Barcelona Photoblog

June 15, 2023

Why Barcelona is Worth Visiting Against All Odds


According to Condé Nast Johansens, Barcelona is loved for its architecture, historic medieval center, lively nightlife, delicious food, and relaxed beach living. The city comes alive at night as restaurant terraces fill the streets and music pumps out of the many bars. Barcelona is also famous for its outstanding football team, sandy beaches, and world-class cuisine. The city has a vibrant cultural heritage and colorful neighborhood festivals that attract visitors from around the world.

Wow, that is quite a lot of compliment! But does Barcelona fail to meet those expectations? I would say that the exact stats are unnecessary and what counts is the general consensus.

Since there is a full range of sectors in which we must excel isn't it somehow 'logical' that we get bad grades in some subjects? Really? Of course not! For example, we may have a lively nightlife or many wonderful hallmarks but someone might steal your watch, your wallet or your cellphone in the blink of an eye, and what's worse, you might have to undergo a third degree interrogation and suffer all the useless police paperwork later on. This point does not meet expectations at all. It is hard to start the post with such negative remarks but it is not enough with tourists opening their eyes and looking after their belongings as they are told incessantly over the subway loudspeakers. It is never enough and local authorities must fix this. There are laws to enforce and measures to adopt to stop that! Some things are acceptable but insecurity is not one of them.

As you know, the general consensus about Barcelona is more than favorable and proof of that is the increase in the amount of visitors and the big money filling in the public treasury, plus the private pockets! So everybody should be happy. But then it happens that there is a local consensus when it comes to finding responsibles for the bad management and the bad grades: "the townhall mayor is to blame" I will not say names but read my lips. The point is that changes are coming after the recent municipal elections and Barcelona citizens want solutions not only for insecurity but for the well-being of every individual be it local or foreign, living in the city or just passing by and admiring whatever good we have to offer which is a lot.

Once said that, let's pull the curtain and restart the story with a positive attitude...

Yes, of course, Barcelona is always more than you expect and the more you visit the more you will love it. And even though Barcelona Photoblog does not need to convince you on such matters we can show some photographs and many good reasons to discover us. Visiting another country always has its pros and cons. Let's check why Condé Nast travel specialists must have said such beautiful words:

Why Barcelona is a Great Travel Destination

Here are just a few of the reasons:

  • Art and architecture: Barcelona is home to some of the most iconic works of art and architecture in the world, including the Sagrada Familia.
  • Food: Barcelona is a foodie paradise, with a wide variety of restaurants serving everything from traditional Catalan cuisine to international fare. Be sure to try some of the city's famous tapas, which are small, savory dishes that are perfect for sharing.
  • Beaches: Barcelona is located on the Mediterranean Sea, and its beaches are some of the most popular in Europe. In the summer, the beaches are packed with people sunbathing, swimming, and playing beach volleyball.
  • Culture: Barcelona is a vibrant city with a rich culture. There are always plenty of things to see and do, from attending a flamenco show to exploring the city's many museums and art galleries.

Things to Do in Barcelona

If you're planning a trip to Barcelona, here are a few of the things you should definitely add to your itinerary:

  • Visit the Sagrada Familia: This unfinished cathedral is one of Antoni Gaudí's most famous works. It's a must-see for any architecture lover.
  • Explore the Gothic Quarter: This medieval neighborhood is full of narrow streets, Gothic architecture, and charming shops and cafes.
  • Relax on the beach: In the summer, the beaches in Barcelona are a great place to relax and soak up the sun.
  • Visit the Picasso Museum: This museum houses a large collection of Picasso's work. It's a great place to learn about the artist's life and work.
  • Take a walk along the Ramblas: This famous pedestrian street is lined with shops, cafes, and street performers. It's a great place to people-watch and soak up the atmosphere of Barcelona.
  • Attend a flamenco show: Flamenco is a traditional Spanish dance that is performed to the accompaniment of guitar and song. It's a great way to experience Spanish culture.
  • Take a day trip to Montserrat: This mountain range is located about an hour outside of Barcelona. It's a popular destination for hiking, biking, and sightseeing.
These are just a few of the many things you can do in Barcelona. With its stunning architecture, delicious food, vibrant nightlife, and rich culture, Barcelona is a city that has something for everyone.

May 13, 2023

Unruled Mass Tourism or an Oasis in the Gothic Quarter?

Tourists in Sant Felip Neri square at Gothic quarter, Barcelona

Barcelona is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and for good reason. With its stunning architecture, vibrant culture, and delicious food, it's no wonder that people from all over the globe flock to this city every year.

However, mass tourism has its downsides. One of the biggest problems is that it can be overwhelming. The streets of Barcelona can be packed with people, making it difficult to move around or even find a place to sit down. This can be especially frustrating for those who are looking for a more peaceful and relaxing experience.

If you're looking for a way to escape the hustle and bustle of mass tourism, the Gothic Quarter is the perfect place for you. This historic district is located in the heart of Barcelona, and it's home to narrow streets, winding alleyways, and charming squares. It's the perfect place to wander aimlessly and get lost in the beauty of the city. Or was it?

Of course, the Gothic Quarter is not immune to mass tourism. However, it's much less crowded than other parts of Barcelona, and it's easy to find quiet spots to relax and enjoy the atmosphere. If you're looking for a more authentic Barcelona experience, the Gothic Quarter is the place to be. Unless you come across scenes like the one above which can happen every now and then when cruise ships unleash heavy loads of adventurous ‘predators’ on a hunting spree around the already strained city.

Nonetheless, let us look on the bright side of life! Here are some tips for enjoying the Gothic Quarter without the crowds:

  • Visit during the off-season. The Gothic Quarter is most crowded during the summer months, so if you can, try to visit during the spring or fall.
  • Get up early. The Gothic Quarter is much quieter in the morning before the crowds arrive.
  • Explore the side streets. The main streets of the Gothic Quarter are always crowded, but if you venture off the beaten path, you'll find much quieter areas.
  • Visit during the week. The Gothic Quarter is busier on weekends, so if you can, try to visit during the week.
  • Take a break from the crowds. If you're feeling overwhelmed by the crowds, take a break from the Gothic Quarter and explore other parts of Barcelona.

The Gothic Quarter is a beautiful and historic district that's well worth a visit. By following these tips, you can enjoy the Gothic Quarter without the crowds and experience the best of Barcelona.

However, no one said that escaping the stark reality by sticking one’s head in Barri Gotic like an ostrich in the sand is the final solution to our problems with tourism. Pretending not to see that Barcelona is losing its balance by suggesting visitors to spot an empty oasis is to do a favor to the apathy and incompetence of our local authorities.

If we want to enjoy the beauty of Barcelona streets doing justice to the peaceful atmosphere that its inhabitants had in mind when they built it then we should see that there are strict rules and laws to punish the bad actors so we can be good hosts to our visitors as we always have been.

The entrance to Sant Felip Neri square, Gothic quarter, Barcelona

May 05, 2023

How Artificial Intelligence is Transforming Barcelona

AI in Barcelona: The Future

Barcelona is a city that embraces innovation and creativity, and artificial intelligence (AI) is no exception. In recent years, Barcelona has become a hub for AI research and development, attracting talent, investment and projects from all over the world.

One of the reasons why Barcelona is such a hotbed for AI is because of its strong academic and research institutions. The city is home to two of the top universities in Spain: the Universitat de Barcelona and the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya. These universities have strong programs in computer science, mathematics, and engineering, which are all essential for AI research.

In addition to its academic institutions, Barcelona is also home to a number of AI startups. These startups are developing a variety of AI-powered products and services, including healthcare applications, financial services applications, and marketing applications.

Barcelona is also a popular destination for AI talent from around the world. The city is known for its relaxed lifestyle, its Mediterranean climate, and its vibrant culture. These factors make Barcelona an attractive place to live and work for AI professionals.

In this blog post, I will explore some of the ways in which AI is transforming Barcelona, from improving public services and urban mobility, to fostering ethical and inclusive use of data and algorithms.

AI for public services and urban mobility

One of the main goals of Barcelona's digital strategy is to use AI to improve public services and urban mobility, making the city more efficient, sustainable and responsive to citizens' needs. For example, Barcelona is using AI to optimize waste management, traffic control, public transport, energy consumption and air quality. Some of the projects that illustrate this are:

- Nennisiwok Artificial Intelligence Lab, a company that develops AI solutions for smart cities, such as a system that uses computer vision and deep learning to detect and classify waste in real time, helping to reduce littering and increase recycling rates.

- Microsoft's R&D hub in Spain, focused on applying AI models to improve user experience on the web. The hub is located in Barcelona and is part of Microsoft's WebXT division, which contributes to the development of multiple products, including Windows, Azure and Bing.

- LOGISTAR, a European project that uses AI to optimize the European supply chain, reducing costs, emissions and congestion. The project involves several partners from Spain, including the Artificial Intelligence Research Institute (IIIA-CSIC), which is based in Barcelona and conducts basic research in AI.

AI for ethics and inclusion

Another key aspect of Barcelona's digital strategy is to promote the ethical and inclusive use of AI, ensuring that data and algorithms respect citizens' digital rights and do not discriminate or harm anyone. To achieve this, Barcelona has developed several initiatives, such as:

- The Municipal strategy on algorithms and data to ethically drive artificial intelligence, a government measure that lays down the mechanisms for applying AI to municipal management and services while respecting citizens' digital rights. The measure includes principles such as transparency, accountability, privacy, security, diversity and non-discrimination.

- The Decidim platform, an open source software that enables participatory democracy and collective intelligence. The platform uses AI to analyze and cluster citizens' proposals, comments and votes, facilitating deliberation and decision making.

- The WeNet project, a European project that aims to create a platform for social networking based on diversity-aware AI. The project involves several partners from Spain, including IIIA-CSIC, which leads the research on diversity-aware machine learning.

AI for creativity and culture

Finally, Barcelona is also using AI to foster creativity and culture, enhancing the city's artistic and cultural heritage with innovative technologies. Some of the examples of this are:

- Play & Sing, a project that uses AI to help people with brain injuries recover their musical abilities. The project is led by IIIA-CSIC in collaboration with Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau.

- Gutenberg y ChatGPT, a project that uses AI to generate interactive stories based on classic literature. The project is developed by IIIA-CSIC in collaboration with Universitat Pompeu Fabra.

- Numerales, a project that uses AI to create numerical art based on mathematical concepts. The project is developed by IIIA-CSIC in collaboration with Escola Massana.

Artificial Intelligence is transforming Barcelona in many ways, making it a smarter, more sustainable, more democratic and more creative city. Barcelona is committed to being at the forefront of AI innovation, while ensuring that it serves the common good and respects human dignity.

As AI continues to grow, Barcelona is well-positioned to become a global leader in the field. The city has all of the ingredients necessary for success: strong academic institutions, a vibrant startup scene, and a talented workforce.

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