Imagine a young and hip girl, dancing through the world with her head full of crazy ideas. If the girl would be a city it would be called Barcelona.
The Las Ramblas area is very busy again. The slightly increasing hill is happily filled with flashy street artists and colourful flower markets. Bird salespeople rather loudly offer their singing produce, while those who are interested or not so interested take a closer look. Tourists continue to walk up the hill straight to the end of the wide alley: everyone wants to take a sip of water from the “Font de Canaletes” fountain, where you definitely will lose your heart to Barcelona and always come back. At least that’s what the legend says.
After Franco’s death in 1975 no one imagined that Barcelona would untie its knots to become a vibrant metropolitan. Today, 41 years later, the exciting scene is breathtaking; Catalonians celebrate street parties openly like there is no tomorrow and exchange students follow the route of Antonio Gaudís. Barcelona is art and culture. Barcelona is a lovely revolutionary who explores new shores without losing traditions.
ACT LIKE A LOCAL
In exiting Barcelona, there are not many faux pas tourists can make and you don’t need to worry about your money or life. In the inner city, you can move safely and freely day and night. The only exception is the small alley of El Raval. During the night you, should be careful and not openly display that you are carrying money. Furthermore, in Las Ramblas you need to hold on to your handbag – but you probably guessed that yourself! If you like to travel like a local, then cruise the city on a scooter, which is the most favourite and agile way of transport according to the locals.
What to SEE?
We can guarantee you this – on this walk, you won’t be able to relax at all. The Rambla is the shopping street of Barcelona and very busy indeed. You can find anything but tranquillity on the street. Start your walk at the seafront. You will find many souvenir and postcard shops.
Continuing this way, you’ll meet the artists that paint tourists and tourist traps. Afterwards, you’ll get to the flower stands and the sad small animals in cages that hope to be purchased and released by someone who takes pity on them. You’ll be entertained by pantomimes, musicians and dancers.
You can easily spend and lose your money on Rambla and that not only by your own free will – so be careful. Tip: Rambla is a must, however bring little cash and certainly don’t bring your favourite handbag along. Read More …
MINI METROPOLIS WITH INTERNATIONAL FLAIR
Nowhere else will you smile so much about the pitfalls of the language (translating Dutch into other languages can indeed be tricky). Nowhere else will you meet so many uncomplicated people and so many cyclists. In Amsterdam everything seems possible, after all: swimming stoned in the Grachts, buying a flower-decorated house boat or dancing in wooden shoes. But once you’ve taken a closer look at former fishing village Amstellodam, the city is not that easy-going as it appeared in the first place.
People will sometimes look at you suspiciously when you tell them that you are in a relationship but not married; if you open your restaurant on Sundays, the city’s dignitaries will rebuke you; and even soccer players should not indulge in their favourite sport on the Day of God. But such truths only come to light once you’ve looked behind the facades and pointed gables of the world’s narrowest houses – or behind the display windows of the red-light district. Only then will you notice the true beauty of the most tolerant metropolis, in which everyone does exactly what he or she likes. Join in: Everything’s possible here from wild partying to pure relaxation.
FROM THE AIRPORT TO THE CITY CENTRE
Schipol Airport is located 15 km from the city and one of the biggest in Europe. But it’s well-arranged and you can reach the terminals on foot. Every 15 minutes a train leaves from the airport to central station. It will take you some 20 minutes to get there. Ticket price approx. 3 Euros. A taxi costs about 40 Euros. Guests of a 4- or 5-star hotel may also take the KLM shuttle bus leaving every half hour from the airport. If you want to rent a car, you can do it directly at the airport. There are six car rentals at Schipol Plaza, open from 6:30-23:00.
WHERE TO STAY
CAKE UNDER MY PILLOW
Cake under my pillow? What’s that all about? Don’t worry, you don’t have to rest your head on cheese cake – between you and the cake there is at least one floor. In a nutshell: You sleep in the centre, in a noble Bed & Breakfast located in a 19th-century house. The landlords are great, the common kitchen is handy, but you might ask yourself “What the heck fits on these tiny porcelain plates that cover the wall here everywhere?” The answer waits for you one floor below. There, you will not only find the Café “De Taart van m’n Tante” but also an avalanche of crazy unique cakes. And they are a perfect match for Delft porcelain. We suggest you rent a bicycle or book two seats instead of one when you fly back! Prices for one night in the double room range from 110 to 160 Euros. Read More …
HAVE YOU STOPPED MARVELLING AND STARTED SHOPPING?
A light-flooded summer dream or a cozy winter fairy tale: Stockholm’s Old Town with its orange, red and yellow houses makes such an enchanted impression that you would almost expect to see trolls and elves pop up out of nowhere.
But they would not be as sinister as in the fairy tales – their cave would be furnished with a Billy shelf and they would be dressed in Fillipa K’s best! Myths and legends are now history. The Swedes are busy creating the next tend – and act as an example for all of Europe. A basis for Stockholm-Syndrome. They break new ground in fashion and furniture design. They are child-friendly, emancipated and social conscious. Also exemplary is their openness, tolerance and their environmental awareness. Are they too good to be true? Maybe, but Stockholm shapes the world its way and the rest of us can only watch and marvel – at one of the cleanest large cities in the world; at the small boutiques and big labels; at over 24,000 small islands – and at a city that is completely free of heavy industry. Kurt Tucholsky encapsulated the magic of the city with the following words: “Stockholm is beautiful. Seaside cities are always beautiful.”
FROM THE AIRPORT INTO TOWN
The international airport of Arlanda is situated approx. 40 km north of the city. A high-speed train (Arlanda Express) departs for Stockholm every 15 minutes. Journey time: 20 minutes. There is also a transfer bus which takes approx. 40 minutes and costs around €13.
GETTING AROUND IN STOCKHOLM
Three underground lines (Tunnelbana) criss-cross the city, which is also served by buses, commuter trains (Pendeltåg) and a historic tram (no 7). The price for a 24-hour ticket is €10.30, with a reduction for seniors and teenagers under the age of 20. Motion and water go hand-in-hand for Stockholmers – be it viewing the harbour from a boat, navigating a canoe in between the Schärengartens or drawing circles onto the frozen surface of Lake Mälar with ice-skates in winter.
QUIET PLEASE! DO NOT JUMP THE QUEUE, DO NOT YAWN.
Some words of advice to visitors. While fashion and design may be to the forefront, the man on the street is by no means flashy. Raising your voice in a restaurant or pub is considered to be impolite. Be aware of the behaviour of groups of people around you – you will notice that nobody takes centre-stage; nobody acts as a solo entertainer. Friends of grand gestures will feel more at home in Italy! In Stockholm food is served with still water. The Swedish tick differently. Beware of the game of light and dark. While in winter the streets of Stockholm are dark, there is no escaping the sun in the summer – it lights up the city for 20 hours a day. It can throw your body clock.
If you have just arrived and want to quickly call into the bank, follow these simple rules. Draw a number and join the queue – never step out of line. In Stockholm, jumping the queue is simply considered anti-social, irrespective of whether or not you are in a hurry. Huff impatiently and everyone will know you are a tourist, so stay calm – and please stop checking your watch! Read More …