D’A Festival 2016

The D’A Festival is a festival of contemporary cinema d’auteur showcasing the best in new cinema, and showing slect films from established names as well as these new talents.

This is not a festival of big names but a chance for cinema lovers to see original and thought provoking films that don’t generate enough revenue to be put on at a multiplex cinema.

It is hard to pick highlights from such a magnificent line up, but to name a few: the festival opens with a screening of A Bigger Splash (2015) from Italian director Luca Guadagnino, which tells the story of a famous rock star on a vacation that is interrupted by the unexpected visit of an old friend and his daughter. The festival ends with La Propera Pell (2016), directed by Isaki Lacuesta, a film that blurs the lines between fiction and documentary with the tale of a missing child, who though presumed dead returns home after six years to reintegrate back into family life, all the while leaving the mystery of his disappearance to be solved.

D’A 2016 takes place from April the 21st to May the 1st at three different locations throughout the city:

  • The Filmoteca de Catalunya in the Raval (Plaça Salvador Seguí)
  • CCCB (Montalegre, 5), at SGAE (Passeig de Colom, 6)
  • Cines Aribau Club (Gran Via 565 on the corner with Aribau)

Prices remain the same as last year, at a very reasonable cost of €4-€7 per screening, with discounts available and sets of five tickets at a reduced price.


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5 of the best spas in Barcelona

Sightseeing is well and good but if you are coming to Barcelona to relax and unwind, why not pamper yourself with a little spa treatment? Here are some suggestions for where to enjoy a spa in Barcelona.

1. Hotel 1898 Spa

The Hotel 1998 is located on Las Ramblas in s stylish colonial building that was once the premises of the Philippines Tobacco Company. The hotel exudes elegance and features a chic basement spa.

As you descend from the entrance hall to the lower floor you are greeted with dimmed lights and original brick walls, a relaxed grotto that feels a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the rambla above.

Their water zone has a heated pool, whirlpools, therapeutic fountains, a sauna, and a steam room. We recommend also trying a massage from one of their highly experienced team of professional masseurs.

La Rambla 109, 08002 Barcelona

2. Spaciomm – Hotel Omm

The Spaciomm at the Hotel Omm on Carrer de Rosello 265 is a spa featuring a clean lined and minimalist aesthetic that is in keeping with the Hotel’s name.

This zen, oriental atmosphere is a truly calming place. The use of natural materials, such as wood and stone, blended with soft, low lighting, and soothing music creates a feeling of well being and total relaxation. In fact you can easily forget that you are a mere stone’s throw away from Pg. de Gràcia.

Spaciomm features a steam room, an ice fountain, contrast showers and a hydro massage pool, plus an array of wonderful body and beauty treatments from around the world, including Thai and Tuina massage.

Rossello 265, 08008 Barcelona

3. Aqua Urban Spa

Moving a little more uptown towards Gracia, the Aqua Urban Spa in the Jardinets de Gràcia on Gran de Gràcia offers an easy break from the city.

Take advantage of steam baths, a hydro massage pool, contrast showers and a decadent Roman-style pool. Afterwards you can take it easy in the relaxation area where you can enjoy a tipple such as a fresh juice or cava.

Aqua Urban Spa offers body and beauty treatments that can be combined with the thermal circuit.

Gran de Gràcia 7, 08012 Barcelona

4. Mandarin Oriental

The Mandarin Oriental on Passeig de Gràcia is one of Barcelona’s most distinguished Hotels, with interiors by Spain’s uber-famous interior designer Patricia Urquiola.

It is no surprise that the spa in this five-star hotel is as sleek and beautiful as the hotel itself, nor that it doesn’t come cheap!

However this is some high-end spa pampering where therapies are personalised after an initial consultation, and then combine elements of traditional Chinese Medicine and aromatherapy. Your therapy session is then begun with the chime of Tibetan cymbals!

Arrive early to enjoy in the zen style water zone which features a 12-metre pool and oriental steam room.

Passeig de Grácia 38-40

5. Aire de Barcelona

Aire de Barcelona is a feast for the senses inspired by the originators of spa bathing in the Mediterranean, the Greeks and the Romans.

Located in the hip Born area, in a former storage building for the Born market, Aire de Barcelona occupies a huge space with high ceilings. The interior drips atmosphere and relaxation, and with a 90-minute thermal session includes the warm water pool, hot water pool, cold water pools, steam room, jet bath and salt water pool, total relaxation is assured.

Pg. Picasso 22, 08003 Barcelona

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Sant Jordi 2016

The 23rd of April is the Festa de Sant Jordi, when Catalunya celebrates the day of its patron saint, Saint George, and when traditionally men would give their partner a rose (with a sprig of wheat, a symbol of fertility), which would be reciprocated with a book.

So the festival features a strong literary as well as romantic association, and it’s the most important date in the calendar for the city’s publishing houses and booksellers. This year, Sant Jordi is also on the anniversary of the death of two literary giants, Shakespeare and Cervantes.

Sant Jordi is a joyous spring celebration, with bookstalls lining Barcelona’s grandest streets, and everyone carrying roses and books for their loved ones.

Aplecat, popular culture in Nou Barris

The Procat Foundation has organized this exhibition that includes dancing giants and devils, a fair with food and crafts, concerts, and Sardana and Havana dances.

Open doors

Numerous cultural spaces across Barcelona will open their doors for free this Staurday to mark Sant Jordi. Among the highlights are:

• The Modernista complex of the Hospital Sant Pau de Lluis Domenech i Montaner (10am to 6:30pm, with a performance by the Balkan Paradise Orchestra and Barcelona Asian Choir)
• Palau Guell by Antoni Gaudi
• The National Library of Catalunya
• The Archaeology Museum of Catalonia

Multicultural festival in the Rambla del Rava

The lively Raval neighbourhood celebrates with more than 40 activities and 75 entities full of life and culture. It takes place on the Rambla del Raval, the neighboorhood’s artery, with crafts, live music, storytelling and workshops.

Arts Libris

The seventh edition of the International Contemporary Fira de l’Edició is taking place around Sant Jordi at the Santa Mònica Arts Centre on the Ramblas and will be free on the day . The exhibition includes books and photos.

Concerts and autographs at the Apollo Store

The Apollo Hall store on Paral.lel organizes a day of music and literature suitable for the most demanding hipsters, with craft beer, concerts from Gegant Super, Sexy Bicycle, BOIRA and Critters and autograph signings from authors such as Martha Salicrú, Tania Lopez and Alicia Rodriguez.

Themed menus in hotels and restaurants

Some of the most exclusive restaurants establishments in the city will celebrate National Day with special dishes made from pink ingredients, champagne, products with petals, foie gras and ‘pan de Sant Jordi’. Some noteworthy restaurants taking part are Martin Berasategui Loidi, Via Veneto, the Fonda Spain, the Mandarin Oriental and the Shibui Japanese hotel.

So with an exciting array of event son offer, this year´s Sant Jordi promises to be a special one. Whatever you get up to on the day, Feliç Sant Jordi!

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Barcelona Beer Garden 2016

With Sant Jordi on Saturday this weekend promises to be an exciting one in Barcelona. As if roses, books and free entertainment were not enough, the grounds of the Poble Espanyol are being transformed into a traditional German biergarten for the third year in a row.

The German biergarten runs from the 22nd of April to the 1st of May.

As well as the classic Bavarian Weissbier than German beer gardens are famous for, there will German Pilsners, as well as beer from Belgium, Spain and France. A variety of German beer foods will be available to wash the beers down with, including such classic staples as sausages and pretzels.

Apart from good food and drink you can be sure of live music, competitions and workshops.

So head down and make the most of this wonderful spring weekend in Barcelona with a cold beer or two.


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Italian Festival of Barcelona

Italians make up Barcelona’s largest EU foreign community. With their shared love of food, culture, fashion, art, design and literature, Catalunya and Italy are two cultures with a great deal in common. Barcelona is a city that historically has always looked east to the Mediterranean and its trade routes rather than inwards to the Spanish peninsula. Catalan is still spoken on the Italian island of Sicily from the days when it belonged to Barcelona’s court.

Italians continue to make a major contribution to the cultural and economic life of Barcelona.

To celebrate this bond a brand new festival called the ‘Italian festival of Barcelona’ is running from April the 15th to17th. The festival is open to locals, expats and tourists alike.

The Italian Festival of Barcelona will be dedicated to all aspects of Italian lifestyle. It will include an extensive showcase of Italian creativity, including art, literature, food, fashion and music.

If you are in Barcelona exploring the city why not drop in on the Italian Festival and experience two Mediterranean cultures in one day?


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10 Catalan dishes to try in Barcelona

Catalan cuisine was one of the world’s best kept secrets until recently, with names such as Ferran Adria and the Roca brothers bringing it to world-wide renown. Interestingly, both of these cooks style is deeply rooted in Catalan tradition as well as innovation. Catalunya boasts rich, fertile soils for agriculture, warm Mediterranean sunshine, mountains for grazing, and an extensive coastline for seafood. It is perhaps this diversity that makes its food so unique and wonderful.

Here are ten dishes that are made in Catalunya, not elsewhere in Spain, and that you can try to get an idea of what Catalan food is about. Bon profit!

1. Botifarra

The Botifarra is a classic staple of Catalan cuisine and you´ll see it on menus across the city. Basically a pork and spice sausage, botifarras tend to be large. High-end versions can feature mushrooms or different meats such as Rabbit or even Calamares. Traditionally the botifarra is served with white beans and sometimes garlic mayonnaise. A sausage-lover’s treat!

2. Escalivada

Catalan cuisine features numerous excellent vegetable dishes, of which escalivada possibly reigns supreme. It is classically made of roasted aubergines, red peppers and onions that have been peeled; the flesh is then served in strips with an olive oil dressing. The name means ´scorched´, the dish was often made over a fire in the past.

3. Crema Catalana

Crema Catalana is in fact the origin of Creme Brulee, which is not in fact a French dish as most people believe. With thick gold custard topped with burnt sugar, you’ll most probably find that the dish is familiar, though it is usually served cold here.

4. Esquiexada

Esquixada means ‘torn´. The name refers to the preparation of this delicious raw salad which is made with tomatoes, onions, olives and raw cod that has been cured and dried (the latter being the torn element). An excellent dish to enjoy in the heights of summer, it is both tasty and easy to digest.

5. Fuet

Catalans love sausages! Fuet is a ridiculously moreish cured sausage, like France’s saussicon or Italy’s salami. Only better, as this one is from Catalunya! Buy one, try a slice, and expect to finish the whole e piece in one go.

6. Fideuà

A fideuà is pretty much paella made with pasta instead of rice. Fideu is the Catalan word for a noodle, and the dish is prepared with fine short strips of pasta similar to mini lengths of spaghetti.

Like the famous Catalan seafood rice dishes, this is then cooked in seafood broth with tomato and garlic, as well as a host of shellfish including typically prawns, mussels, cuttlefish and clams.

A fideuà should always be accompanied by a garlic mayonnaise – allioli.

7. Pa amb tomaquet

Catalans can’t believe that the rest of the world has yet to catch on to this delicious way of eating bread. A slice of day old bread or toast is rubbed with garlic, then with a tomato that has been chopped in half, and then drizzled with oil and salt. So simple, yet amazing!

8. Mar i Montanya

There are a whole host of dishes that come under this category, which is one of the truly unique traits of Catalan cooking. Mar i Montanya means ‘sea and mountain’ but this is no surf and turf. The list is endless, but classics include Chicken cooked with giant prawns and rabbit cooked with clams. This is one you have to try while you are in Barcelona.

9. Arros a la cassola

Paella is not a very Catalan dish, at least not in its classic incarnation, which is a dish from down in Valencia, and popular right across Spain. A Catalan rice dish tends to be more ‘calodoso’ (soupy – with more broth) and very often is exclusively fish based, as Catalans love their seafood.

A cassola is a casserole dish, and paella is actually the name of a low-sided pan, a frying pan more or less in English, in which classic Valencia paella is prepared. By cooking rice in the casserole dish more liquid is retained and dryness avoided.

10. Faves a la Catalana

Old fashioned but much loved, you´ll often find this on a humble menu del dia in Barcelona. Faves are broad beans, which are cooked with tomato, lots of garlic and then a mixture of cured sausages such as chorizo and morcilla (blood sausage), or bull, which is a similar Catalan counterpart.

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Voces, Suite Flamenca by Sara Baras

Sara Baras is one of flamenco’s leading lights. Born in Cadiz in Anadaluzia, she rose to fame in the 1990s and has won a number of awards including the Madroño Flamenco of Montellano (Seville) in 1993 and the prize for the Best Female Spanish Dance Performer in 1999 and 2001. She even made an appearance in the global blockbuster Mission: Impossible II (2000), and has also branched out into modelling.

Voces, Suite Flamenca is a performance Baras directed, staged and choreographed herself, and the show arrives in Barcelona on the 15th of this month, for four nights. World class Flamenco dancing, bold lighting and stylish dresses are all guaranteed.

The show pays tribute to six flamenco luminaries who have greatly influenced her work, among them Carmen Amaya, Antonio Gades and Paco de Lucía.
Set to thrilling live music, Baras leads a company of 15 performers—including guest artist José Serrano—in a theatrical spectacle that captures the emotion, drama and passion of flamenco.

Hailing from Andaluzia, flamenco, with its unique southern combination of music and expressive dance, has become one of Spin’s best known cultural traditions.

For many visitors to Barcelona, a trip to a flamenco show is high on their bucket list. There could be no better initiation to the art from than a live show from its virtuoso performer!

For tickets and more information click here.

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Fira de la Terra – Earth Day in Barcelona

The Fira de la Terra takes place each year in Barcelona to celebrate Earth Day.

Earth Day was first held time on the 22nd of April 1970 in the United States. Originally emerging from the American hippy movement it is now celebrated all across the globe on Friday the 22nd of April.

Barcelona is a very environmentally aware city, with highly innovative urban recycling, cycling and allotment schemes.

This year the Fira de la Terra takes place in the Ciutadella park and on Pg. Lluis Companys. The festival consists of stalls focusing on environmentally-friendly initiatives, fair trade and alternative therapies.

Fira de la Terra is family-friendly, there are also lots of activities and workshops for children, plus plenty of organic food stalls and crafts. The theme for this year’s festival is trees, forestry and protecting our world’s green spaces.

Come along and show your support for Earth Day!


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Located on Calle Provença just of Passeig de Gràcia, el Principal de l’Eixample is one of the cities many very fine restaurants and is renowned for its contemporary take on traditional Catalan cuisine.

This month, the restaurant launches ‘Espectapes’, a weekly event combining gastronomy, theatre and music that takes place in the restaurants own library

Your ticket for the show includes three tasty tapas, an alcoholic drink, and live performances from some of Spain’s finest musicians. This is a combination which surely cannot fail to please!

In the month of March pianist and composer Clara Peya will perform solo shows on the grand piano in the library, and every evening will also be accompanied by a singer who will assist her perform pieces from Peya’s new album, Mimulus (2015).

Next month, Daniel Anglès will sing to the accompaniment of guitarist Marc Sambola, paying homage to the late, great Rocío Jurado, the Cádiz-born singer and actress who was widely known as ‘La más grande’ (‘the greatest’).

For more information see the El Principal Eixample website.

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Hotel Tapa Tour

This spring several exciting gastronomic events are happening in Barcelona. We recently reviewed Espectapes at el Principal de L’Eixample.

Following suit next month is Hotel Tapa Tour, some of the city’s best hotels will be opening their restaurant doors from the 6th to the 17th of April for a mouth watering new experience that seeks to promote eating at fine 4 and 45 star hotel restaurants and entice Barcelona’s local and tourist populations to eat at some of the city’s finer hotels.

Food tours are big business in Spain and Barcelona has many, making the market a competitive one. The Hotel Tapa Tour gives the traditional food tour a distinctive new twist whereby 30 hotels across the city contend to be crowned the ultimate tapas creators.

Hotel Tapa Tour features a number of 4* and 5* hotels located in the Eixample, Ciutat Vella, Sant Martí, Les Corts and Sants-Montjuïc. Each participating hotel will present two of its finest tapas dishes, one will be judged by the public and one by industry professionals.

Hotels will compete for the a prize in three different categories: best traditional dish, best experimental dish, and most sustainable dish. These will all be awarded by industry experts, while the public will simply vote on their favourite in order to determine the city’s most popular hotel tapas.

With the cost of a tapa and a drink priced between €4-8, Hotel Tapa Tour would seem to be a great way to sample some of Barcelona’s finest gastronomy without paying an arm and a leg!


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