Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cosmo Caixa Celebrates Barcelona's Forgotten Saint

Just in time for the Carnival celebrations this coming week, we have another reason to celebrate something dear to the children of Barcelona (or aren't we all children of Barcelona?) and that's the celebration of little Laia - Barcelona's forgotten Saint. Santa Eulalia, as she is better known, was a little girl who endured torture and a pretty gruesome death from the old Barcelona heirarchy due to her protests about the treatment of Christians. However, she's also remembered as the Children's patron saint of the city, and each year, the council prepares her festival, specifically centered around children's events.

So this year Cosmo Caixa is organising 3 events free of charge  - but with limited places - to tie in with the other festivities. There is an exhibition of stick insects, a seperate exhibition of fossils and dinosaurs from the Gobi desert, and a puppet show of different kinds of animals showing children the differences in nature through theatre. With more cold weather looking to come our way, might be an idea to get the kids in somewhere warm and entertan them!

There are of course, many other activities going on throughout the city to celebrate and remember Laia, and the official website for the full programme of events is here. The festival dates also co-incide with the festival of light in the city, which embraces the idea of the illumination of some of the city's best buildings and offers a different look at some of the most-seen edifices in the city - like the spectacular live "Magic House" which is broadcast onto the town hall facade and not even the rain from La Merçe last year could prevent people from "ooh-ing" and and "aah-ing". Clever stuff. There's also a clever instagram competition going on over the two days of the festival, so if you think you'll be a good snapper, check it out.

Expect all the usual cultural shenannegans like castellers, gegants, xocalatadas, dances, parades, all sorts. And of course, many of the museums open their doors during the festival too, so it's a great opportunity to soak in some more culture for free!

Thinking of visiting Barcelona soon? BCN Rentals has some great deals on apartments you might want to check out. And for a quick look at some of the other city sights, check out this online guide to Barcelona.

Transport Strike threatens smooth run of 3GSM

With Spain facing a tough 2012 by all accounts, it was with great joy that the majority of businesses wiped their brow with relief when last summer, the World Mobile Congress decided to stay in Barcelona for its annual get together, rather than move cities as had been feared. The Congress injects a great deal of must needed cash into the city, and whilst the main winners are the hosteleria industry, it also goes a long way to promoting Barcelona on the world stage.

Each year, the congress has gone from strength to strength with keynote speakers for all of the biggest names in Mobile technology (actually over 800) as well as CEO of Google, for example. With 120 million Euros floating around to fund the congress, you can see the benefits outweigh the investment. Indeed, this year organisers are
expecting a 40% increase in visitors - surpassing the 60,000 mark.
The World Mobile Congress is held at the Fira de Barcelona

However, not everyone is happy about the arrival of the world's eyes on the Catalan Capital, and transport union along with TMB have decided to strike from the 27th February till the 1st March - the exact dates of the conference. There was a proposal to only strike for the 27th, but finally it was agreed to go whole hog and do the full confrernce dates. Some of the many complaints about the conference in previous years  - apart from security on the city streets - have been precisely about the lack of taxis to ferry people to and from La Fira. Last year saw extra taxis put on in an attempt to keep the flow of visitors running. Obviuosly this is a blow not only to the organisers of the conference but also the city council who have criticised the move claiming it will damage the brand identity of Barcelona - something the tourism board has been working on intensively for over two years.

I can completely understand both sides to the story and suspect the strikes will give rise to make people taking advantage of the situation in illegal taxi services for example, given the level of unemployment and opportunity. What do you think about the planned strikes? Can the city be held to ransom by TMB like the air traffic controllers a few years back?  Do you have anyone directly affected by the proposed strikes? Surely schools and work places will suffer as a result? Can an agreement be made before then? Let me know your comments, I'd love to hear.

Coming to Barcelona this cold spell? Check out these Barcelona apartments as a great alternative to city hotels. And for a quick flick through of what's to see and not to miss, check out this Barcelona Guide.
Follow Me on Twitter