Culture Focus: Barcelona

By Eliza Rawson – I was fortunate enough to spend three days in Barcelona over New Years (which has become my favourite city!) Barcelona is an amazing, vibrant city that is full of history, culture and amazing architecture. Perfect all year round…

By Eliza Rawson


I was fortunate enough to spend three days in Barcelona over New Years (which has become my favourite city!) Barcelona is an amazing, vibrant city that is full of history, culture and amazing architecture. Perfect all year round and taking just under two hours when flying from London, the city is great for a weekend break or a week long holiday.

Here are my top tips and places to visit if you’re wanting to make the most out of a short city break and see what Barcelona has to offer.

Attractions –

La Rambla:

Situated in the centre of Barcelona, La Rambla was a five minute walk from our Air BnB, bursting with tourists, tapas bars and souvenir stalls. The architecture was amazing and you could definitely understand why the area is so popular with tourists. There is plenty to do and a wide variety of food and drink places too.

Magic Fountain:

This is where the New Years fireworks were hosted. At night, the fountain had lights that projected into the sky which lit up the night sky amongst the stars. During the day, you could clearly see the water display and the architecture surrounding it which was so picturesque. 100% recommend climbing to the top which gives incredible views of the Barcelona skyline.


Teleferic de Montjuic:

Barcelona is incredibly hilly so I recommend wearing trainers (not heeled boots like me) when you’re exploring. We walked up to a cable cart centre which took us up to Montjuic – the views were phenomenal. Once reaching the top, you are welcomed to more incredible views of the ocean, harbour and Barcelona. You can either jump back on the cable cart to get back or walk all the way down and grab a bus.


Gothic Quarter:

The quarter is full of picturesque architecture, a tourist haven. Again, a popular place filled with shops, attractions and food bars. The gothic quarter makes a great spot for a photo and to explore the side streets, bursting with culture.

Barcelona Cathedral:

Situated in the Gothic Quarter, the cathedral is a must see! We didn’t go inside but from the outside, again, has phenomenal architecture and looks amazing when the sun is shining.  Extremely popular with tourists so would recommend buying tickets online if you wanted to go inside.


Arc De Trimof:

This is probably one of my favourite attractions! Although there isn’t much to do there, the walk and views were amazing amongst the blue sky and palm trees.



Sagrada Familia:

The temple of Antoni Gaudi which is still being built on his behalf! A must see even if you don’t pay to go inside, the architecture, detail and colour was like nothing I have ever seen before. Highly recommend jumping on the subway and visiting the Sagrada.


Food & Drink –

Macchina Pasta Bar:

The first restaurant we visited when arriving in Barcelona and still to this day, I’m dreaming of the pasta I had. The restaurant operated on you choosing the exact dish you wanted – the type of pasta, sauce, toppings, you created your own meal! The food wasn’t too overpriced either so I’d say 100% worth taking a visit if you love pasta.


A sweet tooth haven – the only words I can use to describe this bakery. The doughnuts came in a wide topping variety, from pistachio to oreo to kinder bueno – the toppings were suited for everyone’s taste buds.

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Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

Tandem Cocktail Bar:

A small, quirky cocktail bar found on Trip Advisor (another fab tip when on holiday, make use of Trip Advisor to find the small, independent restaurants and cocktail bars – they always end up being the best!) The bar had every type of alcohol you could imagine, they didn’t even have a menu! You created your own cocktail based on what taste/flavour you fancied. For £10 a cocktail which is standard, I thought this was very reasonable and 100% worth every penny.


La Boqueria Market:

I’d say La Boqueria Market is both an attraction and food place but if you’re looking for local cuisines and fresh meat, fish, fruits & veg, this is your place! The market was bursting with freshness and a great place to experience local foods.


Culture Focus: Budapest

This gem of a city in the small country of Hungary in the heart of Europe is a popular getaway destination for young adults, partly due its eye candy…

Your non-tourist guide to a great Budapest weekend

By Rebeka Kancsar

This gem of a city in the small country of Hungary in the heart of Europe is a popular getaway destination for young adults, partly due its eye candy architecture and affordable flights and hotels. Now, you could google ‘things to do in Budapest’ and figure that catching the hop-on hop-off and going from Fisherman’s Bastion to Heroes’ Square might be your best, or you could focus slightly less on the tourist hot-spots and explore some of these not-so-hidden treasures of Budapest.

Road to Ruins

Take a city known for its history, add craft beer, and you get ruin pubs—filled with antiques, flacking lights and art. Notoriously in District VII, buildings—or rather, their remains—can look like what you’d expect to see on urbex blogs, graffiti and fallen pieces of concrete, where you can easily walk past a ruin pub without realising. Considerate to neighbours nearby, it’s an unofficial rule that you have to be quiet on the streets and near the entrance, but once you walk through the gates of Szimpla Kert and into the courtyard, you’ll find yourself in another world, consisting of chill music, laidback atmosphere, projected silent movies, multicolour lights and wall art, filled with thrift-shop gadgets that serve no purpose but are fun to twiddle. Bikes wrapped in fairy lights hanging from the ceiling as chandeliers, old square TV’s mounted onto the wall, disco balls, broken road signs and an old Trabant car covered with graffiti with a table in it—a perfect playground for young adults. Speaking of adult playgrounds, it’s also close to the Pinball Museum, where you can play with over 130 vintage and new machines.


If you ever came across a photo of Budapest, chances are you’ve seen Buda Castle on it. You could take the £40+ walk inside the castle, or you could opt for a walk in the Castle Gardens for free and see historical architecture and a panoramic view of the Chain Bridge and Parliament Building over the Danube.

Another skyline spot on the Buda side of the city is right next to Gellért Thermal Baths—which is worth spending a day in if you’re one for spas, soaking in warm waters that are believed to be healing, although it’s crowded with tourists during holiday season, but Ryan Gosling apparently enjoyed it too. Climbing up above the Cave church, you can sit on a bench surrounded by trees in the middle of the city, overlooking its skyline AND Buda Castle.

Fiumei Road Cemetery & Memento Park

Cemeteries are generally not included in holiday plans, but here I give you Fiumei Road. Being the largest and one of the oldest cemeteries of Hungary, it houses the mausoleums of national heroes, politicians, poets, artists and the famous Anonymous’ Statue in a green, tree-filled park. Creepy, sure, but its architecture and statues are something worth seeing if you’d rather avoid the tourists. If you’re into statues but you’d rather opt from creepiness to a longer drive, Memento Park is right outside city with 42 pieces of art from the Communist era of Hungary, meaning you could have a picnic next to the massive statues of Lenin and Marx—which is, you know, less creepy.

Food & Sustenance

One wonderful thing about Budapest is that wherever you go, there will be a kebab/gyros/pizza place around the corner, where you can get a slice for as cheap as 300 forint, which is around 80p (yes, you read that right). But if you feel fancy, you could visit the New York Café and its Italian Renaissance glamour for a champagne breakfast. You could also try Gozsdu Courtyard for a variety of bars and restaurants, where you can enjoy a huge range of traditional and international foods outdoors.


You want to avoid the hop-on hop-off—not only because it takes away the genuine excitement of exploring a city, but because Budapest has pretty good public transport, especially the tram network. Tram 2, 4 and 6 serve not only get you from one place to another, but you’ll have the best views of the city’s buildings. There’s always a stop within a short walking distance and you’ll avoid the crowds and stairs of the tube.

Vintage Souvenirs

Most tourist leave with an I love Budapest t-shirt, and while you’re free to do that, why not leave with something better, if you really insist on souvenirs? Budapest has a number of amazing vintage shops, such as Szputnyik D20 and Anfifactory, where if you’re lucky, you can find brands such as Vivienne Westwood and Versace for ridiculously low prices.

So, booked your plane ticket yet?

Image: Rebeka Kancsar

Culture Focus: Amsterdam Travel Diary

One of the most popular locations for students, for my holiday with my friends this year, we are going to Amsterdam, I can’t wait to go back and I…

2 nights, my hand luggage and an Airbnb – an opinion piece about my trip to the Netherlands and an insight into Dutch culture. 

One of the most popular locations for students, for my holiday with my friends this year, we are going to Amsterdam, I can’t wait to go back and I thought I would write a post for anyone who is also planning to go or is interested in reading about what I got up to. This is an ideal read for students looking for a cheap break in the summer or a weekend getaway! Take a look at a few of my tips and info I got from my short trip last August to the unique and vibrant city via my daily travel diary!



After a 45 minute plane journey, we arrived at Schipol airport. With it having a tube station underneath and various bus routes, we struggled to find the way to the Rijiksmuseum. Also known as ‘the museum of the Netherlands’, it marked the meeting point with our Airbnb host, Rens. We met him during his shift at the museum, he was lovely to us throughout our stay. (I still haven’t written a review for him though which I still need to do.) The Rijiksmuseum is a popular tourist spot that sits near the Van Gogh museum and the huge ‘Amsterdam’ sign that always appears on people’s holiday photos. As there was only two of us, we didn’t manage to get someone to take a picture of us standing by it, but hopefully my pictures I’ve included capture enough to give you a feel of what the city was like!

After we’d been given a spare set of keys, we made our way to our accommodation which was a 30 minute tram journey from the centre. (It brought the price down a bit and hotels closer to the city were too expensive for us.) Although the journey’s there and back did get a bit annoying, we were out of the flat most of the time anyway so it didn’t affect the trip too much. Once I put some makeup on and got rid of our hand luggage (I’m pretty proud of myself for managing to pack light even if it was for 2 nights so it’s getting a mention), we headed out to explore the city. The area surrounding our accommodation was very green, with a huge park we walked across each day to get to the tram line which was a 2 minute walk away. c2

The City

Finally, we were back in the city and free to have a look around. It was so busy! The atmosphere was so different to anything I’d experienced before, people all seemed very happy and there was a range of tourists from all over the world. The city was huge and lots of the streets seemed to go on and on so there’s a lot of walking involved, especially when you’re only there for a short trip and want to see as much as possible!


Amsterdam’s souvenir shops are very different to London, with most filled with various weed related items, clog keyrings and then there’s the shops that are devoted to selling porn DVD’s which appear the closer you get to the red light district.

Coffee Shops/Cafe’s

We walked around the city for hours taking pictures, exploring and being typical visitors. There were coffee shops everywhere with tourists and locals smoking upstairs. They sold the usual souvenirs, drinks, snacks and were very busy. We visited a bar/restaurant called ‘Lost in Amsterdam’ which sold cute cocktails and milkshakes, it was pretty dark in there so I wasn’t able to get a decent photo but it had a very cool interior, you can check it out some pics here.


Red Light District

Anyway, after looking around everywhere, we went back to the flat. When we headed out to have our first drinks, we found a bar with music that sold the cheapest drinks and stayed there until we were we went on to explore the red light district. We both were pretty surprised by it even though we knew what to expect! You could see individuals going into visit the girls behind the windows and there was huge queue’s of people lining up to see a live sex show. Drinking there was fun though and even though there were some questionable people, we had a really good night. It is a unique part of the city! c5



I really wanted to go to the Van Gogh museum so we went back to where we had met Rens in the morning to have a look around. There was three floors, with rooms dedicated to a different time in Gogh’s life. Each room told a story and for someone who had forgotten about everything to do learning about him at school it was really interesting and I absolutely loved it. I definitely would recommend others to visit!



We were starving when we got out of the museum, I can’t remember if we were hungover as well but we definitely appreciated the amount of junk food that lined the streets of the city. Churros, waffles, chips and literally every type of snack food you could think of was there. The only downfall of this is there was nothing else to eat during the day but food from these places, unless you paid for a meal for lunch, which is fine for a short trip but it would get hard if you were staying there a week! My favourite junk food shop we went to was a huge pix and mix store. We visited there again to get another bag before our trip home.

Later that evening, we went out to dinner, and both had a carbonara which was SO good. To wrap up the food section, here is a picture of a fed up me at 4am wanting to find the tram line to that would take us back to the flat, little did I know we were going to spend an hour walking up and down after this photo was taken to catch one, we got lost but at least I had my chips.

The Grasshopper

After dinner we went on a boat trip (we both fell asleep on) and went back to the bars again. The Grasshopper was one of our favourites, it was lit up completely green and had some fab cocktails.


Final Things… 

One thing we didn’t get a chance to do but should get a mention was renting out bikes! We tried to but they were all taken.

Money for drinks on happy hour were about £7.50 each in some the bars and your standard tenner for cocktails. We did manage to find a bar that was cheaper than that hence why we stayed there for a while! So you can see why we didn’t get to go clubbing, entry was very expensive and we were happy to go on a bar crawl instead. We probably would have done a bit more research on where to go clubbing for less if we had stayed longer!

It is a really great experience to get out and explore different countries and cultures while you are at university! It means you can get some journalism experience in by documenting your trip, a chance to socialise with new friends from university and gives you a break from studying!

By Sophie Taylor

20 March 2018

Image Credit: Sophie Taylor

Culture Focus: Ibiza

It’s February, it’s -2 outside and summer is still four months away. To get the summer buzz back, I will be reminiscing and talking about the top things in…

It’s February, it’s -2 outside and summer is still four months away. To get the summer buzz back, I will be reminiscing and talking about the top things in Ibiza which I loved when I visited last summer, being one of my favourite trips and would highly recommend to anyone! Our culture focus pieces aim to encourage students to look at the wider world, learn about a new culture and give you a chilled reading break from your studies/

First of all, Ibiza can be for the party-goers who love staying out till the sun rises or for the chilled-out kind who love exploring the island’s historic culture – it suits everyone! Ibiza is the third largest island of the Balearic Islands with its capital city being Ibiza Town; mainly split up into two parts – San Antonio (the party part) and Ibiza Town (the chill part.)

San Antonio Beach – The most popular beach on the island, the long strip stretches out for  miles, giving holiday-makers various viewpoints of the island. The beach is surrounded by bars and chill-out places with the most popular being Ibiza Rocks, hosting a variety of bands and artists, performing live throughout the summer season.  There are also a lot of water sport activities to take part in which are a lot of fun!

Ocean Beach – Well known for being the best daytime pool party on the island, Ocean Beach is an absolute must when visiting Ibiza. The venue has a variety of swimming pools, sunbeds, bars and insane DJs, making it one of the most luxurious places on the island. Surrounded by entertainment, acrobats in the air, inflatables covering the pools and giant disco balls, the fun is never-ending, partying till the sun goes down!

Café Mambo – The most iconic bar in the whole of Ibiza. Café Mambo has become renowned for being located in the best place for sunset views, being able to enjoy cocktails, live music and watching the sun set behind the sea, giving off amazing views! BBC Radio 1 tend to host their Ibiza weekender at Café Mambo, adding to its popularity.

Ibiza Town – Full of historic architecture, boutique shops, food markets and a selection of bars, there is plenty to do and see! There are many museums, art galleries and historical churches to admire too, offering something completely different compared to the main strip in San Antonio Bay. The must have food to try when visiting Is Spanish paella, being the Spanish famous dish!

Overall, I think that Ibiza is definitely a place to add to your bucket list if you haven’t been already. Flights out there are relatively cheap and even accommodation is too if you look on the right travel sites online!

By Eliza Rawson 

26th February 2018

Image Credit: Eliza Rawson

Culture Focus: Stockholm

By Alexa Klos – Stockholm, Sweden, a city built on 14 islands, connected by 57 bridges surely earns the Swedish capital the nickname “Beauty on the Water.”…

By Alexa Klos

Stockholm, Sweden, a city built on 14 islands, connected by 57 bridges surely earns the Swedish capital the nickname “Beauty on the Water.” Whether you are interested in food, scenery, shopping or architecture Stockholm has it all!

First off, a few things to know about the city. The Swedish Krona is the official currency, the city is very expensive, the public transportation is easy to navigate and travelling there in mid-October is going to be cold but the changing autumn leaves will reward you with great scenery. My travelling companion and I are both from Minnesota in the United States and very use to chilly weather. Maybe living in the UK for the past two months had made us soft, but we were not prepared for the cold and wind that Stockholm brought.

Day 1: On our first day we started our journey by heading to Gamla Stan, definitely a touristy area but well worth it. Founded in 1252, it is one of the best-preserved and largest medieval city centres. The area is like a pedestrian-friendly open-air museum, loaded with winding alleys, attractions, cafes, bars, restaurants and places to shop for souvenirs. Since we were so cold and unprepared for the weather our first stop was a tourist shop to buy hats. Once warmed up we made our way to the Nobel Museum. A very manageable and informative museum filled with some of the brightest minds, ideas and acts dating back to 1901. During our journey to another island we walked past but didn’t enter the Royal Palace (which is one of the city’s greatest attractions), we did happen to be passing by at the right time to witness a unique changing of the guard. That evening we finished our day by visiting Fotografiska, a centre for contemporary photography with a wide variety of exhibits.

Day 2: Our accommodation in Stockholm was with Airbnb, located about 20 minutes by train outside of the city. Our host gave my friend and I a list of activities she thought we would like. She recommended taking a tour of the Archipelago Islands via boat. We started our second morning off by having an outrageously expensive £25 breakfast, (apple, tea, orange juice, porridge, mini sandwich) and then boarded the boat the Vaxholm, the capital of the Archipelago islands. Made up of around 24,000 islands, some have inhabitants, some are still left to nature. After the boat tour and an hour spent walking around the quaint town of Vaxholm, my friend and I decided the tour would be even more amazing during the spring or summer months! Upon arriving back in Stockholm we decided to check out the Vasastan area of the city. It’s known as an area with some great coffee and pastry shops. We closed our evening by climbing to an overlook point giving us amazing views of Stockholm as the sun was setting.

Day 3: On our third day we spent the late morning at the Vasa Museum. In the year 1628, the mighty warship Vasa embarked on her maiden voyage. In only 10 minutes the impressive ship was sinking to the floor of the Saltsjon. Due to the lack of salt and cold temperatures of water, the ship stayed very well preserved until it was rediscovered in 1956. Many salvaged objects are on display, including cannonballs, shoes, pillboxes and other artefacts that offer a vivid glimpse at 17th-century sea life. After leaving the impressive Vasa Museum we took one last stroll through Gamla Stan for some souvenirs before heading back to the UK.

There are many other things to see in Stockholm and three days was definitely not enough to experience the city. We chose our activities based on the duration of our trip, finances and location. Upon departing Sweden that evening my friend and I were both glad that we had stumbled across a cheap flight and decided to spend our 3 days in Stockholm.

Image Credit: Alexa Klos

Culture Focus: Madrid

By Hanushka Karnani – Last weekend whilst walking around the old Madrid, or as the Spanish call it, ‘El Viejo Madrid’, I noticed those little details in the town that make this vivacious…

By Hanushka Karnani

Last weekend whilst walking around the old Madrid, or as the Spanish call it, ‘El Viejo Madrid’, I noticed those little details in the town that make this vivacious capital a city that allows you to escape from your daily reality and indulge in a beautiful history and a vibrant culture. From picturesque cafes to fill up your Instagram profiles in the chic and quirky area of Chueca, to slick rooftop bars where one can properly embrace the stunning views of the capital alongside a cheap glass of wine or a ‘cana’ (beer).

Although it may be cold during the autumn season, the fallen leaves of all different shades of orange and green, paint the colours of the city. The endless and delicious tapas bars the city has to offer will never keep you from a good meal with great laughs, booze of course and lots of Serrano Ham. The streets in the ‘Viejo Madrid’ are completely chock- full of these Spanish delights and every place you will come across with will bring you its own unique enchantment and atmosphere. Art galleries, museums and theatre are also some of the other exciting ventures one can get up to when exploring this urban city.

Despite students needing to be on a budget, this should not exclude you from taking a weekend off your university work and fly out to one of the many wonderful European destinations there are on offer. For cheap travel, you can visit StudentUniverse, Sky Scanner and STA Travel.

Travelling isn’t only for Instagram updates and Facebook posts. It’s a chance to meet new people, broaden your horizons and gives you an opportunity to learn more about yourself as a person.

Image Credit: Hanushka Karnani and Lavina Karnani

Culture Focus: Gibraltar 

By Hanushka Karnani – Gibraltar is a small British colony located in the south region of the Iberian peninsula. It’s a small and acquainted town that borderlines with Spain…

By Hanushka Karnani

Gibraltar is a small British colony located in the south region of the Iberian peninsula. It’s a small and acquainted town that borderlines with Spain and beautifully blends the English ‘pub’ culture with the Spanish ‘tapas’. Gibraltar offers sandy beaches and historic cobbled streets, as well as ethnic diversity in culture and religion within its society. The town is also popular for the apes that inhabited the rock thousands of years ago and is now considered one of its main tourist attractions.

The combination of the English language alongside a strong influence of a Spanish lifestyle, is what creates the unique subculture that exists on the Rock of Gibraltar. The distinct language, colloquialized by the Gibraltarians themselves as ‘Llanito’, derived from both the English and Spanish languages, with some words that may have originated from places such as Malta and certain parts of Italy and Portugal.

Gibraltar can also be described as a small paradise for those interested in a multicultural atmosphere. The integration of religions and communities such as, Christians, Muslims, Hindus and Jewish have encouraged this ethnic diversity and mindset in its culture, food and the social interactions. Gibraltarians or the ‘Llanitos’, as they like to call themselves, are without a doubt known as ‘foodies’. Their local cuisine has adopted flavours from a number of different places and because of that, dishes that have been passed down through generations such as Calentita (kind of quiche made with chickpea), Torta de Acelga (chard pie) and Banoffee Pie have become part of the national gastronomy. Around the rock one will come across a number of different restaurants to suit everyone’s acquired tastes. Options may range from a tapas night out across the border in La Linea or a traditional Indian curry at one of the town’s favourite Indian spots.

Very much into health and fitness or simply enjoy a little challenge? This little ‘ape’ land is a great place to keep fit. The sun is always shining and the views are breathtaking which motivates us, students, even more. Runs along the beach or a hike up the ‘Mediterranean Steps’ are usually what the young ones get up to in keeping up with those beach bodies. Skydiving, jet skiing and even surfing are also very popular during the summer.

Nightlife on the rock is surprisingly good  – admit it, you were not expecting a tiny rock at the last tip of Spain to be such a party place, however, it’s true. Marina Bay and Ocean Village Leisure Park are right by the sea and therefore make them idyllic areas for cocktails or perhaps a little dancing in a summery atmosphere.

Good food, good nightlife, nice people and the beach. What more does one want? See you on the rock!

Image Credit: Hanushka Karnani