January 20, 2019

What Makes Barcelona So Special?

Barcelona! It screams passion, romance, good food, good wine, and nice people. This beautiful, energetic city holds a high revisit rate. 80% of the people can’t get over the high after visiting Barcelona and just keep coming back. To some Spanish people, Barcelona might appear to be like any other pretty Spanish towns/cities, but that’s just little rude to say. There are always voices on being fully independent from Spain, but in 2016, 2017, due to the bad economic situation in Spain, Catalan independence movement got really heated up. We all know the result by now, but let’s set aside the politics and get touristy on what makes Barcelona so special.

Goudi! Goudi! Goudi!
We can’t put aside Goudi when talking about Barcelona. Doesn’t it blow your mind when you see someone so different, so creative, so passionate, so sensitive and this person put those thoughts into architecture and interior design and any details possible?
Park Guell, Casa Batllo, La Sagrada Familia… … you name it. Countless masterpieces.
His work was inspired by his great love for nature and religion. Nature as he studied plants’, insects’ and animals’ structure and used it in his work. He was devoted all his life to his profession and his faith. And of course, his works have been reorganized by UNESCO for granted World Heritage status.

Art Scene
For sure, the Picasso Museum is a must-see. Is Pablo Picasso from Barcelona? In fact, he was born in other part of Spain and later moved to Barcelona. Although he spent most of his adulthood in Paris, he was made as an artist in Barcelona and always had a close relationship with Barcelona. His personal secretary had a collection of his work and initiated the thought of building a museum dedicated to Pablo Picasso, and that’s how the museum came about. 

Besides the Picasso Museum, there are also Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA), and Hemp Museum Gallery (with Marihuana) for you to visit!

Food Scene
Calories don't count during vacation! Here are some must try.

Flavored rice with seafood. Yum! Remember, prices on menus are usually per person (minimum two people). And don’t go for the menu with pictures and English descriptions, cause that stuff is for tourists and so is the price.


Typical Catalan salad. There are fresh tomatoes, onions, shredded salt cod and olives with “romesco sauce”.

Pa amb Tomàquet

Literally “bread with tomato”. Pure simplicity and deliciousness.

Barcelona is all those wonderful things and on top of that, there are beaches! The closest one is La Barceloneta, the greatest thing about it is that it can be reached by metro or buses. The beach in Barcelona is very well-kept, stretches 4.5km long. Tons of cool bars and diners to choose from, be mindful that during the high season the beach can be super crowded. 

Fun fact, there were no beaches in Barcelona two decades ago, they imported sand from Egypt to make the artificial beach for the Olympics 1992. The event really changed the city sharply.

Futbol Club Barcelona

Or known simply as Barcelona. The football club earns great fortune for aiming tourism. It is the fourth-most valuable sports team in the world, worth $4.07 billion. (Side note: first place, Dallas Cowboys; second, Manchester United; third, Real Madrid, according to Forbe.) Messi! Messi! Messi! The player’s so popular that you can see most of the game-goers are international tourists and you might wonder if FC Barcelona is a football club or a tourist attraction. Camera clicking, always, and people all share high enthusiasm that the fact that they’re in Camp Nou Stadium by instagramming and taking selfies.

Gothic Quarter (Barri Gòtic in Catalan)

If you’re taking your date to Barcelona for a romantic getaway, don’t miss out these beautiful, narrow medieval streets. Take a walk here, enjoy the  gothic architecture and end the night with hot chocolate and churros. Here are some must-visit:
lamp posts in Plaça Reial by Goudi

The animal details on the street lights are fascinating, they were the first couple design by Goudi when he just graduated.

Barcelona Cathedral

Took two hundred years to build, first opened in 1298. Stunning.

Els Quatre Gats (4 cats)

This café was well loved by Pablo Picasso and Ramon Casas i Carbó a hundred years ago. Picasso even had his first solo exhibition here.

Laidback Mediterranean culture with rapidly growing start up scene
Barcelona has become more and more popular with the digital nomad community. Freelancers from Europe and all over the world live here short term, get their jobs done online, and get paid online. Quite a heaven here, fast internet, cool co-working space, perfect climate, nice laidback culture, plus it’s relatively cheap in Europe.

The population of Barcelona is 1.6 million, but there are around 32 million tourists visit yearly. Needless to say, it brings tons of money to the picture, however, the price has gone up so much, especially housing. Some people rather have the space rent out for short term profit. Some residents are forced to move somewhere else and local shops are replaced by chains or souvenir stores. It’s easy to understand why locals are mad, and we can always be the more considerate, respectful version of ourselves when paying a visit.

January 7, 2019

Everything You Want to Know about Quebec

Quebec, the huge province situated in eastern Canada. It’s truly a unique place with a European twist. The biggest city is Montreal, while Quebec City is the capital. We already know they speak French there, and having the largest stand-up comedy festival in the world seems pretty cool, but what’s more and what to expect when traveling to Quebec?

A brief historical background, please?

Track back to 1608, when a French explorer founded Quebec. The word “Kebec” is an Algonquin word meaning Where the River Narrows. It was called the new France (La nouvelle France) back then and that’s how the French colony was established. In 1759, English had done fighting French and took over Quebec. During the 19th century, Quebec had become an urban, industrialized society. The Catholic Church was the big influence for their culture, development and education since day one. Up till today, three quarters of the people still identify themselves as Catholic!

What is it like living there?

People can’t seem to stop raving about how nice it is to live in Quebec. Education is cheap, housing is affordable, what? It sounds like a heaven already. Montreal appear to be just like other big cites, you get people from all over the world, China, Italy, India… … People feel very safe and their LGBTQ community is pretty vibrant as well. 

Same-sex marriage was legalized in 2004, and Quebec was the first province in Canada to change the term “husband and wife” to more gender-neutral term “spouse”.

As for the language, Quebec French, there are 7 million native speakers in Quebec and 700,000 speakers elsewhere in Canada and the US. They operate in both English and French, so don’t worry about it.

The best time to visit?

Summer, summer, summer!! You get Montreal international jazz festival around the end of June till the beginning of July. Also, Just for Laughs comedy festival, largest stand-up comedy festival in the world, held in the beginning of July. Tons of outdoor fun during summer, it’s the highlight of the year. But when it comes to winter in Canada… nobody likes it. November can be freezing already, sometimes till early April would still be pretty bad. It’s common to see people fly out of the country to escape the entire winter. For those who are brave enough to visit Quebec during this time, Quebec Winter Carnival is for you. Enjoy sleigh ride, ice skate rink and the stunning ice palace!

Best Instagram spots?

For Quebec City, definitely Quartier Petit Champlain, it’s a small commercial zone that can be tracked back to the 17th century. You get that beautiful winter wonderland backdrop mix with a European flavor to it.

As for Montreal, Old Port of Montreal is your best bet. Facing St. Lawrence River, walking on cobblestone streets, tons of photogenic bars and restaurant to up your Instagram game. Don’t miss out Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal, this stunning old Catholic church is not just old enough to wow you, all the projecting lights inside the church will leave your mouth open.

Family-friendly adventure suggestions?

Not only is Quebec great for raising little ones, it’s for sure one perfect destination for family trip. Want to keep it educational, or just pure thrill fun, Quebec has them all:

# 1 La Ronde amusement park (was first built for the 1967 world fair, “Ronde” means round, it’s located in a small island.)

# 2 Montreal Science Centre (high reviews from parents and everyone else, fun and educational, Science Centre won’t let you down.)

# 3 Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium (to know more about this wonderful universe, pay a visit and gain better knowledge on space and astronomy)

Food culture in Quebec?

No trip is complete without trying their authentic food. You can see lots of meat and maple syrup in their iconic dishes. Craving for a good salty dish? Go for poutine, how comforting is that? French fries with cheese curds and gravy. Yum!

Quebec supplies more than 75% of the maple syrup in the world, for sure we are going to talk about heavy-maple-syrup-food.
Pouding chômeur! Literally poor man’s pudding, founded during Great Depression, it was meant to be cheap. Flour, sugar, oil, egg, milk, butter, bake all that goodness and drizzle tons of maple syrup to get this quick, easy, and delicious dessert.

Quebec has their own National Holiday?

Despite the language differences, Quebecois has their own “National Holiday” (the Fête nationale; Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day)! It’s on June 24, one week earlier to “Canadian day”. People have free public concert the night before to celebrate.

Can we talk about the architecture of Montreal and Habitat 67?

In this metropolitan city with a rich historic background, you get the best of both worlds, European feel old churches and modern stylish skyscrapers. Here are few that really worth talk about.

Olympic Stadium
Designed for the 1976 Summer Olympics, it’s the tallest inclined tower in the world.

Montreal World Trade Centre

Completed in 1992, it’s crazy beautiful, especially the reflecting pool.

Habitat 67

It resembles stacked cubes. Just a glimpse of this fascinating architecture sparks everyone’s curiosity. It was meant to exhibit in the World’s Fair.