Barcelona is said to be the Mediterranean’s most beautiful city. It is a city of constant change and has been very popular with the tourists and the locals, long before Woody Allen’s comedy "Vicky Christina Barcelona" was ever made. Europe itself is more civilized, but it is also more erotic than the USA - at least this is what Allen said in an interview. Barcelona is not quite as civilized as other European cities, but it is more erotic due to its style, its charm and its wittiness. Visitors usually feel at home at once in this city which has an almost palpable air of warmth and energy. The atmosphere invites everyone to go for walks, to rest, to dream and to explore.
Modern times and tradition unite in this very special city, as do typical Mediterranean values and multicultural aspects, business and nightlife, culture and commerce, new and old architecture. Close to the old towers of Antoni Gauí’s Sagrada Familia, new towers are currently being built, such as the Torre AGBAR, also known as the cucumber of Jean Nouvel. The old art nouveau style buildings of the Palau de la Musica Catalana (Domènesch i Montaner, 1905 - 1908), the Ensemble of the Hospital del Mar (Brullet, 1889 to 1892) and the famously reconstructed Pavilion of Barcelona (Mies van der Rohe, 1929) have been joined by the modern Biblioteca Jaume Fuster (Carmona, 2005), the Mercado Santa Catarina (Miralled and Tagliabue, 2005) and the Edificio Fórum, also known as the blue triangle (Herzog and Meuron) throughout this century.
Fans of soccer are in high spirits whenever there is a chance to watch the FC Barcelona play. Small surprise, considering that the Barça has never had to leave the soccer premiership, which is called the Primera División in Spain. Whenever Barça are playing, there is not much of a point planning other big events, as nobody is going to be willing to miss the game.
Barcelona is also a city of students, a fact that is becoming especially obvious whenever there is something to protest against. Just recently, Barcelona’s students were decidedly against a new educational reform which aims to change Spanish university degrees completely, thus making them more alike to other degrees in the European Union. Thus was the rage of the students that they got involved in fights with the police.
For tourists, Barcelona is best discovered by feet, as this is one unique opportunity to delve into the scents and the colourful bustle of the market halls, to take a break in a small coffee shop, to walk along the winding alleys of the Barri Gótic and to go shopping, or at least window shopping, in the stores of the Raval. At lunchtime, there are plenty of wonderful places to sit down with a glass of fine white wine, preferably near the harbour, in order to watch the yachts bob up and down and breathe the salty air of the sea.
As evening approaches, we highly recommend visiting one of the many bars near the beach at the Port Olympic. There, locals and guests alike meet on mild summer evenings, and there are usually bands and live music. Those looking for something a little bit more sophisticated are going to like the Hotel Arts, Spain’s highest building. Sergi Arola, a gifted chef from Madrid, is now in charge of the Neo-Tapas restaurant Arola. Born in Roses, he helped running the well known El Buli for some time. The Arola restaurant offers Catalan tapas and a laid-back atmosphere created by professional DJs. Barcelona is intoxicating in the best meaning of the word.
Many inhabitants of Barcelona escape the busy city life during summer and holidays to spend them on the country side. For this reason, most of the residents with higher income own besides their city apartment a holiday home at the Costa Brava. Due to the economic crisis, real estate prices fell significantly during the recent years and made purchasing a property with one of the estate agents on the spot a profitable business.