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Reach the Heights in Barcelona

Barcelona and sport have long been comfortable bedfellows. It was in the late eighties that Montserrat Caballé and good old Freddie Mercury took turns to sing to the city to the tune of “Barcelona, Barcelona, B-A-R-C-E-L-O-N-A-A-A”. The rhythm was taken up by the syncopated clapping of Los Manolos and a spectacular staging of the event that would ensure nobody ever forgot the Olympic capital of 1992. That was when the seed of sport was sown and, thanks to it being magnificently fertilised, we can now proudly proclaim that Barcelona has grown in tandem with sport. No one would dispute the city’s footballing hegemony, spearheaded by the likes of Barça and Espanyol. It is similarly cherished by skaters worldwide, having put the Fórum to good use. Further, the post-Olympic Barceloneta has become an increasingly more popular destination among surfers. The surrounding Collserola, and the Carretera de les Aigües, have grown into areas plied by hikers, runners, cyclists and strollers. Barcelona is also the mecca of marathon runners, triathletes and other enthusiasts of endurance sports.

But, just what is brewing in post-Olympic Barcelona? Might this be the right time to discover the city from above, and do so by climbing? Sharma Climbing, headed by the guru of world climbing, the Californian, Chris Sharma, opened in November in the 22@ / Poblenou area. Sharma is world famous for having opened up impossible climbing routes. In the photo we see him climbing the Bon Combat line at the Cova de L’Ocell in Sant Miquel del Fai, a 9b/+ rating said to be the toughest in the world, as shown in this video. Sharma is one of the leading promoters of psicobloc (deep water soloing). In spite of his top-notch skills, Sharma’s Barcelona climbing wall is accessible to all-comers, with a preponderance of easy and medium-difficulty routes, as his goal is to foster the learning process and encourage newcomers to take up this sport. The venue is open from Monday to Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., with súper jueves late closing at 1 a.m. on Thursdays. Facilities include changing rooms with showers, enabling you to slip out occasionally from work if you start getting the climbing bug. If you need to sleep over, the Barceló Atenea Mar hotel is just a few minutes’ walk away and you can also go running along the esplanade.

Climbing is a world of its own and climbing walls are just part of it. So, if you’re eager to test your skills in the outdoors by climbing on bare rock, the city offers two readily available options, both for beginners and experts. The Costas de Garraf, just 30 kilometres from Barcelona, feature some 90 short routes for all climbing levels, with incredible views over the sea, including the Pas de la Mala dona (in the photo). The second area is Montserrat, also a climbing “sanctuary”, located just 65 km from Barcelona. It has an infinite number of lines – most of them long ones – requiring more techniques than in Garraf. They include routes near the Monastery, in two major areas – Gorros and La Plantació. For more detailed information on climbing in Montserrat, I advise you to read el coleccionista de vías.

Starting to feel the bug, aren’t you? Well, I hope you aren’t easily fazed. If your time is not at a premium or you want to engage in other activities apart from climbing, here are some pointers to procuring the right equipment.

Cycling: you can hire both road and mountain bikes at Orbea Campus Barcelona. For mountain biking, you should head for Collserola and, for road cycling, the best thing is to pedal up the Arrabassada and then go back down via the Forat del Vent, as this is an easy route with little traffic.

Skating: At Inercia you can hire longboards, skates and even inline skates. The store is just 300 metres from the Arco de Triunfo, a pedestrian promenade which is ideal for building up your confidence on the board. From there, I recommend taking the following route: go down the bicycle lane that crosses the Paseo de Picasso, skirt around the Zoo and continue as far as the Calle Marina, where you connect up with the Paseo Marítimo (esplanade). Together with the Fórum area, this is the easiest and safest spot to skate in Barcelona.

SUP, surfing, sailing and other water sports: There are loads of options to choose from, but for starters you can go to the Nautical School, Pukas Barcelona or Surf Box Barcelona.

Swimming: For open-water swimming, head for the Barceló Atenea Mar – which is also where the Garmin Barcelona Triathlon usually starts from – where swimming groups are organised. If you prefer to swim in a pool, the Picornell swimming pools are accessible and you don’t need to be a member to get in.

Running: if you’re an asphalt junky, a good option is to run along the Paseo Marítimo. It is usually jam packed with people so, if you want to avoid crowds, you could go running on Montjuïc or along the Carretera de les Aigües in Collserola.

Barcelona is a climbing destination and a city married to sport, a place worth returning to time and again. Start booking your flight here for this year.

 

Text by Raúl Casañas

Images by Chris Sharma, Alexia JMC, Ginés Díaz, Ionana Manolache

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Eerie Fun In Barcelona

While modest in size, Barcelona packs a punch, boasting myriad leisure facilities which are up with the much bigger cities in terms of area and population. This is evident in the host of activities scheduled for Halloween. In effect, on 31 October, the city morphs into one of Europe’s great capitals of witches, pumpkins and monsters. Take note, though – these events are paralleled by the traditional Castanyada, a grass-roots Catalan festivity at which celebrants feast on chestnuts, sweet potato, panellets (small marzipans coated with pine nuts) and muscatel in family circles. Here, then, are five ideas for enjoying the best Halloween possible in Barcelona.

The Vampire Route & Other Legends

A millenary city, Barcelona has all sorts of historical legends related to the supernatural, some of which are charted on the route organised by the folks at Go Bcn. Best of all, you can do it on the night of 31 October. The story of Enriqueta Martí, the protagonist of some macabre events in the early-20th century, and the telluric significance of certain buildings and other spaces in the city, are chronicled on this two-hour route during Halloween, which roams mainly through Barcelona’s city centre and historic quarter.

Hotel Krüeger, in Tibidabo

Located in the Tibidabo fairgrounds, Barcelona’s iconic amusement park, with splendid views over the city, the Hotel Krüeger is one of the few Houses of Terror still operating in Spain. You can experience fear live, in the course of an entertaining, fast-paced ride in which fair-goers are subjected to frightening situations by actors dressed up as notorious characters from horror movies. They always lay on new predicaments and frights for Halloween, so Hotel Krüeger is a must-visit venue on 31 October.

Terror Marathon at Phenomena

No Halloween would be complete without horror movies. They know that only too well at Phenomena, one of the best cinemas in town. To mark the occasion, they have scheduled a movie marathon for 31 October and, if you decide to come along, be sure to don a suitable fancy dress for your trick or treat. The main feature films for that night are two 80s classics, Dolls and Pet Sematary, plus a surprise movie to be announced minutes before its screening. Incidentally, the cinema is almost next door to the Sagrada Familia, so you can score a double by also visiting Gaudí’s masterpiece.

Razzhalloween

The Sala Razzmatazz requires no introduction – it is Barcelona’s most acclaimed dance club and the nerve centre of independent pop-rock and fresh, cutting-edge dance music. On 31 October, this disco in Poblenou will morph into Razzhalloween, the premises divided up into various spaces decked out in Halloween motifs and as horror movie sets. Two examples – the emblematicLolitahall will be converted into the Horror Camp, and thePop Barinto Psycho Fan.

The Poblenou and Montjuïc Cemeteries

Graveyards set several kilometres apart, but united by seniority and charm. One near the sea (Montjuïc) and the other in one of the city’s iconic districts – Poblenou. Both are open to the public and admission-free. Take note – the Poblenou Cemetery cemetery will lay on a guided tour on the night of 1 November to celebrate All Saints. It is free-of-charge, and guests will be chaperoned by actors dressed up as some of Barcelona’s famous historic figures.

Book your Vueling to Barcelona here and enjoy its eeriest offerings.

Text by Xavi Sánchez for Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

Imágenes by Laurabtanti, Sarah_Ackerman, Nikodem Nijaki, Leticia Manzano, Rober

 

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A Walk Through the Music of Barcelona

• Rumba Catalana. This musical genre was developed by the Catalan gypsy community in Barcelona from the 50′s in Raval (calle de la Cera), Gracia and Hostafrancs neighborhoods.

• Gran Teatre del Liceu and Palau de la Música. Two great music temples of Barcelona where you can listen to opera and classical music in a privileged environment.

• Music day in Barcelona. On June 21st takes place the music day celebration involving music labels and music stores as BCore or Revolver that hold live shows in their shops.

• Heliogábal. Reference site for the stimulation of the artistic life in Barcelona. Most musicians has played here as a way to promote their music.

• Serrat and el Poble Sec. Joan Manuel Serrat is also known by the nickname of El noi del Poble Sec (the child of Poble Sec, the neighborhood where he was born). Serrat is one of the city’s most international artists.

• Carmen Amaya
. One of the most important flamenco figures, Amaya was born in the now defunct Somorrostro, which became part of what we know today as Barceloneta. In the gardens of Joan Brossa we can find a statue of the iconic singer and dancer.

• Antonio Machín statue in Plaza Vicenç Martorell. In the district of Ciutat Vella is honored the singer of boleros considered “the most Cuban of Spanish and the most Spanish of Cubans.”

• Pau Casals. Although he was originally from El Vendrell, with 13 years old he began playing at Cafe Tost in Gracia neighbourhood three hours every night. Pau became one of the best cellists of all time.

• El Paralelo, music and theater. The famous Paralelo Avenue was the hub of the theater and night life in Barcelona for many years. A street full of theaters and dance halls.

• Sala Apolo and Razzmatazz.. They remain the city ultimate party rooms where concerts are scheduled daily and parties are held every night (tourists love them).

• Sónar and Primavera Sound. The two most international music festivals were thousands of people from all over the world gather to enjoy three days of live music . Sónar is a reference in electronic music, Primavera Sound does not close doors to any style but focuses on the most modern and independent music acts.

• Plaça Reial. Barcelona’s hot spot and an iconic square downtown, next to Las Ramblas, venues like Jamboree where you can see the best live jazz, Sidecar, Ocaña or Glaciar, terraces, people wandering through the square, the palm trees, all in together create a special atmosphere to this place.

• Taller de Músics, with his own record label, workshop production and jazz club. Every musician ever will pass by the Taller de Musics, either to join one of the jam session or to learn to play an instrument, the options are endless.

• Bar Vinilo. Located in the heart of Gracia, vinilo is a bar where you can enjoy good music and great atmosphere. Very often musicians and artists pass by to have a drink and listen to good music.

• Calle Tallers. For many years has been the main records and instruments shopping avenue. Today there are still some shops that always attract music lovers and musicians.

So you feel like visiting Barcelona, do you? Book your flights here!

Illustration: Mónica Hidalgo
Text: Fran Arnaiz de scannerFM

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Snacking In Old Barcelona

Beyond its spectacular monumental and historical heritage, Barcelona is an eminently gastronomic city. From restaurants with several Michelin stars to long-standing bars and taverns, the Catalan capital is geared to the delectation of the most refined palates. Today we wander through the old town in search of the bars and restaurants where you can sample the best tapas on this side of the Mediterranean.

Gothic Quarter

So many eateries cracked up as tourist destinations can be confusing when it comes to choosing a good place for having tapas. In the lower part of the Gothic Quarter, near the sea, is Bar La Plata. This classic has been offering the same four tapas ever since it opened in 1945. Be sure to try the onion, tomato and anchovy salad, the butifarra (pork sausage) or the scrumptious pescaíto frito (fresh fried fish). Washed down with a good aperitif, it is unlikely to leave you indifferent. La Plata also happens to be one of the favourite watering holes of chef Ferran Adrià.

And, from one classic to another. The delicatessen, La Pineda, has been on Calle Pi since 1930. Its cured meats are excellent and you can sit down to sample some Iberian cured ham, chorizo, fuet (both cured pork sausages) and lomo (pork loin) with a glass of red wine or sherry.

Born

El Born is one of Barcelona’s trendiest quarters and it is brimming with restaurants and bars.

One of our favourites is Cal Pep. Here you can sit at a table or at the bar counter and the object of this establishment is that guests share out dishes as if they were tapas. Everything is designation of origin, with priority accorded to local produce. The fame of this eatery is well deserved.

The same holds true for Bar del Pla, where traditional cuisine is imbued with the young spirit of its proprietors. The calamari croquettes are spectacular, as are their patatas bravas (fried potatoes with spicy sauce). We recommend you try the dish of the day, and take advice when it comes to choosing the right wine.

You can’t leave El Born without stopping off at El Xampanyet, one of the city’s best known tapas bars. Here, the star beverage is xampanyet, a mild cava which goes down easily and is ideal for accompanying their famous anchovies, pickles and one of the best omelettes in town.

As in other European cities, there are several firms in Barcelona that offer gastronomic tours. For those of you wishing to find out more about Catalan and Spanish cuisine, we recommend Food Lovers Company, one of the best rated businesses for their competitive prices and the professionalism of their guides.

Book your Vueling to Barcelona and venture into the world of its magnificent cuisine.

Text by Aleix Palau for Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

 

 

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