Thursday, August 28, 2008

Barcelona Apartments with BCN Rentals

There are many advantages in renting a vacation apartment over a hotel room. You have the independence of coming and going as you please - like a real resident of the city you're visiting, and also have the added advantage of having your own living room and kitchen, which is such an added bonus if travelling with children. Even if you're travelling in a group, the financial benefits can easily outweigh gettng 4 or 5 hotel rooms.

BCN Rentals has some great apartments for rent in Barcelona, and specialises in group bookings and family get togethers. See some visual images here:

The professional staff are always on hand - just like a hotel consierge - to help with restaurant reccomendations or bookings, theatre tickets and book taxis or transfers. BCN Rentals also has a strong partnership with a reputable taxi and minibus firm, and almost always organise collection from Barcelona, Girona or Reus airport. The site also includes a fantastic Barcelona Guide with details of the major hotspots you will want to visit whilst staying in your Central Barcelona Apartment.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

England vs Andorra

In just about 2 and a half weeks (on Saturday 6th September), England football tem will be playing Andorra in a World Cup qualifier. The importance to this blog? Well it's because it's being played at the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona - up on Montjuic. Andorra's national stadium (Estadi Comunal de Aixovall Ciudad) is very small with a capacity of only 1300, so permission was asked for the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona to be the host - similar to the Qualifying campaign in 2005/2006 when they also played Andorra.

Many might remember that this was under the rain of the "wally with the brolly" Steve McLaren, and was one of the most torrid times for many an England player. I was at the match and it was appalling. The abuse hurled at our own England team was shocking. "You're not fit to wear the shirt" "You're getting sacked in the morning" ad other such chants ran around the stadium all night long. And we even won! I'd love to say that this time round it would be all different. We have anew manager in the Italian Fabio Capello - a man-manager and disciplinarian, so they say - but based on last night's dismal home performance at Wembley, I'm afraid to say that it looked like Steve McLaren all over again. Capello used all of his subs (again) as if this was the first time they'd met and the whole shape of the team was terrible. I won't let this go into a rant about football, don't worry!

Just a few interesting things that those of you coming to Barcelona (for the football or not) might want to read about. I was very pleased to learn last time around, that "La Caixa" bank over here also sells tickets for sporting events, too. I was aware that you could get the tickets for pop concerts and other musical events, but the football was one I hadn't considered. I assumed for tickets I would have to plod my way up to the Olympic stadium and queue at the ticket office. However, given the abundance of La Caixa's cash points; it's just as easy to get one from there. OK, you'll pay a small surcharge but it's worth it for the time you'll save. I think ticket prices this time round are about 60 €.

Accomodation in Bacelona last time round was difficult to come by and the majority of the stadium was full of irate England supporters. Let's hope it's not the same way this time round! For a good selection of Apartments for rent in Barcelona be sure to book early!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Gracia Festival

Already well underway is the Gracia Festival (August 15th - 21st), and is my favourite festival in Barcelona. Gracia is a small-ish neighbourhood just north of eixample, and is a favoured neighbourhood for students to live. There is an English cinema on Calle Verdi, and it has many bars around the various "plazas". The streets are quite small, and during the festival are adorned with various different decorations and mock ups and models - each year beoming more and more bizzare! There is also a prize for the best decorated street, and coverage is usually on local TV channels, too.

There is a drum parade, lots of fireworks and human castles, as proves popular in other neighbourhood festivals, too, and it's basically just one big street party!
It's a great festival and one to sample if you happen to be visiting the city during August.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Barcelona, or Barcino?

As you may imagine from a stroll around the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona, the city is fairly old. I'm not going to go into great detail here about history and the likes, but just some random comments.

Anyone who arrives by aeroplane to Barcelona will notice a few things from the air and the windows. One may be Gaudi's "Sagrada Familia", and the other is Sitges beach as the plane swings round to land on one of the runways at El Prat airport, but another is the well observed (better by night) fact that Barcelons is on a slope.

With Tibidabo at the back, and the Mediterranean sea at the bottom, Barcelona doesn't really grow (either side is the Besos river and the Llobregat river), so Barcelona is quite hilly. Indeed, Montjüic and Tibidabo - two of the main borders of Barcelona - are considered "mountains" when really we could regard them as hills!

Barcelona was founded by the Romans on "Mons Taber" - the name they gave to the old mountain, and a name which still rings true at a pre-school in the Raval area, too, perhaps clinging to the old customs of the local "Portal de Santa Madrona" - the old gateway into Barcelona with the city walls of Paralello still visible now.

The Roman's original name for Barcelona was "Barcino" and this is what many visitors today will see (or maybe not) along side the city's Gothic cathedral - you would be forgiven for missing it, as it is staggered to be visible from a distance, say if you arrie via Portal del Angel!

On a personal note, I had visited the cathedral several times and not realised why Barcino was emblazened across the right hand side of the walls, so was happy for the history lesson (by chance through the old etchings and prints at La Pedrera)!

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Best Barcelona Bars - part 2

This post desrves just 1 bar, and it's one of my favourite bars in Barcelona which never fails to impress. The Forest of the fairies or "El Bosc de ls fades" in Catalan. This is perhaps the weirdest bar you will ever walk into. It's not very well known, really, and is right next to the wax museum of Barcelona, tucked away at the bottom of Las Ramblas. If you see the photo, you would not be blamed for missing this at all.

The bar itself used to be a lot smaller but has been recently extended (by recently I mean at least 2 years), but the original bar was such an experience. Inside they have Hansel and Gretel style TREES complete with funny noses and gawking expressions. There used to be a little waterfall with a fairy, but that kicked the bucket. There is also some very weird artwork dedicated entirely to Satan (not sure why) just through the Portcullis towards the back where the toilets are (yeas, you read right!!). The toilets too are also very odd, with the neon strip lights above (I've been told that this is so that junkies can't see their veins and therefore not shoot up in public toilets, which may be true, but in this case I think it's just cos it's odd and fots in with the bar!!).

As mentioned, it's also part of the wax museum, so there are trick mirrors and funny dancing maids with flying tea trays. I know you will find this very hard to beleieve, so just mosey on down, you won't be disappointed!!

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Monday, August 4, 2008

Floor Plaques in Barcelona

One thing I've noticed walking around the city over the years is that Barcelona council awards certain places with a commemorative plaque (which looks like a drain top) which is placed on the floor on the path outiside the establishmet.

The kind of places tend to be well established stores, bars or even eateries. A few that I know are London Bar on Nou de La Rambla, "El Indio" textile shop on Calle Carmen, and Escriba cake shop on las Ramblas - you can see some photos here. Obviosuly the Escriba one on Las Ramblas gets walked over a lot more, so it's easy to see why it's more worn.

The text is in Catalan and is translated to "In recognition to your years of service to the city" and as you can see there are 2 dates - the early date must be when the establishment begun trading, and the later date, when the plaque was given. I have no idea how many of these are given or the frequency, but it's perhaps a little known fact about the city, and I think it's a nice touch.

For other information about the city and its neighbourhoods, try this Barcelona Guide

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