Barcelona the place to be

I have started to write this post in October and was always wondering why it took me so long to post it. Now I know I waited till the moment I actually moved here- my favorite city in the world- Barcelona. It is my seventh time I am moving in my life and this time I really hope it is the last one because I tell you what: moving is hard!! But I am sure I chose this time the right city. Such a big difference from Brussels sun wakes you up every day, people are smiling everywhere, you have the beach, the sea, the mountains, coffee costs you 1e what else do you need?:)

Beginning of March, seventeen degrees, the sun is shining. I am going for a walk starting from Arc de Triomf and finishing in beautiful Parc Ciutadella. You can feel the energy, the city is living, people are smiling, lot of streets artists around doing performances.


From all the cities I visited in the world Barcelona is the one I could say: this where I want to live and stay. Amazing architecture, wonderful people, tasty food, beach, sea, multicultural environment… and the list goes on and on. Last time I came here I landed at a “Zombie festival” in Sitges (which is know as a gay capital of Spain) The streets were full of scarry dressed up people and it was very hard to find a place to eat but the city made a huge impression on me. I didn’t know it before but they filmed there some parts of “Game of Thrones”(to be honest I really don’t understand why people are so crazy about it) The old town is really beautiful, in the same time you have lot of sex shops and gay shows but this makes the town very unique. I would say it’s a great place to go for a party during the night and going to the beach during the day.

My second stop was Calafell which is a small city not far from Sitges with one of the nicest beaches nearby Barcelona. Calafell is famous for the 60ties theme festival in September. So if you are into Charleston, lindy hop, Cadiillacs and 60 ties music this is the place to be.

And last but not least you definitely need to go to Montserrat multi-peaked mountain located near the city. The highest summit of Montserrat is called Sant Jeroni and stands at 1,236 meters.  I would recommend to stay all day there have a picnique and walk around, the nature is absolutely stunning.

Barcelona – Get lost in Gaudi’s dreamland

I can never get enough of walking threw the gothic quarter and admire amazing gothic architecture. Some of the buildings date from Medieval times and even as far back as the Roman settlement of Barcelona. The Barcelona cathedral was constructed from the 13th to 15th centuries and has a typical gothic style so it’s definitely worth a visit. But my favorite part is Placa Reial where I always stop for a coffee or lunch in one of the restaurants. (10e for 3 courses meal+ huge glass of wine). Thanks to my amazing guide Sergio I discovered that for every shop in Barcelona in the past they had a symbol of flower on the ground. That is why you will see a lot of flower symbol all over the city.

My second stop is Casa Batlló – Antoni Gaudi designed in the art noveau style. The whole house is just like a fairytale. The ground floor has irregular oval windows and you feel like floating in the ocean. The house is very colorful, there are no straight lines and you can see that Gaudi liked to play with light. Unfortunately I didn’t have the time to see the other house ”Casa Mila” also called Pedrera but I will leave it for my next visit.

And finally the most important – Gaudi’s masterpiece- la Sagrada Familia, it’s amazing how much it has changed in the last six years that I have not seen it. So far there are eight towers that are finished but there are still ten more to be build including the most important “Jesus Tower”. I was told it should be finished by 2025 but I have some serious doubts that it will. In any case I found it absolutely stunning how it is now. Gaudi was inspired by nature. As a small boy he had some health problems and could not play with other children so his mum took him out for a walk very often and that’s why you can see so many nature inspirations such as the columns inside the church that look like trees. The game of lights is also amazing inside the cathedral and it makes a huge difference if the day is sunny. The quee is always big, it doesn’t matter when you come so best book your ticket online. Definitely get the audio guide to discover beautiful story of this magic place, it’s really worth it.

You can never leave Barcelona without visiting the most amazing Park Güell. It’s like going for a walk in the land of dreams. The park is absolutely breathtaking. The only problem is that is pretty crowded so best go in the morning and if you can during the week.

Next stop-either climbing or taking the lift to top of the hill Montjuïc. From here you can admire the panorama of the city and in summer you can watch movies in open air.

Last but not least and actually one of my favorites parts of Barcelona are the magical fountains in Plaza España. You can admire the game of lights with music completely free of charge. The shows in summer are on Thursdays to Sundays from 21:00 to 23:00 and in winter only on Friday & Saturdays from 19:00 to 21:00.

Eat, Drink and Dance

Barcelona is a great city to have tapas and food in generall. My favorite place for tapas is Bar Ramon, which is close to Sagrada Familia. The staff are incredibly nice, the portions are big and tasty my favorite is backed mushrooms with cream cheese and some jamon, pimientos( backed green peppers be careful some are hot and some not)and after dessert we got delicious digestivo. The funny thing is that the waitress puts it on the table and you can drink as much as you want.

Another really good place for tapas is Cachitos Rambla just on Rambla Catalunya.

For drinks there is of course the touristic Oveja negra in Las Ramblas that I personally like a lot even though you have many tourists but Sangria is really, really good.

Recently my friend from Barcelona showed me a great place that looked like you would be back in the 30ties witch tacky decorations and old fashioned chairs, again quite touristic but fun- Marsella (many Americans at least when I was there)

And my very favorite place to go for a drink is El bosque de les fades(jejej very touristic but I still love it) a truly magical, the whole bar is converted to a forest with little waterfalls, so make you sure once you get there you will have a little tour before you order a drink.

One of my favorite parts(wow there are a lot of my favorites here ) of the city to eat or have a drink is Born. It’s a very lively district with lot of people. I recently discovered a Spanish, traditional pub where they serve “leche de la pantera” it’s like sweet milk but with alcohol and tastes best with cinnamon- Casa del Molinero. They don’t serve you per glass so you have to order by bottle (10e). The owner is absolutely lovely and very chatty but he won’t tell you the secret recipe of the drink;)(at least not to me but try your chance)

Last but not least la Fianna a really nice place for a date, the interior is really romantic, the lighting just perfect and the tapas even though not typically Spanish still very tasty, although I would say the place is a bit more expensive then average.

I could not leave Barcelona without checking out the salsa scene in the city. The place I can definitely recommend is Havana Club close to Barceloneta, sometimes they play live music but on the weekends check the agenda because they might have zouk or kizomba night, on Thursday the best place to go is Mojito and on Sunday is Antilla Salsa Bar(people there a bit older). I also went to Bombon but I do not recommend it on the weekends, there is a quee to get it and then inside its too crowded to dance. On Thursdays I discovered very nice place in Grazia- El Sabor. You can have classes at 21:30 and later get discount for drinks.

I wrote this post before I actually moved here so my task for the next couple months is to update this section quite often and share with you my new discoveries. The true is that there are so many things to see in this beautiful city, restaurants, coffee houses, things to do around the city that the whole life won’t be enough to see it all but I promise I will do my best 😉










Covering a story in the field

When I was at the university I wrote my dissertation on the Role of the Media in Conflict based on Rwanda and Darfur. I interviewed many journalists that covered both conflicts. I always thought it must be very difficult, challenging but exciting to cover a story in Africa. I wanted to try it myself. After working in Europe and Asia, this year I finally got the opportunity to go to the black continent.  I got a grant with the European Union and Minority Rights Group International. I went to Uganda- pearl of Africa to cover stories connected with minority rights issues. I focused on the homosexual rights as the President has just signed the anti gay bill that allows imprisoning people for seven or fourteen years if they are homosexuals. My second topic was Batwa tribe, which is a minority group in Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and DRC that was evicted from their forests in early nineties and now they don’t have their own land and place to live.

Field visit

The project started as an online course. Once you finish with good results the six lucky participants are offered a face to face training in Uganda. Me and 5 other European girls from Hungary, Bulgaria and Poland really enjoyed the first two days  of training that prepares you how to report on minority rights and more importantly how to talk to the community. As a freelance reporter I’m used to the news environment, which is quite fast, and very often you need to work under pressure. I found it quite difficult to conduct interviews with those people. There are some rules you need to follow in order to get the information you need. Those people have been threw a lot in their life so you need to first gain their trust and talk to them without camera before you start interviewing them. On our first day visit in the community we didn’t have much time so I was running around with my camera trying to capture as much as possible and I didn’t have much time for interviews. I was quite frustrated even when talking to people, which doesn’t have a good effect on the people you interview. But the second day was much better. I could actually spend time with community listen, observe and talk to them. They opened up in their interviews and were very interested to tell you their story. Also it was the first time I had to work with translator, as the people there don’t speak English. This was another challenge, as you cannot really ask follow up questions and is more time consuming.

Be professional but if  you have to – cry

Working in the field is difficult. You don’t always have the logistical arrangement that you have in the city. You always depend on other people like fixers, interpreters etc. Apart from that you usually talk about difficult topics like rape, poverty, malnutrition, death. It was very difficult for me when I was interviewing one of the Batwa women who told me that since she was evicted from the forest and living in the slums she doesn’t have food for her child or for herself. She needs to either beg or collect plastic bottles and then sell them. She is also quite ill and can’t  go the hospital. When I was talking to her and recording her on the camera tears came to my eyes but I tried not to cry and be professional. At the end I gave her some of my clothes and money. She hid them in her hat and then cried. She said to me” Thank you angel you just save my child” This was truly the best moment in my career. This amazing feeling you get that maybe with your story someone will see it and make a difference in those peoples lives. To cover a story in the field you need to be sensitive to other peoples feelings and let them tell you their story, you should not rush them or interrupt them. Be their friend and not a journalist.

Africa is not Europe

 Africa is not an easy country to work from but once you will get a story there you can get it anywhere. I feel that even after this short 2 weeks I learnt really a lot not just from the MRG training and their professional team but also from the local journalists. When being in Kampala and covering my LGBT story I was lucky to meet two local journalists who explained to me that the western world very often describes Africa with their own eyes without even asking Africans for their opinions and misinterpreting many things. They made me sensitive that I should look at my story not just with my own eyes but with eyes of local people. This was very precious advice and helped me a lot when writing my stories.

Changing the world is fun

Being back in Europe I look now at everything from different perspective. As a person and as a journalist I m starting appreciating more little things that previously didn’t matter. And as my personal motto is “changing the world is fun” I know I won’t change it from one day to another but at least I can try.  I have now a mission that I want to accomplish and make people more aware of the problems in Africa. It is something I promised to the Batwa people- to share their story with the world.