Friday, March 19, 2010

Cesc Comes Home in April

Today's midday draw for the quarter finals of the Champions League has seen current Champions Barcelona draw Arsenal in the quarters (a repeat of the final in 2006), and then the winner of either Inter or CSKA in the semis, making it look all the more possible a repeat of last year's final against Manchester United, who have Bayern Munich and then either Bordeaux or Lyon.

In Barcelona's Sights again? Barcelona sights Blog

Barcelona made easy work of Stuttgart in the end, despite me thinking it wouldn't be a walkover, and that man Messi was of course at the forefront of...well, almost everything. Obvious comparisons have been drawn in the press with Manchester United's current genius, Wayne Rooney. Rooney is on one more goal than Messi as of today for the season, and apparently Ferguson has challanged Rooney to see if he can beat Cristiano Ronaldo's total of 42 the season before he left.

The Quarters are obviously tinged with those little in-game dramas like Thierry Henry facing his old club after his move here in 2007. And then gunners captain Cesc Fabregas returning "home" to play in the Camp Nou. If you'd have told me that draw 2 months ago, I would have had no doubt that Barça would beat them, maybe even whup them but now I'm not so sure. I think Barcelona will edge it but it won't be as easy as many will think. Wenger has already come out and said he thinks they won't be favourites, but to not focus on themselves rather the game. Ties are played last Tuesday and Wednesday of this month, with the Barcelona home tie on the 6th April. Anyone esle have predictions they'd like to share? Please leave comments below.

Fancy coming to the second leg in April? Check out some deals on these Barcelona apartments and for a quick look at the city sights, see this short guide to Barcelona.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

New Modernista Museum Opens in Barcelona

It's well known that Barcelona is a haven for those who love architecture, with some of the most famous buildings in Europe so easily recognised by many people. The city boasts 9 UNESCO World Heritage Sites with all but one of those being a building (the one that isn't is Park Güell). It's also no surprise that 7 of the 9 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Barcelona have been created by the hand of Antonin Gaudi. Gaudi was considered to be one of the most influencial figures in the Modernitsta movement, and even the other two sites not by Gaudi are Modernista buildings, too: Hospital Sant Pau and Palau de la Musica Catalana. So, what the devil is Modernista?

Museu Modernisme - Barcelona Sights Blog

At a time where industry was flowing in Barcelona (cotton, fabrics, etc.) many of the wealthy folk of the city commissioned buldings to be built for them and their families. It seems like there was a competition for the wackiest buildings and designs with a disregard for uniformity and "fitting in" - hence the well known "manzana de discordia" or the Block of Discord which has the most remarkable display of buildings in such a small radius, and why today thousands of people flock to see such buildings as Casa Mila, Casa Battlò, Casa Viçens, Palau Güell, etc. etc.

However, the Modernista movement was not only reflexcted in buildings. Obviously art played a huge role in the movement, and sculptures, ornaments, furniture, etc. can all be considered to fall undert the same category. Until now, it's possibly been difficult to recognise just exactly what could be considered Modernista (unless you visit the period attic apartment in La Pedrera), so there's a good reason to be happy this weekend with the inauguration of the Museu del Modernisme which sets to showcase 400 different pieces displaying the disciplines within Modernism. The museum is located on Calle Balmes, number 48, which is a nice central location, and is sure to be a success for those wanting to expand their knowledge on the subject. From the Facebook page, the virtual images certainly look great, and I'll be popping along sometime soon to check it out as well.

Coming to Barcelona soon? Check out these self-catering apartments for a great alternative to hotels.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Barcelona Twestival This Friday

Social Media is a big thing, with Sites like Facebook and Twitter being constantly accessed on a daily basis. According to data recently released, Facebook has over 400 million users, and 50% of those log in every day. Twitter also has a huge usage, and although Spain hasn't quite cottoned on to the party just yet, it's still a very powerful tool, and can be used for great things. Like the Twestival.

Barcelona Twestival - Barcelona Sights Blog

This weekend sees Barcelona celebrate their own Twestival, like many locations across the world. The idea is the social media is used towards social good. This year's cause is @concern who raise awareness and the need for education, relief and development for the underprivileged countries around the world. The idea of the Twestival is to have fun and games, and raise money through volunteers to help Concern with its work.

Twestival is being held this Friday, 19th March in Gran Foc on Roger de Lluria, 23. Unfortuntely, I won't be able to attend :o( but wanted to spread the word, as it's all in such a good cause. Good luck, guys, it looks like it'll be a great night, and I hope plenty of money is raised. I know Barcelona VIP Nights use the Gran Foc as their starting point, so it should be busy around 22h anyway!!
If you can't attend, you can still donate at the link above, home page, right hand side, and you can follow me @BCN_Dave.

Are you planning on going to the Twestival this Friday? Let me know in the comments. And if you're in need of accommodation in the city, try looking for an apartment through BCN Rentals, who can cater for almost any group size.

Blow Up Barcelona With a Click of Your Mouse

OK, so the title of the post probably had you guessing, but there's nothing afoot with today's first post. As I've mentioned before, it's becoming easier and easier to forward plan a holiday or a trip to a popular destination with some handy online tools. First there was the news that Google would be introducing Street View to their maps. This helps enormously with logistical planning (if you arrive in a car, for example) and even just a quick look at the street your hotel or rental accommodation is located on.

Next the Google guys teamed up with UNESCO to give even more detail on the city and its sights. Barcelona council got on the scene with their virtual flight over Barcelona and there's already an amazing project underway at Barcelona 3D. Not being one to feel left out, Google announced last week that Barcelona can also be viewed in 3D on Google Earth (requires installation).

Google Earth Flat Image of Sagrada Familia - Barcelona Sights Blog

Consider the above image, which I have stripped of all the usual ads and other people's photographs. It may take you a couple of seconds, but that is indeed how Sagrada Familia looks on a standard Google Earth (which is a bit like Google Maps, too). The shadow probably gives it away more than anything else. Well, with the simple click of your mouse, you can inflate the buildings presented in front of you into a 3D version - literally before your eyes. It's quite funny the first time, hence the silly title for the post.

Sagrada Familia 3D from Google Earth - Barcelona Sights

Now before you all go accusing me of being a geek, I do realise that the 3D version of the picture is also still a bit pants, but it's still a pretty cool tool to move around and have a look at the city from another angle (and is much better than the council flight simulator - sorry council!). What would be really cool is if street view could somehow be integrated into this system as well, and you could literally plan your itenerary and see where you're going to go before you even got there!!!???

Expanding - or "blowing up" - the view of the buildings couldn't be easier. To the left hand column of menu bars, you have a section called "Layers" and within layers, you just need to mark the box "3D Buildings", and then you can see them all. Good, eh? What do you think about the 3D thing? An improvement to Google Earth, or something people are likely not to use? I'd be happy to hear your comments, so feel free to leave one below.

And if you're coming to the city some time soon, check out these Barcelona Apartments, instead of staying in a hotel.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Cranberries Land on Barcelona

Ok, so I've been here for ten years, and while I'm firmly of the position that Spain is trapped in the eighties (sorry for you regular Spanish readers), I'm also surprised at the popularity of other bands, and tomorrow night showcases one of them.

Irish band The Cranberries are back in town, with the original line-up after 7 years, and no-one could be happier than the Spanish. Despite attempts by the band members to go it solo without much success, the band hots into town tomorrow night in a pretty good venue at the Olympic Pavello in Badalona, considering the band isn't promoting a new album and re-playing some classic sounds from way back when. To put this in perspective, the guys will be playing on the same stage as the Backstreet Boys, Oasis and Take That in recent years.

When I was an English teacher when I first arrived in Barcelona, I was surprised at how popular The Cranberries were in Barcelona, for one. Many a homework was turned in on pieces by the band, or listening exercises with music always seemed to gear around to them, and they (along with Phil Collins and Rick Astley) must earn a fair wesge from radio airplay over here, too. However that makes it sound like I'm complaining. Not at all.

In 1992, whilst still learning to play the guitar and rehearsing with my college band, The Cranberries hit the main stage and despite Justine Frischmann from Elastica publicly damning Dolores for rhyming "finger" with "linger", the band went on to enjoy great success across the world. Although I haven't read much into it, lead singer Dolores has had her fair share of problems, but you can bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow night will be a great night of nostalgia, and funny Spanish karaoke singing (I've also been victim, that's not a dig!).

Coming to Barcelona this month? Check out these Barcelona apartments and for a quick look at the city sights, check out this Guide to Barcelona

Monday, March 1, 2010

Las Ramblas Claims Centre Stage Back

Whether you like it or not, Las Ramblas is the most famous street in the city. Never mind your Passieg de Gracia's or your Gran Via's - the collection of little streets which are seamlessly joined, carry the cruise passengers up to Plaça Catalunya and the stag and hen weekends down to the Port. It is a magnet for tourists, and while the ever-changing face of the shops and cafés has varied a fair bit in the ten years I've been here, it's still stayed more or less the same. Until last summer.

Prostitutes in  the Boqueria September 2009 - Barcelona Sights

El Pais newspaper exposed the much, much seedier side of Las Ramblas by night. Hoards of sub-saharian women who act like organised theives and offer their services as ladies of the night along the side streets of Las Ramblas, and the alleyways around the boqueria market were given plenty of column inches. Those images like the one above were published extensively around the world and shame was publicly brought on the city. In fact, the situation had been like this for quite some time, and it was only after the images were so widely distributed that the council decided to get tough. In came a high police presence and bars and clubs were told to shut up shop exactly on time. The Pakistani beer sellers disappeared and relative calm ensued for the rest of the summer. The same newspaper also published an article last month, with details of the capture of a mafia network who controlled the prostitutes with extreme measures, including voodoo threats, terrorising of families in Nigeria and beatings. One girl in particular helped expose the case, which - perhaps not surprisingly - didn't make the news much.

Rambleros Starts today - Barcelona Sights Blog

So the council has decided to claim back the city's emblematic boulevard, making changes as a start, and even setting up a full month remembering the good old days of Las Ramblas - starting today.

Every day from 10am till 7pm, you can visit the marquee which the city has set up at the bottom end of Las Ramblas, and participate in round table chats, view the past through the famous eyes of local spectacles and in see shows from 7pm onwards - 75 different shows over the 28 nights. It's got to be worth a pop in and see what's happening, right?

Are you coming to Barcelona this month? Check out these Apartments in Barcelona as a great alternative to a hotel. And for a quick look at the main sights, see this great barcelona guide.
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