Barcelona: The architecture, the palm trees, the food, the wine, the ocean. What’s there not to love? In one city, you can capture so much of Spain’s culturally rich history and modern day charm.
Arriving in Barcelona and heading into town is very easy via taxi. However, since Barcelona is such a large city and you really could be staying in any location, it is difficult to estimate the cost. If you are staying closer to the ocean (and airport) expect at least 25 Euros (approximately $32). Further into the city, the cost will increase. However, once you arrive at your hotel, the public transportation is abundant and easy. There is an extensive metro system, along with above ground streetcars and buses. Purchase a multiple ride pass for the best deal for around 10 Euros. Yes, Spain is on the Euro.
There are three main convention centers in Barcelona. The CCIB, which is located in the Fórum Diagonal Mar area; the Fira de Barcelona Montjuïc on Pl. Espanya; and Fira de Barcelona Gran Via in a newer development of town just down the road from Montjuïc. The CCIB is much smaller than the other two, but you’ll often find smaller shows there. Many shows that were located in Montjuïc are moving to the newer Gran Via location due to easier access for trucks, a larger fairground space along with more parking spots for those who decide to drive to the show.
Montjuïc, while located in a very populated area of Barcelona with easy access to many restaurants and shopping, is also a much older facility and not as safe as Gran Via. As with many areas in Barcelona, if you are attending or exhibiting at a show at Montjuïc, please be on the lookout for the pickpockets. They are abundant and very talented. Never carry all of your credit cards, cash and identification in one wallet. Make sure to leave most of it in the safe at the hotel and only carry the necessities. I ignored my own advice and learned the hard way. In case something does happen, there is a police station directly across the street from the fair entrance where you can file a report. I’m sure you’ll find a lot of people in line when you arrive.
Working in Barcelona can be a bit difficult. While the building materials and processes are very similar to the rest of Europe, they do like their siestas in Spain. If you hire a Spanish agency to build your stand, be sure to inquire about their work schedules for the day. Plan around electricians and other hall workers possibly disappearing for a couple hours in the afternoon. For larger shows, they may have shifts in place to help fill the time void during the siesta.
Now, a bigger question: How do you choose where to take your clients, prospects or team to dinner in a town with so many amazing choices? As with most cities, sometimes the smaller, hole-in-the-wall-type places are the best. My personal favorite is Raco de la Vila. Google it. It’s amazing! I’ve never been disappointed nor have any of my guests. They speak multiple different languages and have divine food and excellent service. As with the rest of Barcelona, dinner begins much later, with some places not even opening until 8 p.m., but that doesn’t mean you can’t get in here earlier if needed. Make a reservation if you are going during standard dinner hours.
Finally, if you have any down time, there are a few great tourist things to do. Shop, drink and party down La Rambla, check out Olympic Village, and the easiest and most comprehensive tour of Barcelona can be accomplished with the bus tour. There are multiple areas to buy tickets for the bus tour, and you can hop on and off as you please, so there is no hurry if you want a few extra minutes at one stop. If it’s a nice day and you’d just like to take a stroll, head down to Barceloneta and enjoy a gorgeous view of the water. The aquarium and multiple restaurants are also right there if you need a break from the sun.
As a final reminder, please be safe. Pickpockets are no joke in Barcelona, so you need to be aware of your surroundings at all times. Now enjoy Spain.