Airports in Catalonia

A record number of aircraft passengers transited through the largest Catalonian airport of El Prat, Barcelona in 2013, increasing 0.2% on the previous year according to Spanish airport authority (AENA). The difficult winter holiday month of December saw 2.3 million travelers pass creating a stronger than usual finish to the year, which in total entertained 35.210.735 million passengers from across the globe with a 12.9% increase in non EU residents.
airplaneOther airports within Catalonia performed well against current economic trends, positivity even being found in the slight decrease in customers passing through Catalonia’s second largest airport of Girona down 3.8% on 2012, the airport which is located a short distance from the city and services budget airlines Ryanair and Easyjet has seen success dwindle since the record year of 2008 when 5.5 million passengers were trafficked in total, this year a steady yield of 2,736,867 passengers signified the lowest drop in business in recent history as the recession eases and the inevitable return to economic normality appears on the horizon.
El Prat AirportCatalonias Sabadell airport (Greater Barcelona) also suffered a slight decrease to its private and leisure carriers of 4.5% on 2012  numbers, an encouraging figure in fact the most stable result in recent history which leaves us to finish on a positive note partly due to increased interest in rural and extreme pursuits in southern Catalonia, the airport Reus increased its operated flights by 5.4% leading to just under a million passengers 971.166, choosing the hub, sending figures 3.6% higher than  in 2012.

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Shopping in Barcelona

Shopping Icon Safe Journey BarcelonaThe populations favorite weekend activity is considered to be shopping, and with high-tech travel links continually  shrinking the world, the boundaries of shopping have brought  change to the usual routine of popping to the local supermarket. In an age of undisputed access to air-travel, taking  time out to  explore different cultures is something we should all be a part of,  making the opportunity to experience  products at  source,  observing local knowledge and tradition, and learning how to get the best out of the destinations familiar exports with local preparation secrets.

Passeig de Gracia

Gaining insights into the latest in European design trends and exploring unique bargains in a fresh environment is always fun and with access to the usual  selection of top European brands such as Zara, Mango and Bershka, side by side classic boutiques, excellent restaurants, traditional taverns and cafes serving some of our more familiar imports including cheese, olives and fine wine, all  prepared and  enjoyed in their  authentic  settings.

MAREMAGNUM Barcelona is an urban beach metropolis with a climate of mild Mediterranean winters and hot dry summers, holding position  as an important port and European trading center, the cosmopolitan city is well versed in providing  the right ingredients to suit the international individual, in search of shopping satisfaction.  Discover a wealth of diverse objects inside ornate stores that hide  away in 17th century boulevards and pedestrianized plazas, plus a stretch of shopping strip that continues for 5km. Stay inside the cool and ultra  modern Maremagnum shopping center which houses a 3D IMAX cinema, or walk along the famous Passeig de Gracia among works of architecture by Antoni Gaudi, viewing beautiful clear glass window displays that present products from high end retail boutiques including jewelry , fine art and patisseries.  Maybe Journey a little further out to the famous  La Roca Village, a short drive from the city center and serious option for the seasoned shopper,  covering a total area of 37 km2 , dedicated to providing the latest in exclusive shopping experiences.

La Roca Village, La Roca del Valles With a lot of terrain to explore there are many routes to take around the city so contact a local tour operator  to take advantage of competitive inside offers travel agents and big companies pass over,  with exclusive  personal shopping assistants on offer along with  chauffeurs  and some interesting hire options, wonderful off the beaten path tours and relaxation options, for after a fulfilling days hunting, perhaps stopping at a luxury spa for some deserved treatments. First class evening meals and classic nightspots framed for your convenience sculpting the  modern city to your schedule, built for business and made for leisure Barcelona is one of Europe’s most accessible city’s, engaging  important global calender events and culture seekers, with a mixture of innovative design and tradition.

Design inspiration Barcelona

A project partly realized with crowd funding has just completed its first instrumental trials in water, the ICTINEU 3 which is a three man scientific submarine used in underwater exploration, will join the ranks of a very small number of submersibles with the capability to dive to 1.200 meters, putting it on par with depth technology from China Russia and the USA.

Barcelona - Submarine
The Catalan built project continues a long tradition of submarine innovation dating back to 1857 with the forming of the first commercially dedicated society to submarines conceived by inventor engineer Narcís Monturiol i Estarriol. Monturiol developed an interest in submarines after watching coral harvesters in Cadaqués and witnessing the drowning of a man in the act of performing the risky job, and by 1859 Monturiol had launched the ICTINEU 1 submarine which performed around 20 successful dives before being destroyed in an accident in 1862.

Barcelona - Submarine
ICTINEU2 then launched in 1865 completing successful man-powered dives of up to 30 meters, but Monturiol not content with the limits of human power, began work to add engines in 1867 leading to several successful surface tests, unfortunately bankruptcy struck later on that year and projects ceased leaving the only examples as replicas standing on display in Barcelona, although not all of the submarines are Monturiol’s and there are various other submarines to spot around the city so try to book on site for a more detailed service than travel agencies provide and look further into Barcelona’s naval history . Continuing the passion more than a centenary later the new ICTINEU 3 concept submarine incorporates the latest in ergonomic design and space age materials,  worlds away from the original designs and materials of Monturiol the new vessel boasts impressive capabilities such as 10 hours of autonomous use and 8 thrusters which allow full freedom of movement creating a versatile submersible tool perfect for furthering research of the largely undiscovered oceans as well as maintaining existing offshore platforms, piping, cabling and opening up fresh possibilities in the tourism exploration market. Expecting to be ready for ocean tests towards the beginning of 2015 the cost effective ICTINEU 3 is expected to be valuable to underwater exploration and prove an asset to the marine design and technology accomplishments of Barcelona.
Submarine barcelona
To find out more on Narcís Monturiol i Estarriol and other great caricatures still influencing modern design in Catalonia contact us @SafeJourneyBarcelona to arrange a detailed visit.

Golf centenary Catalonia

Safe Journey Barcelona Golf LogoBordered to the north by France and Andorra, with an impressive 500 km of Mediterranean coastline to the east, Catalonia, occupying an approximate area of 32.114 square kilometers contains a wealth of natural mountainous green terrain that was made for the inevitable transition into  professional golfing nation in 1914. Always moving forward and never hesitating to look back since that first formal shot landed on the warm fertile fairway of Sant Cugat Del Valles the fine tradition of Golf has flourished, further furnishing the four individual provinces of Lleda, Barcelona, Girona and Taragona with 37 high standard courses including the impressive PGA Catalunya stadium resort which is now ranked 3rd in continental Europe and No.1 in Spain. Each well manicured course is supported via a network of luxury services on hand to attend the various requirements demanded when entertaining at all levels of gamesmanship, although the wide range of business and leisure services do require a certain amount of information to navigate the individual to the preferred destination, leaving travel agents often ineffective in the required local knowledge. Quick tee off times contribute to the picture of professionalism presented by Catalonia over the past year, propelling them forward into recognition as a premier emerging Golf destination alongside non EU heavyweight contenders such as Dubai, Malaysia and South Africa, leaving the door open for a dent to be made in lucrative European golfing market.

PGA Catalunya Golf CourseA well organized welcome was in order for the 1400 delegates hosted at the annual (IGTM) international Golf travel market on the Costa Dorada earlier in the year, completing the largest turnout in a 16 year history, proving efficiently the regions constant aptitude for large scale events and laying the foundations for the CTBs (Catalan tourists board) forth coming campaign marking a 100 years of great Golf in Catalonia. To attract seasoned golfers and would be contenders the campaign aims at highlighting the convenient world air travel network and first class regional info-structure of Catalonia, using its achieved regard and  accomplishment to boost current market position and promote the ease of accessibility to Golf under a Mediterranean climate by launching a host of exclusive events and promotions set to tempt regular visits from enthusiasts of the fairway and celebrate its 2014 Golf centenary in continued excellence. 

If you wish to further explore upcoming offers, contact us and we will put you in touch with the ideal outcome.

Christmas and New Years Barcelona 2013-2014

christmas picture final

The Oxford dictionary defines tradition as the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, making Catalonia with its strong social bond and close knit community the ideal setting to indulge in the traditions associated with the winter season. Average winter temperatures are around 15 degrees and the local population enjoy the short winter fashion season to the fullest providing all of the atmosphere and sights of the festive season minus the frostbitten fingers, all of the usual European traditions can be observed as within in any major city, although a touch of Catalan individuality defiantly adds spice to the occasion.

christmas mapSo lets run through some of the delights on offer for the winter period 2013-2014, the lights are already on with the traditional opening ceremony, which occurred within a stones throw of the fairy tale cathedral of Sagarda Familiar with the mayor of Catalonia Xaver Trias doing this years honors and completing the ceremonial switching on and thus illuminating the beautifully decorated city for all on the 22nd of November and in turn signaling the beginning of extended Christmas shopping hours. Sunday opening times in the city create the perfect weekend break opportunity for explorers to take the chance to cruise the 17th century boulevards and breath in some of the joy provided by the wonderfully medieval city which is decorated this year with an impressive 15 Christmas trees including two of great stature which are located in “Plaça St Jaume” and “Portal de l’Àngel” respectively, all of the other trees of which I might mention are Eco friendly (green) provide an excellent backdrop with which to select the perfect Christmas gifts for friends and loved ones. If scenery is not your top priority then a trip to the ultra modern and exclusive la Roca village mall is probably more up your street, a place where the professional shoppers amongst us can find companionship via the accompaniment of a personal shopping expert including the provision of a special BCN discount card specifically designed for the seasoned bargain hunter. If your looking for something a little less full on though I would suggest relaxing with lunch and a glass of wine before browsing the famous Catalan Christmas markets including “La Fira de Santa Llúcia” which is located outside the Cathedral of Saint Eulalia the site contains around 300 market stalls and first took place in the year 1786, filled with Christmas treasures this site is the best place to discover the highly collectible “Figuritas de Belen” a traditional nativity figurine who’s forms include Shepherds, the baby Jesus and of course the virgin Mary, other markets taking place in Barcelona can be found with in the vicinities of La Sagrada Familia, Gran Via, Passeig de Gracia, Placa del Sants and the Children’s Market located at the FIRA de Montjuïc.

nativityplayjoint

To observe the figurines in there natural habitat check out one of the three glorious nativity scenes on display at Pessebre a la Plaça Sant Jaume, Pessebre Monumental a la Parroquia de Sant Maria Vianney or Pessebres al Temple Sagrat Cor de Jesus del Tibidabo- Basilica. My favourite caricature may be slightly harder to spot though, he goes by the name “El Caganer” and is one of the more unfamiliar characters of Christmas a red hatted defecating man who first appeared in the baroque period and is a symbol of good luck in Catalan culture, he hides in amongst the nativity providing an excellent where’s Waldo, Wally or Walter (depending on your geographical location) type game. “El Caganer” in his more recent incarnations has been transformed and given a more worldly status by appearing in varying celebrity caricature forms including the very lucky president of the united states of America, Obama himself. While on the subject of defecation (lets push this through quickly) I think it is also fair to mention another slightly strange (from the outside of course) tradition (consider your own first) that happens behind closed doors but is as equally interesting, going by the name of “Caga Tió” or the pooping log in English, beginning on the 8th of December at the feast of immaculate conception Catalan children begin to feed treats to “Caga Tió” who of course is a hollowed out log with a red hat (Barretina), he stands upon two stick legs and has a smiling face painted on the highest flat surface. Feeding of “Caga Tió” takes place until Christmas eve or day depending on the household, where at which point the children beat him with a stick and sing songs of encouragement such as…

poopsong

…which order him to defecate  small communal treats of candies nuts and Torrons (a traditional Catalan almond and nougat treat) until there’s nothing good left and he finally passes a salt herring or a clove of garlic. Tourists under the age of 12 can enjoy a similar event, the morning beating of the “Giant Tió” located in Santa Llucia from 30th of November which gives little ones a feel for the local tradition and of course some tasty treats.
cagatio
Continuing now with a slightly more original Christmas perspective and the exquisitely traditional performance of Handel’s glorious oratorio Messiah which will be performed by the wonderfully talented “Orquestra de Cambra de L’Empordà” and the “Puig Reig polifonica” contained within the magically ornate settings of either “Palau de la Musica Catalana” or the “Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar” from the 16th December with ticket holders in for the extra Christmas bonus of free entry into the venues after 2100 hours from 18th of December onwards (refer to calendar for exact dates).

On the subject of architecture this year the “Torre Agbar” tower which is at present in the process of being transformed into a luxury hotel, will be brought to life from the 21st of December being lit up like a giant faux Christmas tree, as if it wasn’t impressive enough. One of my favourite summer events is also waking up for the winter period in the form of the magic fountain, a completely free event that brings the magnificent fountain located in “Plaça d’Espanya” to life generally for the summer months, theirs something quite magical about watching the dancing spurts of brightly illuminated water rhythmically move to the summer music, but imagine it to the sound of classic Christmas tunes, which fortunately from December onwards is possible and it carries on right into the new year.

If you prefer your water frozen then why not take an elegant glide (hopefully) around the largest outdoor ice rink in Europe as once again “Plaça de Catalunya” is transformed for a short period of time into the ideal festive family fun activity, reasonably priced and remaining open until January the rink is also excellent for the romantics among us. Fitness fanatics and sports enthusiasts need not worry about those extra festive pounds as the traditional Nose Race XV starts on the 31st of December at 1730 in Carrer de la Selva de Mar or strip down for the first open sea swim of the new year at the Christmas swimming cup from 11am in the port of Barcelona.

The new years celebrations give opportunity for wannabe celebrity’s to get on the television at the first live broadcast ever of the Barcelona traditional 12 chimes (Campanades de Cap d’Any) accompanied by synchronised fireworks and music and featured on TV3 all comers are welcome to eat a traditional grape after every chime in keeping with Catalan culture from 11pm in Avinguda Reina Maria Cristina. Carol-singing continues on in to the new year with the “Orfeo Catalan Carol concert” which takes place on the 3rd of January at Plaza Del Rei (Kings square) keeping all who attend in good spirits and taking us toward the traditional welcoming of the three kings, a festival available in many locations throughout the urban beach metropolis on the 6th of January. As always we will be enjoying ourselves in moderation over the winter period so if you have any festive desires feel free to get in contact and we will assist you with the planning of your tailored winter experience.

A wonderful season to all.

For a more numerical perspective on upcoming seasonal events, review the complete schedule contained within our yearly Catalan calender or contact us directly at www.safejourneybarcelona.com.

Mobile World Congress 2014

A cultural region steeped in history and wrapped in a warm Mediterranean climate, with its golden finger ever firmly on the financial pulse it is no wonder that the autonomous region of Catalonia is currently the most visited part of Spain,  with its innovative tourism industry attracting 11.43 billion euros in the first 9 months of 2013 an increase of 11.9% on 2012. Commanding an average spend of 905 euros per person according to statistics released by the Spanish ministry of industry, energy and tourism. The central bank of Spain and the Catalan institute of statistics (idescat) also announced GDP (gross domestic product) grew by 0.1% between the months of July and September which show the first positive signs of recovery for two years.

spanish map

tourist expenditure for article

Ignacio Del Torre an economist at financial advisory firm Arcano predicted an end to the recession in 2014 as austerity measures implemented by the current government and an increase in exports due to sound policy change begin to pay off and once again credit levels reestablish as the inevitable return to normality appears on an altogether sunnier horizon for the Spanish economy. Catalonia in particular has received praise recently as an excellent venue with regards to outside investment attracting companies such as German technology giant GFT who plan to increase operations in Catalonia.  GFT, CEO Ulrich Dietz signaled the creation of 500 new positions within Catalonia stating that GFT hold in high regards the many smart people contained within the hard-working region.

Mobile World Congress 2008

This years world mobile exhibition 2013 received 72 000 participants from over 200 countries under the theme of “the new mobile horizon”  the events largest ever turnout secured its place as a prime event for mobile industry giants to showcase their latest technology’s and solutions. Work is already in process for the conference program of 2014 under the banner “creating whats next” as Barcelona continues to provide essential insight into the current and future trends of the mobile industry until at least 2018,   in turn causing an increase in trade within the city of around 3.5 million per event, as well as catering other smaller money spinning offshoot mobile projects such as the world mobile center which hosts both temporary and permanent exhibitions and a yearly Mobile World festival that is  also open to the general public. The third Barcelona smart city expo event took place at the 19th -21st November 2013 with the label “smart cities change the world” attracting approximately 9000 visitors from around 400 cities with 3000 delegates and an impressive 160 exhibitors, which is expected to increase for the 2014 event whose title we await in anticipation.

As the no 5 city worldwide for business meetings with over 2176 meetings held in 2012 the urban beach metropolis of Barcelona continues to define itself as an innovative venue for both business and leisure.

meetings in barcelona

 

Things to do in Barcelona

If you have the luxury of time then there certainly are a lot of things to do in Barcelona, but for those who are a little pressed, here’s a quick rundown of the top 10 attractions on offer in the wonderfully scenic urban beach metropolis.

top 10 attractions

10. CosmoCaixa

One of the most renowned science centers in Europe opened in 2004 at a cost of 100 million euros the CosmoCaixa hides within its modern architecture a whole range of excellent exhibits including the flooded forest which contains 1000 m2 of living rain forest complete with native species.
Cosmocaixa

9. Casa Milà (La Pedrera)

Built between 1906 and 1912 Antoni Gaudi’s La Pedrera was originally built for a single family, although now as a UNESCO world heritage site its modern day function is as the head quarters of the Fundació Catalunya -La Pedera a culture center for exhibitions, it remains as one of the most iconic structures in the city.
La Pedrera, Barcelona

8. Picasso Museum

A museum dedicated entirely to the memory of the immense talent of the young genius Pablo Picasso, first opening its doors in 1963 and at present containing 4249 of his works, the Pablo Picasso museum provides an excellent visual insight into the great artists life and times.
Picasso Museum #barcelona #spain #ART

7. CaixaForum

Previously a Catalan art nouveu textile factory and an excellent example of early 20th century architecture  this impressive industrial structure since 2003 has been host to the CaixaForum social and cultural center  where it has been home to a large number of international cultural exhibits.
CaixaForum Barcelona 01 13291

6. Barcelona zoo

The Barcelona zoo was originally opened in 1892 when an extravagant banker by the name of Lluís Martí Codolar donated his entire collection of exotic animals to the city, today a more modern approach to zoology is applied and some excellent interactive exhibits and shows are on offer.
Barcelona - Zoo Aquarama

5. Castell de Montjuic

from dark beginning as a fortress in 1640, Castell de montjuic has provided many military uses over the years, handed back to the city in 2007 the future now looks much brighter in its redevelopment as an open public fortress surrounded by colourful gardens which provide leisure activities and open air events throughout the year.
Castell de Montjuïc - Panorama

4. Poble Espanyol

Constructed in 1929 the Spanish village was originally conceived as the ideal model of an Iberian village, designed for the Barcelona international exhibition of 1929 you can still view the original 117 buildings, streets and squares, each representing a different part of the peninsula.
Poble Espanyol,Barcelona

3. L’aquarium de Barcelona

The number one center for Mediterranean marine research in the world with 450 species on display in 35 tanks and the chance to see Europe’s only oceanarium. L’ aquarium de Barcelona,  in action since 1995 follows many conservation programes and is dedicated to providing the most natural environments for its exhibits.
L’Aquàrium de Barcelona

2. FC Barcelona Museum

Constructed between 1954 and 1957 the Camp Nou originally gained planning permission in part because of  the signing of legendary Hungarian international László Kubala, enjoy an excellent museum and trophy tour or witness the electrifying atmosphere in Barcelona’s enchanting stadium at any number of first class fixtures.
Nou Camp - FC Barcelona

1. Sagarda Familia

Work began in 1882 with Francisco de Paula del Villar but many architects have graced the angular construction of this architectural masterpiece the most famous being Antoni Gaudi, work  is expected to be finished in 2028 but who will be in charge of the famous fairy tale structure at this point its anyone’s guess?

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A brief insight into the most visited attractions.

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