Friday, January 27, 2006

all over

18 wins on the bounce for Barca (and 25 games undefeated) came to a crashing end last night when they lost 4-2 in the first leg of the King's Cup to Zaragoza. They had rested several players, others were injured and Eto'o is winning the Africa Nations cup single handed for Cameroon. But it all sounded pretty grim.

Stil lit had to happen and better now than against Chelsea. A 2-0 win in the home leg next week would see them play Real Madrid in the semis...

3GSM cometh

3GSM is the biggest mobile phone expo in the world. it is coming here in February and during the week you cant get a hotel room for under $500 (unless you are prepared to stay 40 miles away).

Business wise it is the biggest thing to hit Barcelona for years and a huge coup for the city and its event-hosting ability. Tens of thousands of delegates and exhibitors will be here Mon-Thurs and a large percentage will haul their spouses out for the subsequent weekend.

They will fall in love with the city (as long as the weather improves) and tell their friends and/or come back again. I know this because Sarah and I first spent time here after a much smaller trade fair and did thus, going on to buy a flat here then move here for this year.

3GSM moves here from Cannes, the self-styled convention centre of the world which has justly got its come-uppance. Friends who attend the TV/film conferences there have nothing good to say about the hospitality of the French or indeed the long drive in from Nice airport. Delegates here will have some fun.

I have registered for 3GSM as a journalist which means a blizzard of calls from sweet yet terribly ernest PR interns from the US who go through whole lists of journalists going 'Hello I'm Mary Lou Thrackenhack from Mousehole PR and I wanted to set up a briefing with George X. Hackenabush, the CTO of eergizmo inc. which employs the latest bluetooth technology to facilitate one-to-many communities empowering people using mobile interaction...'

Meanwhile Yahoo just announced the launch of a big research centre here. This city is carving out a tech future...

It's bloody freezing here today

really it is. it is even snowing on tibidabo which stands at 500m over the city. it is a real cold, wet, raw, London type of cold unlike the gloriously sunny dry kind of cold we have been used to over the winter.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Bex is 13 on Sunday...

... which is even more astonishing than me being 50 next year. As she is going on a school ski trip that day, her birthday treat was last weekend - a trip to Rome to do the Audrey Hepburn thing, which she did in great style (of course).

You can see the photo show by going here and clicking on slide show

I'll be 50 next year...

doesnt that sound terrible?

Sunday, January 15, 2006

17 and counting

A slightly laboured win at home over Athletic Bilbao (and a sending off for the brainless Deco) makes it 17 wins on the run - a 7 point lead in la liga at the half way stage.

Ben and I didnt fancy getting soaked for a second week on the run so we saved our Euros and watched the game from our English local pub, Dirty Dick's Tavern. Like the best English pubs abroad, this one had not an English soul in (apart from us) but was packed with Barca fans who have developed a taste for Guinness or cold Bass at some stage in their lives. The darts club noticeboard had around 17 names on it, just one of them Anglo-Saxon sounding.

carry on smoking

the only downside to this was that we came back reeking of fags. the new anti-smoking law gives bars and restaurants smaller than 100 sq metres the choice of allowing or banning smoking and DD has opeted to allow it.

Indeed, I have yet to set foot inside one establishment that has banned it and the guestimate doing the rounds is that only 15% have done so.

Boadas, our favourite cocktail bar where we went last night, still allows the evil weed. But it is well ventilated and was relatively quiet last night and my first mojito tasted rather as good as ever while the second was even better...

Forces of reaction

The national government, normally pretty wobbly, has been ultra decisive about coming down on the Spanish General José Mena Aguado who implied that the army would be used to safeguard the sovereignty of Spain in the case of an excessive or unconstitutional Catalan Statute.

First he was placed under house arrest and then demoted. The opposition has tried to whip things up on the back of it but there appears to be little appetite for a rerun of little soliders in tri-cornered hats going bang-bang in the parliament as happened in 1981. Spain was just emerging from 40 years of solitude back then and sheep were still driven around the gates of Barcelona. Today the good life here is too good to go back to that.

Monday, January 09, 2006

snow pix

some pictures from our wonderful new year in the pyrenees. click here

Sunday, January 08, 2006

The strangest derby game I've ever seen...

We went to see Barca play local rivals Espanyol last night at the cavernous Olympic stadium. Much hype in the papers, managers talking up the game etc.

Now derby games when I grew up in manchester were big things - huge crowds, great atmosphere, big tension and usually crap games.

last night we turn up to find the beautiful old stadium around half full - 28,000 according to the paper or around 7,000 more than Espanyol's normal meagre attendance. There was no crowd segretaion but a big chunk of vociferous barca fans - 600, or 700 perhaps- packed themselves into one high section behind a goal. People by and large just don't go to away games here, no matter how close

There was a bit of tension from a few boozed up Espanyol fans who can be an earthy blue-collar bunch but even if they wanted to dish out a kicking or two, they would have had a hard job finding anyone.

It got ever more bizarre. The game kicked off at 10pm and after 20 minutes it poured and poured for the rest of the match - real deluge, stair rods, monsoon type of stuff.

it was, understandably, not a great game - scrappy (49 fouls in all - now that is like a manchester derby). Barca won 2-1, their 15th win on the trot. Deco scored first when kameni, espanyol's wonderful goalie, let the wet ball squirm through his hands, and Eto'o the other.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Good things so far this year

  1. Film: rewatching Good Will Hunting with Matt Damon and Robin Williams. Williams won an oscar for his role as the troubled shrink to Damon's wastrel genius. A truly wonderful, empathetic film. Williams was put on earth to play certain films (this, Dead Poets, Good Morning Vietnam, Mrs Doubtfire). The rest of his output has been mostly dire.
  2. Music: Jack Johnson. A christmas present for Rebecca. great album - reminds me of Steve Miller. A true original.
  3. Seeing my niece again - she visited from London for a couple of friends and it was wonderful to see her again. She is 23 and it seems about 7 mins since she was born. None had spent much time here before and spent most of their two days whizzing around the sights. we had a lovely dinner at Senyor Parrelada, one of our favourite places here of which I have blogged before. A beautiful setting and wonderful Catalan food and rock-bottom prices.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

no smoking

honest they have a new no smoking law in spain - and a tough one at that (full details here) - which is astonishing in a country where fags cost around five bob a packet and smoking is practically a national sport. but it's here and working well apparently.

having barely smoked three fags since i got there i was caught on new year's night when i lit up a celebratory cigar in a restaurant in llivia and was told i would have to go to the bar.

Happy new year

I hope yours was as good as ours. we went skiing in the Pyrenees and stayed at a beautiful house in llivia, the spanish enclave just inside France, thanks to the huge generosity of our friends pepe and nene.

it was utterly blissful. gentle downhill cruising on the snowy slopes at font romeu, sunny blue skies, extreme cold, open fires and when the snow fell again, snowmen and snowball fights. we toasted marshmallows and watched endless episodes of desperate housewives on the DVD. and all this just two hours from our doorstep...i cant remember a nicer new year anywhere. back today to the warmth of barcelona and work.