Exploring the south of Spain

In 2014 I went to Murcia. I took the time to visit other cities in the south of Spain as well, like Cartagena and Granada. In Granada, we visited Alhambra, an amazing complex of Arabic palaces.


Facts about the city:

Granada was a Muslim Kingdom for 800 years, which is the longest Muslim rule in Spain.

The Alcazaba, the Moorish citadel, is the oldest part of the Alhambra in Granada. It was built in the 11th century. The name “Alhambra” (meaning “the Red” in Arabic) derives from the red, sun-dried bricks of the citadel.




The city is funny and cozy. It has the big Cathedral of Murcia with narrow streets full of shops and some squares where you can sit down to eat an ice cream. Murcia also has great bars and it’s mainly a university town.


The city, as the capital of the comarca Huerta de Murcia is called Europe’s orchard due to its long agricultural tradition and its fruit, vegetable, and flower production and exports.

I spent a very fun week with him, Laura, Cátia, Sofia, Tainan, the Italian guy, the Brazilian girl, Bruno, etc. We had some dinner parties and went out to the Erasmus bar in the evening.



During my stay in Murcia, Ricardo and I took the opportunity to visit other cities in southern Spain, such as Cartagena. The town is funny, with a large, ancient amphitheater, and a very cute marina.

Cartagena is a major naval station.  As far back as the 16th century it was one of the most important naval ports in Spain, together with Ferrol in the North. It is still an important naval seaport, the main military haven of Spain, and is home to a large naval shipyard.


The confluence of civilizations as well as its strategic Harbour, together with the rise of the local mining industry is manifested by a unique artistic heritage, with a number of landmarks such as the Roman Theatre, the second largest of the Iberian Peninsula after the one in Mérida (built between 5 and 1 BC).

This and an abundance of Phoenician, Roman, Byzantine and Moorish remains, result of the bourgeoisie from the early 20th century. Cartagena is now established as a major cruise ship destination in the Mediterranean and an emerging cultural focus.





We also went to Granada for two days and I loved the city. We stayed in a hostel called El Granado and we paid 36€ in total for one night, so 18€ per person.

Granada is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains. It is a fantastic city, full of Arab influences. I really felt like I was in Morocco! It has narrow streets with places to smoke chicha and shops that sell typical souvenirs (we went to one of these bars), places to eat tapas, etc.


But undoubtedly the most beautiful and special part of Granada are the Arabian palaces of the Alhambra! Well worth the money. The Alhambra, a Moorish citadel and palace, is the most renowned building of the Andalusian Islamic historical legacy with its many cultural attractions that make Granada a popular destination among the touristic cities of Spain. It is all Arabic, with typical arches and ceilings in detail carved with huge gardens and beautiful fountains.


We also visited the Generalife, which is a garden area attached to the Alhambra which became a place of recreation and rest for the Granadan Muslim kings when they wanted to flee the tedium of official life in the Palace.

We went to see the Cathedral of Granada. The cathedral is built over the Nasrid Great Mosque of Granada, in the center of the city. We entered the Royal Chapel. The Catholic Monarchs chose this place as their burial site by a royal decree dated September 13, 1504.

The Almohad influence on architecture is also preserved in the Granada neighborhood called the Albaicín with its fine examples of Moorish and Morisco construction. Granada is also well-known within Spain for the University of Granada.


Germany of the post-war

In 2014 I went to Germany with a friend for the first time. We went to visit Frankfurt, a city with some interesting things to see but a lot of contrasts, since a lot of the old monuments were destroyed by the war and now a big part of the city is modern.


Facts about the city:

During ancient times, Frankfurt was the center of the Holy Roman Empire where kings – and later emperors – were crowned.

The famous writer, humanist and scientist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was born in Frankfurt in 1749. In 1860, it also became the final resting place of the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer.


I went with my friend to Frankfurt for my birthday and it was freezing cold. We stayed in a very nice hotel in the center of Frankfurt, near the train station. It was called Frankfurt Hostel and it was on Kaiserstr. 74, Bahnhofsviertel, Frankfurt. We paid € 147 for three nights – 24.50€ each, per night. We also had breakfast included. The balcony of our room had a very beautiful view of the skyscrapers.


Behind our hostel we discovered that there was the Red Light District of Frankfurt. Creepy! Despite being a city with not much to see, we had a lot of fun. We went to Starbucks, we went for kebabs in an Indian restaurant down the street… We also went to a calm bar next to the hostel where Rita sang me happy birthday.


The coolest place where we went out at night was a pub called O’Reilley’s Irish Pub. Some German guys who were there chatted with us and there was one who asked me for a second of my time and I literally gave him a second of my time and said “bye!” haha

Then on the street we also met a gentleman who asked us for the lighter, who had just moved to Germany. A funny thing in Germany is that, because I was blonde and white, everyone spoke to me in German, thinking I was from there. The same didn’t happen with Rita, because she really looks latin. Another funny thing about the trip was the fact that we always used the underground without paying.


Speaking now of what we visited, the most beautiful place was Römerberg without a doubt. It is very beautiful with those typical buildings. If it was not for World War II, Frankfurt would still be pretty. The Römer house is located opposite the Old St. Nicholas church and has been the city hall (Rathaus) of Frankfurt for over 600 years. The Haus Römer is actually the middle building of a set of three located in the Römerberg (square).



We also went to the Museumsufer, which is the “neighborhood” of museums, on the other side of the river, and entered the Staedel Museum. The Städel Museum has one of the most important collections in Germany. The Städel Museum owns 2,700 paintings (of which 600 are displayed) and a collection of 100,000 drawings and prints as well as 600 sculptures.

We went to Dom St. Bartholomaus (or Frankurt Cathedral), a giant cathedral that we could barely fit into photos. Then we crossed Eiserner Steg, a bridge full of love locks, and visited the Liebieghaus, a beautiful house that contains a sculpture museum.

The Eiserner Steg (Iron bridge) is a footbridge. The first bridge of wrought iron was built in the year of 1868. It was replaced in 1911/1912 by a slightly larger cantilever bridge. The bridge was blown up by the Wehrmacht in the final days of World War II, but it has been rebuilt shortly afterwards in the year of 1946. In 1993 it had been fully renovated.


We passed Paulskirche (St. Pauls Church). Paulskirche is notable for being the seat of the 1848 Frankfurt Parliament, the first publicly and freely-elected German legislative body. Although now a United Protestant church, it was started as a Lutheran church in 1789—coincidentally the same year as the French Revolution.

We also went to Dreikönigskirche, to the Hauptwache square, which is a central point of Frankfurt and one of the most famous squares and to Katarinenkirche, a lutheran church located nearby. The Stock ExchangeBerger Strasse (a cosmopolitan boulevard with many bars, pubs and restaurants and two of Frankfurt’s most traditional cider houses, Solzer and Zur Sonneand) the Goethe House.

We also went to the Alte Oper (opera house). It was inaugurated in 1880 but destroyed by bombs in 1944. It was rebuilt, slowly, in the 1970s, opening again in 1981. Many important operas were performed for the first time in Frankfurt, including Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana in 1937.



We discovered the Chinese Garden. In 1990 a Chinese garden, the ‘Garden of Heavenly Peace’ was created in memory of the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre. The garden is authentic, created according to the principles of feng shui by Chinese craftsmen. Most of the materials were imported from China. The walled garden’s entrance is guarded by two Chinese lions. The garden features a temple, pagoda and the beautifully carved Jade Bridge.


There was also another day when we left the center of Frankfurt and went to a “neighborhood” full of typical German bars and pubs (and we also visited Hooter’s, a typical American pub). As I forgot the Citizen’s Card in the hostel and there is even mandatory to show it to drink, no bar was accepting us inside.


At the end we ended up in a Moroccan bar, with the owner passing Brazilian music to please us and even chatted with us. It was fun!


In the land of Harry Potter and Beatles

In 2013 I went with my best friends from childhood to London. It was an amazing experience to travel with them to a city that has so much to offer and to see. We also went to the Warner Bros – Harry Potter studios, a universe that was part of our childhood.


Facts about the city:

Voltaire, Edgar Allen Poe, Ho Chi Minh, Mahatma Gandhi, Vincent Van Gogh, Sigmund Freud, and Hiter’s older half-brother all lived in London for a time.

The Trafalgar Square Christmas tree comes all the way from Norway. To show their gratitude to the people of England for their alliance in World War II, the people of Oslo, Norway, present London with the Christmas tree every year.

There are around 20 subterranean rivers flowing beneath London’s streets.

In order to drive in downtown London between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. one must pay “congestion charge” of £10.



This continues to be one of the best trips I have ever done, also because I went with my three best friends from childhood, who still continue to be my best friends nowadays: Soraya, Paula and Inês. We went to London for a week.

In the first night we stayed at Zita and Leandro’s place, our friends from Paredes who live now in London. It was a horrible experience. Leandro is a spoiled boy who doesn’t want to lose the place on the couch to play PS2, so we had to eat on the kitchen floor (because the kitchen has no table or benches). Zita was no better, complaining that we left some hairs in the shower and that the floor was wet. We didn’t feel welcome at all. At least the next day we could move to Tuga’s place, another friend of ours.


Tuga lives in Wembley with his father, stepmother and brothers (two twins of our age and a little one). Tuga was a friend of Inês. During our stay in London, he and Inês ended up falling in love and kissing and currently they are married and have a kid 🙂 Tuga’s family welcomed us as if we were a part of the family. They were incredible! They gave us the best food that you can buy and they took us to a pub where they paid for our drinks.


In one week in London we managed to see everything. We visited several museums. The first was the British Museum.

The British Museum is dedicated to human history, art and culture. Its permanent collection, numbering some 8 million works, is among the largest and most comprehensive in existence and originates from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its beginnings to the present.


Then we went to the National Gallery, which is on the famous Trafalgar Square. Founded in 1824, it houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900. It is among the most visited art museums in the world, after the Louvre, the British Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


We also visited the National History Museum.  The museum is home to life and earth science specimens comprising some 80 million items within five main collections: botany, entomology, mineralogy, paleontology and zoology. The museum is a center of research specializing in taxonomy, identification and conservation. Given the age of the institution, many of the collections have great historical as well as scientific value, such as specimens collected by Charles Darwin. The museum is particularly famous for its exhibition of dinosaur skeletons and ornate architecture.



We also visited some parks, such as Hyde Park and St. James Park, full of cute squirrels. In the late 20th century, Hyde Park became known for holding large-scale free rock music concerts, featuring groups such as Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones and Queen. Regarding St. James Park, it has a small lake, St James’s Park Lake, with two islands, West Island, and Duck Island, named for the lake’s collection of waterfowl.


We also visited major monuments such as Big Ben, at the north end of the Palace of Westminster.


The Big Ben’s tower is officially called Elizabeth Tower, renamed to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II in 2012. The tower was designed by Augustus Pugin in a neo-gothic style. When completed in 1859, it was, says horologist Ian Westworth, “the prince of timekeepers: the biggest, most accurate four-faced striking and chiming clock in the world”. It stands 96 m tall, and the climb from ground level to the belfry is 334 steps.

The Palace of Westminster is the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Commonly known as the Houses of Parliament after its occupants, the Palace lies on the north bank of the River Thames. There was a day when a friend of Soraya who lives in London came to us and we were in this area taking pictures and eating box sushi at dusk.



We saw Westminster Abbey.  It is one of the United Kingdom’s most notable religious buildings and the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English and, later, British monarchs.  Since the coronation of William the Conqueror in 1066, all coronations of English and British monarchs have been in Westminster Abbey. There have been at least 16 royal weddings at the abbey since 1100.


We were very close to London Eye, but we didn’t go up. The London Eye is a giant Ferris wheel 135 m tall. When it opened to the public in 2000 it was the world’s tallest Ferris wheel.


We went to Tower of London, which is a historic castle located on the north bank of the River Thames, and to the Tower Bridge, which is a combined bascule and suspension bridge located next to the castle.


We visited churches such as St. Paul’s Cathedral.  The cathedral is one of the most famous and most recognizable sights of London. Its dome, framed by the spires of Wren’s City churches, has dominated the skyline for over 300 years.


Services held at St Paul’s have included the funerals of Admiral Nelson, the Duke of Wellington, Sir Winston Churchill and Baroness Thatcher; jubilee celebrations for Queen Victoria; peace services marking the end of the First and Second World Wars; the wedding of Charles and Lady Diana; the launch of the Festival of Britain; and the thanksgiving services for the Silver, Golden and Diamond Jubilees and the 80th and 90th birthdays of Elizabeth II.

We also went to see if the queen was at Buckingham Palace. On one of the days we did a free walking tour that went through many of these sites, including Buckingham Palace, and that’s where we watched the royal guards exchange.


We also took the chance to go to Piccadilly Circus, to the M&M’s store and to China Town. Piccadilly Circus is a road junction built in 1819 to connect Regent Street with Piccadilly. It is particularly known for its video display and neon signs mounted on the corner building on the northern side.


Another day that I loved was when we went for a walk in Camden Town, which is a kind of giant outdoor market with an alternative style where you can find everything for sale.


We also went to Kings Cross station to take a picture on the 9 3/4 platform, imitating Harry Potter.

We went to Abbey Road. The eleventh album released by the Beatles in 1969 has the same name – Abbey Road. The recording sessions for the album were the last in which all four Beatles participated. The album’s cover features the four band members walking across a zebra crossing outside Abbey Road Studios and has become one of the most famous and imitated images in the history of popular music. We also recreated that image and since we were 4, it was perfect!

We still visited other sites like St. James’s Palace, which is one of the most senior royal palaces in the UK, and The Household Cavalry Museum. We walked a lot by tube in London. At first it seemed very confusing, but then we got the hang of the map.


Finally, the most fantastic day of all was undoubtedly the day we visited the Warner Bros studios and visited the magical world of Harry Potter recordings. It was only me, Soraya and Paula, because Inês did not have the money to go and stayed at home. But for us who are fans and we grew up with the saga, it was worth every penny.


First opened in March 2012, Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter is where all eight Harry Potter films were produced. The Studio Tour showcases the incredible British talent, imagination and artistry that brought J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World to life on screen.

We could step on to authentic sets, discover the magic behind spellbinding special effects and explore the behind-the-scenes secrets of the Harry Potter film series.

We took pictures in the most iconic settings, such as the common room and Harry’s bedroom. We got into the flying car, drank butter beer, put on the selection hat … It was awesome!

We visited Hogsmeade and at the end of the tour we still saw a Hogwarts mock-up.

I hope this was just one of many trips with them.