Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Cool Halloween Window Display at La Bolsera

Maybe it's the influence of classic 80's movie Mannequin or the way my Dad always used to take us to see Jessops window in Newcastle at Christmas, but I'm a big sucker for really well done window displays in shops. One such place in Barcelona with a pretty big window (for central Barcelona sizes) and always making an effort is La Bolsera. This is a great stationary/paper/party/fancy-dress place and has a few locations around the city.

The shop in Carrer Xuclà (just behind Carrefour on Las Ramblas) never disappoints and themes their window display around the seasons and the various traditions Barcelona has.
This year, they've done a great Halloween display, closing one of the shutters and making a small "cave" of freights. It's got a chilling soundtrack of creepy screams and wails and groans, and cobwebs all the way through.
 A creepy moving Jason greets you inside, and specially positioned spotlights light up the faces of some of the gruesome masks on display that you can likely buy inside.

Hello, gorgeous. My camera phone seriously doesn't do this justice. It's mutant Hills Have Eyes kind of scary.

They even have Predator in the window for God's sake!!

This little lady's waiting for you on the way out.

 Clowns are always scary. Check out the Google maps of their shop, by the way, where they've taken advantage of the street view option and you can "go in" the shop and have a look around. Very cool feature.

If you in town, go and check it out, it's really cool. Hats off to the guys and gals at La Bolsera!!

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Las Ramblas Florists in Danger of Fines

I blogged about 3 years ago about the proposed changes to Las Ramblas and the animal stalls - "ocellaires"which used to occupy the top part of the most-walked street in the city, and sure enough, they have almost disappeared, with just a few remaining. I have to be honest, though, whilst I wasn't in 100% agreement or disagreement with the tiny sizes of the stalls, I think their replacement is a real let down. 

Those stupid ice cream stalls and bright yellow aprons with cheap industrial cakes and rubbish at high prices are exactly what Las Ramblas didn't need. There are enough of them on the actual sides of Ramblas (and of much better quality). So, whilst walking the other day through the city centre, I began to notice that all of the flower sellers have now, too, added a notice to their stalls:

Now, I don't care if the prices of the florists are more expensive than a normal florists elsewhere in the city, or if they've kind of had to adapt to the "crisis" by adding those material joke flowers and such like, can you imagine St Jordi without flowers on Las Ramblas? And their replacement to be what ?! More bloody waffle stalls and chatty necklaces?!

The photo above says "Keep the Florists of Las Ramblas in your prayers. Who will soon die for the hard line taken by The Town Council of Barcelona and for the incomprehension of Converència I Unio after a massive indigestion of tourism. The funerals will take place as soon as the first fines imposed by the Town Council of Barcelona will be administrated to Florists. We would appreciate your support by signing the Book of Condolences".

OK, so the translation leaves a lot to be desired, but you get the picture. The lady in the photograph was accompanied by an elderly gentleman (I assume her husband) who have been working the flower stalls in Las Ramblas ALL OF THEIR LIVES!!! I asked the man what they had in mind (me meaning the council) to replace the stalls and he cut me off and said they would begin a hunger strike, so they're clearly taking it all very seriously. It has to be said too, that up and down each side, the stalls were dotted with people signing and shaking their heads and generally being supportive of the stalls and their proprietors, and I have to say I agree, too. It would be a real shame for those people to lose their livlihood and Las Ramblas would lose yet another piece of its identity. What do you think? Agree ? Disagree? Let me know in the comments!

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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Great Things to do in Barcelona for FREE - CosmoCaixa Science Museum

It's been yonks since I got a free museum up on the blog, so no time like the present. Continuing on from my little series of great things to do for free in the city, the Cosmo Caixa is a worthy and late addition.

It's basically the city science museum, and is free for everyone on the first Sunday of each month (and when it's not, it's a measly 4 € for adults and kids up to 16 are free which is a bargain). It's located up in the hills at the back of the city, at the foot of Tibidabo, which is a bit out of the way, but there are excellent links via public transport. We went in the car, and found a parking space no problem outside for free. You know this place means business, when you have these two guys waiting for you at the information desk!

Newton's laws, fossils, evolution, a temporary exhibition about Micro-life - basically looking at things through microscopes and there were fun interactive things to play with for the kids. This temporary space changes throughout the year, so you can always go back and see something new. There's clearly far too many things for me to explain about the contents of the museum, so I took a few snaps on my phone to share. They kind of speak for themselves:

Jack and Chewy showing off the spider collection (there are some real ones in the museum, too).

A massive tree is the main feature as you wind down the stairs to level -5, and all along the way are fossils and explanations of evolution, nature's shapes, etc.
Apparently, this good looking specimen was laughing, as she was re-tracing the steps of a bigger animal or something. Scary.
Look what I caught?!

Ah, now this one needs a bit of explaining. The image below is unmistakable, right? Even my 6 year old got it. Cool, but the image is actually made up of a load of plastic flies all stuck together like so. When you walk past it up close it just looks like a load of flies.

Always wanted one of these when I was a kid.

The super cool "flooded forest" is a big attraction, and is at one end of the museum. It's really well done, with tanks on the outside as you can see, and all sorts of sizes of fish inside. Like this huge guy.

 We didn't even see a 1/4 of the things in the museum.

One of the main things to say about the CosmoCaixa is that it's bloody huge. There's tons of things to do and explore, planetariums, touching sessions with reptiles, guided tours, and the very cool "bosque inundado"  - like a life-like model of a rain forest with loads of trees, animals, creepie crawlies and it even rains every 15 minutes, like a real rain forest! On normal paying days, you have to buy tickets for the "extra" things, and they apparently sell out fairly fast, so if you do go, make sure you know to get in there early - although there's so much to see even if you miss out on that. Below is a picture of the sprinklers, making it "rain".

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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Secrets of the Pickpockets - Barcelona Version

I've been looking for this for a while. UK TV station Channel 4 has been running a series about the secrets of pickpockets, with some fascinating insights into the differences in the law in the UK and Spain (although this is not the intention of the show, clearly). I watched one episode where 3 Bulgarian men were jailed, yes JAILED,  for ATTEMPTING to steal a wallet from a man during the run up to the London Olympic games last year.

Contrast that against the incredible, unbelievable, ridiculous (I'm running out of superlatives) law in Spain which states very clearly that if a thief steals LESS THAN 400 EUROS,  it is not considered a crime. It's no other wonder that organised gangs from the East are having a field day in the Catalan Capital. I remember watching on the news not long ago that a judge in Madrid had to revoke a ban of the Bosnian Clan of girls in the Madrid metro, and allow them back in. These girls have over 300 arrests between them over TEN years of robbing on the metro. So, what did they do on the weekend they weren't allowed in Madrid? Came to Barcelona of course.

Anyway, for me there's nothing new in the programme, but I still wanted to share it, and had been trying to find a reliable source - youtube doesn't have it. So here's a link to Channel 4 site (UK only). Let me know if it works ok in the comments, and any thoughts you have.

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How much is a Barça shirt worth ?

I saw an interesting article this week in the newspapers, which stated that the store at Camp Nou generates more income for Nike than their flagship store in New York City - 35 Million Euros against 31 Million in the Big Apple. So Nike have already made back their investment of the reported 30 Million per year deal - not to mention the amazing amount of branding with all the Neymar Jr and Messi t-shirts. That's not to mention the sales elsewhere of all the Barça shirts - there's a Nike store on Las Ramblas, which I'd bet does a fair trade, as well as so many others around the world.

It makes me wonder just how much they'd be making if they could stem the influx of all the copy t-shirts in the souvenir shops in and around Las Ramblas area. I've been amazed at the quality of the copies over recent years, with real looking tickets with Nike holograms and everything. There are sometimes very subtle differences such as the disappearance of the catalan flag on a sleeve detail for example, of the badge at the bottom of the strip a couple of years ago, but they are generally so good. People are easily confused too. With Barça being one of those teams that changes strips every season, many tourists come in the summer, and buy the "old" strip from either the previous year, or the league season that has just finished. Those store owners aren't daft either - if they can shift some old stock for today's price, they're laughing.

Another fact from the same article relates to the runaway success of the away "senyera" strip this year - for every three shirts sold, two are the away strip, and the buyers "know it's a representation of the Catalan Flag". At least they seem to have taken notice after ditching last year's hugely unpopular orange and yellow tie-die combo. What do you reckon? One of the best shirts this year? Better than the original home? Let me know in the comments!

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