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Understanding Barcelona

(An article written by Ben Hogg, a member on a citytravelreview project in Barcelona, summer 2015)

APJXTE Placa De George Orwell Barcelona named in memory of Orwells service in the Spanish Civil War

APJXTE Placa De George Orwell Barcelona named in memory of Orwells service in the Spanish Civil War

Civil War City Tour


Meeting point: Outside Cafe Zurich in Plaça Catalunya 20€
At 9am the tour begins by being individually questioned as to why we had arisen so early to brave the sun. After the introductions, the first stop is just over the road in ‘Plaça de Catalunya’. If there’s a spare seat, take advantage! The lesson begins.

First off you are given a brief history of the build up to the war, events around Spain and the major players. Even the four hours it takes aren’t adequate to tell the whole story of the war, so from here on in the focus is on Barcelona. You also get a booklet containing info on the many anti-fascist organisations involved, a chronology of major events and a reading list.

Thoroughly researched and emblazoned with personal tales of key figures, the facts are diversified for the purpose of flow. If you are dedicated then bring your thinking-cap, though. The tour guide is happy to answer any questions, in fact he is frustrated when they don’t come. This is most evident at the end of the tour, sat in a bar decorated with the women of the war. After the applause, comes muted contemplation.

Berlin or Bust

„Herzlich willkommen!“

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Welcome to Berlin, a city with the dichotomy of fascinating history and innovative creativity! One may not quite know what to expect from this German capital; it’s not as romanticized as Paris, nor is it popularized like New York. However, it is full of developments and potential. Germany as a whole has undoubtedly become a strong European country and Berlin has been rapidly building itself as a metropoli- tan city, fit for such a nation.

What differentiates Berlin from the others? First and foremost, history. Germa-
ny has unanimously been considered as an important part of modern European history, though rather dishonorably, and the people’s effort in maintaining historical awareness shows through the numerous memorials and monuments: to never re- peat the mistakes and to promote peace, both domestically and internationally.

Does this mean that they constantly live with heavy hearts? Absolutely not. Though Germans could be considered more serious in nature than other Europe- ans, they also know how to relish life, especially in Berlin. The copious amount of pubs, cafés, clubs, and live music venues echo the spunky spirit of Berliners. Berlin is home to countless contemporary artists and avant-garde art and as the residence for the world-renowned Berlin Philharmonic, Berlin is also a hot spot for music, both classical and modern. There are a plethora of creativity going on everywhere, from street art and performances to galleries and symphony halls; there is a multitude of diverse cultural possibilities.

As we have discovered and were enchanted by Berlin, we hope this guide will help you do the same. From an abundance of attractive spots, we’ve worked to introduce the best; and also advise against the less good. Become immersed in Berlin with us, and gute Reise!

(Introduction by Julie Kim, a project member on citytravelreview programme in Berlin, Summer 2015)

Lyon – France’s Second City

 

Introduction to the City Travel Review, Lyon 2013

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Lyon may be called ‘France’s Second City,’ yet in reality it trumps its capital counterpart in nearly every category. Paris has the Seine? That’s cute. Lyon offers a choice of rivers, the Rhône and Saône. Whereas Parisians often meet travellers with a scowl of resentment, the Lyonnais are keen to share a smile and a story. A night out on the town in Paris will have you scratching your head the next morning, wondering where all of your euros went. Nightlife in Lyon, on the other hand, will leave you with at least enough money to pay for a slice of pizza on your stumble home. Paris may be called ‘The City of Love,’ but Lyon is the city where you will actually feel the love.

As this guide will prove, there are many reasons why Lyon should be top of your travel bucket list. Take a wander through the pages and you will discover a whole new take on the city. From history to hangover cures, tourist gems to hipster trends and Français to Lyonnais, you’ll find everything you need right here. Book your flight and pack your bags – the true French capital awaits.

 LYON, Rhône-Alpes, France

Casa Milà – a dream turned into a building

An article by Kirsten Lauer, a City Travel Review project member, Barcelona

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Whether you’re interested in architecture and design or you’re just curious about what the fuss about this Gaudí is all about, this masterpiece is definitely worth seeing, although the entry price of 16,50€ isn’t quite a bargain. With more than a million visitors every year, it is one of Barcelona’s most famous and impressive buildings of the modernism and part of the city’s unique charm.  Also known as La Pedrera because of its rough outer appearance reminiscent of a quarry, Casa Milà was created by Gaudí between 1906 and 1912 for the industrialist Pere Milà and his family. Standing in front of the house it appears like a giant sculpture, with wavy lines and cast-iron ornamentations, all inspired by nature. It is composed of two apartment blocks linked by inner courtyards.

What you can visit is a travelling art exhibition on the first floor, an apartment filled with furnishings from the twenties, where you can wallow in the glamour of the bourgeoisie, a display of works from Gaudí in the attic and above all, the roof. Standing there you will get caught away not only by the unbelievable panoramic view over the city, but also the imaginative ventilation shafts, staircases and chimneys which seem to guard this fairytale like roof terrace. While appearing as a work of art, they also fulfill a functional role by for example making air conditioning superfluous.

To fully enjoy this experience it is recommended to come in the early morning or evening, since there aren’t many shaded spots on the roof.

 


 [s1]captivated

Madrid – Chocolateria San Gines

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The humble façade of Chocolateria San Gines belies the scene that awaits inside. From the modest signage to the authentic, rustic exterior, you wouldn’t believe that this was Madrid’s most famous churros house. On entering, expectant visitors are greeted with a spacious hall flanked by a high, marble bar spanning almost the entire interior. Upon this sit rows and rows of coffee cups waiting to provide a sweet, chocolate-y experience. Here, you can either order your churros to eat in while soaking up the surprisingly un-touristy atmosphere or, alternatively, grab them to take away and head to nearby Puerto del Sol to combine churro chomping with people watching.

From an article by a member on a City Travel Review  project in Madrid

Getting over your hangover in Lyon

Thousands of tiny jackhammers are pounding within your skull.  The sun, and any light source for that matter, is your worst enemy.  Despite your best efforts, you cannot shake the feeling that you were indeed dancing on the bar last night, again.  Let’s face facts: you are hungover. 

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            Fear not, fellow traveller, for you are certainly not the first nor the last to feel the vengeance of a night of debauchery.  Rest assured that the following guide will have you back on your feet and ready to explore all that Lyon has to offer without feeling the need to keep an eye on the nearest garbage bin at all times. 

            Your absolute first stop must be at open-air produce market located on the East bank of the Saône River (open every day until 1 PM).  This marketplace stretches for hundreds of meters and boasts fresh fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and meats, its selection is unparalleled by any supermarket around the city.  As you stroll down this hangover haven, be absolutely sure to make a pit stop at the Jus D’Orange booth, easily recognizable by its tall green banner waving in the summer breeze.  Instead of your typically bland store-bought juice, this remedy features a blend of freshly squeezed fruits. Cough up an extra euro or two, purchase a tall glass of sweet nectar, and it is only a matter of time before your hangover begins to melt away like butter on a warm croissant.

From an article, City Travel Review project in Lyon

Back to Black

 

An underground Gothic Club opens the doors to an entombed part of Edinburgh’s history

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The highway to Edinburgh’s hell is called Cowgate and leads directly to Banshee Labyrinth. The Gothic and Metal Club promotes itself as the “most haunted” pub in town, guiding its customers into the gloomy vaults under South Bridge. The location reflects upon one of the darkest periods in local history, when the underground was home to the poor of the Scottish capital.

 After sunset the wrecked houses along Cowgate turn as black as black can be. The muddy puddles on the concrete floor mirror only few flickering neon signs. Near the pillars the remnants of a multi-storey building rise against the sky. Banshee Labyrinth lies at the heart of what used to be one of the slums of Edinburgh. Beggars and prostitutes would sleep and die in its catacombs.

Turning down the light

“It is still a bad area today”, Ken, one of the guides tells me. This night I am to enter the “real underworld”, as he puts it. It is 9 pm. Banshee Labyrinth has opened its doors. Live Heavy Metal music is splashing up from the basement. A compact, black-clothed doorman gives way to a set of stairs and corridors leading into the dark. The walls are all painted black. Spider nets are fluttering with the cool, damp air. Downstairs, a group of young people are playing billiards. Two girls with leather jackets are chatting in the corner. The smell of cold hot dog fat and beer mixes into the air. 

“Some three years ago this was an average club”, barman Tim explains. “But my boss is a Gothic, so he’s turned down the light a bit, ha, ha.” Tim’s voice is rising softly. His white, delicate fingers stroke a black strand from his cheek. He was born in Edinburgh, he tells me. Before he took up the job in the club he travelled “the world”: Kent, Surrey, London. He excuses himself to prepare a “Blood Kiss” for one of the customers.

An article by Isabel Metzger, a City Travel Review project member, Edinburgh