Pissarro at the Caixa Forum

The CaixaForum art gallery in Barcelona opened in 2002 in a former factory at the foot of Montjuic near to Plaça Espanya, The gallery is sponsored by the Catalan bank “la Caixa”.

From October the 16th 2013 to January the 26th 2014 to La Caixa presents a retrospective of the post-impressionist painter Camille Pissarro (1830-1903). The exhibition includes 60 oil paintings from museums and private collections around the world.

© National Gallery of Art

Due to his interest in painting light conditions, Pissarro often draws comparisons with Monet and he is closely associated with both Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. He studied with Gustave Courbet and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. Pissarro was the only artist to show his work at all eight Paris Impressionist exhibitions.

In 1873 Pissarro helped establish a collective of young artists, and became the figure that held the group together. He was also a mentor and father figure to the major Post-Impressionists Georges Seurat, Paul Cézanne, Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin.

Pissarro at the CaixaForum is an excellent chance to see Pissarro’s work first hand for free – a great day out in Barcelona!

http://obrasocial.lacaixa.es/

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The 5 best jogging spots in Barcelona

Barcelona is jogging friendly for a city of its size. If you are planning on packing your running shoes you will be sure to find some great jogging routes; these will also help you to discover more of the city.

Do remember that temperatures here are much higher than in most of Europe, and that hydration can be an issue.

Here are our favourite running routes in Barcelona.

By the sea

This is nearly everyone’s favourite place – who would not enjoy a jog in the sunshine in front of the Mediterranean?

The beach promenade offers roughly 6 kilometres so there and back you can do a 12k run without having to think too much.

A great time of day to run is very early in the morning before everybody is up and about. Perfect for enjoying the sun reflecting on the water and the calm that is creates.

If you get too hot, kick of your trainers and enjoy a refreshing swim!

Montjuïc

Another great central area for jogging, Montjuïc has the additional attraction of being very green and verdant. There is plenty to see en route: the castle, the Olympic stadium and the Botanical Gardens. Not forgetting of course the stunning views across the city and out to sea!

It is often a challenge to find non tarmac surfaces in a city to run on but Montjuïc has the additional benefit of offering many different types of terrain: dirt paths, cement, or grass.

Ciudatella Park

If you are staying in the centre this is another traffic free option. A lap around the park is 2.5k which is ok for shorter runs. You are still close to the sea so you can easily fit in a dip afterwards.

Tibidabo

Tibidabo is the distinctive mountain that you can see from anywhere in the city. This is the greenest route, more so even than Montjuïc. The Collserola Mountains where Tibidabo are located are a nature reserve, and there is an 18k circular trail that is perfect for running and enjoying an amazing view over the city.

Diagonal

One of the most popular running courses in Barcelona is the long and wide central rambla along the Diagonal Avenue. Drawbacks include pollution, that the rambla is not continuous but is broken up with traffic lights, and noise from the cars. But if you are staying in the area and itching to burn off some bravas then it can work, especially later on in the evening when rush hour has passed.

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Where to hear jazz music in Barcelona

Barcelona is a city that loves all music and offers a thriving Jazz scene. Swing time jazz is especially popular, though you can find all kinds of jazz styles here and jazz greats such as Miles Davis, Pat Metheny and Brad Meldhau have visited the city.

Here are some venues to look out for if you feel like checking out Barcelona’s jazz scene.

Café Vienés at the Casa Fuster

The Casa Fuster is a beautiful art nouveau hotel and also an amazing jazz venue in Barcelona. Every Thursday night from 9pm until 11pm the “Café Vienés” turns into an exclusive jazz club where famous jazz artists such as the Yoshida Brothers, Eddy Davis, The New Orleans Rag Trio, and The Barcelona Swing Serenaders have played.

The Hotel Casa Fuster was used by Woody Allen to film some of the scenes in his Academy award-winning, ‘Vicky Cristina, Barcelona’. Woody Allen himself has also performed at the Café Vienés.

This being Barcelona, the performances are accompanied by a tapas tasting menu.

Harlem Jazz Club

Located down an atmospheric street in the old town this is one of Barcelona’s most famous jazz venues.
This is the perfect place to head to hear jazz, funk and soul every night of the week. Early evening you can hear live music, from around 12 onwards you can dance to local DJs getting the crowd up on their feet.

Jamboree

Jamboree (which means ‘tribal reunion’ in Zulu) is another one of Barcelona’s jazz icons. This venue has been graced by famed jazz musicians such as Chet Baker, Bill Coleman, Kenny Drew, Lou Bennet, Stéphan Grappelli, Kenny Clarke, Ornette Coleman and Dexter Gordon.

Jamboree hosts jazz, Latin or blues gigs by mainly Spanish groups every night of the week. On Mondays the popular WTF jazz jam session is filled with a young local crowd while upstairs in the sister venue Los Tarantos live flamenco shows take place.

Located on Plaça Reial in the heart of the old town and just a stone’s throw from Las Ramblas, the location could not be more atmospheric.

The Silken Gran Hotel – cocktails & swing

A more upmarket affair takes place in the plush settings of the Silken Gran Hotel takes place every Friday from 7:30 to 9 pm.
The Silken Gran Hotel offers a Jazz-Swing music concert while you enjoy cocktails. Each week offers the opportunity to hear different musical trios, both national and international, combining different styles.

Others

In July and August the Festival Cafe Grec offers the chance to hear some world class Jazz musicians in some unusual and interesting venues, some of which do not usually operate as live music venues. The gardens of the Miro Foundation on Montjuic and the Teatre Grec, or Greek Theatre itself, on Montjuïc are both wonderful venues for live music. Greats such as non other than Miles Davis himself, Pat Metheny and Keith Jarrett have played here.

Another place to catch some great live jazz Performances is L’Auditori on Calle Padilla, where the likes of the Brad Meldhau Trio, Winton Marsalis and Herbie Hancock have played over the years.

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What are the most important fairs and events in Barcelona?

Barcelona is a well known centre of international trade fairs and events for good reason. The city enjoys a privileged location on the Mediterranean sea just south of the French border with excellent transport links, making it an ideal location to hold international events. But the cities allure is not exclusively of a practical nature of course. Barcelona is a wonderful cosmopolitan city that offers sun shine all year round, beaches, architecture, world class restaurants, football, museums, art, culture, shopping, Gaudi, the list makes you almost dizzy.

A business trip to Barcelona can be easily combined with a bit of rest and relaxation (indeed it would be a crying shame not to). A rental apartment is a great accommodation option giving you many of the home comforts you might miss if staying in a hotel.

To help you plan your business trip to the city, here is a list of the most important business events and conferences taking place in Barcelona throughout the year.

The Brandery

Barcelona is one of Europe’s and the world’s fashion capitals. The Brandery brings the latest tendencies in fashion, trends, music and design from across the globe to the city.

The Brandery offers an area for trade professionals and one for the general public, where fashion enthusiasts can get a up-close look at the latest brands, view catwalk shows, view fashion exhibitions and much more.

The Brandery takes place in late January or early February – the perfect time to escape those winter blues and top up on sunshine.

Website: http://www.thebrandery.com

Mobile World Congress

Mobile World Congress is possibly the biggest annual business event to take place in Barcelona. This is a huge telecoms event, an event that is truly global. It usually takes place in February at the Fira de Montjuïc. Take advantage of the low season accommodation rates to get some lovely Catalan winter sunshine.
Website: http://www.mobileworldcongress.com/

Barcelona Bridal Week

Barcelona Bridal Week is where wedding industry professionals present their latest lines for dresses and compliments, and latest products for wedding ceremonies and wedding parties. This is the main international wedding event of its kind. There are many events for the public as well as industry professionals, and while you are in Barcelona you may well decide you want to come back for your honeymoon. This is a spring or early summer event, taking place in mid May in time for the bridal season.

Website: http://www.moda-barcelona.com

Bizbarcelona

Bizbarcelona is very important to the city’s economy as it encourages entrepreneurship and new business initiatives. Not only is it a highly important networking event, but focus is also given to the creation, growth and internationalisation of new business ideas.

The event usually takes place in June at the Fira de Barcelona Montjuïc Exhibition Centre. So once your business is done you can hit the beach.

Website: http://www.bizbarcelona.com/

Barcelona Meeting Point

Barcelona Meeting Point is all the more important for being the only international real estate fair in Spain. Spain is a highly popular country for foreign property investment, and this is the most important event in the Spanish property calendar and an essential event for professionals working in the sector.

Website: http://www.bmpsa.com/

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Our 5 best spots for a summer drink in Barcelona

1) Chill out on the beach

Everyone’s favourite summer spot in Barcelona – the beach. The city has over 3.6 km of golden sands stretching from the edge of the old town in Barceloneta to Poblenou in the north of the city. Check out the numerous chiringuitos (seasonal informal bars) that line the beach, ideal to quench your thirst during the heat of the day or to drink cocktails at long into the night.

2) Enjoy breathtaking views over the city at Montjuic

Montjuic Mountain (often referred to as the magic mountain by locals) dominates Barcelona’s skyline. You can reach it on foot if you are feeling energetic but if not, there is always a funicular which you catch from Paral.lel metro station. As you exit Montjuic station, cross the road in front and slightly to the left is yet another one of those marvellous outdoor chiringuitos where you can enjoy a cold drink with a view of the city spread out like a map in front of you. Watch the sun set over the city and enjoy a bird’s eye view of the Sagrada Familia, the Eixample, the beach and the old town. Look out for the distinctive octagonal tower of Plaça del Pi.

3) Relax in a medieval old town square at Plaça del Pi

This is one of those pedestrian parts of the old town that are a sheer delight. No more than 2 minutes walk from the old town, this square is steeped in history. With its distinctive medieval church on one side (with the octagonal tower) and medieval, 18th and 19th century town houses on all other sides, this is a pretty square where artists sell their paintings. There are 2 or 3 small cafes with terraces where you can enjoy a drink and soak up the atmosphere of the medieval old town.

4) The best of the hip born district at Calle Allada Vermell

Another delightful pedestrian area of Barcelona is Allada Vermell, just of Calle Princessa in the hip Born district. A popular area with young people and families, the street is lined with informal restaurants (the wonderful Pizza Paco should not be missed), bars and pubs. There is a play area in the middle of the street (it is a very wide street and thanks to having no cars feels more like a square really) so children can play safely while their parents relax at a bar.

5) Enjoy a sea breeze at the Port Vell

Port Vell is found at the foot of Las Ramblas in the Old Town. The Maremagnum centre offers numerous bars, cafes and restaurants as well as a shopping mall. You can complete a circuit walk over the bridge to Maremagnum and around the harbour. But be sure to stop at a bar or cafe and enjoy a drink nest to the sea, this is a great place for just people watching or spotting the yachts going past. The proximity to the sea guarantees a cool breeze in the middle of the city.

Posted in Activities - Summer, Areas - Las Ramblas, Areas - Sagrada Familia, Areas - The Beach, Areas - The Eixample, Montjuic | Leave a comment

Our 5 top contemporary Catalan restaurants in Barcelona

Sometime around the start of this century, Catalan chef Ferran Adria ended 500 years of French dominance at the leading edge of gastronomy, shifting the setting south of the Pyrenees to Catalunya. This took place at the now legendary El Bulli in Les Roses in northern Catalunya.

Adria’s seminal “techno-emotional gastronomy” experimented with previously untried techniques and flavour combinations. Adria would close his restaurant for 6 months each year to concentrate on perfecting his art and developing new ideas and techniques.

Sadly El Bulli closed in 2011 but its influence is here to stay it would seem. Adria’s style of cooking has become the inspiration for many of the world’s leading restaurants.

But above all, many former Ell Bulli employees are now working in Barcelona so if you never made it to El Bulli you can still experience it at these restaurants. Barcelona is bursting with hip restaurants so there is plenty of choice; we have selected some of our favourites for you here.

Gelonch

Namesake chef Robert Gelonch learned his trade at El Bulli and at Gaig (another highly reputable Catalan restaurant). His restaurant is nestled away in a part of the Eixample Dreta near Passeig Sant Joan.

Gelonch is clearly a graduate of the El Bulli academy! His cooking is filled with new techniques and technologies and there’s plenty of cleverness in his dishes as well as some eccentricities in the form of his pequeñas locuras (small pieces of madness) such as oysters in “gin and tonic” and cuttlefish noodles tossed together in a deconstructed pesto.

Moo

Located in the ultra hip design hotel ‘Hotel Omm’, just off Passeig de Gràcia. The hotels features interiors by top Spanish interior designer Patricia Urquiola and Moo also stands at the cutting edge of Spanish creativity.

The restaurant serves modern creations featuring unusual flavour combinations that draw from traditional Catalan cuisine. The tasting menus are a treat, allowing diners to choose from seasonal, gourmet or vegetarian creative options paired with wine. The restaurant was awarded a Michelin star in 2012.

Els Cinc Sentits

Chef Jordi Artal is one chef who did not come up through the ranks of El Bulli. In fact he has no training as a chef at all, a fact which is sure to amaze anyone who eats here. Artal is half Canadian and was born in Toronto and raised in Barcelona.

His restaurant Els Cinc Sentits (the 5 senses) has been named one of the 6 best restaurants in Spain, and continues the growing trend of restaurants offering tasting menus.

Artal works with suppliers from around Catalunya and Spain to source local and seasonal ingredients. Diners can sample from a complex menu that included tapas, starters, fish, meats, cheeses and desserts.

Embat

Embat was one of the first restaurants in Barcelona involved in “bistro-mania”, whereby small eateries offer interesting and creative cooking (modern but rooted in Catalan tradition) at reasonable prices.

During the day they offer a modern spin on traditional dishes with ingredients such as snails and pigs trotters making an appearance. In the evening they get more funky in the kitchen. Specialities include as presa ibérica (shoulder of Iberian pork) with roast tomatoes, or cuttlefish meatballs with crayfish and potatoes.

The owners, Santiago Rebés and Fidel Puig describe their fair as “honest, personal and accessible to all”. Who are we to disagree?

Hisop

Tucked away in a tiny, sparely decorated space just over the Diagonal in the Eixample Esquerra headed up by two enthusiastic young chefs, Oriol Ivern i Guillem Pla.

As with much modern Catalan cooking, many dishes are creative takes on traditional Catalan recipes but using modern techniques.
Hisop is arguably the best value of the city’s really creative restaurants, and its several-course tasting menu is still only 52 euros. Well worth a visit!

Enoteca

Enoteca is in the Port Olímpic. As with Moo, many of Barcelona’s high-end restaurants are opening in five-star hotels. Head chef Paco Pérez was already well established when he took his post at Enoteca in the Hotel Arts, having worked for many years on the Costa Brava. No surprise then that he is a big proponent of local seafood. Pérez’s dishes are clean and bright and allow single ingredients to shine.

Bon profit!

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Barcelona – a city of music

Barcelona is a leading international music destination. Music has always played a key part in the history of this city and its many festivos; this is a city which loves to party and knows how to live well, even by Spanish standards.

Since Barcelona was totally regenerated in 1992 when it hosted the Olympic Games it has become a well established ‘cool city’ with its popularity growing thanks to sites such as Las Ramblas, the Sagrada Familia, the cities beaches, and FC Barcelona and the Camp Nou. Thanks to this popularity the city has attracted a number of large new international music festivals such as Sonar and Primavera Sound. But Barcelona offer music to suit all tastes, not just young ravers. The city has a long Jazz tradition, as well as of course traditional Catalan music, and the Spanish Flamenco music bought to Catalunya by immigrants from southern Spain.

Below are the key musical happenings that come to Barcelona each year:

Primavera Sound

Pulling punters from all over the world, the sound of Primavera Sound celebrates the arrival of spring in Barcelona in late May or early June. Musical styles at Primavera Sound include alternative, indie, electronic, pop, hip hop, dance, metal, jazz and experimental music.

Primavera Sound is one of the largest and most important alternative music festivals in the world. In 2013 large names such as Metz, Blur, the Beach House, the XX and Dead Can Dance played to a crowd of over 100,000.

Festival Grec

The Festival Grec is an entertainment festival run throughout the summer by the Ajuntament, Barcelona’s city council. It takes its name from the Greek style open-air theatre the Teatre Grec on Montjuïc that is a venue for many events. Other interesting cultural landmarks in the city such as the Miró Museum and the MACBA Museum of Contemporary Art are also used.

The Festival Grec has offered seriously famous names over the years and ticket prices are cheap – the likes of Miles Davis, Pat Metheny, Lou Reed, B.B. King and Bob Dylan have played here.

Sonar
Sonar is at the cutting edge of electronic music and place in Sao Paulo and Tokyo as well as Barcelona. Musical styles such as techno, house, drum and bass and hip hop are represented.

In 2013 the line up included such names as New Order, The Roots, Laurent Garnier, Fatboy Slim, Richie Hawtin, Lana Del Rey to name just a few.
Sónar By Day takes place at the Centre of Contemporary Culture (CCCB) and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA) in the Raval District next to Las Ramblas, while Sónar by Night takes place the city centre.

Festes de Gràcia

The Festes de Gracia are an 8-day long street party which take place in August. Music figures very centrally (and is played 24 hours a day!), with many free concerts as well as plenty of eating, drinking, dancing and Catalan traditions such as Geants (giant mannequins with a person inside), Castellers (human pyramids) and correfocs (street firework display).

As well as these festivities the whole neighbourhood is decorated. Each street is decorated by its residents, in much the same way as Carnivals feature costumes.

Barcelona Acció Musical (BAM)

The BAM (Barcelona Acció Musical) takes place each year during the Festes de la Merce in September. The free concerts offered usually include jazz and singer-songwriters; this is the main event of so Barcelona (Barcelona Sound).

Festival L’Hora del Jazz 2012

Also taking place in September is the Festival L’Hora del Jazz, with free concerts every Sunday at in Plaza de la Vila de Gràcia and Plaza Sant Joan de Vilafranca del Penedès.

Barcelona International Jazz Festival

Jazz is an exceedingly popular in Barcelona and the Festival Internacional de Jazz de Barcelona (Barcelona international Jazz Festival) embraces all from bebop to gospel.

Jazz greats such as Chick Corea, Bebo Valdés, Al Green, Herbie Hancock, Caetano Veloso and Katie Melua have played here in the past.
Barcelona International Jazz Festival usually takes place in October.

LEM Festival

LEM is a festival of experimental music and multi-media art. Lasting over a month, it takes place in the hip Gràcia district in October. Its line up is predominantly electronica but you can also hear some jazz and rock, and it is generally free to attend the concerts.

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When is the best time of year to visit Barcelona?

Barcelona needs little introduction as a popular holiday destination. The spectacles of Las Ramblas, FC Barcelona, Gaudi and the beaches have put the city firmly on the map.

The cities hot Mediterranean climate is a major factor in its popularity – Barcelona enjoys year round sunshine and warmth, very low rainfall and a very mild winter.

Peak season for tourism is the summer when the city and its beaches are thronging with visitors. But without doubt Barcelona is a city with year round appeal. Visiting the city outside of the summer is any equally rewarding experience and you will find the streets are less choked, museums queues are shorter, accommodation is more readily available and cheaper, and the sun is still shining.

Obviously the best time to visit depends on what you want to get out of your visit. If you are not a beach person and want to visit the Picasso and Miró Museums then there is no need to come in summer.

To make life easier for you and help you decide when is the best time of year to plan your trip to Barcelona we have created a breakdown of activities, events and goings on in the city season by season.

Spring

Spring is a popular time to visit Barcelona with visitors from the Northern Hemisphere, especially Scandinavia and Northern Europe. As winter and darkness hangs on in these countries spring comes early in Barcelona where spring is underway and the sun shining from April onwards.

Events in Barcelona in spring

Summer

Barcelona has an incredible buzz come the summer months and it is a joyous time of year. As mentioned before, this can make it a little too busy for some. Come August the cities own inhabitants up and leave for the cool of the Costa Brava or the Pyrenees leaving the city to the tourists.

Events in Barcelona in summer

Autumn

Autumn is a mellow season in Barcelona. The cities inhabitants breathe a sigh of relief as the heat slackens from mid September. But the weather stays nice through October and even into November, with cooler evenings.

Events in Barcelona in autumn

Winter

Winter in Barcelona is as mild a winter as you can find anywhere in Europe. This is a really nice time of year in the city, especially through November and December when cold of any kind is exceedingly rare and eating outdoors is still no problem. Catalan Christmas has many wonderful traditions to explore and this is a highly festive time of year.

Events in Barcelona in winter

If you are coming to Barcelona remember that an apartment in Barcelona is an affordable option at any time of year as well as comfortable and convenient

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Fun times at Primavera Sound 2013 in Barcelona

At the end of May, Primavera Sound 2013 returns to Barcelona, this time for its 12th year. The event focuses on independent music, performers that have played here in previous years include: Lou Reed, The White Stripes, Primal Scream, New Order, Iggy and the Stooges, Pulp, The Petshop Boys, Motörhead, The Smashing Pumpkins, Portishead, My Bloody Valentine and Neil Young. Last year more than 100,000 part-goers attended, making the Primavera Sound Festival one of the most important alternative music festivals in the world and the biggest in Spain.

Alternative, indie, electronic, pop, hip hop, dance, folk, jazz, metal and experimental music are among the genres that are included in the festival. The tradition of amazing line ups continues in 2013 with Metz, Blur, the Beach House, the XX and Dead Can Dance confirmed as playing.

This year the festival takes place from May 22nd to May the 26th, and as in previous years, Primavera Sound will be held at the Parc del Fòrum leisure site in the Diagonal Mar area. If you can’t spend 80 euros on a day ticket, take heart as the festival this year will include two free concerts called ‘Primavera a la Ciutat’, schedules to take place near Arc de Triomf on the first and last days of the festival.

Primavera Sound’s main stage is situated in the vast Parc del Fòrum, an incredible setting with the Mediterranean sea for a backdrop, as if the music did not guarantee an amazing atmosphere!

Further Info

The Primavera Sound website contains all the practical information you might need. Remember that although open-air, Primavera Sound is not a camping festival. This is a very poplar event which takes place right at the beginning of the peak tourist season in Barcelona so it is never too soon to book up your accommodation. Hotels tend to increase their prices for events such as Primavera Sound, and become booked up very far in advance. But a rental apartment is a good affordable option, especially for groups. We offer rental apartments near to the Parc del Fòrum, in Poble Nou.

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Diada de Sant Jordi – what is it all about?

La Diada de Sant Jordi is Barcelona’s unique version of Valentine’s Day. Catalan Sant Jordi celebrations are ancient, dating back centuries to the middle ages. In the Catalan version of the myth he slays a dragon and rescues a princess, and a rose is said to have blossomed from the creature’s blood (the very same red rose that is the symbol of England).

From this was born the tradition of women receiving roses on Sant Jordi which persists to this day. As anyone who is in Barcelona on the 23rd of April can tell you, Barcelona’s streets and plazas are a sea of red rose flower stalls and by the evening you’re unlikely to see a woman in the city without a rose in her hand.

However Sant Jordi has evolved to include the tradition of giving books, all thanks to the business verve of one Catalan bookseller, a certain Vincent Claver Andres. In 1923 he noticed that St George’s Day coincided with the almost simultaneous deaths of two literary greats William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes, both of whom passed away on the 23rd of April 1616. So he came up with the idea of women reciprocating their roses with a book as a gift for then men in their life.

This is why on the Dia de Sant Jordi and you’ll find Barcelona crammed with book stalls, some 10% of Catalonia’s annual book sales happen on this one day!

Apart from gift giving, Sant Jordi is a celebration of Catalan national identity. The red and gold Catalan flag is hung all across the city, and in Plaça de Sant Jaume you can watch and even partake in the sardana, the Catalan national dance.

Though it is not a public holiday but a regular work day, Saint Jordi has a happy festive atmosphere that is almost like a carnival, the streets come alive with people out and about and enjoying the spring sunshine.

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