Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Las Arenas Finally Opens its Doors - Or Does it?

If you believe the publicity slapped across many of the buses flying round Barcelona over the past week or so, tomorrow should be a pretty important launch day in Barcelona. The white elephant that is Las Arenas Bull Ring at Plaça Espanya is (allegedly) opening it's doors tomorrow to the public.

Will it or Won't it? Las Arenas Barcelona - Barcelona Sights blog

If there's one thing that Spanish building companies do well, it's being very late with everything. Palau Güell's restoration seems to be taking longer and longer. The project over at Las Arenas was supposed to be finished years ago, too, and work was actually paralysed there for months while one company blamed the other at the height of the crisis.

So is it actually opening tomorrow? Well, according to the buses, yes, but there is almost no information online about this at all. In fact, I've been preparing this post for a few days due to me running out of time and having to go somewhere whilst researching. No images can be found of the launch publicity. And a google search throws up more job opportunities for new shops inside the place than anything else. I found the actual website by pure chance (it's not ranking for its own name which is bad news).

The place looks like it'll be great, with tons of shops and floors, cinemas, restaurants, gym, direct metro access and a rock and roll museum (?) amongst other things. The facade has been maintained, but is not actually the facade of the building and there's some kind of running track up on the roof if reports are to be believed.

Perhaps they want to quietly launch, in case it all goes wrong/isn't really ready. I've driven past there on a few occasions recently, and it certainly looks nowhere near being ready to be opened to the public (and let's face it, health and safety is not a HUGE deal over here). With a cost of over 80 million Euros and an already overdue date, maybe it's better just to keep it quiet and leave the fanfares for later? Anyone shed any light on the topic? Please let me know in the comments...

Coming to Barcelona this month? Why not rent a Barcelona apartment instead of looking for a hotel room? Some great savings can be made. And for a quick look at the sights not to miss, check out this guide to Barcelona.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Easy Champions Quarter Draw for Barça

The draw for the quarter finals of this year's Champions League has just been announced and looking at the fixtures, you'd have to fancy Barcelona to go straight through with pretty much no fuss - with no disrespect to Shakhtar. Here are the fixtures:

Real Madrid vs Tottenham

Chelsea vs Manchester United

Barcelona vs Shakhtar Donetsk

Inter Milan vs Schalke 04

The semi final draw would therefore be:

Real Madrid/Tottenham vs Barcelona/Shakhtar

Inter/Schalke vs Chelsea/Man Utd

Quick thoughts? A very tasty looking semi-final between Barça and Real looks likely - Guardiola has the enviable selection problem of having everyone fit apart from Puyol and Abidal at the moment, and I'll tip them now to definitely get to the final (although I would have done before today's draw as well!).

As for Chelski vs Man U - that's going to be a really tough one to call and will depend entirely on who turns up on the day. I fancy Chelsea, just because cracks seem to have appeared in Manu U recently and Chelsea already have the psychological advantage of beating Utd this season - a result which kind of kick started their season again. I'll stick my neck out and say Chelsea over the two legs to meet Barcelona in the final.

What about you guys? any predictions ? Please share in the comments below!!

Thinking of visiting Barcelona for the quarters or semis? Check out BCN Rentals site with apartments as an alternative to hotel rooms. And for a quick look at the city sights, see this Barcelona guide.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Press Panic for Air Strike OK vs Japan

Calendar of threatened strike days published in La Vanguardia - Barcelona Sights Blog
A huge sigh of relief today for the tourism sector of Spain, but really the whole of Spain (which depends so much of the tourism trade) as an agreement has been reached over the proposed strikes of the air traffic controllers of Aena - Spain's public airport infrastructure.

As well as the chaos left from the volcanic ash of last year, Spanish air traffic controllers held the country to ransom with a random strike - a fact that went unnoticed in the majority of the European press. With tourism noting that the problems Israel had suffered earlier this year had begun to benefit Spain as well as the increase of foreiners visiting Spain each year despite the crisis, the announcement this month of the proposed strike in Easter Week, Summer and many other bank holidays and public holidays dropped like a bombshell and was widely reported in many newspapers, TV stations and websites around Europe with countries like Germany and the UK practically encouraging their citizens to go elsewhere.

So, what's the problem, then? Well, despite the strike now being called off, the column inches and TV stations are (quite rightly) giving non-stop information of the tragedy and possible nuclear disaster in Japan, and have no plans to dedicate time to clear the air - pardon the pun there - with news that the strike has been called off. Travel agencies desperate to save the Easter and summer holidays are fearing that it may just be too little too late with many European families already making alternative arrangements for their sunshine breaks.

So, if you're planning a trip to Barcelona this year, fear not!! and check out some last-minute Barcelona deals to save money. For a quick look at the city sights, see this Barcelona Guide.

And for the more serious problem happening in Japan right now, please donate here.

Puppet Festival Fun at Poble Espanyol

Definitely one for the "kids of all ages" this month, with the Puppet Festival taking place in Poble Espanyol over the next two weekends. I find myself looking more towards activities for families or things for small kids more and more, so apologies for those expecting more party posts!!

TOT Puppet Festival - Barcelona Sights BlogSet in the fantatic location of Poble Espanyol up on Montjüic and only in its second year, the "Titelles Objectes Teatre" Festival welcomes puppet acts from around the world from the 18th to 27th March. There seems to be a fair variety of shows as well as productions going on for adults as well. Workshops for both children and professionals and something to cater for each agegroup.

Groups from Belgium, Iran, Israel and various parts of Spain tackle modern versions of Shakespeare, Carmen, Quijote, The Little Prince amongst others with Hip Hop Beatbox jam puppet sessions thrown into the mix. For a full programme of events, check the official site on the link above. It's also worth a mention that many places have discount tickets around (I picked one up in my local Bon Area supermarket, for example) with a great deal on the actual ticket prices. And I think there's still time to volunteer as a helper if you fancy it, instead.

If you'll be visiting the city this month, why not ditch the idea of the typical hotel and opt for a Barcelona Apartment instead? Some great savings can be made in groups or families.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Barcelona Twestival 2011

March sees the return of the Twestival - an event held all over the world and gaining momentum compared to last year. Events such as the tragedy in Japan at the moment benefit no end to the speed of social networks, and the Twestival tries to do the same but on a global scale. Mark Thursday 24th March in your phone.

Twestival 2011 - Barcelona Sights Blog

This year's beneficiary of the funds raised will be the great Pallapupas organisation (sorry the english link is under construction - think Patch Adams, but funny. The goal of 5000 Euros might seem much in today's crisis times, but it's well worth the cause and you can donate already through the site. This year's location has also been confirmed as The Loft at Razzzmatazz so great location and everything is set up, so far. Remember it's Thursday 24th March.

You can follow the Twestival @TwestivalBCN and those crazy clowns @pallapupas here.

Coming to Barcelona this March? Check out these apartments in Barcelona as a great money-saver. And for a quick look at the city's sights, see this barcelona guide.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Sitges Car Rally - A Date for This Month

Despite the modern creations in the automobile industry, there's something special about the history of cars that can raise a smile more then the new hybrid model by the current big guns. I have developed a love for old cars from my father, who loved the old cars and would make us watch chitty-chitty-Bang-Bang every Easter/Half-term/Christmas. When you see one of these old classics alongside the cars on la ronda it always raises an eyebrow, but when you see more than one - or a whole parade, it's something special.

Barcelona Sights blog - Sitges Car Rally

Well, this month welcomes one of the biggest meetings of these classic cars in the Sitges Rally. Dating as far back as 1959, the Rally takes place at the end of March from the 26th to 28th March. The cars meet up at 10am at Arc de Triomf in Barcelona, and are on display until around 17h. The following day, all of the cars leave from Plaça Sant Jaume and make their way along the coast to Sitges. With between 80 and 100 cars taking part, it's a real spectacular with participants coming from all over Europe to join in the fun, dreesing up in period costumes to accompany the feel of their car and its age. Prizes are given out throughout the weekend and it's fun for all the ages. If you're in the centre near Las Ramblas or Sant Jamue at around 11am on Sunday, you'll be sure to see them passing by!

Coming to Barcelona for the spring? Check out these Barcelona apartments for a great way to relax in family. And for some tips for day trips from Barcelona, click the link.
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