Thursday, 24 January 2013

The Night Clubber’s Guide To Barcelona.





It’s no secret that Barcelona’s parties 24 hours a day 7 days a week. 
Restaurants open late and serve into the night, bars open later still and a nightclub will not get going until at least 2am and the party rolls into the early hours of the morning
The culture, color and vibrancy of the city are the key factors and reflect themselves into the night.
The Barcelona scene is probably the most vibrant and chic in the world, with Ibiza just across the sea, you can almost see the reflection in the water.


Planning a night out can be easy; whatever you are looking for is out there. Bars and nightclubs will often have flyers available offering free entrance before 2am or two for one drink deals, the main city thoroughfare’s also often have people handing out flyers and directing clubbers to the best places around town.

Different areas of the city offer different experiences to the clubber, the central gothic district, El Raval and El Borne offer a labyrinth of small bars and clubs. The most notable being Fellini on La Rambla de Santa Monica 27


One of Barcelona´s well known clubs, it attracts locals and tourists alike. It´s resident DJ Mario Masqueda is a well-known name around the city and with two rooms; The mirror room with house, funk and acid-Jazz and The bad room with electro and techno.

The club opens from midnight to 5am during the summer months every day except Sundays and Thursday to Saturday during the winter.
Down in the nightlife epi-center of Barcelona’s port Olympic, we find one of the city’s biggest and popular clubs, Catwalk.



The club regularly features such artists as Martin Solveig and other European DJs of significant worth, with 15,000 square meters Catwalk is one of the city´s biggest clubs.
With two floors, The sky room play´s urban style, rap, hip-hop and R & B and the main room is purely dedicated to house.

Catwalk frequently holds nights including Sunday nights, “Carnival Every Sounday” and “The Wonderful world of house” music on Saturdays.

 Open every day during the summer months from midnight to six o’clock in the morning, entry is 15 euros with consumption included, in discotecasgratis.com you can search Catwalk and add you on to the guest list saving time on the long queues and let fellow clubbers look on in awe as you find yourself jumping the queue in style.


Located next to Barcelona´s Port Olympic, the club is well situated in the heart of the city´s seaside night scene.

During the summer months there is a boat party which supplies unlimited alcohol to party goers for 40 euros from the port twice a week from 6pm, the boat is a popular hedonistic activity with the stag and hen partys and space is limited, to find out more and secure your place you just need to email, info@barcelona-life.com
The port’s only actual docked boat bar is Luz De Gas (Gaslight), moored in Poll Vel l opposite the Palau de Mar, open April to October 1pm to 3am (Metro, Barceloneta L4 - telephone 93 4842326) is a smart cocktail lounge with views over the port, during the evening the boat is lit by candlelight, for a truly memorable romantic evening and a good place to grab a cocktails before hitting the dance floor.

Luz de Gas also has its own theater, concert and club fusion in the same building (C/Muntaner 246) which is a very popular party haunt, in the form of a grand theatre, the club has been a part of the Barcelona night scene since 1995, the club also regularly holds jazz and funk concerts, check the webpage for upcoming shows and party nights http://www.luzdegas.com/


During the summer months, the city´s stretch of beaches come alive during the hot late nights with “chringuitos” (beach bars) which open into the late hours, providing trip hop and smooth house beats  by resident Djs and cocktails, the most notable being the Mojitos which seem to be the semi -unofficial drink of the beach clubber.


The most noteworthy chringuitos are Inercia and Dockers (Metro Cuitadella Vila Olimpica) which also do select tapas for those late night diners and hungry party goers, the bars are open from about 10am to 1am when the beach is officially cleaned and the bars close for the night and the scene moves into main clubs.
For those night clubbers wishing to feel the real alterative vibe of Barcelona would do well to try out Razzmatazz (calle Almogávares 122 Metro Bogatell L4), probably the best known and most renowned nightclub in the city, famous for its concerts every group from Portishead to The Stone Roses have played Razzmatazz. Make you sure you check their website for upcoming concerts and events.  http://www.salarazzmatazz.com/

The concert venue shift itself into club mode from 1am to 6am and becomes a giant epicenter of electronic music, divided into 5 separate rooms each with their own residents DJs.
The main room; The Razzmatazz club opens its doors once the evening concerts have finished, playing electronica-indie rock and mainstream.


 The Loft dedicates itself to techno electro, Lo.Ii.ta, a room which brings in the “alternative” crowd of Barcelona, with heavy experimental electronic music and vibrant techno house. 
The pop Bar is a small bar decked out in New York style loft furnishings, which plays  Britpop, indie rock, the bar is a cool escape from the more potent and crowded areas of the Razzmatazz.
Finally The Rex room is another area which dedicates it’s self to old school electronica however mainly from the 80s and 90s, decorated in a pink 80s style, with such well known residents Djs as Stainboy, the room also provided a more relaxed ambience away from the sweaty mass of the other main rooms.

The Apolo on (Nou De La Rambla 113 Metro Parale-l) Opens from midnight to 6am, is a corner stone of Barcelona nightlife, where young hipsters from the nearby district of The Raval congregate until the small hours of the morning, to drink and party old school Barcelona style.


 Apolo is a theater style arrangement, which high ceilings and a mezzanine baloney bar, the club plays in-style electronica music, emulating the sounds from some of the most hip clubs in Europe.  
The club regularly organizes nights, including taboo a burlesque themed night , in fact Apolo is open every night  with themed events, check out the website to see which night to best for you. http://www.sala-apolo.com/home.asp?cat=30&sala=1

The summer months bring in the thumping beat of Barcelona’s outdoor club, for open air lover is - La Terraza which describes itself as an “atmospherical fun club”, located in beautiful Poble Español (Spanish Village, Avenida de Francesc Ferrer i Guardia, 13 - 27 – Metro Plaça Espanya),  this is one of Barcelona leading outdoor clubs, perfect for the summer months, with resident Djs who regularly home their skills on the Ibiza Circuit. La Terraza is easily one of the most interesting and most revered clubs in Barcelona, open from May to September, you will need to check the website to entry deals and upcoming nights (http://www.laterrrazza.com/), the club even hosts the ministry of sound world tour, a must for every hardcore night clubber.

Taking the theme of open air to another level are two nightclubs located just below Barcelona’s famous and highest mountain, Tibidabo, Is Mirabe and Mirablau (Metro- Fenicular Tibidabo) are two bars sat on the crest of the Mountain overlooking Barcelona, both bar and nightclubs on their own right, they have the best and most sort out views over the city, open from 7pm to 3am with resident DJs playing commercial house and mainstream, the music may not be the clubbers choice but the views certainly are, a good place to drink a cocktail and relax.


With a mix of culture of fascination is Elephant club, located in the affluent area of Pedrables, (
Passeig dels Til·lers 1 Metro- Maria Cristina)
Located in a reformed palace, which has been a part of the Barcelona night scene since 1984, the inspiring décor and ambience is unparalleled in the city.  Elephant complete refurbishment and reopening is a recent addition to the nightlife of Barcelona, with several rooms and gardens to relax in the nightclub is a testament to Asian culture with Hindu, Thai and Balinese architecture all in the same setting, with two different dance rooms and a chill out garden, the club is aimed at the 30+ plus crowd, a mix of well to do Barcelona urbanites and out of towers who flock to the club to feel the vibe and drink a cocktail or three.








Tuesday, 15 January 2013

The Secret Guide to Barcelona



There is something about this city which brings out the intrepid adventurer in me.

Maybe it’s the long narrow passages that seem to disappear around stone dark corners that arouses the explorer in me to want to push further into the unknown.

I have always felt this urge to walk and  discover this city on foot, pushing further into the uncharted; discovering what is behind the next corner; what square or small oasis of urban  life would suddenly reveal itself in all its glory; forgotten, left to age in peace and quiet without the roar of consumer tourism to trample its delicate offerings.

One day while browsing a book stall at my local market I discovered something which would change my exploration of Barcelona forever; A book entitled “The Secret Guide to Barcelona” by Jose Maria Carandell.



This celebrated Spanish travel writer and journalist’s articles and books have pushed boundaries constantly seeking out the hidden truth in everything, taking a peek through the keyhole to see what lies on the other side.

During his years travelling he wrote several books including “Japan; A Journey through its life and its beauty”.

Carandell took 400 walks across Barcelona to write “The Secret guide to Barcelona” in his bid to seek out the hidden Barcelona. Published in 1982, every square, bar and corner of the city was visited in order to seek out the undiscovered, the unconventional and overlooked.

Barcelona has changed a lot since 1982. The Olympics had a large financial impact on tourism and opened the city up as a major tourist destination. Many of Carandell´s secrets have now been long discovered and form a part of the many wonders that is Barcelona.

However secrets do still exist and if Carandell was alive today, here are some of the sites he would surely visit.

Hundreds of squares make up the 10 districts of Barcelona. Some of these squares hide an interesting history.

Settled in a small quite square in the gothic district lies; Placa Sant Felip Neri. It is an oasis of quiet in this busy district and is now home to the suave boutique Hotel Neri. Unique in its own architecture the square is medieval baroque style. The  square is secretly located down a small labyrinth of alleys close to Barcelona cathedral. The square was once home to the palace Neri built In 1752. The church was visited daily by Antoni Gaudi to seek peace and quiet. The square contains an octagonal fountain dedicated as a symbol of life although this quiet square has had a dark past. It was bombarded in 1938 by Franco laying siege to the city and the walls of the square are pockmarked by bullet holes where unfortunates were executed by Franco´s firing squads once the fascist forces had taken control of the city.



Today the square still remains the same, a quiet symbol of Barcelona´s dark past and a oasis of secret tranquillity in a  bustling tourist area so secret that only urban explorers and lost souls will surely stumble upon it.

The old fisherman´s district of Barri de Taulet  known as “the district that looks towards the sea”, is made up of Mediterranean architecture differing greatly from the gothic and modernist contrasts of other districts in the city. Here lies the Plaça Prim known as the old fishermans square  where all catches were brought in before being distributed around the city. The square is known for its restaurant “El Pescadors” due to its classic style approach to cooking fresh fish. The area seems to have been frozen in history still going about the same business as it did at the turn of the 20th century.


Wedged neatly in between the vast Avenida de Diagonal and the grand district of Example lays the humble district of Gracia.

Gracia was established in 1626. In 1897 when the district of Example was constructed during the modernist boom it was annexed and became a part of the city of Barcelona.

This area is to Barcelona what Montmartre is to Paris. The area is the social hub for artists and musicians. There is a great cultural contrast between the bohemian elements and the indigenous population still living their day to day lives as if the district was still a village in its own right.

Today Gracia is essentially the bohemian area of Barcelona its many squares interconnect through a labyrinth of small callejuelas that play home to some of Barcelona’s most interesting markets and bars.

The district, every year during the August holidays holds a carnival, La Festa De Gracia, where each street is decorated in a fierce competition for such converted prizes as “Best Lighting” and “Best artistic design”. Every street has a committee working all year round in preparation for La Festa.

Gracia also is home to Barcelona’s art house cinemas where films are shown in their original language. The narrow streets are host to row upon row of Bars and restaurants, each more unconventional than the last and the infamous Placa del Sol, headquarters  of Barcelona’s anarchist movement, where drinkers and musicians gather until the early hours of the morning.


During the 1900´s Barcelona laid down zoning laws with the idea to develop green spaces in the city to combat urban sprawl and free up parts of the city owned by affluent families. This brought in a host of landscape architects eager to leave their mark on the city.

The Laribel Gardens  in the South West of the city spans the side of Mont Juïc designed by French architect J.C.N Forestier it is the largest park space in the city. The characteristic design of the gardens is  Arabian with ceramic tiles and ornamental water fountains. The park is full of paths that seemingly lead nowhere and quiet wisteria lined terraces, perfect to escape the tourist hoards at the water fountains at the Plaça de Espanya.




Parc del Laberint d'Horta  is a hidden gem of the City located in the green belt area of Horta this used to be the residence of  a high standing family who social status gave breath to the creations they made. The gardens feature  a labyrinth made in the neoclassical style featuring 750 meters of trimmed cypress trees, romantic gardens, waterfalls and canals filled with carp and fresh water turtles.

Three terraces run up the mountain side featuring statues of Greek Mythological figures surrounded by Mediterranean forest, at the top the crowning glory is a neoclassical pavilion.

Built in 1791 the gardens were used a focal point of Barcelona´s high society social functions with views across the city, during the stagnant summer months the park is blessed with a  fresh breeze. The gardens were eventually handed over to Barcelona to be opened to the public in 1967.  The park during the summer months draws a few visitors quietly looking to escape the heat and crowds, ,a secret pocket of neoclassical tranquillity.

Parc de La Creueta de Coll is an old quarry in the disrict of Vallcarca which was redesigned as a large outdoor swimming pool with a “Deserted Island” in the middle. The quarry also holds a bizarre 50 ton sculpture which hangs from the quarry walls, there are several terraces which lead up the hill side with another incredible 360 view of the city. The pool is a well kept secret of the area but open to all.

Located next to Gaudi´s park “Güell” is lesser known Parc del guinardó made up of three sections, the city park, the historical park and the woods.

In this park , during the 16th century  the famous Catalan bandit and Nyerros faction member, Perot Rocaguinarda lived in a farmhouse in the park. It is believed to contain a labyrinth of secret passages running under the park that took Rocaguinarda and his bandits from the park directly into the gothic district on criminal escapades. The group of bandits disappeared from the area using these tunnels while under attack from the viceroy of Barcelona’s troops. Rocaguinarda was indeed so legendary that Miguel Cervantes mentions him in his famous novel, Don Quixote. 

At the Park´s peak are several bunkers looking over the city left behind from the civil war. This park has the best view over Barcelona, sitting on the bunker gives a sensation of having Barcelona at your feet.

Caradell´s book still holds many undiscovered locations and during my walks through the city I have taken the routes that Caradell took back in 1982 and found the same places he visited still open and functioning today.

As an intrepid urban explorer, and the words of Caradell himself “Barcelona is the kind of city where you can find something without even looking for it”.














Monday, 14 January 2013

The Parks and Gardens of Barcelona




Barcelona is essentially a garden city with green spaces dotted all over the metropolitan area; many of these green spaces historically belonged to wealthy land owning families who presided over them during the early 1900s.

Slowly and progressively they have been returned to the people of Barcelona and released into the public domain, making these highly signficant and beautiful parks and gardens things which have to be seen to be believed.

Laribel Gardens (Passeig del l’Exposicio Metro Plaça Espanya)  in the South West of the city spanning the side of Barcelona’s vast green space and Olympic outcrop, Mont Juïc, designed by French architect J.C.N Forestier Laribel Gardens are the largest park in the city.

The characteristic design of the gardens are Arabian with ceramic tiles and ornamental water fountains.

The park is full of paths that seemingly lead nowhere leading into other parks and quiet wisteria lined terraces, perfect to escape the tourist hoards at the water fountains at the Plaça de Espanya.



Parc del Laberintd'Horta (Passeig de la Vall de L’hebron Metro: Mundet) is a hidden gem of the City, located in the green belt area of Horta. The park used to be the residence of  a high standing family whose social status gave breath to the grandeur  creations they made.

The gardens feature a labyrinth made in a neoclassical style with 750 meters of trimmed cypress trees, romantic gardens, waterfalls and canals filled with carp and fresh water turtles.

Three terraces run up the mountain side featuring statues of Greek Mythological figures surrounded by Mediterranean forest, at the top of the rising terraces the crowning glory is a romantic neoclassical pavilion.

Built in 1791 the gardens were used a focal point of Barcelona´s high society social functions with views across the city, during the stagnant summer months the park is blessed with a  fresh breeze.

The gardens were eventually handed over to Barcelona to be opened to the public in 1967.  The park during the summer months draws a few visitors quietly looking to escape the heat and crowds of the city, a secret pocket of neoclassical tranquillity.


Parc de La Creueta de Coll (Access: Paseo de la Mare de Dèu del Coll, Metro Vallcarca) is an old quarry in the district of Vallcarca which was redesigned as a large outdoor swimming pool with a “Deserted Island” in the middle. The quarry also holds a bizarre 50 ton sculpture which hangs from the quarry walls.

There are several terraces which lead up the hill side with another incredible 360 view of the city. The pool is a well kept secret of the district but open to all who brave the uphill walk to find it.

Located next to Gaudi´s park Güell is lesser known Parc del Guinardó (Access: plaça del Nen de la Rutlla Metro: Hospital de Sant Pau ) made up of three sections, the city park, the historical park and the woods.


The park has an amazing legendary history, during the 16th century  the famous Catalan bandit and Nyerros faction member, Perot Rocaguinarda lived in a farmhouse in the park.

 It is believed to contain a labyrinth of secret passages running under the park that took Rocaguinarda and his bandits directly into the gothic district on criminal escapades.

The group of bandits disappeared from the area using these tunnels while under attack from the viceroy of Barcelona’s troops. Rocaguinarda was indeed so legendary that Miguel Cervantes mentions him in his famous novel, Don Quixote. 

At the Park´s peak there are several bunkers looking over the city left behind from the civil war.  Parc del Guinardó has the best view over Barcelona; sitting on the bunkers out crop gives you sensation of having Barcelona at your feet.


At the foot of the Collserola Mountains is Palau de les Heures (Access: Campus de la Vall d'Hebron, Metro: Mundet) surrounding French chateau style building with incredibly manicured gardens.

 Once the home of The Gallart family, the house was politically confiscated from the family during the civil war and became the offical residence of president of Spain during the civil war where he sort refuge from Franco´s bombing campaigns.

The house is surround by lush gardens and woodland, the perfect place to take a stroll in the shade and contemplate the incredible history of the house.

Jardins del Palau de Pedralbes (Access: directly in front of Metro: Palau Real) is a sculpture admirers dream come true. It was historically the Barcelona residence of the Royal family with British and French influences, The gardens are full of hidden statues by some of Barcelona´s most famous sculptures; one such was created by Antoni Gaudi.

Entitled Hercules, the statue is a fountain with a dragon head spout from which water gushes and underneath is a stone spout with four bars on its front.

There is a bench carved from stone on both sides and a marble bust on the pedestal from which the dragon head emerges.

Today the house is owned by the Catalan autonomous government and houses the Museumof Ceramics and Decorative Arts.

The gardens hosts a range of international vegetation and a maze of paths that criss-cross the park with incredible walks with hidden places just waiting and statues just waiting to be discovered.


Jardins de la Universitat (Metro: Universitat) located right in the center of the city is a historical oasis in amid the chaos of Barcelona life. Known for their gardens of botanical importance, some of the trees and vegetation belong to the first plantations from the end of the 19thCentury, planted by science and botanic students from the University.

Contained within Monastery style cloistered courtyards, the gardens contains small ponds contains gold fish and rare underwater plant life. Mediterranean plant life dominates the scene but many South American species of tree and plant also share in the quiet life while students relax and study in grass verges nearby. 


Thursday, 1 September 2011

Barcelona Stories - Arenas - From Bullring to Cashcow














The Arenas Bullring, Barcelona’s iconic structure, once again felt the roar of the crowd and the tremble of footsteps upon its historic sands this year. However, no bull or matador was present. The bullring has been officially reborn as an entertainment complex.



Arenas now houses 115 shops, a cinema and Barcelona’s brand new rock museum, Museu del Rock, adding another feather to the city’s already brimming architectural cap.

At a time when a financial black cloud is looming over Spain, the bullring-turned-mall has seen tremendous success largely due to its location near Plaça Espanya, Barcelona’s emblematic thoroughfare that sees the large majority of traffic to and from the airport. Arenas is also close to Montjuïc, the Museo Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, and the Fira de Barcelona, one of Europe’s most important trade conference centers.

The modifications to the original bullring were done by British Architect Richard Rogers, responsible for Paris’s controversial le Centre Pompidou and London´s Millennium Dome. Arenas was completed in March of 2011, and in its first week the complex received more than 300,000 visitors.



“We set out to re-establish Las Arenas as a 21st-century landmark for the city. This involved retaining the entire existing façade as well as re-integrating what had become an isolated traffic island into the city fabric,” explained Rogers.






The history of Las Arenas has always been a stormy one. Completed in 1900 in the Neo-Mudéjar (Moorish Revival) style, it set the style for bullrings all over Spain. However, in an ominous sign, within months of opening, Arenas saw its first death. Matador Domingo Del Campo, known under the fighting pseudonym “Dominguin,” was gored to death. The death went down in history giving legend to Arenas.





In 1914 a new bullring was built in Barcelona only a few miles away. Known locally as “El Sport” and officially titled “Monumental,” the bullring was considered more modern and better equipped. Las Arenas continued to function as a bullring until the Spanish Civil War when it became a republication guard headquarters. Arenas saw its last bullfight in 1977. Afterward, all bullfighting in Barcelona was officially moved to the Monumental Bullring and Arenas was completely abandoned.

During the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, the government tried many times without success to do something with the vacant structure, including a negotiation with the local conference center. No deal was struck and Arenas sat for more than two decades in slow decay, forgotten in a city racing into the 21st century.



But, as Ernest Hemingway once said, “Bullfighting is the only art in which the artist is in danger of death and in which the degree of brilliance in the performance is left to the fighter’s honor.” Not only could this be applied to bullfighting but to Arenas itself. In 2010 plans were drawn up for new modernist concept to be given to the bullring as a mall to complement the already thriving Plaça Espanya.

Ironically enough Monumental Bullring is in its last days. Catalonia banned Bullfighting in 2010 and Monument’s increasingly low turnouts mean that it will hold the last of Catalonia’s corridas in 2012, following which it will be turned into a small concert arena and bullfighting museum.



The future of Arenas looks rosy as it thrives with increasing numbers drawn to its “Plaza in the Sky” with 360-degree views over Barcelona and modern shopping experience. In a financially dark climate, Las Arenas is proof that success stories do exist and Barcelona is the city to reinvent them.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Barcelona - Cooking with the Professionals

As the concept of home dining evolves, home chefs are reaching out to new ideas and new ways of cooking fresh quality ingredients.
Cooking the Kitchen Company Barcelona brings to life this idea using demonstrations and workshops under the name - Active cooking.




The idea of active cooking is taking these professional skills and knowledge by experienced chefs and connoisseurs in their chosen field and translating them to the home chef in an informal learning environment. This gives the promising home chef a new perspective on how the ingredients and techniques work together. It also gives them a better sense of how professional chefs cook, not only guiding by sight but involving the sense of smell and taste as they savor the food freshly prepared during the demonstration and workshop.



Demonstrations -often involve the combination of chef and product-rep working together to promote the ingredients as well as the style in which they are used. The range of products in the shop reflects the demographic of home cooks looking to improve their skills in the kitchen and eager to learn the secrets of the professionals.




A example of this is “Flavors and aromas of the world” featuring Faaraj Hashim of Mount Lavinia in conjunction with a representative from Chátillon spice range, while the chef prepares the cuisine the representative explains the origins of the products the way in which the products are harvested and produced and what benefits they give to the consumer.

Workshops are a more intimate affair where small groups take part in the cooking and preparation of the food along with the guest chef. Mario Comes director of cooking The Kitchen Cooking Company Barcelona remarks “The concept of workshops is not only about display but about the different ways to use new technology and cooking utensils inline with new techniques in an ever changing culinary world. The home cook takes part in the preparation and at the end of the session gets to savor the food made during the workshop”.




Cooking the kitchen company has seen workshops from such contemporary culinary professionals as cocktail connoisseur Javier de las Muelas well known as the cocktail king of Barcelona owner of Dry Martini considered one of the best cocktail bars in the world. The workshop timetable frequently changes themes covering such world cuisine as Japanese; featuring Leticia Soler de Bievre from Euro Japan projects.

With six years of study in Japanese culture and cuisine, not only does she show the home cook how to prepare the food and which products to use but also how to follow Japanese etiquette from the preparation to the table.




This month brings Tapas workshops by Adelf Morales from Topik restaurant Barcelona and trained by Yosi Yamashita (the chef credited with bringing Japanese food to Barcelona).

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Barcelona In Space, Tourism goes Galactic

I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do - Hal 9000


  When Stanley kubrik made 2001 A Space odyssey he was about 11 years off.


                    






Xavier Claramunt  former aerospace engineer and CEO of Galatic suite LTD based in Barcelona is pioneering the first space hotel. Galatic Suite for opening in the year 2012.







"In this sense, the Galactic Suite Experience is divided into three parts: land, space tourist and his family stayed at the Galactic Suite SpacePort (GSSP), on an island in the tropics where the architecture is light and the vegetation by everywhere. Sunrises and sunsets illuminate the earth and sea, blue sky full of stars day and night will make you understand how the rich is our world." 


                               Xavier Clamunt interview with La flecha technology magazine.






                                                           
In the late 1960s man was obsessed with the idea of living in Space. During this decade Pan Am established a waiting list for future flights into Space, issuing “First Moon flights club” cards to interested clients. This concept was brought to the forefront with Stanley Kubrick's seminal masterpiece a Space Odyssey 2001. Little did we know that Kubrick's dream would only be 11 years off.

Galatic suites is the name given to the first space hotel pioneered by a group of architects from Barcelona, lead by Xavier Claramunt former aerospace engineer and winner of the 2007 world architecture and design prize with the idea of opening in 2012.

The Space hotel will orbit at Low Earth Orbit (LEO) dedicated to accommodating private hotel guests. These guests will see 16 sunrises and sunsets a day seeing the full earth orbit in 90 minutes.

The project began its days as a hobby for Claramunt and entered into development as “The Galatic Suite Space Resort” when financed by an unnamed space enthusiast who injected 3 billion dollars into the enterprise.

The complete package comes with a price tag of 4 million dollars (3 million Euros) and begins as an 3 month preparation on Ronde Island in the Caribbean known as the “Participant Earth Experience” which serves as the training center, spaceport and hotel resort. This James Bond 'Moonraker' style training camp experience serves to begin acclimatising the guest, immersing them into earth’s natural habitat. After the tourist has returned to earth they stay an additional 2 weeks on Ronde Island in recovery.

Xavier Claramunt reiterated this in an interview with La Flecha magazine. “The Galactic Experience Suite is designed to offer the most exciting and transcendental experience where the space tourist approaches nature not just as an individual but as part of the human race, responsible for the conservation of the planet.”

The spaceport training facility on Ronde Island is designed to prepare the guest mentally and physically for the experience, where the guest can expect to undergo centrifuge, weightlessness and high pressure training along with a program which is designed to create a bond between the space tourist and the flight crew in preparation for such a profound experienced, the guest is also expected to bring their families who will stay at the spaceport with them during the journey, to provide a wholesome experience, close to the bonds of human nature.

The space hotel itself will be made up of 5 prefabricated bio inspired ATV modules. A service module, 3 guest  modules and a multifunction module. The guest modules are private, designed as rooms to give the space tourist the freedom to experiment with zero gravity and stargaze through an observation window while in total comfort attached to the module wall with Velcro suits, the resort will also include a zero gravity spa where the guest can bathe in a closed swimming environment with large floating zero gravity bubbles.

"When the passengers arrive in the rocket, they will joined for the 3 days, by the flight crew.   This way we instill in the tourist a confidence that they haven't been abandoned. After the stay the passenger returns to the transport rocket and then returns to earth”. Explained Xavier



The concept of galactic suites is similar to a mountain top refuge where the space tourist brings just enough supplies to last the 3 to 6 days, fresh supplies can be brought in and Galactic Suites have been in talks with several high profile chefs to design a food package for the stay.

The design of the resort is being undertaken by Galactic Suites design which is also pioneering designs in deep sea and high altitude hotels, pushing the current boundaries in aerospace tourism design and futuristic architectural innovations. drawing inspiration from many famous Barcelonian architects such as Antonio Gaudi.

“The design of the (space) hotel is inspired by the growth of some marine vegetation and the formation of grape vines, from them we learn the configuration of centrifuge, this allows us to create a singular central form that gives access to various modules at the same time” says Xavier.

The transit to the hotel is currently being provided by the Russian spacecraft; Soyuz, launching  from Baikonour in Russia and will take 2 days to reach the Space Hotel, accelerating to an orbital speed of 25,000km/h to be able perform the intricate docking maneuvers. The location of the spaceport on Ronde Island, close to the equator enables Galactic Suites to take advantage of the Earth's rotation for future launches.

Although, Galactic Suites is the first company to introduce the concept of a hotel in space, space tourism has been around since 2001 when the American Dennis Tito spent 8 days in space as a member of ISS EP-1 on a visiting mission to the International Space Station.

Several other space tourists have followed the lastest being the Canadian Guy Laliberte CEO of Cirque du Soleil who went into space in 2009 on a “poetic social mission” raising awareness on water issues facing mankind. The event was accompanied by a 120 minute webcast featuring theatrical Cirque de Social performances in 14 cities on five continents.

Space Adventures was the company that organized these first trips into space and is now currently organizing the first private trip to circumnavigate the moon, flying to the far side of the moon within 100km of the surface.

Just recently Russian company RKK Energia announced plans to launch a space hotel which will be an orbiting capsule which will be  open to space tourists in 2016. Virgin Galactic one of the leading potential space tourism groups is also planning to be the first space tourism company to regularly take civilians into sub-orbital space flight, with ticket prices of $200,000. Over 410 seats have already been sold.

Even though space tourism is yet to officially begin,  recent years has seen a boom in companies registering as space tourism facilitators. Creating a so called private Space Race II, this has been motived by the  2004 Ansari X prize for sub-orbital space flight which was won by Mojave Aerospace Ventures in SpaceShipOne, the first privately funded manned spacecraft to exceed 100km in altitude.

Stacy Tearne of Space Adventures when asked about the concept of space tourism replied. “The opening up of 'space' for the commercial sector is fundamental to the prosperity of mankind and the future of Earth and will also serve as a door into the rest of the solar system.”
















                                                http://www.galacticsuitedesign.com/

                                                        

                                                 http://www.galacticsuite.com/

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Barcelona Stories - Supper clubs Part 2


                                                    www.jezebelsclandestinedining.com


The concept of the Supper Club is simple. You are ‘invited’ by the chef to a
Pre-organized location (usually organized via the internet) where you dine according to a preset menu, this usually includes wine and coffee. The whole arrangement has a more intimate feel, more like a dinner party than restaurant dining. In parts of Europe supper club competition is fierce; many chefs are trained professionally having worked in Michelin starred restaurants.

 In Barcelona there are several well established Supper Clubs geared towards giving the diner something different, an experience that cannot be replicated in a restaurant.


Jezebels Clandestine Dining



Regularly organizes events; frequently changing location and menus. It describes its dining experience as “Hidden adventures for intrepid gastronomes, and hungry rogues”. Its style is New American, Cajan and Creole. The creator: Kathleen Engelhardt describes Jezebels as, “A prelude to the actual wine bar I plan to open later this year. I will experiment with different plates and wine combinations to find the perfect matches. Obviously the best will make it to the actual wine bar and hopefully along the way I will meet really interesting people”.

 The general theme of the Supper Club is fusion; last months Cuban night included such delights as  - Yucca chips with pumpkin seeds and a mojo salsa.  

This month; Caribbean night including such dishes as Crab Mouse, sweet potato linguine and coca mustard with summer vegetables. Dinners are regularly organised every month and Jezebels can be contacted via their website 


 A short Intrerview with Chef and creator


Kathleen, firstly how did you start the Supper club?

Basically, I was tired of working in other peoples kitchens cooking what
they wanted.  I wanted to be able to experiment with different styles and
flavors to create my own signature touch.  And I think its just a really cool way to meet new people. Since my first dinner I have met solid friends and in this city it's always a nice thing.

  What brought you to Barcelona?

 A change.  I needed to explore and I thought Catalonia is doing great
 things with food, so why not!

  How are the plans going to open your wine bar?

 They are a bit arduous at the moment but I am not letting that get in my
 way.  I do have a clear vision of my style and what I want to bring to
 Barcelona.  I see this city changing before my eyes and I am really
 excited about the possibilities.

  How does the process of running a supper club effect your long term
 plans for your own wine bar/Restaurant?


 Once I open the winebar I will continue to host my dinners, its a very
 unique way to enjoy food and wine. I like the concept of an intimate
 evening with strangers. But I do think I will have it more focused on one
 item of food or wine.  It will showcase the diamonds I come across to a
 very select group of people. I guess in that essence it will be more of a
 supper club than a pop up restaurant.