Monthly Archives: August 2016

Tips when visit in Havana

Among the most dynamic and vibrant spots in the region, Havana pulsates with all the art, music, tropical sensuality and bustle that befits the largest capital city in the Caribbean.

Famously a riotous medley of laughter, politics, culture, and poverty, contemporary Cuba is going through unprecedented changes. The withdrawal of the late Fidel Castro from politics in 2008, and the arrival of his more open-minded brother Raúl, has seen economic and political reforms that have even resulted in the lifting of some US sanctions.

The ground-breaking transformations, known in Spanish as lineamientos, have introduced a modicum of modernity into daily life, and are akin to a revolution within the revolution. Today’s Havana may temper radical fervour with a craving for hard cash, but the city remains true to its heart, its passion permeating its steamy alleys and salt-sprayed sidewalks.

The UNESCO World Heritage-listed Habana Vieja (Old Havana) is the best-preserved colonial centre in the Americas, and its exquisite architecture is a top draw for photographers, artists and musicians looking for inspiration.

Taking a stroll through shady plazas to the world famous Malecón, with no specific goal beyond a minty mojito, feels like stepping back in time – until you note the iPhone-toting teens, sporty motorcycles built for speed and street entertainers.

But despite a UNESCO-funded restoration programme, Habana Vieja is falling apart, and you also may encounter the jarring sight of a brightly painted, restored house sitting alongside something crumbling and no longer habitable. Wandering outside the historic core guarantees an eye-opening look at the daily struggle faced by many families. Perennial problems including insufficient housing, low salaries, outdated infrastructure, and resource scarcity all continue to plague the country.

Yet Havana has an undeniable charm and a unique character. Even the worldliest travellers can suffer a degree of culture shock in a city where Al Capone-era cars cruise alongside late-model Audis, and children in pressed uniforms skip to school. Contradictions are rife, but trumped by a live-for-the-moment attitude embodied in Cuba’s ubiquitous rhythms.

Are you plan to visit in Marrakech

Marrakech is an intoxicating city known for its souks, spices, snake charmers and hidden palaces, though these days it’s prized as much for its trendy art galleries, hip hotels and elegant hammams. Offering a tantalising taste of Africa within easy reach of Europe, it certainly lives up to the hype, and not only thanks to its fabled ancient medina.

It is to the medina, however, that most visitors will gravitate. The ageless city of blushing pink stone has waylaid desert caravans since the 11th century, with travellers succumbing to the charms of its bluesy Gnaoua music, calls to prayer and elaborate feasts. Its dark, narrow alleyways are full of artisan workshops, shrines and sprawling markets, and riads. These traditional courtyard guesthouses range from palatial oases to smaller, more intimate affairs.

Once you’ve had your fill of getting lost (not to mention the relentless street sellers and reckless mopeds), head to the open space of Jemaa el Fna. Thronging with locals each evening, the legendary central square hosts dozens of stalls serving up sheep’s head soup from vast cauldrons, as well as grilled aubergines, ubiquitous mint tea and spicy cakes. Meanwhile, a mix of musicians, fortune-tellers, dancing cobras, storytellers and acrobats keep the crowds entertained until late. Towering over the scene is the stately minaret of Koutoubia Mosque, built in 12th century.

Beyond old Marrakech, a modern, 21st-century city is fast developing, particularly in the pulsating district known as Guéliz, and the wider Ville Nouvelle. Indeed, the city that lured hedonists and idealists in the 20th century now attracts fashionistas and trendy couples in search of luxury spas, chic bars and clubs. A flourishing arts and music scene is also firmly stamping Marrakech on the cultural map.

It’s this contrast that makes today’s Marrakech so interesting. With its maze of lanes and entrancing past, the medina will always have its appeal. But as you sip cocktails on a rooftop terrace watching the sun smoulder behind distant peaks, remember Marrakech’s legacy. This is the gateway to the immortal Atlas Mountains, and the vast Sahara beyond.

Tips when you come in Barcelona

With mountains on one side, the sea on the other and an exciting urban hub in between, Barcelona has to be the ultimate city destination. The home of modernist artist Gaudi and with a cultural verve unmatched in Spain, the capital of Catalonia is a jumble of fantastical and modern buildings, medieval streets and lively beaches.

Locals still mention the 1992 Olympics as a watershed for the city. It spurred a decade of redevelopment, particularly along the seafront and port area, helping Barcelona transform into a vibrant metropolis.

Nowadays, Spain’s second largest city is at least the cultural equivalent of Madrid but tensions with the capital have even led to a growing campaign for independence among the Catalan people. For the moment though, Barcelona remains an integral part of Spain.

Although a very modern city, Barcelona remains a stronghold of traditions, divided into 10 districts, each with its own character. The Gothic Quarter, stretching from the seafront to La Rambla, is where the city’s oldest buildings can be found – there are numerous historic churches, including the grand cathedral, La Seu, as well as countless bars and shops.

La Rambla, the most famous road in Barcelona, runs through the heart of the city; it was described by the Spanish poet Lorca as “the only street in the world I wish would never end”, and is essential viewing.

As for the architecture of Antoni Gaudí, his most famous work is La Sagrada Familia in the Eixample district. This spectacular dreamlike cathedral is still being worked on nearly a century after the artist’s death. Parc Güell is a metro-ride away on the hill of El Carmel in the Gràcia district, while his many buildings such as the colourful and amorphous Casa Batlló are must-sees.

With so much to do in the city, it’s easy to forget the beautiful nature that surrounds Barcelona. In the north stands Mount Tibidabo, while overlooking the sea is the looming hill of Montjuïc. Of course, if you don’t fancy climbing them, you can just stick to the beaches – saving your energy for the nightly parties.

Best Destination on Montreal

With its alluring fusion of cobblestone streets, flashy skyscrapers, European chic and North American swagger, Montreal is unlike any other city on the continent.

Canada’s largest French-speaking city is happy to dish out a dose of old-world charm amid its grand heritage buildings and 18th- and 19th-century narrow lanes. But it’s a progressive city too: a creative hub, where swanky boutique hotels radiate contemporary cool, and a slew of flashy new skyscrapers are competing to make their mark on the skyline. This is a sophisticated riverside metropolis, crammed with cosmopolitan eateries, hyper-cool shops and a cornucopia of festivals.

When it comes to sightseeing, there’s plenty to gawp at. Enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride (calèche) along the St Laurence River in Old Montreal and amble down to the buzzing harbour front. Stroll to Plateau Mont-Royal, where wrought-iron staircases, designer fashion boutiques, a thriving arts scene and snazzy nightspots pepper its funky streets. Pop over to Mile End, home to Jewish, Greek and Italian communities, and a hipster magnet thanks to its quirky restaurants, cafés, shops and bars.

Le Village Gai is one of North America’s largest gay districts, where you can dine alfresco in the summer when rue Sainte-Catherine becomes pedestrianised. Sip a cappuccino in Little Italy, home to the Jean-Talon Market, or escape from the urban hustle to Pôle des Rapides, a 21km (12-mile) park where you can enjoy a lazy cruise along the Lachine Canal.

Foodies go bananas for Montreal’s finger-licking cuisine. The city claims to have the largest number of eateries per capita in North America, and its markets are something to truly savour – tuck into delicious specialities like crepes and fried squid and ubiquitous maple syrup products. The food truck phenomenon has taken Montreal by storm too, with an eclectic mix of vendors dishing up everything from dim sum to schnitzel.

Up for a party? Montreal’s festival vibe is second-to-none, from world-class jamming at the International Jazz Festival to chuckles by the bucket load at the Just for Laughs Festival. And don’t miss the crazily chilly line-up of outdoor shows at winter festival Montréal en Lumière.