Friday, July 31, 2009

Barcelona Summer Week

Everyone knows that Barcelona is a haven for nightlife. Many of the DJ's in Ibiza are residents here in Barcelona in off-season, and the city has some of the best nightclubs in Europe. Talking about dance music festivals, it's impossible not to mention Sonar, but if anyone can throw the electronic dance festival off its throne, it just might be Barcelona Summer Week.

Barcelona Summer Week 2009 - Barcelona Sights Blog

The second of two huge crowd pullers this week and billed as the "epicentre of dance music and culture in Europe", Barcelona Dance week involves over 100 DJ's - including some of the top names in dance music such as Tiesto, David Guetta, Eric Morillo, Fedde le Grand and many more - 30 of Barcelona's best clubs, and even the stretch of beaches and chiringuitos along the Mediterranean coastline.

Barcelona Sights - Summer Week location The party week kicks off tomorrow in outside Villasar de Mar at SHE Club, with various events leading up to the showcase of next weekend, where the main Olympic area, just in front of the Palau Sant Jordi up on Montjuic will be used. Midweek madness sees some of Barcelona's top clubs involved in special Barcelona Summer Week parties. Clubs include Opium Mar (taken over from the old Baja Beach haunt down at the Olympic Village), Opium Cinema downtown, Elephant (boasting the city's best terrace, surely?!), the mother of all clubs, Discoteque (even if it has moved), Ex-FC Barcelona footballer Patrick Kluivert's Carpe Diem Lounge Club, Bucaro, Roxy, Universal, Sotaventobcn and the Lotus Theatre - good old Grungy Apollo gets in on the act, too with it's classic Nasty Mondays night. It looks to be one crazy week, and with the temperatures soaring this weekend, I'm sure the sun will throw a bit of madness into the mix, too!

Are you going to Barcelona Summer Week? Anything to comment? I'd love to hear your plans. I'm predicting a massive turnout (the website is claiming last 200 tickets on sale), and I'm sure it'll be a roaring success.

Looking for a place to stay for the festival? Why not try apartments for rent in Barcelona as a great way to chill during the day with mates, instead of a stuffy hotel room. And for a heads up on the rest of the city, see this cool Barcelona guide.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Barcelona Circuit Festival

This Saturday sees the first of two of the biggest festivals to hit Barcelona this summer - Barcelona Circuit Festival. This is a Gay and Lesbian Festival, which lasts a whopping 8 days and is organised by the gurus of Barcelona fiestas, Matinee group. Taking in over 9 venues across the whole week, this proves to be one huge party, in some of the city's best known haunts, such as DBoy, Souvenir, Salvation, Martin's Disco, The swimming Pools at Hospitalet, Illa Fantasia Water Park, Razzmatazz, Row 14, and the Olympic Pavilion in Badalona. And that's just the boy's events!
Circuit Barcelona Festival - Barcelona sights blog
Organisers have rounded up some of the best DJ's from Europe and the world - ex-residents of Ibiza, London, Paris, and other top nightspots around the world for what looks to be an incredible, non-stop party. The programme starts in DBoy on Saturday night, and continues well into Sunday noon at Souvenir. Sleep needed, I'm sure, after midnight kicks off at Salvation again on Sunday evening. Various water parks are involved mid week, after the success of Matinee's Summer Festival in June.

The party of all parties culminates on the 8th August, with a real all-nighter! The Olympic Stage in Badalona - usual concert venue for the likes of Oasis and Coldplay in recent years, will see a sea of finely-toned, tanned (if a little knackered from such a hard week partying) males take over the pavilion for what looks to be THE party of the week. An envious line up, live acts and many surprises will make you want to party more till Brazilian Souvenir night, and the final "La Leche" beach party down at Atlantida. If you guys can keep up with that week, you'll surely need the rest of August off to recuperate!

Anyone going to Circuit week? Please let me know and leave comments if you're going, I'd love to hear from you.

For more information on the city, see this great Barcelona Guide. And if you're in need of accommodation for the festival, check out these apartments for rent in Barcelona with BCN Rentals.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The BEST Barcelona Graffiti

OK, it's been a while since my last graffiti post but what a post to come back to one of my favourite themes in Barcelona: Graffiti. There are some great places to see graffiti in the city, apart from those commissioned by shop owners wanting to spruce up their dreary grey shutters. One of those places is skateboarders' favourite hangout, the Three Chimneys Park on Parallel.

Barcelona Sights Blog - Michael Jackson Graffiti
I've seen some fantastic pieces here over my 9 years in Barcelona, and I think maybe due to the fact that the size of the wall is perfect for a graffiti artist to use, and can be easily visible from the road (it's slightly set back). I also assume there is an unwritten law between artists about how you should respect a piece and leave it a certain amount of time, as some previous works have been there for months (I may be completely wrong on this, and correct me if so, there may be a street law?).

So, I guess given the huge impact Michael Jackson's death has caused around the world, and the subsequent enquiries into the manslaughter claims, etc. it should have been no surprise to see the excellent work adorning the first concrete slab in the Parc de les tres chimeneis this week, but it took my breath away. Those clever lads at AXE Graffiti have pulled off an amazing piece of artwork, worthy to stay for life in my book. I'm sure you'll agree.

Michael Jackson Graffiti - Barcelona Sights
Axe colours have also been responsible for creating perhaps the coolest car park in Barcelona, up on Villarroel, as well as many other impressive jobs. Check out their web in the above link for more details.

For more details on great things to visit in Barcelona, see this list of the best Barcelona Parks and Gardens. And if you're looking for a place to stay, try apartments for rent in Barcelona as a money saving technique between friends.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Barcelona Scams. Gypsy Flower Sellers - Updated.

This week, whilst walking across Plaça Catalunya with my wife and kids, I witnessed for the first time the Gypsy flower seller scam - one which I've heard about before, but had never personally seen - and therefore blogged about here. I immediately knew it was a scam, and despite stopping to watch - and the thieves seeing me - it did not deter them. Here's how the scam unfolded.

Barcelona Sights - Red Carnation

The "marks" were two Japanese tourists who were walking in front of us as we crossed Plaça Catalunya - just near the tourist bus stop. The tourists, a young couple, were dressed in normal summer attire, and the girl even had her backpack on the front, so was obviously wise to the possible dangers of city centre pickpockets.

Two middle-aged Spanish ladies approached them each with ONE red carnation, and proceeded to "pin" the carnation in their t-shirts (no lapels, just a normal summer t-shirt) and then held out a hand with 3 x 2 cent coins in it, suggesting they give them a tip (and a small one at that). One of the ladies also had a white plastic bag in her hand, folded over to the length and breadth of a typical TV remote control (sorry, first thing that comes to mind, but you get the idea).

The embarrassed girl, a few steps away from her boyfriend, then began to look in her bag for her wallet - presumably to offer a few cents to the women to get them away. AS SOON as the girl got her wallet out and opened the zip compartment, where the coins would be kept, the Spanish woman use the folded carrier bag to cover the girls wallet and "help" her look for the other money - when I'm sure her deft hands would have taken some notes. Fortunately the girl became suspicious, took two steps back, returned the flower and walked to meet her partner, slightly flustered but wallet in tact.

This all happened at about 10:30am in the centre of town, and whilst the tourists moved on, the two women stayed exactly where they were, looking for new prey. I could not believe the brazen cheek (only ONE flower, so they expect to be rebuffed?!) and attempt in broad daylight. I expect that the thieves prey on those tourists who for sheer politeness and an inability to communicate would comply - i.e. the Japanese couple were a perfect mark. I kicked myself for not taking a photo, at least on my phone, but will update this post if I see them again, as a warning to others.

How to avoid this happening to you? Do NOT let anyone come close to you offering flowers - or if they do, politely decline. If the flower is placed upon you, take it out and return it. Some of the Indian and Pakistani immigrants do sell flowers on an evening or occasionally during the day, but usually have a full bunch of flowers which are wrapped in cellophane, etc. These women had one loose carnation, cut short, but with no frills. This is one that I had never seen before, but witnessed it in broad daylight in the main square, so be aware. As ever, this post is not to scare, rather to inform, and I also must point out that I've been here for almost 10 years, and that's the first time I've seen it, so don't be put off by my blog posts on Barcelona scams - Barcelona is a great place!

For planning your trip against any possible mishaps, see this detailed Barcelona Guide and check out my other recent posts on Barcelona Scams:

The Walking Tours Scam
The Restaurant Overcharge
The School Questionnaire
The Postcard cover up
The Reverse Parking Scam
3 Cups Scam
The Map Readers Scam
The Football Dance Scam
The Flat Tyre Scam
The Ketchup Squirt Scam
The Dancing Dollies Scam

For your accommodation needs in the city, try apartments for rent in Barcelona as a great alternative to your typical hotel room.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Barcelona Scams. The Walking Tour

An article in this week's Vanguardia draws attention to a new scam involving the many fantastic walking tours of places such as the Gothic Quarter and Park Güell. Apparently the easy targets are the cruise passengers, who routinely pull up in minibuses from the Old Port docking area to the area around Via Laietana and the Cathedral.

Gothic Quarter - Barcelona Sights
The scam involves men and women, although primarily women according to the two qualified tourist guides interviewed by the Vanguardia in the article. These scamsters dress exactly like tourists - complete with maps, bottled water and cameras, and follow the tour guides around their walking tours, blending in with the rest of the tourists! It is in this "camoflagued" state that they prey on their victims. The scam has even led to those regular tour guides recognising the thieves, and occasionally having to stop a tour to avoid a robbery - only to be confronted verbally by the thieves and onlooking "henchmen" there to protect the pickpockets.

As always, wallets, purses and anything else of value are "lifted" in the particularly narrow bottlenecks in the Gothic Quarter's streets, and rapidly passed off to avoid suspicion. While there have been occasions that the thieves have been caught, one guide claims to have wasted a whole morning then going to court to testify against the woman in order for them to be prosecuted.

This is a particularly clever way of robbing the tourists, and is extremely difficult to give advice against - how can I say "watch out for the ladies with maps, cameras, sunglasses and bottled water" ?! I suppose the best advice I can give is to always be aware of your surroundings and try you best to keep your belongings close to you at all times. If there is a particularly narrow stretch of pass, or a crowd gathers, ensure you hold on tightly to the bag you're carrying or the zipper.

Have you seen this scam happen, or has it happened to you? please let me know - or if you have any other tips or hints as to how to avoid something like this happening to you, again, please chip in with ideas!

Looking for accommodation in the old town of Barcelona ? Try Apartments for rent in Barcelona as a great altwernative to a hotel - or a cruise ship?!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Great things to do in Barcelona for FREE - Part 7

OK, it's been a while, but I thought I'd give you another great thing to do in Barcelona for free. Now this might not seem all that appealing at first but remember, it's free, so hear me out.

Ethnological Museum in Barcelona - Barcelona Sights Blog

One of the best things about Sundays in Barcelona is that everyone hits the streets and the parks and gardens of the city are filled with couples, families and friends reflecting on the weekend's activities and getting ready for the coming week. The FIRST Sunday of each month is also a little special as a few of the city's Museums open their doors to the public for free. What better way to spend a Sunday morning than in an air-conditioned museum soaking up some culture, before you head down to Barceloneta for a Paella and the beach, right?!

Entrance to Museu Etnològic - Barcelna Sights

Sitting halfway up Montjüic is Barcelona's Ethnological Museum. Originally formed by a group of intellectuals in the 1920's who wanted to gather their interests in Folklore and ethnology in one place, the museum has seen a few homes, but is now in the building you can see in these photos, and has been there since 1973.

The museum has a staggering amount of information, history, anthropology and exhibitions ranging from close to home (Catalonia, Salamanca) and spanning almost every culture across the globe - Japan, Nuristan, Ethiopia, Morocco, Australia, South America and Papa New Ginuea are all covered in over 70,000 individual pieces. It's not one of those museums where you need to take everything in - just wander around and look at those things that come out at you - it gives you a real sense of the diversity in the world and makes you wonder about just how people lived hundreds of years ago. Fascinating stuff.

Coming to Barcelona soon? Still haven't booked that hotel? No worries! Look into short-stay apartments for rent in Barcelona as a great alternative. Fancy some more museums? Here are the Top 10 Museums in Barcelona for you to mull over.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Local Festivals - Raval

Raval Festival - Barcelona Sights
Barcelona always seems to have a festival going on somewhere. Apart from the big music festivals like Summercase, Sonar, this weekend's Sonisphere Rock gig, the Greek Theatre festival, la Merçe in September, Sant Joan....the list could go on. Well, apart from all of these, each neighbourhood organises it's own festival during the year. Perhaps one of the best is the Gracia festival where the tiny streets of the neighbourhood are decorated to the maximum.

However, this weekend from the 16th to 19th July, it's the Raval's turn. Last year's festival was a melting pot of different cultures combining to offer both traditional and international games and exhibitions. This year's programme seems to be following suit. There are also guided tours available in the MACBA, Liceu opera House, Palau Güell and Sant Pau del Camp Monastery to be taken advantage of, too.

Highlights this year include clowning activities for the kids; Friday's concert involving Mumba, Celtic music, Rock and Merengue all presented by a drag queen; Saturday's evening concert in the Rambla del Raval; Abbey Road Beatles tribute band and the Giants processions at 12noon on Sunday, too.

Looking for accommodation for this coming weekend? Try apartments for rent in Barcelona as a great way to save money. And for a quick review of the city's sights, see this great Barcelona Guide.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Great Barcelona Bars Part 5 - The Black Sheep

One of the best bars in Barcelona to meet people is L'Ovella Negra - the Black Sheep. This bar is located just off the top end of Las Ramblas near Boadas Bar on Carrer Sitges, which is a little alleyway, typical of Barcelona's Old Town.

The Black Sheep Tavern - Barcelona Sights Blog
The reason why it's such a great place to meet people is because of the size. Most of the bars in the old town are small and narrow, but - depsite the appearance from the door outside (you almost have to stoop to get in) - The Black Sheep is big. The website calls it a Tavern, and I suppose you could say that's right, with the old stone walls and huge trestle tables and benches. The waiters will only serve you at a table (or a barrel) and serve big jugs of beer or Sangria. You can also get spirits at other drinks at the bar but mostly the big jugs go down well. It's inevitable that you sit down next to a group of people, or newcomers will ask if they can squeeze on your table, so exchanging stories and meeting both locals and international travellers is really easy! There's a table football area towards the front and a pool table in front of the bar, too. Many of my best nights out when I first arrived here started at the Black Sheep. Check it out.

For your accommodation needs in the city, try apartments for rent in Barcelona as a great alternative to hotels. And for more city information, check out this great Barcelona Guide.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Tour de Barcelona?!!

Tour de France in Barcelona - Barcelona Sights Blog Costing a reported 1 million Euros, Le Tour de France cycling race hits Barcelona this coming week. Yes, you heard it right. That famous, arduous sporting event usually confined to the French borders is stepping out of the country this year to a few different spots including Italy, Switzerland, Andorra and Spain, namely Barcelona. Those in search of the hallowed yellow jersey will be hitting the Catalan Capital this coming Thursday, 9th July.

And Barcelona City Council are planning something unique for the arrival of the third most popular world sporting event after the World Cup and Olympic Games - a kind of yellow Mexican wave throughout the route in Barcelona. Huh?! Let me explain.

Yellow Wave Instructions for Tour de France - Barcelona sights

The spectators following the route will be armed with a yellow sheet which will be unfolded and as the first cyclists pass, raised above their heads until the moment the last cyclist pass, thus creating a "wave" as the tour passes through the city. I can see the gimmick, and the website is even planning on making this the "biggest yellow wave in the world" (not sure how many the Guinness Book of World Records will already have in there, so this may be a foregone conclusion!?).

Barcelona Spinning World Record Bid - Barcelona Sights Blog
But they're not stopping at that! Oh, no! On the same day as the real cyclists arrive, the city is touting for another world record. The record for the most static bicycles at the same time in the Barcelona Spinning World Record attempt. Yes, those who are usually confined to mirrored gym rooms, will hit the town in the Arc de Triomf, and attempt the record as 500 static bikes will brave the Spanish sunshine and go for the first record of the day! With activities starting from as early as 9am, there's still time to register and sign up for the record-breaking day!

Looking for accommodation for this coming week? Try apartments for rent Barcelona for a great alternative to your usual hotel room, and for a heads up on the rest of the city sights, see this great Barcelona Guide.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Brazilian Samba hits Barcelona!

Stuck for ideas this weekend? Well, if you're in the mood for some great Samba and modern DJ sessions all the way from Bahia, head on down to the Parc del Forum, where Carnacelona 2009 is set to kick off! Now, those of you who speak or understand a little Spanish may be forgiven for believing that this has something to do with meat (?!) but no, it's Carnaval and Barcelona all rolled into one!

Barcelona Sights Blog - Carnacelona
Yes, on Friday and Saturday, the Forum turns into the Brazilian coast with the Bahia Carnaval in Barcelona. Asa de Águia, Banda Eva, DJ Miss Cady, DJ Wally Lopez and Groove Armada's Andy Cato (Who can forget the song "I see you baby...shaking that ass" ?!) will be pulling the crowds in for the caipirinhas, sun and grooves in what looks set to be a great inauguration in the Catalan Capital. Ticket prices are 30 € for 1 day or 55 € for the two days - with a VIP ticket also on sale, offering better views, massages (yes, massages) Lounge and International Cuisine - that sounds great!

If you're looking for accommodation in the city, try apartments for rent in Barcelona as a great chill out place before the festival. Also, for a heads up on the rest of the city, see this great Barcelona Guide.
Follow Me on Twitter