Archive for April, 2012
Barcelona is full of quirky, colourful architecture, from Gaudi’s fairytale spires to cutting-edge contemporary design. The city is like a living museum as each street boasts its own masterpieces.
Image by George M Groutas
From the rule-breaking and forward-thinking to the downright bizarre, here is a rundown of the ten quirkiest buildings the city has to offer, and where to find them.
1) The Indoor Forest
From the outside, El Bosc de les Fades might look like any other bar, but on entrance, a magical world awaits. Located in Barri Gotic, this one-of-a-kind watering hole has a full blown forest inside, giving you a Where the Wild Things Are experience. Sit between tree trunks and trailing leaves; sometimes you can even hear the odd thunder storm sounding overhead.
2) Candy and Gingerbread
Image by: Tiago Cata
The two Guadi buildings in Parque Guell are like something straight out of a fairytale. Remember the candy houses from Hansel and Gretel with ginger bread walls and icing roofs? That’s what these cute little buildings remind me of.
The Santa Caterina Market in the El Born neighbourhood is a spectacular feat of architecture, with a wavy roof making use of tessellated ceramic designs. The brain child of Enric Miralles and Benedetta Tagliabue, the design is utterly unique and makes the market a fun place to shop.
The Never Ending Cathedral
Never ending in the sense that it was never officially completed, the Sagrada Familia is said to be Gaudi’s masterpiece and is surely the most unusual cathedral in Europe. Patterns and forms range from intricately crafted saints to modernist turtles, making each section a work of art in its own right.
Out on a Limb
Glass shapes seem to defy gravity on the Torre Mare Nostrum building by sticking out on a limb from the glittering central tower. The quirky concept was drawn up by Enric Miralles, and the building currently serves as the Gas Natural HQ.
Image by: Jen Gutmann
He’s done it again! Gaudi’s Casa Batilo is a crazy curvaceous casa with a dazzling facade decorated in rainbows of colour. Gaudi created the seemingly impossible with his designs, and there is something truly wonderful about this quirky house which defies all traditional conventions.
The Camp Nou FC Barcelona stadium is the largest in Europe, and has been redesigned to incorporate a brightly coloured, glowing mosaic all the way around it. Causing it to light up at night like a futuristic Christmas tree, this new design for the stadium is certainly a spectacle whether you love it or hate it.
Magical Music Hall
Decedent, elegant sophisticated and magical, the Palau de la Música concert hall was built in 1905 and is exquisite, from its decorative ticket box to its heavenly stained-glass skylight.
The Leaning Tower
On Barcelona’s urban beach you can’t help but notice the industrial leaning tower that is a sculpture designed by installation artist Rebecca Horn.
Quirky Quarry House
Image by: Gustavo Maximo
Casa Mila is another of Gaudi’s houses, completed in 1912. Stone, wrought-iron and statues give it a magnificent, noble appearance. The best bit is the roof, where stone shapes and statues snake across the Barcelona skyline.
Next time you’re in Barcelona, don’t forget to look up as you stroll along the streets, what can you see?
Do you have any more weird and wonderful buildings to add to my list?
Sophie McGovern writes for Hotelopia, a website that allows you to book hotels online and pay at the hotel. If you’re heading to the architecturally quirky capital of Spain, Hotelopia can find great Barcelona hotels to host you. You might even find Sophie there, travelling the streets and searching for inspiration, stories and new adventures.
There are many cultural differences between the East and West, and a trip to Asia will often leave you a baffled and confused fish out of water for most of the time.
However despite this there are of course still some similarities between the two halves of the globes. Some things are reliably the same no matter where you go, and some things bridge cultural divides and are Universally. Everyone knows who Mickey Mouse is, and most tellingly, we all enjoy a cold beer from time to time.
When making your way in this exciting, often beautiful, but equally strange and new continent, these are the beers you need to seek out to get that comforting feeling of familiarity.
OB Blue: OB Blue is one of the most recognizable beers from South Korea and is now owned by InBev. It has often been marketed for its very fresh taste and it has a very clean image. A nice light lager that won’t taste too different from something you might enjoy back home.
Hite: Hite is another Korean beer and has possibly overtaken OB as its most popular drink Again claiming to be very ‘fresh’, the company invested in over 70 engineers from various different breweries to spend over three years developing the ‘Fresh Taste Keeping’ system.
San Miguel: Here’s one you might have tried already. A popular export San Miguel comes from Southeast Asia’s biggest food and beverage company and is popular in Hong Kong and the Phillipines. Despite the factory being in Manila, the company originally has its origins in Australia. We’re still counting it…
Kirin Ichiban: Kirin Ichiban is also sometimes known as ‘Number 1’ and is a well known Japanese drink – possibly because Ichiban is so fun to say (especially when drunk). It has a complex flavour and is 4.95% volume.
Tsingtao: It’s perhaps a strange and sad reflection on the male psyche that many of us get so much joy from drinking out of a ‘funny shaped glass’. Well, if that’s something you can relate to, then Tsingtao is possibly the drink for you which sometimes comes out of very tall glasses and sometimes glasses with a stem… It’s also a nice and light tasting beer with a slight tang that is sold in over 50 countries around the world (a testament to its popularity). It is Chinese in origin correctly pronounced ‘Ching-Dao’.
Hanoi Beer: Some people describe Vietnam’s Hanoi beer as the best beer in Asia. It is a little stronger than some of the other beers in the area and has a crisp taste. Perfect for enjoying in the crowded streets of Vietnam.
Beer Saigon: And while you’re in Vietnam you should also try ‘Beer Saigon’. Fun because you say the ‘beer’ part first, it’s a very light beer that borders on watery. Good for hot days and good as hair of the dog.
Bintang Bir Pilsener: Kuta is renowned as a great place for backpackers and hikers to party, and the drink of choice in this part of Indonesia will be Bintang Bir Pilsener – which some report to be slightly salty but largely drinkable.
Kingifsher: Another one you’ve maybe tried. This is one of the most successful and popular Indian beers from around the world and one of the only drinks you’ll commonly find on tap there.
Sight-seeing in the city that never sleeps might at first glance be a predictable affair, Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, 5th Avenue, Central Park and so on. While I would never deter anyone from seeing these sights, they’re worth seeing, there are options for people looking for something a little different or who’ve already done the tourist thing and are after a more authentic experience. Below are four options that are a bit more unusual than the regular trappings of a tourist hike around New York City.
Not many people list their exploits while in the big apple and include, “Oh yeah, and I learnt how to do my thing on the flying trapeze.” That’s because most people aren’t mad. But some are and if you’re one of them the Trapeze School New York will help you fly through the air just like you always imagined you would in those dreams about running away to the circus. Obviously you’re probably going to need more than one lesson, but the school is designed for anyone who fancies a go to be able to do so. Can’t say fairer than that, so chalk up those hands, hang on and swing like Jules Léotard himself!
Take the High Line
The high line is an off ground freight train system that was built in the 1930s. It meant that cargo could be shifted without having the trains passing through the busy district of Manhattan. You’re thinking ‘why would I want to ride an industrial train’. Well first there is nothing wrong from wanting to ride an industrial train, and secondly, the highline is no longer a train service. The trains are gone and the rail line has been converted into an overhead reserve. A stroll through the unusual park offers a superb mixture of flowers, art and architecture as well as some spectacular views.
Flea Market In Hell’s Kitchen
If you’re more interested in the kitsch and the unusual then 5th avenue really isn’t going to be for you. However the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market almost certainly will be. It isn’t the only one in the city by any stretch, but it is one of the best and if you’re in the city on a weekend you can go have a rummage through what’s on offer. Running from 9am to 5pm you’ll find a mix of vintage goods from housewares and clothing to art and jewellery, and if you’re willing to explore a bit and get there early, probably a whole lot more too.
Mooching through NYC’s Chinatown is cool, if not a little bit full on. It’s a crazy place and picking a place to eat can be a dilemma. However, why not take the dumpling tour. A nice local fellow called Mark will for a very modest sum treat you and other friendly tour members to a dumpling extravaganza through Chinatown stopping at eight, yes eight different restaurants to sample their dumpling offerings. Social, fun and tasty. Brilliant!
There are literally thousands of unusual things to do in New York City and hopefully these four will have you well on the way to an experience you’ll never forget.
Freddy Jones loves New York, he has a t-shirt that says so. A t-shirt he wears while looking into unusual gifts for the online store Find Me A Gift.
When it comes to holidays and trips abroad, usually the motivation is to get just far enough away from the stresses and strains of daily life to relax and recharge the batteries. However, for some people, the usual holiday destinations are just not quite far enough and something even more secluded is required. For anyone who is looking for an extreme escape from civilization this year, here are some of the world’s most remote destinations.
If you thought New Zealand was remote as islands go, then Pitcairn Island goes one step further. Located 10 days journey from the coast of New Zealand and reachable only by boat, Pitcairn Island has an isolation that is quite complete. The population here is tiny and would fill a single room, and the nearest inhabited island is more than 30 hours away by boat. Despite its remoteness, the island has a rich history, having played host to the HMS Bounty mutineers and been annexed by the French. The lush, green paradise is far too far off most travellers’ routes now and offers real seclusion to those willing to travel.
Motuo County, China
If having no obvious way of reaching somewhere is a measure of its remoteness then Motuo County, which has no roads leading to it, definitely wins the prize. Motuo is situated in the Tibetan Autonomous Region and although many have attempted to build a road to this part of the world, nature seems always to have intervened by throwing mudslides, avalanches or landslides at new constructions. The journey to reach what the Buddhist scriptures describe as Tibet’s Holy Land involves a trek across the Himalayas then scaling a 200ft suspension bridge, so it really is only for the most determined.
Unsurprisingly, at only 500 miles from the north pole, Alert is one of the most isolated destinations on earth and probably one of the least attractive holiday spots. The area has extreme conditions when it comes to weather and there are often 24 blinding hours of daylight during the summer and 24 hours of deep darkness during the winter months. The year round population here numbers 5 people and, given that this is also one of the most perilous places to live, this is hardly surprising. With temperatures of minus 40 degrees and the Arctic Ocean on all sides Alert is so cut off that it is definitely one of the most remote destinations in the world.
Angle Inlet, USA
Whilst Angle Inlet is officially located in the USA, it can only be reached via Canada by road, or by taking a boat through the Lake of the Woods. A community of around 150 people lives here but numbers are swelled slightly on an annual basis by those looking for some fantastic remote fishing spots, for which the area is renowned. Children who live in Angle Inlet don’t have the luxury of a school bus and most arrive by boat during the summer months, or in a snowmobile during the winter. Whilst not for everyone, the world’s most remote destinations provide fascinating and challenging locations for those with a taste for exploration. Be prepared for some taxing hikes, a lack of easy transfers but some seriously satisfying remoteness at the end of the road.