Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Interrailing Chapter 2 | Barcelona Spain

Following up on my previous post, the next stop on our journey was Barcelona Spain, a city filled with football, sun and sangria. Our stay at the Feetup Yellow Nest Hostel in central Barcelona was a very pleasant one, the best hostel of the whole journey in fact. Friendly staff, a great location and an extremely clean room; this hostel quite literally made our journey in Barcelona. Luckily for us, we only had to share our 8 bed room with one other person, a friendly gentleman from Argentina who went by the name Jerry. By the time we had arrived at the Hostel after a 6 hour journey from Paris, we were exhausted and in need of a good meal. So naturally we headed straight out in search of the delights of the Spanish cuisine. 

As it was getting late and due to our sheer exhaustion, we stopped off at one of the first restaurants we could find, this being a busy Italian style restaurant where I ordered a bowl of fresh pasta with a tomato based cheesy sauce. I didn't manage to get a picture on this occasion (probably due to my lack of energy) but I have to say this may have been one of the best meals of the entire journey. Along with the delightful Tapas which we had the following evening, this meal was utterly faultless. Ironically the pasta here was better than the ones I sampled in Italy meaning Barcelona Spain may well win the award for the best food in the whole of Europe!

The joys of sharing a Hostel room
The real deal-Tapas
Along with the delightful food, Barcelona Spain of course had many other wonderful things to do and see. Naturally, when in Spain you have to head down to the beach, especially as this was the only beach we got to see all holiday! The weather was glorious as expected and it would have been rude not to. So with a bottle of Sangria under our arms and the sun tan lotion at the ready, that's exactly what we did. The harbour here was so pretty and there was lots to see on the way. We got up nice and early so we could do as much as possible (something we tried to do throughout the trip). There was of course the La Sagrada Familia and the Parc Guell which we went to visit (see below) and the Las Ramblas market which took us down to the harbour. 

The building that's never been finished
Parc Guell
The view from above
Barcelona Selfie

Barcelona Spain Harbour

Barcelona walkway
Now before embarking on this journey I must say I had my concerns, especially in regards to pick pocketers. But rest assured do not let this put you off visiting this wonderful city as Barcelona Spain was one of the few places where we did not get hassled by the locals. Obviously it's common sense to keep your belongings close to you at all times but if you have your wits about you, you will be fine. Even though you can see probably all that you wish to see here in just a few days, unfortunately as we were stuck for time  we didn't get to tick off everything on our list. In fact one of our main regrets of the entire trip was not going inside the beautiful La Sagrada Familia. Even though we got some great shots outside, it was closed when we went to visit. Nevertheless it was still amazing to see. The building has still not been finished but the detail as you can see from the picture (above) is phenomenal. Such a beautiful church which brings  light to the city of Barcelona.

Even though I really enjoyed Barcelona, it wasn't one of my favourite places and therefore I wouldn't go back in a hurry. Obviously it is nice to say I have been, but Spain to me is all the same whether this is Barcelona or Costa del Sol, I can't really tell the difference. So thanks for the nice weather and the beautiful food, but for now Adios Barcelona Spain!

Coming up in my next post-Italy-heavenly Gelato and mouth watering pasta... 

Friday, 23 May 2014

Interrailing Chapter 1 | Paris

So just a couple of weeks ago I embarked on a two and a half week trip around Europe by train and what an experience I had. Along with my best friend, we visited a total of 8 different cities (some of the best cities in the world some would argue) and saw a multitude of sights that I could only once dream of.

Why I decided to bring this hat along I will never know...
Starting off in Paris, the Fashion capital (along with London and Milan of course), our journey began. We stayed in an apartment in the Noisy-Le-Grand area right next to Disneyland Paris and only a short walking distance from the Bry-Sur-Marne train station. It was a quiet area with not much going on, perfect if you want to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city. We had a very pleasant stay here at the City Residence apartment. There's no denying that it wasn't the most 'glam' of apartments but as we were essentially being 'travellers' for the week we did not expect anything more. In terms of having somewhere to lay down after a day of tiresome sight seeing, this was perfect.

Our not so glam apartment
Now for those of you who haven't visited Paris before or are not in touch with the underground service, you will soon realise that getting around at first can be a bit tricky. However, after a couple of interesting journeys to say the least you will soon get the hang of things. I have to thank my best friend Erica for most of the navigating though! In fact one of the most stressful things about this trip was the constant lack of direction after we had arrived in a new city. We had to rely on locals to find our way round which isn't the easiest of tasks when they can't speak a word of English! Yet for me one of the best things about Paris were the people. They were so kind and welcoming, not the sort of reaction I expected really. A big shout out especially to the little man outside the train station selling the delicious fruit (I didn't catch your name). You were a very happy chap indeed and enabled us to find our first accommodation and the supermarket. For that I am forever grateful...

In terms of getting into central Paris, this took us around 15 minutes in total which wasn't too bad considering how far it looked away on the map! During our stay the weather of course decided to take a turn for the worst but this didn't surprise me one iota. As we were essentially living out of a small rucksack for a couple of weeks, there was no chance of me fitting in any warm clothing hence why I nearly ended catching pneumonia sitting on an open top bus. Not the best idea we but all part of the experience I guess. An open top bus of course being another great way of getting around Paris and making sure you don't miss any of those all important sights. In terms of cost we definitely found Paris was up there with the most expensive city we visited on our travels, but again this was expected from such a popular tourist attraction. 

We did start off trying to budget opting for the cheaper meals (not so cheap in comparison to the UK) including a McDonald's and a very basic steak and chips from a Bistro. However, we found further into our trip that paying that little bit extra for food was definitely worthwhile.

Everybody needs a bit of Louis Vuitton in their life
The joys of our open top bus- Arc de Triomphe

Notre Dame
The infamous Eiffel Tower
Lock your love away on Lovelock bridge
So all in all Paris was truly amazing. I fell in love with this City from the moment I set eyes on it and even after spending a couple of weeks exploring the likes of Rome and Barcelona for example, I have to say this was possibly my favourite place we visited during our trip. Not only did it have so much history, there was such a vibrant atmosphere and so much to do, much more than you expect. You could easily spend a week here and not get bored which is probably what I am going to do next time I visit, once I have saved up the pennies again! I have heard so many great things about Paris in my time but it's not until you actually visit it for yourself that you realise how truly beautiful it is. 

Is it better than London? I woild say so. Its very similar in terms of size and things to do but its just so much prettier and the people are much more sophisticated, the men especially ladies. What's not to like? From the tacky musicians on the underground hoping to catch one of the tourists vulnerable eyes to the luxury shops and extortionate restaurants, the city of love is a place for everyone to enjoy. 

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

The Empowerment Of Women | Females In The Workplace

Long gone are the days of the feminist movement, yet it still appears that women are being treated differently to men even today. Females in the work place are going to be my main focus in this post. How is it that women are still seen as incapable of rising to the top and having both brains and beauty I ask? One of my idols today has to be Karen Brady. This woman is not only strong minded, she oozes sex appeal (this is more than likely because of the fact that she takes no shit from men). She dominates an industry that is seen as all male and it takes a lot of balls for someone to go out and do that. I admire this a lot.

Going to numerous job interviews over the past couple of months where there has been an all male interviewing panel, I know too well how intimidating it can be for a woman to try and present herself in the work place. Yet one should not be judged on the way they dress or the fact that they may have young children at home. I think a lot of men today often feel intimidated by the female form. It's certainly much harder for women these days to present themselves in a positive light as they are challenging so many previous stereotypes including gaining more power in the work place and becoming much more open with their sexualities in particular. No longer is it seen as taboo for women to go out and socialise at a weekend, wear tight work attire and hold down a career that many men would be envious of. This is exactly what it stems down to, as the old saying goes; women are multi taskers. We can be both great mothers, career women and have the body of Orlando Bloom's latest bit of meat. Some may say we have it all but even I think that would be slightly sexist...

I love the idea of feeling empowered as I am sure many of you ladies reading this also do. Who doesn't enjoy being in control and calling the shots? It's much more than this though. Women in the workplace today add a whole new dimension to work ethics. New ideas, new company values and of course sex appeal. This is why the number of women putting their careers first these days is on the rise and seen as much more acceptable. Women want to feel important and what better way to feel important than by taking control outside of the home. Not only this, we see more and more women going into careers which were once thought of as being only fit for men as mentioned previously. Personally I don't have an interest in football or engineering, but I respect any female who wants to find her feet in such an industry. I have as much respect for these sorts of women as I do for those who are becoming CEO's of the latest billion dollar companies. These are the sorts of women who are changing previous stereotypes and this is exactly what we need to see more of.

I am a firm believer in the equality of the sexes and don't think women should be treated any differently, not in the work place, in regards to sexual exploration, freedom of speech or marriage. Women have as much right as men to explore their bodies, their hopes and fears and put their careers above everything else. Personally I don't have any women in my life who have inspired me to think in this way but coming from a pretty deprived area it was down to me really to push myself and that's exactly what I did. I wanted a better life and nobody or nothing was going to get in my way. This certainly isn't the case for all women however. It all depends on your upbringing which I am fully aware of. I know some women do not have a choice when it comes down to getting married at a young age but for those who live in the Western world and have no religious ties, why should they feel the need to be treated any differently to the male I ask? So if you are one of those who is reading this and thinking 'yes you're right Laura, I am going to pursue my dream job' then please do. You are entitled to be a little bit selfish and think about number one for a change. 

As this was only meant to be a short article I think I have rambled on for long enough! As always I encourage you at this point to get involved and share your thoughts on my articles but in this instance PLEASE don't hold back! I would love to get a discussion started on some of the ideas addressed in this post as this is a topic I feel very strongly about. 


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