What to do in Jiufen

If you are staying more than a couple of days in Taipei I highly recommend you to spend some time in Jiufen, a nice traditional taiwanese village located two hours away from Taipei.

Although Jiufen was founded during the Quing Dynasty, it became popular when gold was discovered in the area. The gold industry carried this city industry until the 60´s. From the 90´s onwards, this gold mine town became really popular among tourists.

The name Jiufen (Chiufen – EN: nine pieces) comes from an ancient legend. Regarding this legend, nine families used to live in this town. Since going to the market was a huge inconvenient due to the lack of transportation the nine families came to an agreement; whenever one family went to buy groceries at the market, they would have to divide them into nine pieces, each for each family.

Jiufen Old Street

Located within hills, next to the mountains and facing the ocean, Jiufen Old Street is known for its foggy weather and its beautiful views. The street is full of local snack vendors, traditional products and souvenirs stores.

Among the various snack vendors you can find some Jiufen traditional food such as taro balls, fried meat balls and taro cake. In addition, chinese tea houses are really popular among both locals and tourists.

Instead of having lunch on the street surrounded by locals and thousand of tourists – be careful, Jiufen is so trendy that its old street is usually crowded with people in the noon time, especially on the weekends- we decided to stop in a nice cafeteria with natural juices and beautiful views.

Temples in Jiufen

Jiufen is not only a touristic old street. If you are curious enough, I highly recommend you walk up the main road to the top of the hill.

On the way you will find a first temple – which was full of locals praying and some tourists – and at the top of the hill you will find a second one, – to find this temple you may need to get yourself lost among all the tiny Jiufen non-touristic roads. This is quite an adventure! and locals are so nice…! :). Sadly, I don´t know the name of this second temple, however, I still remember the peaceful, good vibes that we could feel up there. In fact, we were alone in the temple, no locals and no tourists. A heaven of peace!

Another interesting – and really well-known – temple is Fushan Temple. This 200 years old temple is dedicated to Tudigong, the God of Earth, and it is an interesting blend of Japanese, Chinese and Western elements.

How to get to Jiufen?

There are two different possibilities to reach Jiufen from Taipei:

Train to Riufang and then bus to Jiufen From Taipei Main Station – Take a train to Riufang – the views during the trip are really interesting. Once you reach Riufang, leave the train station behind you and go straight, cross the main square and turn left.  After a 5 minutes walk – you can always stop at a local vendor to buy some tasty tea – you will reach the bus stop. Don´t worry, you won´t get lost! All tourists are walking the same direction 😉 There you will find all the information related to the bus and its schedule.

Direct bus to Jiufen – Apparently there is a direct bus from Taipei to Jiufen. At that time we were recommended to take the train, so we could make other stops if we wanted to.

The bus starts at Zhongxiao Taipei Station and it drives you directly to Jiufen Old Street.

Your turn!

Have you ever been to Jiufen?

This ancient gold-miner town is a once in a lifetime must-see place. Although it is becoming too touristic, this place maintain some ancient charm that makes it special.

I highly recommend you to escape the town bustle to climb the hill, to reach the highest temple of Jiufen and to enjoy a moment of peace staring at the sea. It is a good idea to reconnect with yourself and to recharge some energies while contemplating an amazing view.

Enjoy your time at Jiufen and feel free to send me a photo via IG or Twitter. Share this post or comment below if you want to share your experience with us.

 

 

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What to visit in Changhua

Located around 2 hours by train from Taichung, Changhua county is the fourth smallest by area and Changhua city is the second largest city in central Taiwan, with a population of around 230.000. The county embraces incredible people, abundant resources, dramatic spots and delicious cuisine.

To continue our trip to Taiwan we decided to spend one day in Changhua in order to visit its famous Great Buddha Statue. However, once we arrived there we discovered that Changhua has a lot of different things to offer.

What to visit in Changhua

Confucius Temple

Built in 1726 to worship Confucius, this beautiful temple hosts the renown Baisha Academy, one of the four most famous academies in Taiwan. The front gate remains always closed except during worshipping day (28th of September), therefore visitors must enter through the side gate.

Lukang Old Street

One of the most popular streets in Changhua. Full of traditional taiwanese food stands, Lukang Old Street hosts many historical buildings such as Yanchanghang.

Buddha Statue of Baguashan

Built in 1961, the Great Buddha Statue of Baguashan used to be one of the biggest Buddha statues in Asia back in the days. This around 25 meter high statue is located in the hill 74 meters above sea level and its interior is separated into various different floors, each of them containing colorful dioramas representing the story of Buddha´s life.

Yes, you can actually walk around inside the monument!

It is very interesting the fact you can climb the stairs up and down to learn more about Buddha and his life. If you are a religious person you can use the ground floor to find some inner peace and pray.

Around this dramatic Buddha you will find various different statues, each of one representing something different. The most symbolic ones are the different Buddha statues (Laughing Buddha, Wise Buddha…) and the 12 Buddhist Zodiac Signs (the rabbit, the rat…).

 

Following the the statues you will find to the Great Buddha Temple, located behind the huge Buddha statue and built in 1972.

This temple is quite special since it is a combination of Taoist, Buddhist and Confucian beliefs in one single community. Divided by three floors, always accessible for the visitor,  the first one is dedicated to Confucius, the second one enshrines the Taoist God of War (Guan Yu) and the third one is dedicated to the practice of Buddhism. Beside the temple you will find two beautiful 9-floor pagodas.

From the balcony located at the third floor you will enjoy from one of the most beautiful views ever. Starting from the whole esplanade, in the middle of which you will recognize the draw of a lotus flower, and finishing with the panorama of the whole Changhuan City. This area is known as the highest point of Changhua and it is the ideal place to find some inner peace, to have a relaxing walk and to discover more about the asian culture.

Behind the temple you will find a pond full of enormous, colorful fishes and beside it you will find more nice Buddha statues and some private areas only accessible for monks and Confucius students.

Never mind if you are not religious at all. This place is so dramatic that I recommend you to spend at least half a day discovering it. If you go during the weekend, you will probably find locals enjoying the beautiful sunset and dancing traditional music nearby the lighted water fountains located all over the place.

How to arrive to the Buddha Statue of Baguashan

There are two different ways to arrive to the top of the hill.

To go up we decided to take the “nature walk”, which means that we started from the Changhuan City Library and we followed the path up to the hill. During the walk we discovered a small old house from where we could take nice pictures of the city (some locals where have lunch and enjoying a nice talk there) and the Baguashan Silver Bridge.

To come back to the downtown we took the most touristic walk, let´s call it the “city walk”. From the Buddha Statue we descended the whole way nearby the parking. This is also a nice walk since the way is full of ancient God statues, some of which we did not know before.

Lukang Mazu Temple

Another historical temple that you should visit is the Taoist temple dedicated to Matsu (the God of the Sea). Here you will appreciate the image of black-faced Matsu, and a huge display of weapons.

This area is pedestrians only and if you decide to visit it during the weekend, you will find out a really nice market where local vendors will gently offer you some local Taiwanese snacks.

What to eat in Changhua

Visiting Changhua, as well as visiting Taiwan, means getting lost among its multiple food markets. So, if you want to enjoy the Changhua experience you should try some traditional meals including the tasty Changhua Meatball.

How to arrive to Changhua

  • If your first travel destination after landing in Taipei is Changhua, you should know that there is a bus (less than 3 hours journey) that covers the route Taipei Airport-Changhua.
  • If you are planning a day trip from Taipei the best option is to travel by train. You can choose between Taiwan High Speed Rail and regional trains. The price you will pay in case you take the THSR can be twice as the regional trains price (around 400NT$).
  • If you are enjoying some time in Taichung – do not hesitate to take a look at my last post containing some tips about what to visit in Taichung – and you want to escape from the city, I recommend you to take a regional train from Taichung HSR Station (less than one hour journey).

Your turn!

Have you ever been in Changhua? Do you know any other interesting places to visit in this area? If so, feel free to share your thoughts leaving a comment below 🙂

 

Trip to be continued….

Five things to do in Šibenik

 

five things to do in sibenik

If you plan to visit Croatia you should add the town of Šibenik to your bucket list.

Its increasing popularity among tourists is understandable since this small coastal city has endure the test of time remaining as special as ever. But what makes this city so different? For one, the fact that Šibenik is the only dalmatian city built by Croats (cities such as Split or Dubrovnik were founded by different cultures). Second, its ancient monuments, fortress and cathedrals, all of them made of stone.

Still curious about Šibenik? Let´s find out then what to visit in Šibenik:

1. Cathedral of St. James

This UNESCO Heritage cathedral is the number on attraction in Šibenik. This magnificent monument was built  in the 15th and 16th centuries and can be said to be the only cathedral in Europe constructed only with stone.

Although the original dome was damaged by Serbian forces when the city was shelled in 1991, it was quickly repaired providing the cathedral with its original magnificent aspect.

The Cathedral of St. James (listed on the UNESCO World Heritage since 2000) is considered the most important Renaissance building in Croatia.

The ticket to visit this splendid building costs around 15kn (2€)

things to do in Sibenik

2. Šibenik City Hall

A strikingly building situated on the medieval Square of the city.

The City Hall of Šibenik was built between 1533 and 1546. Although it was destroyed in December 1943 during the attack of the allied forces, it was rebuilt to look exactly like it did before the war.

On the ground floor is located a nice restaurant with a wonderful terrace where to taste some croatian food.

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3. Old Town

The Old Town of Šibenik is a medieval car-free city made up of narrow streets.

The beauty of this city lies in its ancient buildings and churches, some of which are still marked by the signs of the balkan war, and the hidden hideouts the visitor can find while walking around the old town.

The cobbled streets connect all these historical buildings. Sometimes the narrow streets pass underneath an arch, other times, the visitor have to pass through a tunnel which leads to a narrower street where stands, for example, a small sanctuary. But that is the magic of a place which was built on a rocky coastal area.

five things to do in Sibenik

4. Fortress of Šibenik

Šibenik  had such a strategic position in the Adriatic Sea that the city has been always desired by all the Mediterranean powers. However, croatians anticipated that and erected a couple of fortresses which have been an underused tourist attraction. An ambitious program of restoration is already beginning to return the four fortresses of Šibenik its ancient splendor.

The four for Šibenik are:

1. St. Michel´s Fortress: The first fortress of the city was built on the 11th century under the reign of King Petar Krešimir IV, considered the founding father of the city. 

2. Barone Fortress: Built in the 17th century to protect the city from the Candia Wars.

3. St. John Fortress: Also built in the 17th century but more popular than the previous fortress since it was used as set of Game of Thrones in 2014.

4. St.Nicholas´ Fortress: The most beautiful fortress due to its privilege location. This fortress stands at the entrance of the St. Anthony Channel.

things to do in sibenik

 

5. The port of Šibenik

To have a walk outside the old town allows the visitor to enjoy different parts of the city such as the medieval mediterranean garden or Šibenik harbour.

From the ancient port of Šibenik not only the view of the city is remarkable, but it is easy to travel to other dalmatian cities such as Primosten (read more about this city here) or to navigate to the impressive Krka National Park (more information about this spectacular place here).

five things to do in sibenik

Now it is your turn; have you ever been to Šibenik? Did you like it? Which monument did you like the most? What would you recommend to visit in Šibenik? Feel free to share your experience! 

Primosten

 

Primosten

Primosten is ranked as one of the most picturesque small town in the Adriatic due to its remarkable beaches and its old town, which is located on a small island connected to the mainland by a mound. This ancient place is located only 36 km from Krka National Park (if you want to find out more about this remarkable park click here) and 26 km from Sibenik (new post coming soon! ;)), and it is easily accessible by car.

Although the overcast sky threatened storm we remained firm in our half day excursion and we visited some historical sites such as St. Juraj church (located on the highest point of the island and built in 1485) and St. Roko chapel (a valuable cultural monument built in 1680). From my point of view the most amazing spot was the graveyard which encloses the St.Juraj church, from where the visitor can enjoy a striking view of the open sea.

Primosten

During the summer months many festivities take place in Primosten such as folk music evenings and fishing nights, although the most know is the traditional donkey race (the race of these charming animals is an annual tradition which attract thousand of visitors every year). Furthermore, the port of Primosten hosts many sport and recreation activities such as jet-ski, water sports and beach volley.

Primosten
St. Juraj church

Despite the cloudy sky and the shower that welcomed us at the beginning of our trip, the sun started to shine the moment we descended the narrow slopes of the old town. Therefore the moment we reached the sandy beach of Primosten we could contemplate the calm Adriatic sea, enjoy a nice walk around the town wall and choose a nice restaurant to try some local dishes.

Primosten

If you also want to enjoy a good meal and become acquainted with the local gastronomy I recommend you to visit the “Marina” restaurant (more information here). The place is located in front of a small beach and they serve home made regional food (Tip: The mussels were really tasty).

Before leaving Primosten we could not resist to stop at the top of a mountain nearby the national road to capture this beautiful moment

Primosten

Have you ever been to Primosten? What did you like the most? Share your comments! 

 

 

Monaco

Monaco

The tour started early in the morning (around 8.30 am) the moment we got off the train at Montecarlo main station.

Once we went out we were welcomed by the sizzling Monegasque weather; the sun was bright and ready to accompany us during our half-day trip to Monaco.

Following the traces

Walking around the steep streets we saw old buildings merged into new neigbourhood, luxury cars, and international renowned stores nearby local ones, until we reached the celebrated Casino of Montecarlo. It was too early to go inside but we took a couple of photos (To be sincere, we were expecting a bigger building)
At that point we were starving (we desperately needed a breakfast) and we were also really excited about having just found the traces that the Formula 1 cars left on the road. We decided to follow them (actually the streets are more perpendicular than it seems on TV) until we arrived to the famous Nikki Beach behind which we saw… A cafeteria in the rooftop of a building! We ran to get a breakfast and what was our surprise when we discovered the magnificent views from the place. We really enjoyed our cookies and coffee.
Then we visited the port of Monaco taking a great delight in watching the impressive yachts docked there.
Monaco

 

A love story

One important fact of Monaco´s history is its royal family and the love story between Rainier and Grace Kelly. Walking uphills we arrived to the royal palace in front of which appear the colourful quarter of Monaco-Ville. This area of the city is surrounded by a viewpoint-promenade from where the visitor can enjoy the best views of Montecarlo.
Not far from the palace it is located the cathedral. A huge part of the history of this city is placed among its huge stained glasses because all the monegasque princes are entombed under it. Also Grace Kelly and Rainier, who are buried together.
The moment we started considering coming downhill the police appear facing the royal palace, we approached to see what was going on (call me curious 😉 ) when we found out that it was changing of the guard time!

You can also fall in love with it

Before leaving Montecarlo we had a walk all around; its football stadium, its industrial part, its malls (all of them dedicated to the monegasque princesses)… It was really warm, therefore we started to look for a beach and suddenly we were in France!! Only a small road separated France from Monaco so, unintentionally, we sunbathed under the French sun.
Falling in love with Monaco is really easy. Its people are really nice, the city of Montecarlo is beautiful and the mediterranean weather helps to provide the place with a special feeling.
Ready to also fall in love with it?

What to visit in Monaco

  • The port: To enjoy the impressive yachts docked there
  • The Prince´s Palace of Monaco: At 12.00 o´clock is the changing of guard time
  • The cathedral: Beautiful, full of stained glasses and works of art. All the princes of Monaco are entombed at the cathedral, including Grace Kelly and Rainier III
  • The oceanographic museum of Monaco
  • Monaco train station 

What about you, have you ever been there? Did you like it? What is your favourite area of the city?

 

 

 

Creta en 5 días (Parte II)

La idea inicial era bajar al sur visitando distintas playas por el camino. Así que ahí fuimos. Nos montamos en el coche y empezamos nuestro viaje.

Las primeras primeras paradas fueron en pequeñas playas que nos íbamos encontrando por el camino. No recordamos ni los nombres. Según las veíamos ahí que íbamos a ver si eran interesantes.

Nuestra primera gran parada fue Falasarna (playa de la que muchos de vosotros ya habréis oído hablar). Sinceramente nos decepcionó un poco. Esperábamos encontrarnos con una playa de aguas cristalinas y arena blanca pero no sabíamos que para eso aún teníamos que esperar un día más. Sin embargo, decidimos tomar un café en el chiringuito situado junto a la playa antes de continuar nuestro viaje.

Nuestra segunda parada fue en algún punto de la montaña. Conduciendo pasamos por diversos pueblos y pudimos comprar miel a pequeños productores que la vendían a pie de carretera.

A 1600 metros de altura todo era diferente. Las montañas eran verdes y estaban llenas de flores. La carretera era… Bueno, digamos que era un camino de piedras donde cabía un coche solamente y donde había que estar siempre atento por si las cabras se asomaban a saludar (Eso sí, muy educadamente, una vez que ellas querían podías continuar tu camino). El clima también era diferente. Cada 40 kilómetros las condiciones climatológicas cambiaban. Tan pronto pasábamos del sol y el calor tan característico de esta isla como llovía y conducíamos entre la niebla. ¡Un paisaje digno de disfrutar!

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Tras unas horas llegamos a nuestro destino (y última parada): Paleochora. Una pequeña ciudad situada al sureste de Creta.

Paleochora es un lugar con encanto. Situada al pie de la montaña esta ciudad cuenta con playas tranquilas, calles por las que perderse y un precioso puerto. Una característica peculiar de este lugar son sus casas de colores. No os las podéis perder!

Dónde comer?

En la calle Epar.Od se sitúan los mejores restaurantes de comida griega de la ciudad. No perdáis la oportunidad de cenar en una de sus terrazas mientras disfrutáis del anochecer.

Restaurante donde cenamos. Si os gusta el pescado no os perdáis el emperador, delicioso!!



Y tras 24 horas tumbados a la bartola en la relajante playa situada frente a nuestro hotel, llegó la hora de volver a cruzar la montaña en busca de más playas donde detenernos en nuestro camino al norte.

                                         
Esta vez si encontramos una playa paradisiaca con aguas cristalinas. Pero mejor dejamos el final de nuestro viaje para otro día.

Mientras tanto podéis seguir nuestro diario de viaje  y re-leer el primer capitulo de este post series aquí para conocer más cosas sobre la increíble Creta y su gente.
Y vosotros, habéis visitado Paleochora? Conocíais Falasarna? Qué os pareció? Contadnos vuestras impresiones!

 

3 places you will love about Maastricht

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things”    –    Henry Miller

Coming back to a city which we have already visited is a way to rediscover it. Getting lost among its streets once again allow us to see the place in new light and to pay attention to little things that were overlooked during our first visit.

Have you ever had the feeling of rediscovering a city?

We had that feeling during our last visits to our beloved city of Maastricht. The city surprised us in different ways every time we visited it, allowing us to discover new amazing places. Here you can see 3 places you can´t miss when you visit Maastricht:

1. Selexyz Dominicanen bookstore

In the year 1294 this antique church belonged to the dominicos, during the second world war this place turned into a hospital. After it was abandoned, the town hall of Maastricht sold it to a company which built a three floors bookstore. Walking around its hallways the visitor can find tourists taking pictures, book lovers, a cafeteria (to enjoy both, a good coffee and a good book) and renowned authors signing their last novels to their fans. Those are the main reasons why this place is considered as one of the most impressive bookstores of the world.

 

2. Saint Servatius basilica

This huge basilica is formed by cute stained glasses and an impressive altar. However, I would like to recommend you to look down to the floor, so that you can appreciate the maze located in one wing of Saint Servatius basilica.

Here you can find a post that we wrote regarding the history of Saint Servatius labyrinth. We hope you enjoy it!

Maastricht

 

3. Plein 1992

This time we would like to ask you to look down again, since you can find here a commemorative monument of the Maastricht Treaty.

It is said that the treaty took place in the city of Maastricht due to its proximity to the german and the belgium border, which provides the city with an european atmosphere hardly to find in other places of europe.

Close to the monument there is a modern bridge from where the view of the city is amazing.

Maastricht

Each time we visit our Dutch neighbours means a new discovery. Therefore we love traveling to the Netherlands and spending the day walking among its antique buildings.

What about you? Have you ever surprised yourself by rediscovering a city?

Saint Servatius Labyrinth

Each part of the world is unique. Each city is an unbelievable place full of amazing corners ready to be discovered. Through the buildings we can have a better insight about the history, the inhabitants and the culture of each place that we visit.

The labyrinth of Saint Servatius is one of those amazing places full of charm and history worth to be discovered.

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The maze or labyrinth was designed in1885-1887 by Pierre Cuypers, the architect responsible for the restoration of the basilica in the second half of the 19th century.image

The theme has a link with the sculptures located on the upper part of the portal where you can find the maze. These sculptures represent several parts of the Old and New Testament and the story of the salvation. Beginning with Abraham and ending with St. Servatius, the centerpiece holds the Holy Virgin Mary crowned in heaven.

As a contrast with heaven, the mosaic represents a map of the earth, where everybody is a pilgrim constantly searching for ways to find the Holy Land and Jerusalem.

The Holy City as spiritual goal is represented as a fortress with eight corners and towers, the mount of olives and the mount of calvary.

Also represented are the two main cities of Christendom in the East and the West: Constantinople and Rome, and also two important cities for Maastricht: Cologne (capital and siege of the archbishopric and the most important city of the Roman Empire at the north of the Alps) and Aix –la-Chapelle (the place where the emperors of the holy roman empire of the german nation were crowned during the Middle Ages).

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The best way to enjoy the height of this work is to stay in the corner of the labyrinth so that you can see the whole maze at the same time at the sculptures. Are you fancy to discover this amazing place?

expat.com – la comunidad para expats

Aquí os presento la última encuesta de la OCDE:

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Como nos movemos hoy en día eh?? Estoy segura que muchos de vosotros también estáis pensando en cambiar de aires e ir a otro país, por lo que os están surgiendo muchas preguntas: por dónde empezar? Dónde busco piso? Cómo encuentro un trabajo?… Aunque de primeras parezca difícil quiero que sepáis que no lo es.

Hoy en día internet es una buena herramienta para que empezar de cero no se nos haga cuesta arriba. Un buen ejemplo de esto es la web de expat.com.

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Qué podéis encontrar en esta web? Fácil; una gran cantidad de información útil antes de vuestra llegada y una gran red de contactos para que la vida de Expat sea muy entretenida.

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Antes de partir

Antes de llegar siempre surge esta duda: Dónde voy a vivir? En el apartado inmobiliaria podéis encontrar anuncios de pisos e incluso escribir vuestro propio anuncio explicando que buscáis en vuestra futura vivienda. De modo que así, en el caso de que alguien pueda ayudaros, se puedan poner en contacto con vosotros. image

La otra gran duda suele ser: Dónde puedo encontrar un trabajo?. En expat.com hay un apartado llamado empleo donde se puede buscar trabajo filtrando por sector, país y/ó tipo de contraro, para que encontréis lo que realmente estáis buscando!

Welcome home

Una vez en el destino uno de los primeros objetivos suele ser conocer gente con la que poder descubrir las maravillas de tu nueva ciudad. Gracias a el apartado eventos podéis acudir a distintos eventos en vuestra nueva ciudad y así conocer mucha gente nueva con la, quizás, podréis compartir vuestro tiempo.

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No os lo perdáis!!

Recursos 

Un apartado muy interesante, ya que aquí podéis leerlos la guía del expatriado, con interesantes artículos escritos por expats (información de primera mano!!), anuncios e información de distintas empresas localizadas por todo el mundo.

Foro & Blogs

Y aquí viene la parte más personal de la página. Por un lado tenemos los blogs escritos por expats ya en destino. Antes de mudaros, o incluso una vez en el país de destino, os recomiendo que leáis los blogs para conocer las experiencias de otros expats y saber como es la vida en el que será vuestro nuevo hogar durante un tiempo. Por otro lado, si tenéis alguna duda… Ahí están los foros. Preguntad, que no os de vergüenza. Todos los que vivimos en el extranjero hemos empezado así: investigando, preguntando, leyendo…

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Y después de todo lo que os he contado… A que comenzar a mudarse nunca había sido tan fácil? Os dejo aquí el link de la web expat.com para que os animéis a formar parte de esta comunidad y que desde el primer instante de vuestro viaje aprovechéis todas sus ventajas.

http://www.expat.com/