Tag Archives: Review

Beyond the Tourism: Gaudi, Park Güell and Barcelona.

Beyond the Tourism is my new series of articles which will focus on popular places with information useful to a tourist, only with the sense and reality of a local. I aim to also provide history and tips and tricks for making the most out of your visit!

If you don’t know who Gaudi is, about 5 minutes after stepping off the plane in Barcelona you’ll get a good idea.  Heck, if you read the in-flight magazine you’ll know before you even step off! And even if you don’t know the name, you’ll certainly know the figure.

Gaudi, full name Antoni Gaudí i Cornet, is Barcelona’s most famous and notable figure. He designed or inspired the majority of the famous landmarks in Barcelona. Here’s a list for proof;

Born in 1852, Gaudi showed from a young age a great understanding of mathematics and was exceptionally talented in arts and craftmanship. This is helped to create his unique style of interesting shapes and textures, as he could easily calculate how it would all fit together and stay sturdy. Not impressed so far? Look up  La Sagrada Família and click on “images” and you’ll get a better understanding.

Gaudi’s other interests and inspiration were nature and religion. It’s a weird and wonderful fusion that creates extremely unique structures.

And speaking of unique structures, Parc  Güell certainly is one. Commissioned by Count Eusebi  Güell (where the name comes from!) it was designed in mind for a “bohemian” village, where all the art-loving aristocrats (because it wasn’t going to be cheap) could live and mingle inside it’s creative boarders. Sadly, only two houses were finished as the project couldn’t gain enough backing and funding. Güell moved into one of them, and convinced Gaudi to move into the other. Today, Gaudi’s house is now home to the Gaudi musuem, which holds some of the furniture he designed within it. Please note you’ll have to pay extra (I believe 5 euros at the time of writing) to enter this house, as it is not included in the main ticket price.

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So here’s what you need to know about visiting Parc Güell as a tourist or traveller: It can be hard to find. Seriously, whoever writes the signs to get there needs to be fired. They lead you in circles, take in into bizarre routes that confuse a non-local and can require asking for directions which isn’t always easy if you can’t speak the language or end up in a residential area with no one else around like I did.

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The easiest way to get there: is to take the Line 3 to Lessops or Vallcarca. Know that it will be a 10-15 minute walk including about 700 metres uphill. There are sign posts but they can be misleading and/or confusing. If it’s a busy day you can usually just follow others in front. You will go through a busy street first, then at one point turn left and walk up hill. You’ll know you’re heading to the right place when you’re surrounded by tourist shops selling Parc Güell postcards or merchandise and find there suddenly seems to be lots of other people!


Map by http://www.barcelona-tourist-guide.com/ 

You can also take Bus Lines H6, 32, 24 and 92.  Just check with the driver “Es Parc Güell en esta ruta?” (Is Parc Guell on this route?). If he says yes, then say “dos entradas para Parc Güell por favor!” (two tickets for Parc Güell please!). You can also say this last one when buying parc entrances.

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Also, sometime in the past two years they have started to charge entrance for the main area of the park. The area is now roped off and heavily guarded, so they make sure you don’t sneak it. Walking around the park can be harder as you have to queue up and spend to get close enough to take decant pictures. Queues are long and if the sun is hot it’s tedious. To buy tickets at the bottom of the parc, near the main entrance, there are two queues; one for paying with cash and one for paying with card. However you can buy tickets on line, and they can even be purchased up to three months before! Rates change but currently for me, the most expensive ticket is 7 euros. Discounts available for disabled, elderly and children.

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See that dragon? Yep, that’s about how much you’ll be able to see it once you’re there too!

Most days it’s hard to get close to the famous lizard (although the Spanish/Catalans refer to it as El Drac – the dragon).

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Inside this little area are seats, this is a great spot for a break and a bite to eat… providing you’ve bought one with you!

Ice cream and water are sold just outside the parc slightly more expensive then down the street. You can eat and drink in the parc, but you’ll have to keep the rubbish about you until you can find a bin later.

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If you’re impressed with the music, there’s a high chance they’ll be selling their CD too, so you can go home and re-live that Parc Güell experience. 

The parc may seem small once you’re in it, but there’s lots of places to explore and little hidden gems, and quite a few stairs to work on your thighs. There are also lots of musicians and artists placed around the parc. This creates a great atmosphere!

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Not really sure why I took a photo of the toilet queue but, it’s come in handy it seems!

There are some electronic portable type toilets in certain areas of the parc, that cost money. There are also some built in ones near the upper entrance to the roped off main area and food carts. These always have impressive queues. Just know that for anything other then walking around there is probably a long queue for it. If you have children they will probably tire quickly; entertain them by telling them the history of the parc or Gaudi, detailing the lizard/El Drac or bribe them with the promise of ice cream later!

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Credit to those Barcelona Bus Tours I’ve taken about 5 times with visiting friends and family, and the information I read when living in Catalunya for my sources!


Please note: Unless stated otherwise, all photos were taken by me.

My Little Box UK Review – January 2015

Well, it’s official; I’m in love.

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Today My Little Box arrived from last month (I ordered at a point when they’d run out, only to get an email two weeks ago saying they were getting more in stock so I would be able to get a January box too) and I’m over the moon if I’m honest.

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I love the “Good Vibes only” sticker on the packaging – very cute.

When I first saw the brown box the “little” box arrives it – I was surprised (and pleased!) with it’s size. It has a bit bigger then I was expecting, which was strange after Birchbox seemed smaller then I was expecting. More room for goodies though, I suppose!

The cartoon drawing on the box is adorable and many similar are found throughout. Looking at these is a treat alone, in my opinion! You get a card each month with a quote and drawing, and it’s the first thing (besides the adorable ribbon) you see.

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Beneath that was a magazine, which looking through was full of great articles and a few unique things you don’t find in my magazines – like this motivational quotes. Love it. I also love the material the magazine is made from – only slightly glossy and much stronger then  most magazines.

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I love this outfit too. Summer inspiration, as I think I’d freeze to death if I wore in now… she types from under a blanket.

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The contents had a few variations on lifestyle tips and inspiration – love the photography throughout. Quite arty and pleasing on the eye!

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Some sweet motivation pages to cut out and hang up.

Under the magazine was… a gym bag! Woohoo! It’s really adorable and lightweight and useful for the gym or even as an overnight bag. I do think you’d have to be careful as to how much you put in there weight wise – though this is a general rule for all bags. A towel, gym clothes (or swimsuit or change of clothes), keys and some toiletries should be fine though.

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  And underneath that there is a calender! Simple, stylish and useful if you do not have one already or could do with two. (i.e One at work, one at home… one in the kitchen, one in your study…). The simplicity and size of it means it’d be great for pinning to a  small cork-board.

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Last but by no means least, is a small draw-string bag with beauty goodies inside! This month included a facial spray, red nail-vanish from  Nails Inc and a facial cream from . Tucked next to them all was a little leaflet explaining the history and use of each product and company. Very cute, and all my ideal kind of products. No kidding, I love facial sprays – great for traveling, keeping nice skin through -out a hot day or very cold one (helps keep it shiny and healthy-looking, stopping the dryness such weather will give you otherwise).

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The red colour is very pretty, and should suit most shades. Do be warned it takes a while to dry though – or you may end up ruining your little bag like I did!

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The gloopy 3-D texture on my nail is NOT caused from the nail polish they provided – well, they’re not to blame anyway. I was just so excited to test it I tested it over my pre-existing chipped nail vanish… 

So… as for the VERDICT: 

How usable are the products?:  Depending on whether you go to the gym… extremely useful! If you’re not into fitness the gym bag, motivational quotes and calender may not be so great to you.

How good are the products?: I’m a little wary as to how much weight the bag can hold and how it’d react in the rain but, other then those queries I think it’s good! (great even!). The nail vanish is from Nails Inc, so yes it’s good (if you can be patience for a little while…). The facial spray feels lovely and smells rather pleasant. At first I thought “ooh fruity!” but that quickly changed to “…floral?”. Different but, nice regardless. I have not tried the cream yet but am looking forward to! And as I said before, I like the material in which the magazine (and other little bits and bobs) are made from. All seem recyclable (and even made from recycled paper for some?)

Would you buy it again?: Yes! I believe I’ve already bought February’s 🙂 It’s such a nice little treat to receive and,  considering what some others had said about this being the worst box so far… I’m very excited!!!

So what’s the price of the box and shipping like?: The box is £11, and shipping is £3.95. Why that pricey? Because it’s a pretty big box full of goodies and is being shipping over from France. Don’t worry though – if you’re curious to try a box but are turned off by the shipping price, type in FIRSTBOX at the checkout to only pay £11 for the first month (basically, get free shipping). Remember to unsubscribe after the initial payment and box is sent if you’re hesitant, as they will automatically charge you the 1st of the next month.

Anything extra I should know?: This box usually arrives between the 10th-20th of each month, unless you’ve ordered a little later in the month and they still have some boxes left over. It took 2 weeks for mine to arrive, although others have had theirs arrive earlier, and they advise that it can be between 2-3 weeks. Do be warned they shall charge you for the box before they let you know – something that may not be great for those in a financial struggle!

“Is Birchbox worth it?” – Birchbox Review, January 2015.

I first heard about beauty boxes many, many years ago when a friend at boarding school mentioned the concept. Being however young I was (certainly 16 or under) I didn’t have the money nor the interest really. Yet recently I came across them again – Facebook (dam it’s targeted adverts now) had a promo for My Little Box, and it looked cute so I looked into it. When researching the adorable French beauty and lifestyle box, I came across Glossybox and Birchbox and confused as to which one to go for… I subscribed to all of them, deciding that with the help of promos codes I could trail them all at least one month. Well, my Birchbox arrived today and I’m glad I canceled my subscription before I opened it… or I would have had an hour long battle trying to get my fingers to click that “save changes” button. I really like it!

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The theme of this month was exercise (well,  technically Women’s Health), which is also the theme of My Little Box (I snooped around a little… or a lot during my research). Some people seemed really annoyed that the two boxes have shared a similar theme for this month, but as a health freak I am loving that I get two boxes full of goodies dedicated towards it! Birchbox has some great after-gym samples and motivations, and from what I’ve seen on this month’s My Little Box I’m going to get a great gym bag to keep them in!

So enough blabbering on for now, here’s the goodies!

IMG_6878IMG_6879First thing I noticed was a Women’s Health magazine offer and then a sweet little Welcome! card.

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This is pretty cute. Will I actually stick to it? Probably not. But the tips weren’t that bad and full of extra information on the back.

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This is what the box looks like once you’re past all the paper leaflets they include. The bag is a good idea! But I can’t help question if I’ll get one every month and if so what I’m meant to do with them?
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Tiny, but going to be useful for weekend trips!

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Verdict:

How usable are the products?: Very useable I’d say. In fact, the only thing I worried about was the stila lipgloss colour. I saw they had red ones and was a little gutted I didn’t receive that colour, but then remembered I choose the “natural” look in my personal survey. It is still a pretty colour though, and upon wearing it, it comes out rather clear – so would be easily to use on top of other lip colours.

How good are the products?: I am quite in love with the Dr. Jart+”clear away gel”. I was expecting it to feel all sticky and goopy but it’s so smooth and pleasant smelling! The lipgloss is not sticky either – rather moisturizing actually, and the matcha tea sample was amazing. I love matcha tea though so I may be (read: am) biased. The cooling gel I accidentally tried (got some on my fingers then wiped on my arm to rid of it) but haven’t tried it for it’s proper use yet. The Electric shampoo and Agave oil I’m saving for a weekend/week away where I can’t bring my beloved Moroccan Oil, so can’t comment on them yet.

What about the brands?: Dr. Jart+ is a Korean brand I’ve been gifted a BB cream and facial oil of before. I was surprised to see such a company featured, but I love it! As for the others I have never heard of them (although Electric hair does sound familiar), but am going to assume that’s good. For a company that claims to sell luxury samples, I’d be annoyed if it was something I’d recognized from Superdrug or Boots. (No disses to Superdrug, I myself use and appreciate it, but it is known for its affordable pricing not “luxury” products).

Would you buy it again?: YES! Literally, as soon as my money for February comes in (it’s going to come in around the middle of the month, and should I be so lucky with the new job I’m hoping to get it should be the end of the month) I’m going to re-subscribe. I am a little worried that I’m in love with the theme and that boxes of future months won’t live up to this standard however… only one way to find out!

So what’s the price of the box, and shipping like?: The price of the box is £12.95, and shipping is free. Look around for promos though, if you’re a little hesitant to try it. I managed to get my first one for only £7.95, woohoo!

Anything extra I should know?: Birchbox has a pretty cool reward system. While you can’t spend the points on future boxes, I actually think it works out better than that. You can spend the points on full-sized products in the shop. The points are fairly easy to collect too – 1 point for every £1 you spend (so buying a box each month alone gives you 10 points), and you get 5 for every review you get – and there’s 6 items and the box as a whole to review – which is another 35. That means in less than three months you’ve got enough to get £10 store credit. And if you really like something featured in that month’s box, it will have free shipping on its full sized product. Which is pretty awesome!

Now to wait for My Little Box and Glossybox to arrive! 🙂