere!

Statue in George Orwell square - a camera (Big brother's watching you)
Gaudi's first piece of work - a lamp post
The destruction of war

The buildings in this small square particularly bare the scars from the civil war.
This is the fountain from this music video
Also in this square: Shoe museum!!

Tuesday 23 July 2013

Arundel and Brighton

Earlier this year, I took a trip with some of the NYUL students to Brighton (my first time) with a stop off at Arundel Castle. Thankfully we were blessed with excellent weather, a god send after our disaster in Dover. We arrived in Arundel the same day as the farmers market (Saturday), which was great to wander around, as was the town itself. A quaint town, with cute shops and cafes - somewhere I could definitely while away an afternoon reading a book and drinking tea. We underestimated how much there was to see here - the castle is full of interesting things to see. As we were heading off to Brighton I had to rush around the castle rooms I didn't get a chance to even step foot in the gardens. A great shame as the couple of students who'd had time to whiz around them reported beautiful flowers and plants. Clearly the castle could have served as the whole trip.

Nevertheless we hopped back on the bus and made our way to Brighton. The sun most definitely had its hat on, and after some good (not amazing but decent enough) fish and chips on the pier, I wandered past the pavilion, around the Lanes and finally sat on the beach to enjoy the warmth before jumping back on the coach for an evening return to London.

Since I moved into central London in January, I've appreciated getting out into the countryside more than ever, and heading off to the coast is one step up from that. A cool and refreshing sea breeze, coupled with the salty air and vinegar chips wafting by. Brighton was great, and I'm so glad I've finally been and I won't be leaving it quite so long before I go back again. Although my true seaside love is Southend, what can I say I'm Essex to the core.

Saturday 20 July 2013

An alternative tour of Barcelona

I went to Barcelona a few weeks ago, to both visit my brother and to have a little break in the sun. As I've said before, travelling is in my blood. My eldest brother has travelled and lived abroad a lot, since his job in the military requires it. My other brother chose to escape abroad, and then found his niche in guided tours. He first set off from London by bike to Paris. After a year guiding there, he headed to Barcelona, then onto Madrid (cycling each time: until his bike was stolen). Since then he's set up a tour company in Copenhagen, travelled around South America and then found himself back in sunny Barcelona. As easyjet have recently started flying from Southend (no where near London, but very close to my house) I decided to take advantage of the cheap fares and short flight and visit him there. I'd seen him briefly in April (at our eldest brother's engagement party) but before then it'd been about two and a half years since we'd spent any time together.

I was lucky on this trip, as I was able to take advantage of some of the tours the company he works for put on for free. I went along on his walking tour, got tipsy on the Paella course and explored the coast sea kayaking. The weather was great and the break very relaxing.

On one of the days, I went along on a practise run of a new 'alternative Barcelona' tour. We headed off around the city hearing about some gruesome events in the city's history, the little explored underworld and political expression in the street art. It was a fab tour, and I know it won't be long until it's offered properly from the company. Here are a few photos I took along this tour, and some of the stories that I can remember from this alternative tour of Barcelona!

This church was the scene of some police brutality a year or so ago when illegal asylum seekers sought refuge inside it's walls only to be forcefully removed by the police. Apparently the idea that a church is a sacred place of sanctuary where those inside would be immune to arrest is only valid in England.

These street signs have sprung up all around the city (and in other European cities) Quite a small piece of art, and easily missed but once pointed out you keep seeing them dotted around the city. 

I'm not sure who the artist(s) of these cartoon animals is, but I'd taken an alternative London tour a few months before this trip and taken a photo of some of their very distinctive work just off of Brick Lane in East London.

These guys insisted I take their picture while I was taking the above photo with the bomb. Unfortunately I forgot to change the settings and they came out much redder than they should have!

This plaque is in recognition of Slavador Segui; El Noi del sucre (the sugar boy).
On March 10, 1923, while completing preparations to promote the idea of emancipation as a form of social empowerment among workers, he was assassinated by gunshot on this spot, in Barcelona's Raval District, at the hands of gunmen working for the Catalan employers' organisation under protection of Catalonia's Civil Governor, Martínez Anido.

Until recently the above property was a squat full of those participating in the Occupy protests (which incidentally began in Barcelona a while before they hit America and the world's conscious)

This artist's work, although fair subtle, was very amusing and creative. Throughout the city, stop signs had been adapted, like the one above, to make new and interesting pictures. See more at his facebook page.

Another squat, unfortunately not open while we were there, but a place of artistic creativity and community.

I think this says something like: 'You can occupy too'

C215, another artist's work I'd previously seen and photographed in Brick lane.

The flea (one of FC Barca's players?)

A community garden, in the centre of the city. (and political slogans)