Thursday, May 27, 2010

Another Reason to Visit Park Güell

Park Güell is probably one of the busiest and most visited attractions in the city. It's never in a top 10 list of visitor trends as it's free to get in, so difficult to get this kind of information. Late last year, Barcelona council had plans to charge an entrance fee to the park, in order to help with the costs to clean the park, clean up the graffiti, etc. Well, the plans were fortunately scrapped last month, meaning that it's still one of the best things to do in Barcelona for free.

Casa de la Guardia in  Parc Güell - BarcelonaSights

Well, if UNESCO World Heritage Status wasn't enough for you, Saturday gives you another reason to hit the park. The two Hansel and Gretel-style house at the entrance to the park have pretty much been ornamental thus far. Well, on Saturday, you can gain entrance to a fully-restored "Casa de la Guardia" or porter's house. This is a three storey building and was intended to serve as the park's porter/janitor/security guard's house. The restoration work has cost 113,000 Euros according to press reports this morning, and has restored the bright primary colours intended for the inside, and explains a little more about just why the idea of the park never quite took off - for those of you unaware, Gaudi and (funder) Eusebi Güell planned for the park to be an exclusive neighbourhood for the rich bourgeois, a kind of old fashioned Beverly Hills, if you like. Should be interesting!

For a different stay in the city, try renting apartments in Barcelona. You'll feel much more at home than a hotel, and can choose some great locations, too.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Primavera Sound Kicks off Festival Season

Yes, it's that time again. The warm weather daring you to hide your jackets and coats (after the snow shock last in March!), and the trees blossoming, the terraces filling with happy smiles and the beginning of the festival season in Barcelona.

Primavera Sound 2010 - Barcelona Sights

Kicking off tomorrow is Primavera Sound, which has transformed from a little spring festival in Poble Español to a monster event down at the Parc del Forum. These kind of events, a little like the upcoming Sonar, tend to have far too many great people you want to try and squeeze in seeing, and it's impossible to please evryone/satisfy that hunger to check out the live performances. So, just sit back, relax, put on your dnacing shoes and have a beer (it's sponsored by San Miguel, of course).

Some of this year's highlights include Pavement, Pet Shop Boys, The Charlatans, Pixies (!), Florence & the Machine, Marc Almond, Orbital, Lee Perry, and many many more. Particularly cool this year looks to be the Ray Ban unplugged stage.

Many of the clubs in the city have been joining in the fun already this week, and tickets are still available at 75 Euros for one day or 180 Euros for the full pass. Don't forget to change your ticket for a bracelet at Apolo to save the huge queues.

So, are you coming to the festival this year? Anyone in particular you're looking forward to seeing? Let me know in the comments.

Apartments for rent, Barcelona are a great way to chill before and after the festival. And to check out the area around the festival, see this short page about the Olympic Village and beaches of Barcelona.

Barcelona Council Hands Out "Civil" Cartoons - Here are mine

With the hot weather arriving, so the droves of tourists head to the beaches for a cheap beer (or not) and soak up some of the Mediterranean sunshine. It's usually after this, wandering back home to their hotel or apartment that the locals start to become annoyed. It's a real pet hate in Barcelona to see scantily clad tourists parading through las ramblas and the surrounding parts wearing only what they had on in the sea.

No Swimwear Please - BarcelonaSights

So, in an attempt to bring a little more civil behaviour to the streets, the council have this week released a funny little cartoon for any restaurant, bar, cafe, etc. etc. owner to print off and presumably clart all over their windows in an attempt to clean up the image. Whether or not this will work is yet to be seen. Given the fact that Spain is still well and truly in an economic downturn, coupled with the recent Volcanic Ash cloud madness, I think many owners of bars and terraces around the town won't care two hoots as long as there are bums on seats. I may be wrong, but I have a hunch.

So, while they're at it, why not address some of the other terrible problems around Las Ramblas and the surrounding areas with these fantastically innocent cartoons? How about those silly Mexican hats that everyone buys? Sombreros are not Spanish, no-one wears them, but they're often seen.

Sombrero Etiquette - Barcelona Sights

Or how about another go at the terrible trileros?

So What about the trileros? BarcelonaSights

Is it me, or are there a few more important things to be worried about as the summer approaches? Last Summer was more than just a bad day at the office for the mayor, and whilst that particular problem seems to have been taken care of, there are many just as serious that need tackling. What do you reckon? Any ideas for new cartoons that we could add? Leave a comment!

Fancy the Barcelona sunshine this year? Check out BCN Rentals tourist apartments for rent. And for a quick look at the top sights in the city, see this Barcelona city Guide.

Wasting Your Money on Fun

I had to travel urgently this month home to the UK, and as always, used EasyJet to fly (fortunately avoiding the bloody Volcanic Ash cloud, twice!). I'm always keen to have a look at the in-flight magazine which has a page for each destination, and I always lñook at Barcelona's page, to see if there's anything new, and if I still have my finger on the pulse, so to speak.

So this month's had a great little article about Barcelona-based vendor, mitemite. MiteMite - means look look in Japanese, apparently - is described as "an unecessary objects lab" and is the brainchild of Ana Marti. She has designed just a handful of products, really, which aim to bring a bit of a chuckle into the mundane life we lead. With the very useful newspaper bag/laptop case, surely inspired by the terrible petty crime rate in the city making Paris Fashion Week and the New York Times, there are some which are not quite as practical but just as fun.

MiteMite Lazy Sunday Pants - BarcelonaSights Blog

The lazy Sunday pants are great, with big pockets for the remote controls and tablecloth right on the lap for your dinner in front of the box (even velcro removable - how cool is that?!). I also like the crime scene duvet cover and the Mother Teresa towel, but by far the coolest invention is the paper plane hanger for the walls! With only 3 shops in Barcelona stocking mitemite goods, you'll have to snap them up when you see them!

Coolest Coat Hangers going, courtesy of mitemite - BarcelonaSights Blog

Thinking of visiting the city this Spring? The weather has taken a turn for the better and it's great to wander the streets in the sunshine. Why not rent an apartment in Barcelona for a real taste of the city life? And for a great look into the best Barcelona parks and gardens to relax in, follow the link.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hilarious Swearing in Spanish

Warning. While this post is not intentionally intended to offend, it does include swear words in both Spanish and English and my candid analysis of the two after living in Barcelona for over ten years. In which case and if you are easily offended, tough shit, you've been warned.

One of the first things I noticed when I moved to Barcelona and started to understand and learn the Spanish language and culture (and I can now be confident in saying it's the same for Catalan) was the prominence of swearing in everyday life. Speaking the English language, and especially being an English teacher when I first arrived here, I had sub-consciously (as I'm sure many of you will have) established some kind of hierarchy or set of levels as to the severity or intention of a particular word.

I'm guessing that your personal list will have a lot to do with upbringing, age, sex, an infinite list of possible influences, but at the end of the day, we'd probably all pretty much end up with a similar list. Starting with the most severe, and working down:

Fuck off/Fuck you
Fuck/Fucking Hell

Regional variations within the English language can then be slotted into the above list, including:

Son of a bitch (something I never say, but is heavily used in the US, for example)
Wanker (a personal favourite of mine)
Motherfucker (will always be associated with Samuel L Jackson's character in Pulp Fiction?!)

So, now we've established the list, in order of severity and intent, let me give you an example.

My Nana, for example, (that's my grandmother, just in case) is rarely heard to utter a swear word. This doesn't mean she can't tolerate the words and would be the first to admit that certain situations can merit a swear word - dramatic scenes on television, making characters credible on stage or screen, and particularly desperate situations in life.

She would never be heard to utter the F word. And let me make what I think would be a pretty bold but definitely true statement - the majority of women NEVER utter the word "cunt" - in fact, it's usually referred to as "the C-word" taking its place right alongside "the F-word". Am I right? If you think I'm way off the mark here, please let me know in the comments (obviously if you're a porn star, I can make exceptions here).

So it may come as a surprise that in Spanish conversation, the C-Word is used as an everyday conversation filler, by almost every age group and with a complete disregard as to the people around you that you might offend. It rolls off the tongue so easily, and is perfectly appropriate in the middle of a crowded restaurant/bank/funeral parlour/the list goes on. Typical example.

Conversation between two friends (any age):

A. Did you bring that CD to listen to in the car, by the way?
B. Ah, cunt, I left it on top of the telly.

In English that sounds quite important and likely an inappropriate use for the word, right, but that's perfectly fine here. "Coño" is also almost always used in place of Fuck in English when you say "What the fuck...?".

Literal translations of words from English to Spanish don't always translate in terms of the strength associated with the word either;

shit = mierda.
fuck = follar (the act) joder (expressing surprise/annoyance, etc.)

That's about where the comparisons end. I have had the conversation with many people over the years: What is the worst swear word/insult in Spanish? Friends, students, random people in a bar, etc. have all contributed to my childish curiosity and pretty much agreed over the years that "hijo de puta" is probably the worst tirade of words you could bestow on someone. So, just in case you missed that, it's "son of a bitch/whore" - pretty lame right, even if you do spit the words out?

From here, I'm afraid the translation of the words become fairly comic for me. We have variations of:

Me cago en la puta - I shit in the bitch
Me cago en Dios - I shit in God
Me cago en la leche - I shit in the milk
Me cago en tu madre, etc. - I shit in your mother, etc.

Now, although they all conjure up very visually unappealing images in my mind, they're hardly the first thing that would come to my mind in a situation of desperation and annoyance. I remember actually laughing out loud one time, when waiting for someone in the street. A man was talking fairly loudly in his telephone by the side of the road in the city centre and holding a brightly coloured triangle of paper in his hand. At one point he pulled the phone away from his ear and shouted as if into a microphone "DONDE ESTA MI COCHE, LECHES!". Now, you must understand my complete bemusement at the time, with the pure intent and blood-boiling rage running through this man's body at the time (I was unaware of the abbreviation or even the full version) and the best he could come up with was "WHERE IS MY CAR, MILK".

Funny Poster - BarcelonaSights Blog

According to certain sources, French is the best language to swear in as it's like wiping your arse with silk but I fully agree with one of the wisest men on the planet when he says there just is no replacement for the word Fuck sometimes, what do you think?

But going back to the original point, there appears to be no line to be crossed when swearing in Spanish, no words that can't be spoken by a certain gender/group/age. It's part of everyday conversation (people regularly swear on TV during the day here and it's never highlighted or drawn to anyone's attention, and I doubt the broadcasters receive any complaints). Which for me must be a little frustrating, right? So what about those occasions where you're REALLY annoyed? Here's a shout out to all of you bi-lingual Spanglish people out there (or not). Do you swear in your own language or in Spanish? or your adopted language? Which do you prefer? I'd guess everyone swears in their own language cos it comes so much from within, right? Let me know your thoughts.

If you're coming to Barcelona soon, try apartments for rent instead of a hotel. And for a quick look at the best sights, see this Barcelona guide.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

BarcelonaSights Interview - Artist Adriano Luli

This week I have another interview, with Adriano Luli - a fantastic artist using a great technique to bring a new fusion of life to recycling and art. As always, I have received no fee in this post and I would like to thank Adriano for taking the time to answer the questions.

Adriano, you're Brazilian. How long have you been in Barcelona?

I'm from Brasilia, Brazil. I've been in BCN for 6 years.

What do you like about Barcelona? And what don't you like?

In Barcelona what I like the most is the diversity of the art. I have the sensation that art is in everything you see, but life in Barcelona is at such a fast pace, that's what I don't like.

Adriano's Work is original - click for detail - Barcelona Sights

Your art is very original. How did you think of the idea to use cans?

One day I had a ton of cans ready to throw out and I thought with such a quantity of colours I could use them to make something creative and recycle at the same time. That's how it went.

What inspires you when you have a blank canvas in front of you?

When I have a blank canvas in front of me the first thing I imagine is painting a figure full of colours and I travel into a parallel world just as real until I leave the piece and I consider it finished, given that I can never stop re-touching or adding things.

How long does it take you to do one?

To make one usually takes an average of 30 hours.

Are there any things that you haven't captured in your art so far that you'd like to?

A great question! I have an idea from such a long time ago of good and evil, but I never been able to paint or draw anything.

Barcelona Sights - Adriano Luli's Artwork this month

Tell us about the exposition you have this month.

The exposition is called "Las Figuras Recicladas" (The recycled figures) from the RE-Latando project (a play on words of telling a story, recycling and cans "latas" in Spanish). It expresses a story of multi-coloured figures, first drawn and then colourd using aluminium cans and some smaller ones with curcuit boards. The exposition is from the 7th May to the 7th June in Calle Paloma, 5 - Espacio de arte INUSUAL PROYECTO.

Coming to Barcelona this month? Check out these apartments for rent as a great alternative to hotels, and for a quick look at the city, check out this Barcelona guide.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Busy events Weekend in Barcelona

This weekend is set to be a busy one. The weather seems to have sorted itself out, and there are some great events to keep everyone busy.

Firstly, it's the Formula 1 Grand Prix at nearby Montmelo racetrack. After the panic that volcanic ash was going to create havoc with travel plans for many of the teams, it seems that everyone is here, ready and raring to go. Obviously Jenson Button is still the man to beat, and there'll certainly be a determination in Lewis Hamilton to do well, or at least beat Fernando Alonso, after 2008's disgraceful treatment of Hamilton here. Barcelona will surely be hanging the almost-full sign up in many hotels and apartments for this weekend.

Salon Comic 2010 - Barcelona Sights

Also starting today is the Salon Comic at the Fira de Barcelona in Montjüic. I remember going past the equivalent venture in Hospitalet of Manga last year, and it was hilarious, with many people dressed up as their favourite characters, so I'm sure today will be no exception.

The BBC has also their Walking with Dinosaurs exposition at Palau Sant Jordi, finishing on Sunday - tickets still available if you're interested.

Coming to Barcelona this Spring? Check out BCN Rentals for some late deals on apartments.
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