28 October 2013

España: Te Amo Y Estoy Contigo!

Are you craving for the warmer climate of Europe's Mediterranean? I suggest Spain, but not the usual haunts that attract the Brits abroad! I had the chance to visit the region of Catalonia, which is home to the outstanding city of Barcelona. Choose to fly from Birmingham Airport, where Monarch Airlines flies to BCN's El Prat Airport! No seas estúpido! Adiós ahora Inglaterra!

Barcelona is the perfect city to experience a slice of Spanish sophistication! I traveled to Spain's cultural capital during the first week of July 2013 and I do feel like I'm still in love with this city now in October 2013. To the left is 'La Rambla' where the best alfresco dining options are ripe for the picking. Finding your bearings in this part of town is really easy as most of the main streets crisscross with 'La Rambla' so getting lost is pretty much out of the question. Take the metro to see the city of a thousand streets for time isn't always on our sides so I like to be the transport savvy traveller, Barcelona helped me with that part! Barcelona has many tales that pickpockets are on the lookout, but during my time I didn't come across any harm and felt safe at all times! I'm intrigued by other parts of Spain but Barcelona proved to be the city for me to experience my Spanish inquisition during the summer of 2013.

Escape the dreariness that can be Mother England to experience 'Plaça de Catalunya' to be part of the action in and amongst the vibe of Barcelona's heart. Keep your ears open because Spanish isn't the main language spoken within this region of Spain for Catalan is widely spoken, its more like a dialect but don't let the locals hear you say that! Keeping with the foodie theme take a stroll along 'La Rambla' where you shall find a wondrous market known as the 'Mercat de Sant Josep la Boqueria'. This market welcomes you with a whole host of pungent and alluring aromas, get lost within the many aisles of this endearing market where even the fish section looks very appetising! I still have visions about that market for their was an abundance of colour, vibrancy and a sense of community within the urban sprawl that is Barcelona! Barcelona choose me for a reason! Need I say anything more about Barcelona being the perfect Summer getaway for 2014?! Donde esta mi Barcelona?! Vamos B!

Need I be so careless not to mention another reason why to visit Barcelona. For the great Antoni Gaudi, architect and genius has left a rich treasure chest of places to admire in Barcelona. Captured to the right is 'Parc Guell' a stunning work of art that stands over Barcelona's unique city skyline, its a picture postcard view for sure! I'm hopeful that you've heard of the 'Sagrada Familia?' I suggest to visit this Gaudi themed point of interest last due to its complexity and its knack for getting seriously busy. Back to the park, I could of stood there all day without a care in the world. Te Amo 'Parc Guell!' It was the first time I felt like I was in my own postcard! Barcelona is chic in one breath but historically charming in the next with its timeless architecture, its always easy to get lost in the side streets that eventually lead back to 'La Rambla'. The works of Gaudi suited me just fine, but still no Brits abroad! Don't ever!

A house made of bones? I know it's a peculiar term of phrase but artistically the 'Casa Batllo' was believed to be crafted out of bones. This former stately home was once the residences to one of Barcelona's richest families that preserved this architectural wonder, helping it become the museum it stands to serve as today. I don't usually entertain museums but I was astounded by the beauty that this building inhibits! Get down to the 'Passeig de Garcia' to experience the house that never had a construction plan but turned out to be spectacular! The icing on the cake has to be the 'Sagrada Familia' meaning 'Sacred Family' in English this cathedral towers over Barcelona with its Gothic designs, setting the tone for Barcelona's unique flare of architectural icons. This magnificent place of worship has been a work in progress since 1882 its projected to be completed in 2026! Get to the 'Sagrada Familia' early to beat the queues to make the best of this wonder!

After I had spent two days in Barcelona, I simply had to see more of this heavenly region! Take the Renfe Media Distancia train from Barcelona Sants Station to Tarragona. Spend the afternoon walking around this historical and culturally rich town, be amazed by its understated beauty and let it touch your heart! Captured to the left is 'La Plaça del Font' the courtyard that took me back to Old San Juan, Puerto Rico! From that point of view I guess Tarragona could of been a blueprint for San Juan, Puerto Rico? This small oasis of calm is made up of many rustic eateries and is the home of the 'Ajuntament de Tarragona' council headquarters. Be wise of what trains are going in what direction, I took my train from the seaside town of Sitges and got a little mixed up with the lines but everything runs on the same line. It's a place that sets the tone for a day's worth of premium sightseeing! Tarragona sure stole my heart!

Step back to Roman times by taking some time out to see the 'Tarragona Amphitheatre' as it has great views overlooking the Mediterranean sea! Tarragona does have a quaint beach but let's leave the sun worshiping for another time. Take a stroll down 'Rambla Nova de Tarragona' to be at the centre of the action for this is where the locals do their shopping and its the perfect way to be at one with 'Balcon de Mediterraneo' translating to the 'Balcony of the Mediterranean'. Tarragona isn't the grandest of places but it has a special small town feeling that take the stress away from Barcelona even though things don't get to stressful their either. I admire places that ooze character and Tarragona did just that so all is well. Lunch time in Tarragona is a special time for a bite to eat at one of the the side-street restaurants that have the best lunch deals make chowing down on some local food doesn't have to cost the earth. Using the most basic of Spanish goes a long way! Dios mio! 

Bow down to Sitges, the Queen of the Seaside! This fabulous beach town is definitely somewhere over the rainbow for its Catalonia's premier Gay beach town. Take some time to rest and really get to know Sitges, its got everything you need to enjoy the days lazing on the beach amongst the 'Beautiful People!' Rainbows are the code in Sitges for all things fabulous, everyone is welcome in Sitges! During the day its a must to see 'St. Bartomeu Church' to catch the best vista of the beach. Enjoy one of the delicious restaurants through many kitsch side streets. Better still there's always time to be a 'Material Girl' in Sitges as their's a never ending collection of boutiques that sell the best of everything fashionable! Sitges doesn't do large hotels for its only a small beach town, I stayed in a modern hostel that wasn't too far away from the beach in a quiet residential street. This sexy Spanish town wants you! 

As the sun sets on Sitges the party truly starts! Hit 'Carrer Bonaire' for the best nightlife in town, where you shall find 'Queenz Bar' and 'Prestige Strip Club'. I endorse 'Queenz Bar' for the music is fabulous and the local drinks taste strong, its the place to be! Things don't liven up until later on so it gives you the chance to have some dinner at one of Sitges's top beachfront restaurants before dressing to impress so you can marry the night! I won't lie I had an amazing time in Sitges in July of this year, I wouldn't rule out a return visit in the future! Be happy, be proud and love Sitges for girl I just wanted to have fun! But how can you reach Sitges? Take the 'Rodalies de Catalunya' train from Barcelona Sants Station to Sitges, the journey only takes around thirty minutes and ticket prices are very reasonable too. Choose Sitges to conclude your alternative Spanish trip that doesn't have to cost you the earth. Have I tempted you to book your next holiday to Catalonia? 

Spain: I Love You ... And ... I Am With You! 

Joseph Harrison

19 October 2013

Birmingham: More Canals Than Venice?

Birmingham has meant a lot of studying for me recently, so I wanted to be productive and get some work done in order for me to enjoy the city for an afternoon. I took advantage of the weather because its been pretty dismal these last few weeks, well it just makes things difficult to do anything especially when I'm so stressed with university at the moment. 

Rumour has it that Birmingham has more canals than Venice! Would you believe that crazy fact? I said goodbye to The Maltings as I had finished all my coursework for the day and set off in-pursuit of some culture. Birmingham is a great city in my eyes, its modern yet full of history and with its compact layout I can get around the main parts without any problems. Back to the canals, captured to the left is the Mailbox complex that sits overlooking the central canal basin in Birmingham's Westside. With some nice weather finally making a rare but ever so short appearance I snapped away like a paparazzo it was just nice to be out and about rather than going back and forth to university. Right now I miss my fresher year of mayhem! The Mailbox itself looks so much better with a bit of blue sky around it, there's just something that this entertainment complex brings to Birmingham's Westside. Yes Brum! 

I reckon the key to The Mailbox's pulling power is the Harvey Nichols department store, now that does the trick! Even though my student loan is dwindling I still want to eat at Rodizo Rico, a Brazilian barbecue restaurant that has recently opened in The Cube that sits next to The Mailbox. I will make it my mission to get some tasty Brazilian food back in my life because Newark's Ironbound seems like a distant memory right now! Talking of progress I suppose time is a healer? I know that I actually paid more attention to The Cube today, noticing that more restaurants are being constructed to make their home amongst the Gym and Spa, Hotel Indigo and the Marco Pierre White Steakhouse. I look forward to these new places opening as The Cube has had a bumpy ride. Time is passing by within the respect of my university degree course in Birmingham so I'm taking every second seriously, I really don't want to miss a beat! Just take a deep breath because its all going to be fine! 

So back to that Venice theory, I saw on ITV Central News that this West Midland city was rivaled to the luxurious Venetian city due to having more stretches of canals than our Italian counterpart. I have not yet been to Venice but have seen it on numerous travel television shows but Birmingham stays close to me because its my university city! It was lovely to make the most of the bright blue skies and walk towards Broad Street, the burst of sunshine was a hit with the locals and tourists alike as I heard many a folk talking in different languages, we're very cosmopolitan here in Birmingham! Those canal boats are really charming, they were just sitting in the water that overlooked the Hyatt Regency hotel now if that's not a world class city standing in front of me then I don't know what Birmingham stands to be?! We serve up urban realness here in Birmingham! There's no other place I would rather be!

Canals came to Birmingham during the Industrial Revolution, acting as the urban waterways that connected the world to our fabulous West Midland region. It's clear to see that investment has beautified out urban waterways to allow them to shine, creating sophisticated spaces for the city folk to wine and dine. We don't need that Venetian show for in Birmingham we only serve the realest state of mind! Reminiscing back to my fresher days makes me think that my year away in America shaped my blogging ways, I didn't think to have days out within Birmingham because it was all about hitting Broad Street till the small hours of the morning. I probably sound like a broken record but as my studies have been turned up several notches I have learnt to seek the realness out in Birmingham when the need finds me. Enough of that chat I need to hit the books and cut the booze, no chance! Venice can gag, Italy keep your classy city because Birmingham has more canals than you do! 

After powering past the canals and Broad street I made my way through Centenary Square to be greeted by Birmingham's Town Hall, even though its a sight I have seen many times over the last three years I feel like today I saw it through new eyes and appreciated my surroundings that little bit more. Dodging the Great British weather is a skill, I made it for the nearest point of interest! Considering that I was stood amongst Birmingham's people traffic upon that Saturday afternoon I didn't really care, I had just packed my camera and took my keys with me so I was not bothered with shopping I just wanted to take the sights in once again. I wanted everybody gone, just wanted Birmingham for my own! Let the sight be the see! Just serve B! 

This corner of Birmingham is within a stone's throw from Birmingham's main council buildings so there's occasionally a protest of some sorts going on. I people dressed as animals, they must have been protesting as part of a animal cruelty charity but their costumes didn't match up to the standard of Mickey Mouse and his friends. I haven't been to the Council House because its for official events, I'm going to need to blog like I've never blogged before! During the months of November and December the area around Victoria Square and the Town Hall is alight with the Frankfurt Christmas Market, an event that I shall be attending this year for sure! I tell you its no jar of honey when she gets busy, Birmingham draws a crowd! I wanted to see the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery! Like now!

I loved the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery! In all my student years here in Birmingham I had never thought to have paid a visit here, it was free admission so for a poor student it was a winning choice! Captured to the right is the 'Modern British Art' section, which I really loved the simplicity of this exhibit it was just nice. I'm not one to focus my attention on something for a long time so I made my way around the art gallery pretty quickly but made sure I took in the beautiful and thought-provoking art work and exhibits that were on display. I encountered exhibits of Ancient Greek artifacts that have certainly stood against the test of time. For the next exhibit would definitely impress me much! I walked down the stairs from the worldwide art section to a whole section dedicated to the history of Birmingham, now I was loving what I was seeing! Give a shout out to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery!

From the Medieval stands that informed me about Birmingham's beginnings as an average market town to a thriving industrial powerhouse I was astounded! The World War II section topped off my whole visit to a new high, there was a display about Women's fashion throughout World War II in Birmingham that depicted a rather extraordinary dress made out of different types of material, it looked very hip! Free admission is how I roll, appreciate the visual offerings that Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery serves to all of us who decide to visit. People underestimate Birmingham as an artsy city but when you take a closer look its easy to see that this city has class. It's true to say that Birmingham showed me something new and something free that I can look back on and say that I loved! Don't be a fool, just take some time out of your seemingly busy schedule to appreciate Birmingham for what she truly is! Remember Birmingham has more canals than Venice, Italy! Figure that one out!

Hold that Gelato! I'll have a Chicken Balti! 

Joseph Harrison

14 October 2013

The Waiting Room

Life is a funny thing, at this current time I feel like I'm a in a waiting room not exactly waiting for anything but for my degree to be completed. I had visions of this year being stress free but things crop up when we least expect them to happen. For such reasons I don't feel its appropriate to divulge at this current moment or at all really. I've got this one good!

I'm not going to lie there is a lot going on at the moment for me both academically and personally but I am a fighter! Have you ever felt like your stuck in a waiting room of some sort? In a manner of speaking University College Birmingham could be classed as my waiting room at this current time. I'm in my fourth and final year of BA Hons Hospitality and Tourism Management degree and the intensity has been turned up a few notches to boiling point. Call me dramatic but I would love to go back to first year, no stresses and no worries about getting a 10,000 word dissertation started. Going backwards isn't what I really want to do but things get tough every once in while so I know it will all be worth it. I only have to spend two days in university due to my timetable being focused around two modules and my dissertation. I've got Operations Management and Strategic Management this semester! I want to go now!

The photo above is from my third year when things didn't feel serious, times do change! The dissertation is a 10,000 word research project that I must complete by April 2014, so no pressure! Things have been hectic for me over the last week but I'm keeping tight lipped for once, trust I like to talk! Gone are the days where I can turn up to a lecture hungover from the previous night or even still intoxicated its time to wake and get on with things. No way! Strategic Management has to be my ultimate foe at the moment, we have a group presentation to put together and I'm not enjoying this module. I know that eventually this module will be wrapped up in time for the Christmas holidays so I can switch off for two whole weeks and forget non of this business ever happened! I've already got a deadline for an assignment and my dissertation proposal has to be in on the 23rd of October! I have stepped up to the plate to tackle all of these obstacles, instead of breaking up I'll stay!

Like waiting for a train I just feel that all the fun has to wait for another time. I admit that things are getting crazy at the moment but I just want the simple things to resurface, just to have a day our without thinking about university. Captured to the right is the view from the Empire State Building in NYC, its a sight that took courage to enjoy so I'm going put madness into my method. This blog was born because of my American and Canadian adventures during 2012 and early 2013 so its been a bitter pill to swallow to not get on a train and see somewhere new. I have to remember that I pretty much coasted through last semester so that blase approach will no doubt return in due course. I'll get a grip eventually! Time's going to keep on turning for a new horizon isn't far away! I haven't strictly been completely truthful because all being well I will be in Liverpool for my 23rd birthday! Let's just wait B?!

I am really looking forward to getting away for the night to shake Birmingham away for a little while. I would like to rewind time back to my placement year as I had structured working times and used most of my days off to visit New York City and lots of other exciting places, after my summer of adventure I almost feel I can't say no to my university work and go to Lichfield for the afternoon to blog about it. I suppose this leads back to my situation, being in the waiting room for the next few months where I will get all the necessary things completed. I can't say that things are all bad at the moment or for the next few months because like I have said about Liverpool I have some exciting things planned! December's going to be good because I'm going to the pantomime and paying a visit to the German market in Birmingham as well. If my finances permit I would love to visit Manchester for the weekend to get inspiration for my dissertation. I'll find one way or another to get it!

Could Dubai be my destiny?! If I put things into perspective and stop being such a little diva about things I don't have a problem sitting in this waiting room. I have the desire to become a flight attendant for Emirates Airline, all being that the interview and everything else going well I could be living the Dubai life! Looking at the photo captured to the left I could get used to stressing about modules and my dissertation if it means I could have the chance to live in the dazzling Middle Eastern metropolis that is Dubai! Essentially, everything will be about having my priorities in their rightful places. I want my degree more than anything but just need to get real with all of the studying, I have friends that graduated this September and have revealed that they can do anything after concurring the dreaded dissertation. I know in my heart that my Middle Eastern dream has every chance to become a reality. Let's see B!

I know a back up plan should be something to consider but I have everything covered! Here's goes the next eight months, a period of time that will change my life for the better because there's no other way its going to go! Okay so I'll have to limit the amount of day trips I make out of Birmingham this next year and get over working stupid hours on my research project but I want to be standing there with my degree at graduation looking over everyone else and thinking 'Bitches I did this!' Life does throw horrid things in our faces, some of these things may cause us to have set backs but we have to be stronger than yesterday and just get back up and survive! I should be a motivational speaker sometimes because I talk utter rubbish! I know achieving what I want will take lots of study that may put Desperately Seeking Adventure on the back burner, but I will endeavor to squeeze out maybe one or two extra blogs per month because I use blogging like therapy. Patience is a virtue!

Time Goes By So Slowly!

Joseph Harrison

8 October 2013

International Love... Friendships From A Far

When I was younger friends were not really my thing but as my adulthood has moved forwards I have been very fortunate in that department. I am fully aware that the world is a very large place so I feel blessed to have made friendships from the four corners of the globe! From Newark to Dubai via Orlando! Yes, I know that having 'International Love' is amazing!

The only way is Dubai! I first met Inês Ladislau during my second year at UCB. My flatmate Filipa Martins introduced me to this beautiful lady who would in time become my dear friend. I recently saw Inês in Birmingham just the other weekend during her super quick turnaround from Dubai. Inês has been a flight attendant for Emirates Airline for almost a year and is based in the Middle Eastern metropolis that is Dubai. She's a girl after my own heart! We have stayed in contact since we said goodbye in Birmingham after our Scottish trip in 2011. I have always wanted a career in the skies ever since I was a small boy I would admire the passing cabin crew as they passed through the cabin, something told me I could be a fly boy!

I love travelling and meeting new people from outside England so I always welcome new international friendships that take me to another side of the world! I do hope to see Inês and Filipa together soon because its been a rather long time since we have been a trio like we were in Glasgow and Edinburgh. I don't know what the future holds but I know that somewhere down the line we'll have a fabulous reunion! I feel like my placement year in Newark's Ironbound kept me close to the Portuguese culture that's present in their lives, something that I'm proud to be familiar with. I'm really glad I met these girls at UCB for they introduced me to the Erasmus society, which enabled me to meet people from Lithuania and Denmark! Eu te amo tanto! 

Everyone needs a fierce hunty to call their own! I have mine in the form of the fabulous Zach Airstarr! I met Zach during my Walt Disney International College Program in June 2011. We shared the same flat for my first few weeks, but after he left we always remained in contact throughout the summer. I just had a gut feeling that me and Zach would be great friends because we hit our first conversation speaking about Lady GaGa, true divas from the very beginning! We made it to Parliament House and Pulse Orlando for a fierce night out, I couldn't drink alcohol that night because I was only 20 but we worked it on the dancefloor nevertheless! I do remember our shifts at Walt Disney's Epcot where we merchentained with the sparkly Minnie and Princess headbands, only to be told by our managers that we should tone it down. How very dare they say that to such a fabulous and fierce pair!? I knew that I had to pay Zach a vist once my placement finished! Yes BB!

That trip gave me the opportunity to meet Zach's boyfriend Dawin, he is a darling person! My Orlando weekend was filled with fabulousness and campery as we had a 'Kiki' at IHOP and shopped like 'Material Girls!' at American Apprael. I met Fendi, the dog with a drag name 'Miss Fendrea Shitzonyou' and a suitably divash personality to go with him. Myself, Zach and Dawin had a great day at Walt Disney's Epcot where we sipped on Margaritas, eating Mexican food at the Mexican pavilion at Epcot's World Showcase. I stayed at their apartment, feeling like a queen in her castle because my were ace! I should of stayed longer but I have a habit of keeping trips short! Finishing our crazy weekend with a wicked night at Orlando's Parliament House, it was a great time to just be ourselves and enjoy our time together for we are the 'Flower Bomb Bitches!' Zach, Dawin and Fendi make sure you stay in my life because you three make it more than fabulous! Yes, I will be back again boys! 

Britney Bitch was born, she recruited her angels wisely! These ladies are my shining stars, possessing a special charm that makes me love them for life! I love them dearly and even though I haven't seen them for sometime I think about them everyday. I met my two angels at Newark Liberty International Airport during my Industrial Placement throughout 2012. We all worked for Virgin Atlantic Airways, an airline that will always be special. Let's begin with Valerie Calinawan, she made my Christmas Day so special! Valerie worked with me in the Clubhouse, she's my Filipina! Valerie knows I'm on that Tagalog hype! Salamat! Let's turn Manila on its head one day Val?! I know you'll show me the realest! Trust and believe V.

Fiorella Sanchez has my heart, this Peruvian princess will forever be my Clubhouse Sister! I love this girl like a sister, she's my cosita! We went for Cuban food and finally Peruvian food during our time together whilst I was on placement in the USA. I usually travel independently but welcomed Fiorella on my penultimate USA trip to New Orleans for a lovely January weekend in the French Quarter. I came down with a rather horrid cold but Fiorella nursed me back to health by making sure I had my medicine and hot tea. Myself and Fiorella have made a definite pact to visit her homeland of Peru to experience the wonder that is 'Machu Picchu'. Life has parted us for the time being but our 'International Love' will go on! Don't get it twisted, Britney loves her angels much!

International Love Is The Best! 

Joseph Harrison