Thursday, February 25, 2010

History of Barcelona - A Click Away

Barcelona has had a turbulent and interesting history. A quick visit to the city History Museum gives a hint of the rich history and culture left behind by the Romans when they began building "Barcino". However, a quick visit to the History Museum is not quite enough to soak up the huge amount of information at your disposal. Not to worry, help is at hand.

Old Map of Barcelona - Barcelona Sights Blog

Barcelona council has recently launched a digital project via their website, called Barcino to BCN. This is a 45 chapter, weekly offering of history from the best sources possible, including University professors and historians. So far, the chapters (first 2) have been very digestible, and nothing like a trip back to school and a History lesson about arable farming and the like (yes, I'm English). The best thing, and the reason for including it today on the blog, is that it's all in English as well.

Barcino to BCN - Barcelona Sights Blog

The web also has some great videos (mainly in Catalan), images and plenty of other documents for you to fill yourself with little nuggets of information. Take a look at this video, for example, which shows the evolution of the actual landscape of the city which we all take for granted. Fascinating stuff. As far as I can see, the site isn't giving any kind of RSS feed, or opt-in email, so it means you'll just have to bookmark the site, and check back periodically for the next instalments.

Fancy experiencing the history of Barcelona? Check out these Barcelona apartments as a great way to stay in the old town.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Cool New Translation Tool Launched in Barcelona

This week lots of men and women in suits with funny pink name tags around their necks have been wandering the streets of Barcelona for the World Mobile Congress. Early reports suggest it's been another rip-roaring success and Barcelona has also secured the conference for another two years, keeping the mayor and the tourist office happy.

Some great things come out of the congress, such as Vodafone's launch of new very basic mobile phones which will cost as little as 15 Euros, and are planned to help connect poor countires such as Africa and other ciommunities which are not "connected" but need to be. There was also a funny alcohol breathaliser contraption you could attach to your mobile - allegedly marketed for "professional drivers" and not your everyday citizen who thinks they should be ok to take the car home after a few cheeky beers.

However, one of the best things I've seen for a long time was Google's announcement of the new translation feature through Google goggles. Google goggles is an image recognition service used through a mobile device's camera. At the moment, and as far as I can tell as I don't have it, you can point your camera to monuments like, say, the Eiffel Tower, and Google will tell you what it is. I know, I know - why do you need your phone to tall you what the Eiffel tower is? Bear with me.

So the cool thing is that Google showed an example of the goggles programme translating a German Menu into English - in real time - and by taking a photo of it. How cool is that, potentially?! I personally have been to cities in thw world and walked past restaurants that look great, but have no English menu (or any other language to try and guess) and always feel to silly to just sit down and hope the waiter can help me. This could spell the end for embarrassing orders from menus, and not even for restaurants, for example, the possibilities are endless. And obviously the potential for Google to cash in is huge, too, given that the application runs on Google's android system, and likely nothing else either.

Coming to Barcelona this month? Don't worry! The menus in the restaurants aren't that difficult to work out?! Also, check out these self-catering apartments in Barcelona, and cook in!! For a look at the main sights and help plan, check out this Barcelona Guide.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Carnival Time in Sitges

Sitges Carnaval - Barcelonasights blog This month is a party month, with carnival starting in many places around the world. While Brazil remains the favourite destination for the spectacular street parades and jiggling bodies on display, there's a little place closer to home that can give you just as good a show - Sitges. The seaside town of Sitges is just a short train ride away and is a favourite Barcelona day trip for many. It's also a gay resort, and a great place for a party even when carnival week is not on, however, getting the change to visit for the parade is something everyone should try and squeeze in.

Carnival is all about hedonism, debauchery and letting loose. The traditions of Carnaval in Catalonia are taught from an early age, with school children all week joining in activities and dressing up for the arrival of "carnestoltes" who is king of the crack pots!

Starting tomorrow, Carnelstoltes and his queen move around the town, visiting schools and gearing everyone up for Sunday's procession. This is a great party evening, and is even repeated on the tuesday with more people. I went on the Tuesday years ago, when I first arrived, and it was a fantastic night. There are around 50 floats and about 3000 people who dress up and parade around the town and the beachfront. We stayed up all night (that was a big deal for me back then, as I was still in "going home at 3am mode" as per England, so if you fancy a really good night, get yourselves there. It's easy on the train (last one there, first one back, if you like) from Barcelona, or any of the neighbouring towns, but expect busy trains!!

If you're coming to Barcelona this month, check out these great Barcelona apartments for rent. And for a heads up on the rest of the city, see this Barcelona Guide.

Flickr credit

Monday, February 8, 2010

Barcelona Remembers Laia in Style

Not many people know, but Barcelona really has two patron saints. Our Lady of Mercy is the obvious one, made famous by September's La Merce celebrations, and you'd be forgiven for guessing at Saint George (Sant Jordi) as the other, but he's actually for the whole of Catalonia.
No, I'm talking about Santa Eulalia, or how she's affectionately known, Laia.

Laia leads the magic - Barcelona sights blog

Laia is kind of remembered as the children's saint, and probably because she died so young. A little girl who protested in defence of the Christian persecution, she was only 13 when she died - and a particularly horrible death at that. She is warmly remembered and even has her own "mini" gegant on display at the city's ministry of culture building on las ramblas. Fitting, then that it's the start of carnaval week, and even if the weather looks like it doesn't want to play along (it's raining, and apparently is going to be like this all week!) then there's plenty to keep things happy for the kids!

Starting on Friday, there are many activities going on around the old town, and for a full programme of events, see the city's website. Just a selection of activities to whet your appetite however, are the parades through the gothic quarter, hip-hop workshops for the kids, classical music concerts in the maritime museum, various dances and theatre pieces and a correfoc fire-run, too! The city's museums are all joining in the fun starting from today, and many have free entrance on Saturday, for example. Full details here (pdf).

Are you coming to Barcelona this month? Check out these self-catering apartments in Barcelona as a great way to save money over a hotel.

Friday, February 5, 2010

All Eyes on Montjüic This Month.

This month sees the World Mobile Congress return to the Fira de Barcelona at Montjüic. From the 15th to 18th February, some of the biggest names in Mobile technology take over the city for the 4th year running.

Nexus One  Phone - BarcelonaSights Blog Anyone and everyone who is someone in the world of Mobile Phones and technology is attending this year. Of course, many are eager to see how Google will probably steal the show with the launch of it's Nexus One handset, as it did in Las Vegas recently. In fact, Google are obviously taking things really seriously by sending CEO and "Do No Evil" Eric Schmidt as a keynote speaker, alongside the CEO's of the likes of Ericsson, Huawei, Vodafone and many other big players.

It's said that the New Phone - technically not a Google phone at all as it's manufactured by HTC - will be the iPhone killer, which to be honest I'm a bit sick of hearing. This is about the 4th or 5th iPhone killer we've had launch on the market, isn't it? I don't care either, as I've got a BlackBerry!! The Nexus One is not even available yet in Spain, and if reports across the net are anything to go by, the customer service and after-care attention leaves a lot to be desired!! Do you like the look of the new phone? And are you queuing up to get one? Apparently Vodafone will have the phone, but they may not be the only one. We'll wait and see.

Are you looking for accommodation for the World Mobile Congress? Check out the apartments at BCN rentals on the above link. Amd for a quick and easy look at the main city sights, see this Barcelona Guide.

Cool Music This Month in BCN

Perhaps a little bit of an indlugent post here, but this month sees some great music come to Barcelona. Tomorrow night UK rockers Arctic Monkeys return to the Catalan Capital to play a sell-out Sant Jordi Club with Mystery Jets supporting. Italian crooner Eros Ramazzotti plays on the 15th, and Kevin Costner plays an incredible two nights in Barcelona on the 18th and 19th. I'm never quite sure about actors who form bands, like Keanu Reeves, Woody Allen, etc. but I suppose he must have his own following. These are not the reason for my title of today's post.

It's the night of the 11th that has me excited, and I'm not talking about Joss Stone at Palau de la Musica. One of my favourite bands, Dinosaur Jr, are playing the Sala Apolo. Responsible for perhaps one of the best guitar riffs of all time (What Else is New from 1993's Where you been) voted by magazines such as NME, Q, etc. you won't be surprised to hear that they feature heavily on my spotify playlists. I've never embedded video into any of my blog posts before, but if anyone deserves it, it's J and the guys. Enjoy.

Dinosaur Jr - I Don't Think So

Coming to Barcelona this month? Check out these self catering apartments for rent in Barcelona instead of opting for a hotel. There are some great savings to be made!
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