Sunday, June 12, 2016

Local Holiday

Each town in Spain has two local holidays in a year. It means that there might be a bank holiday in Barcelona but in a nearby city which is in the same metropolitan area you have a normal work day. For example I live in Barcelona but I had to go to work even though it was holiday in Barcelona because my work is in another town nearby Barcelona. Luckily the public transportation is also quite frequent on holidays and going to work was not an issue. In addition to local holidays there are naturally holidays which are common all around the Spain.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Beach volley in Barcelona

Nova Icaria beach
You can see many beach volley nets on the beach in Barcelona. There are just some fixed nets provided by the city but people bring their own nets which you can buy for 90 euros from a sports store. The beaches are not yet fully conquered by the sunbathers so there is still space to set up a net.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

How to live for free in Spain

Beginning of the Passeig de fabra i puig
The housing crisis caused that many newly build apartments in Spain are still empty without any residents. In 2015 there were almost 400 000 new and empty apartments in Spain. The most of the empty apartments are owned by banks. This gives a possibility to occupy an empty house and start living there for free. Once you have spotted an empty house you just need to break in and change the locks. There are even corrupted bankers who might give you keys to an empty apartment for a bribe. After breaking in, you need to stay in the flat for 72 hours and getting kicked out from the flat will be a long legal process. During the long legal process which can easily take more than a year, you can still stay in the flat. It is good to have some money to get electricity, gas and running water to the flat though there might be some tricks done to make living more uncomfortable. I do not encourage anyone to do occupy a flat but I heard this story, found it interesting and decided to share it.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Touristic Barcelona

Touristic destination in Passeig de Gracia
Barcelona is 4th on the list of the most visited cities after Paris, London and Rome. On 2000 Barcelona had around 3 million visitors and on 2013 the number of visitors was over 8 million. I watched a documentary called "Bye Bye Barcelona" which discusses about the problems caused by tourists to the locals. The tourism has caused locals to escape and variety of shops to disappear in touristic areas like La Rambla, Sagrada Familia and Parc Guel. La Rambla is now full of souvenir shops and restaurants trying to attract tourists. It is estimated that 80 % of people walking in La Rambla are tourists. When I visited Barcelona on December 2009, it was free to enter Parc Guel but since last year entering the monumental area has cost 8 euros because of the massive amount of tourists visiting the park.

My Finnish colleague who has lived 6 years in Barcelona has also noticed the increased number of tourists during her stay. In the center life does not get any calmer during the siesta time. I live in a calm area where you can still see the local culture. For example shops are closed and streets are quiet during the siesta time.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Simultaneous work and holiday visit in the University of Macau

View in Macau
My father Risto stayed 5 months in Macau and I asked him to write about his experience there. Macau is known as a gambling paradise in Asia like Las Vegas in USA. Click 'Read more' to read about all the other activities you can do and experience in Macau instead of gambling

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Bull fighting arena in Barcelona

Bull fighting arena in Barcelona

The bull fighting arena from the inside
Bull fighting has a long history in Spain but in Catalunya bull fighting has been banned. in Madrid I had a chance to see an "encierro" where bulls were running in the street and afterwards in the bull fighting arena. As bull fighting is banned in Catalunya the bull fighting arena in Barcelona has been converted to a shopping mall.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Hockey on roller skates

Match of juniors in Cerdanyola
I have stayed in a town nearby Barcelona and here many children are practicing hockey on roller skates in Spanish "hockey patines". Nearby of my house is a sports hall where I saw today juniors playing. It was surprising to see that the match was played in mixed teams (girls and boys). I checked that there is a professional league in Spain where most of the teams are from the area of Catalonia and few teams on the Western coast of Spain. The size of the field in roller skate hockey is about the same size as in floorball or handball. Each team has four players and a goalkeeper. I would like to play and see how well I can do with my stickhandling skills learned in floorball. Once I get the chance to play I will write more how it is to play and more about the equipment and the rules.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Few weeks in Barcelona

I have been now few weeks in Barcelona. I was warned that Catalans might try to speak me Catalan instead of Spanish. So far I have been able to get along well with Spanish. No one has refused to speak Spanish to me. Though my impression is that Barcelona is more Catalan than I expected. Everything is written in Catalan and Spanish is not always available. Luckily with my Spanish knowledge I can understand most of the written Catalan. You can see also plenty of Catalan flags decorating the balconies of apartments.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Georgian hospitality

Tower of the wall in Signnaghi
Georgians are known to be very hospital towards guests and foreigners. I was told a story which highlights how important it is to be a good host for visitors. People from UNICEF was visiting Georgian rural areas to see if families needed some aid. The news about arrival of visitors reached the area and the families wanted to wish them welcome. One of the poor families was struggling and thinking how they could give the visitors a warm welcome. The family felt that they did not have anything good enough to offer for the visitors. Finally the family came up with an idea to sacrifice their only chicken which provided them steadily eggs and serve it for the visitors. When the visitors heard this they thought that sacrificing the chicken was stupid but the hospitality was so important to the family that they sacrificed something very valuable for them.

Georgians do not let you pay when you are their guest and will insist serving different foods. Though tourism has increased in Georgia and now there are also people who are taking advantage of the tourists. Beggars can be aggressive towards foreigners and sales people might charge more from foreigners.

Monday, January 18, 2016

500th post and moving to Spain

Winter landscape from Finland
This blog is now 6 years and 6 months old. I am very happy for being blogging for so long time and being able to publish 500 blog posts. During that time I have lived 24 months in Łódź, 15 months in Kuopio, 14 months in Joensuu,  10 months in Alcalá de Henares, 9 months in Ankara, 3 months in Madrid and 3 months in Tbilisi. It means that in Past 6 years and 6 months I have lived in 7 different cities and in 5 different countries. I have published on average 6 posts per month.

This is not an announcement to retire from blogging because a new adventure is waiting for me abroad. I am moving to Barcelona and I will continue blogging from there. I can escape the freezing cold -30 degree weather of Finland and see more sunny days in Spain.