The Spanish Passion with Gin

A refreshing gin and tonic, once the staple drink of the older members of the British middle classes, has found a new following and become the trendy tipple in bars and clubs around the world.

Spain in particular has taken the bygone G&T and turned it into an art form where it is known as Gin Tónica. The spirit now boasts its own menus dedicated to different brands, where quite often the tonic is abandoned in favour of more unusual mixers. [Read more…]


Barcelona Gaudi’s City

“Barcelona” – you can hear the beautiful operatic voice of Montserrat Caballé complemented by Freddie Mercury’s dulcet tone as they sing the chorus to this song that was chosen as the theme for the 1992 Summer Olympics held here. Barcelona, the second largest city in Spain, is indeed a jewel in the sun that shimmers and glitters, showing off the architectural legacy left by Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926).

No visit to Barcelona can be complete without visiting Gaudi’s greatest work, La Sagrada Familia Basilica, still under construction since 1882! Gaudi’s distinctive style, with its curved construction stones, twisted iron sculptures, organic-like forms and colourful designs, is instantly recognisable and provides a feast for the eyes. Be aware that you should book tickets for many of the attractions beforehand, especially for La Sagrada Familia where the queues can be extremely long. Also be alert to the fact that prices are not cheap and that to visit the Basilica and the Towers costs 19.30 Euros (August 2013). Other Gaudi attractions include Park Güell, featuring buildings, sculptures, and tile work designed by Gaudí as well as his old home, now open to the public as a small museum. Casa Batlló and La Pedrera (formerly known as Casa Milà) are the other two must-see Gaudi sights. [Read more…]


Chicago – ‘That Toddlin Town’


Chicago definitely lives up to its name ‘The Windy City’. Well, it certainly did for the couple of days that I spent there during the beginning of October, although I am reliably informed that it was unseasonably chillier than normal and the temperatures were set to rise after my visit.

However it is a great city, full of life, friendly people and great architecture, where a nod to its rich history can be found around every street corner. The Chicago River winds its way through the heart of the city, guarded over by soaring skyscrapers jostling for prime position before entering Lake Michigan. One of the best ways to get a sense of these towering giants is to take a boat tour with a guide who explains the architectural lineage of the buildings that range from pre-depression to present day, and explains through informative snippets delivered with wit about some of the architects who shaped these urban monoliths. [Read more…]


Detroit – Frozen in Time

Detroit has just been voted America’s most dangerous city and I happened to be visiting when this report was released. However, and although I didn’t venture into neighbourhoods that I didn’t know and had the privilege to be driven through the downtown area in the comfort of a 4×4 vehicle, it still portrays the vestige of a once beautiful place.

Detroit is a city frozen in time that seems to have lost its soul, and thereby lies the problem because most people go to work there or come into the city for leisure activities or to go to a restaurant and then return to the safety of the suburbs. Once the home for the rich and well to do of Michigan, where colossal buildings displayed wealth and power, the heart of Detroit was ripped out after years of racial tension. [Read more…]