Formula 1: Barcelona welcomes the Spanish Grand Prix again

Get ready, fasten your seatbelts and focus: the Formula One is back on track. The new season is just about to start with its first race on the upcoming weekend, March 16th to be precise, in Australia and will travel the world as every year. Of course also in 2014 the racing machines will stop by in Spain to hold the annual Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona. bcn_formula1 From May 9th to 11th racing fans can enjoy the heat of high-technology super-cars waiting impatiently to take home the glory of victory. As it does since the early 1990s the Spanish Grand Prix takes place a little outside of Barcelona near a small town called Montmeló. In order to complete 66 rapid rounds the professional drivers will populate the famous Circuit de Catalunya – a race track known to provide pretty exciting racing. With its well balanced mix of fast, middle and slower bends the track may offer quiet comfortable basic conditions, but at the same time the 4655km long Circuit de Catalunya is said to constantly change during one race. As a result of permanent wind gusts there is always new sand on the track which can affect the road cover enormously. Also the changing wind strength and directions can cost a lot of trouble. Above that there are just a very few overtaking opportunities which make managing this special track a rather hard business for drivers. What makes driving so challenging for the sporty participants makes watching them for interested visitors extremely exciting at the same time which may be a reason why the Spanish Grand Prix is one of the most popular ones regarding an average audience of around 140.000 people. Although the main race won’t start until Sunday Formula 1 enthusiastics are welcome to watch the test driving and qualifying taking place on Friday and Saturday too since there are three-day-tickets offered. Interested? All different kinds of tickets can be easily bought online. So, for the time remaining expectations are very high to who will be the one leading the pole position in Barcelona. Will four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel continue his series of victory? It’s going to be interesting…
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Barcelona District Guide: Welcome to Gràcia

There are truly so many places in Barcelona that should be seen. Besides all the famous sights and spots like Las Ramblas or Placa Cataluny this lovely city has so much more to offer – and to discover! Therefore today we are headed to show you something slightly different to the usual tourist path: Gràcia. Gràcia is an area of Barcelona and one of the districts you shouldn’t miss during your stay - and not just because there is the Park Güell nearby . As a matter of fact Gràcia actually was an independent town until the late 19th century, which might be a reason for the very unique atmosphere around there. Being just two train stops away from Placa Catalunya,  Gràcia still is in the midst of activities but does nevertheless surprise people by its own magical charm that does not have too much in common with the busy and crowdy lifestyle right around the corner. gracia_streets Very special are the many beautiful, bohemian buildings in the streets that might not be as tall as those in the city centre, but in fact it’s precisely this that gives the district its special, cosy look. Besides its lovely architecture Gràcia does of course also strike out because of so many other great features. Everybody who loves relaxing inside a sweet, little café, sipping a tasty Café Latte will feel very well-placed in Gràcia. There are a tone of small owner-managed coffee shops and bars in which you can enjoy great food and drinks in a very familiar and down-to-earth atmosphere. In that case “Mama’s Café” can be especially recommended – a cute place with a lovely terrace where you can enjoy quality products in a comfortable ambience. Also those of you who might be tired of packed shopping centers hosting just common brands will be happily pleased by the shopping possibilities in Gràcia. shopping_gracia While doing some “slow shopping” people can walk from one tiny boutique to another discovering all different kinds of treasures. From handmade jewelry, over creative home interior to unique clothes from young designers – quality and uniqueness is definitely emphasized. As a hint: take a look at the urban pieces from “Suite”. Another fun fact is that Gràcia holds its own festival every year in august. During this 5-day festivity called “La Festa Major de Gràcia” people are competing in street decoration and turn the area into one colorful beauty. The results are often pretty creative and spectacular and definitely worth a visit. festa_major_gracia Well, whoever longs for his or her very own Barcelona district experience with a big portion of real “neighborhood-feeling” should consider Gràcia as the place-to-be.
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Yummy Barcelona – 5 foods you NEED to try

Let’s be honest: who doesn’t simply love food? Especially trying something new can be a tasty pleasure – as long as you are making the right choice. To help you find your way through the colorful world of all kinds of foodstuff, we summed up precisely five dishes you need to give a try during your stay in Barcelona to make your trip a complete satisfaction. A quick reminder: yes, Tapas are great - we all know that, so we decided just to skip on these. What you really need to try are Calçots. Never heard of that? Well, you might probably not be the only one not knowing how delicious this specialty can be. Calçots are basically just green onions grilled until they are pretty burned outside. Ordering them you will probably get around 10 – 12 served with salvitxada, a sauce made of almonds, tomatos, garlic, oil and spices you can dip your onions in. To be honest, this does not sound too fancy but indeed is pretty delicious! calçots_bcn It is no great secret that Spain is famous for its love of meat. Since Barcelona does not make a difference there, you won’t be able to ignore all the meaty temptations all over the Catalan capital. One of these is called Jamón Ibérico, a Spanish delicacy of great fame and basically omnipresent. Jamón Ibérico is smoked ham and exists in all different kinds of variations. You can not only buy it at the butcher or the supermarket of course, cut in very fine slices it is also a very popular thing to snack around Barcelona. Whether as a sandwich filling, a salad topping or pure and fried like French fries – people seem not to get enough of their ham. For a reason! jamon_iberico_bcn Less meaty but not less delicious are Patatas Bravas. This typical dish contains boiled potatoes which are cut in small wedges and then deeply fried in hot oil until they are perfectly crispy. You can get these tasty pieces almost everywhere solid food is sold such as cosy restaurants, bars or snack stands. Traditionally they are served with a spicy, tomato-based sauce, but you can also eat them with mayonnaise or just ketchup. Do yourself a favor and skip your French fries at least once to order some Patatas Bravas instead. patatas_bravas_bcn A truly healthy and vegetarian – even vegan - snack is Escalivada. This grilled Catalan salad can be perfectly eaten at a barbecue, as a side or also as a light snack for lunch. Escalivada traditionally is made of eggplants, bell peppers, tomatoes and onions which are grilled and mixed with a dressing out of oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Especially its smoky taste makes this salad so popular and a lovely alternative to a plain Cesar’s Salad. escalivada_bcn Our list would definitely not be complete without a dessert! For that reason we would like to introduce you to the Crema Catalana. This delicacy is a Catalan pudding made with milk, egg yolks, orange peel, vanilla and cinnamon. Often served in little cups topped with caramelized sugar it is very similar to the French Crème brûlée, but said to be even a littler creamier than its famous sister. If you are looking for something sweet and delicious to finish your menu with, the Crema Catalana should be your choice in any case! crema_catalana_bcn In this sense: Buen provecho :-)
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March in Barcelona

You are travelling to Barcelona in March but you don’t know what to do there? Whether there are events or concerts you should visit? We reveal some insider tips to you of what to do in Barcelona this March. Barcelona Sitges Rally 2014 - Vintage Car Rally: On the Second of March, the 56th Vintage Car Rally will be taking place. The real name of this rally is “El Rallye Internacional de Coches de Época Barcelona-Sitges 2014”. This event will start at Plaza Sant Jaume in Barcelona and end at Port d’Aiguadolç in Sidges, which is about 45 kilometers away. Only cars, which have been manufactured before 1928, are taking part in the rally and race together until Sidges – the oldest car taking part is from 1905, which means it is 109 years old. To make the rally even more special, the drivers and their companions dress up in period costumes to make it seem as if it was back in the 20th century. rally sitges The Rally attracts a lot of tourists - especially when it’s sunny - and thus is a lovely event you should visit. Find more information here. FC Barcelona vs. Manchester City: On the 12th of March, an important football match is being held in Camp Nou in Barcelona: FC Barcelona is playing Manchester City. If you are a football fan, you should definitely visit this match. Camp Nou is the largest stadium in Europe, seating almost 100,000 people. The atmosphere is unique as all the Barça fans are coming to support their club. Tickets can be bought here. fc barca Marathon Catalunya: As every year, the Marathon Catalunya will be hold in Barcelona. This year, it is taking place on Sunday, the 16th of March, starting at 8:30am. More than 17,000 runners are being expected to participate. The race is very flat, not passing many hills, which makes it easy to reach a good time. The marathon goes throughout the city, passing wonderful sights like the Camp Nou stadium, the La Pedrera and La Sagrada Familia, sights built by Antoni Gaudí. The entrance fee depends on the number of participants, it can be between 61,50 and 84 Euros. The race starts at the Magic Fountain at the Montjuïc hill where it also ends. marathon barcelona If you are interested in running a marathon, this is the perfect event for you. You’re not only running, but also seeing a lot of Barcelona, the capital city of Catalonia. Find more information on marathonrunnersdiary.com. Beyoncé: This month, a very special event will be taking place in Barcelona - Beyoncé will give a concert at Palau Sant Jordi. Beyoncé Knowles became famous in 1997 as the lead singer of Destiny’s Child.  In 2003, she started her career as solo artist with her debut album Dangerously in Love. Today, she is one of the most famous singers in the world. beyonce Find more information and tickets here. We wish you a pleasant stay in Barcelona; we hope you liked are insider tips :)
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Apps, which will make your trip to Barcelona perfect!

You are travelling to Barcelona, but you don’t know the city at all? Which are the most famous and most important sights, where can you find the best Spanish restaurants? Where can you get a good coffee or drink a beer? And what if you get lost in the city, how are you going to find your way back to the hotel? There are a lot of useful apps for Android and iOS which will bring solutions to all of these problems; we will introduce some to you! 1. Barcelona Metro Map: You arrive at your hotel in Barcelona but don’t know how to get to the city centre or to any other place? This app will show you which line of the metro you have to take and how long it will approximately take you until you reach your destination. It works offline – a good feature as you will probably not have internet on the way. Moreover, the app is for free. Attention: the app only serves for the metro in Barcelona! At the airport, there is no metro, so read up on how to get away from the airport before you arrive. metro bcn 2. Spanish English best dictionary: You are in Spain but you don’t speak any word of Spanish? This app may be very useful for you. It translates English to Spanish and the other way around, you can search for words and you can listen to each word being spoken out loud, both languages. Another app, Franklin ViDICTO (English-Spanish Visual Dictionary), works completely offline and offers you the words you need for accurate situations within different categories, e.g. “At the airport”, “In the hotel room” or “Dinner”. You can find pictures with the right term on it and thus easily communicate in Spanish. Both apps are for free. dictionary vidicto 3. Barcelona tripadvisor: The Barcelona tripadvisor app unites everything: it has a city map, knows the best restaurants and hotels and the most famous sights, it can tell you where to go shopping and where nightlife takes place. All of these features can be used offline, which makes the app the perfect match for your trip to Spain – you just need to download the city “Barcelona” having internet in order to make all the features work offline. It’s free of cost. trip advisor 4. City Walks Barcelona: This app tells you which sights you have to see, it offers you different tours, like for example the “Antoni Gaudí Tour”, the “Gothic Quarter” tour, the “Picasso Tour”, “La Barceloneta” tour and many more.  Choosing one tour, the app shows you the corresponding sights (“Antoni Gaudí Tour”: La Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlló, La Pedrera etc.) and clicking on the sight tells you the story about it: when has the Sagrada Familia been built, what is the architecture meant to symbolize? Moreover, it offers a listing of the best specialty shops (porcelain, mosaics, hats, leather etc.), a listing of the best shopping zones and of the best gift and souvenir shops. If you have internet on your phone in Barcelona, the app will localize you with its GPS and guide you to all the sights of the tour you chose – be it all the castles, the beautiful churches or the Raval district. Last but not least, you can also create your own tour. Choose the sights you want to see – the beach, la Sagrada Familia and the Boqueria Market for example – and City Walks Barcelona will guide you there. city walk bcn 5. Barcelona Bus Turístic: If you don’t want to walk much in Barcelona, there is a bus for tourists that brings you to all the sights you want to see. The correspondent app shows you the routes of the touristic bus lines which exist in Barcelona (the blue, the red and the green route) and tells you which line is going to which sights. Moreover, you can click on each sight the bus passes and the app shows you a picture and shortly explains the sight is. This app is for free and works offline. bus turistic With all these apps your trip to Barcelona will be much easier and more organized. We, as Habitat Apartments, wish you a pleasant stay in this wonderful city, enjoy your holidays! And by the way: we also have an app which we would like to offer to you! Next Stop City Guides provides a map of Barcelona and also knows the best places to go, be it sights, bars, restaurants or events! :) It also works offline and is for free, thus you can use it during your whole trip! next stop app
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El Poble Espanyol – Barcelona

The Poble Espanyol - translated: “The Spanish People” - is located down south in Barcelona, close to the famous hill Montjuïc with its Magic Fountain. It is a very quiet and peaceful village in Barcelona, which has been built in 1929 in order to represent Spain’s architecture and cultural diversity. Little streets with narrow houses, beautiful squares and detailed facades make the small village unique and authentic. poble espanyol The Poble Espanyol is probably one of the most famous and also one of the biggest attractions in Barcelona, thanks to its unique offers. In Poble Espanyol, one can see contemporary art as well as beautiful architecture and craftsmanship. Furthermore, it offers excellent cuisine which can be tried on the terraces of some very nice, typically Spanish restaurants. Concerning craftsmanship, it can be said that more than 30 artisans are based inside the village, showing their works. Visitors can also observe the making of these works. Glass, ceramics, jewellery, instruments and a lot more is being handmade in Poble Espanyol, which thus became a unique shopping centre in Barcelona. The Fran Daurel Museum exhibits almost 300 pieces of the most important Spanish painters, such as Picasso, Dalí, Miró, Tàpies and Barceló. Moreover, the Sculpture garden with its 41 sculptures matches very well the nature around it. Contemporary art thus doesn’t miss out either in Poble Espanyol. You are interested in visiting Poble Espanyol in Barcelona? Find prices and opening hours online. Have a great time in Barcelona!
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February in Barcelona

You are coming to Barcelona this month and don’t exactly know what to do? We will tell you what the most important events in February are! HJ Lim & Barcelona Symphony Orchestra: HJ Lim is a young, South Korean pianist. She moved to France when she was twelve years old in order to become a composer. There, she studied under Marc Hoppeler and later graduated from the Conservatoire National Région de Rouen with First Prize. Today, she is giving concerts all over the world - in Asia, South America and Europe. This month, she will give a concert with the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Pablo González, in the Auditori de Barcelona. A full Rachmaninoff program will be performed on the 7th, 8th and 9th of February, tickets are available from around 25€ on. Find tickets here. hj lim Valentine’s Day: On the 14th of February it’s Valentine’s Day in many countries all over the world which is the day of the beloved. If you are in Barcelona and want to surprise your beloved, there are very romantic spots the capital city of Catalonia provides. First of all, there is the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc. Every night, it offers a spectacular show with music and colorful lights which your partner won’t ever forget. magic fountain Secondly, the Art Blau, an open air bar and restaurant, is perfect for Valentine’s Day. You can overlook Barcelona and enjoy a beautiful sunset in a casual, intimate atmosphere. Last but not least, the Horta garden is made for this occasion. It’s one of the oldest historical gardens in Barcelona and also one of the most beautiful ones. There are pretty pavilions, waterfalls and canals which make a walk in the park very romantic. romantic horta The Mobile World Congress: The Mobile World Congress is the biggest mobile communications exhibition in Europe and will be hold at Fira Gran Via in Barcelona, Spain from the 24th until the 27th of February.  The Congress is set to kick off at 6 pm with a speech held by this year’s very special keynote speaker Mark Zuckerberg, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Facebook. Each year, more than 70,000 visitors are coming to Barcelona to attend the big mobile communications exhibition which provides about 1,700 exhibitors from over 200 countries. These exhibitors present their new products and services to the visitors, also aiming at widening their networks. The goal of the exhibition is to address key developments of the technological mobile industry as well as defining the new and future mobile communications horizon. Carnival: Carnival in Barcelona starts on the 27th of February. This day is called the Dirty Thursday and marks the beginning of the carnival period which lasts until Ash Wednesday, the 5th of March. These days, people disguise themselves as wizards, clowns or pirates and celebrate. Huge events and parades are taking place and bars are full. It’s a very colorful event, full of joy and fun. After carnival, the Lent begins and lasts until Easter during 46 days. Carnival in Barcelona is a unique experience which you shouldn’t miss when you are there this month! Especially for children it’s a lot of fun! bcn karneval carnaval bcn Enjoy this wonderful month in Barcelona, a very variegated city :)
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Great mobile exhibition in February this year!

This year, the biggest mobile communications exhibition in Europe will be on again: the Mobile World Congress, a global event. Since 1987, it takes place every year, intending to inform visitors about the latest developments in the field of mobile communications. In 2014, again, the exhibition will be hold at Fira Gran Via in Barcelona, Spain from the 24th until the 27th of February.  The Congress is set to kick off at 6 pm with a speech held by this year’s very special keynote speaker Mark Zuckerberg, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Facebook. Zuckerberg will talk about the importance of connecting the unconnected world to the internet, meaning to extend the ubiquitous internet access to it. MWC More than 70,000 visitors are coming to Barcelona each year to visit the big mobile communications exhibition. In order to widen their network and to present their new products and services to the visitors, about 1,700 exhibitors from over 200 countries are being attendant. Furthermore, a lot of CEOs are attending the fair, intending to show and explain the new technologies to the visitors. In general, the goal of the exhibition is to address key developments of the technological mobile industry as well as defining the new and future mobile communications horizon. But to make this big event possible, supporting companies are being necessary: The Mobile World Congress provides partners such as Nokia, Sony, Samsung, hp and MasterCard who sponsor this exhibition. Enjoy your stay at the Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona!
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Gaudí’s Casa Milà in restorations for the whole year

Casa Milà The Casa Milà - designed by Antoni Gaudí – has been built during the years 1906 and 1912 and is located in the district Eixample in Barcelona, close to the city centre. For already thirty years, it belongs to the world cultural heritage of the UNESCO. Now, the third period of restorations has begun, the Casa Milà needs to be restored again. Why does it need to be restored? The Casa Milà – also known as La Pedrera - is made of two different types of stone: the Garraf lime stone and the Vilafranca one. These materials degenerate and this is why La Pedrera needs to be restored every ten to twelve years. The restoration started on the 8th of January and will last throughout the whole year, producing costs around 750,000 Euros. The façades of La Pedrera will be hidden behind scaffolds and awnings, whereupon some of the awnings will be publicity ones suspended on the sight's front, aiming to partly finance the restoration. The restoration itself enfolds the cleaning of the stones as well as the reparation of the fractures and of the carcasses of the balconies. Because of the hidden façades, pictures cannot be taken anymore which might make a lot of tourists very sad. But stunning pictures of the Casa Milà can also be taken inside at the patio or - even better - up on the rooftop, where tourists can get an amazing view all over Barcelona. It is definitely still worth visiting it!
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The best places to go shopping in Barcelona

Barcelona is one of the fashion metropolises in Europe, it is a paradise for people who love to go shopping. There are stores for everyone, no matter how much money one wants to spend: cheap retails, chains like Zara, Stradivarius and H&M and designer stores such as Prada and Burberry. This article will highlight the three most important locations in Barcelona where fashionable clothes can be found. The most famous spot to go shopping in Barcelona is probably the Passeig de Gràcia, which is a long and gorgeous street, laced with stores like Desigual, Gucci and Michael Kors. Moreover, the well known sight Casa Milà (or: La Pedrera), designed by Antoni Gaudí, can be found in Passeig de Gràcia. The picture below shows this place. Passeig de Gracia But as these stores are very expensive, this is not the right spot to go shopping for everyone. The Portal de L’Angel is arranged in the city centre of Barcelona, la ciutat vella, and here, one can find all the less expensive shops that are being known around the world, like for example Zara, H&M, Mango and many more. Moreover, there are other Spanish shops like Blanca, Pull & Bear, Stradivarius, Bershka and Shana, which aren’t expensive either but still in vogue. Everyone gets what one’s heart desires! But besides these shops, the Portal de L’Angel offers a lot of in-cafés, restaurants and bars where one can easily relax after a long shopping day. Portal de L'Angel For the case that it might be raining, Barcelona offers a big shopping centre called L’Illa, which provides more than 170 shops. Besides H&M and Zara, there are little boutiques and designer stores selling beautiful, handmade clothes for old and young. L'Illa Last but not least, it’s important to know that twice a year – from January until February and from the mid of June until August - a big sales period starts where clothes can be bought with a discount up to 75%. Enjoy your days in Barcelona!
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