Beautiful Barcelona – Easy Travel Guide

Beautiful city of Barcelona, capital of Catalonia (a Spain’s province), is situated on on the shore of the Mediterranean sea and bordered at either end by 2 river deltas. Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain after its capital city Madrid. Barcelona has a population of 1.5 million, over 4 million including suburbs. The varied, eventful history of the city dates back 4,000 years to the first settlements by ancient farmers. Later it became a Roman colony, the Visigoth’s capital city, then it came under Moorish rule. It went through sieges, destructions and occupations, finally to become an autonomous democracy 1975. The city has always played an important role in political and cultural life of Spain and it is well reflected in the variety and quality of historical buildings, museums, many other tourist attractions. Today Barcelona is one of the most diverse european cities with unique culture and rich traditions. You can find here a formidable balance of the traditional things and the avant-garde. A cosmopolitan metropolis, Barcelona affords visitors a warm and sincere welcome, being aknowledged worldwide as one of the best tourist-friendly cities in Europe.Barcelona’s organisation of the 1992 Olympics provided regeneration of this dynamic city, gave a fresh start to its infrastructure development.

WHAT TO SEE AND WHERE:

POINTS OF INTEREST – La Rambla is a tree-lined pedestrian boulevard packed with buskers, living statues, mimes and itinerant salespeople selling everything from lottery tickets to jewellery. Pavement cafes and stands selling craftwork, street performers surrounded by curious onlookers, a noisy bird market, Palau de la Virreina, a grand 18th-century rococo mansion, the Gran Teatre del Liceu, the famous 19th-century opera house- these are all colourful parts of La Rambla’s mosaic. La Rambla ends at the lofty Monument a Colom (Monument to Columbus) and the harbour.

Barri Gotic – also known as Gothic Quarter, it is the old part of the city. Picasso lived and worked in Barri Gotic from 1895 to 1904 and Joan Miro was born and lived here during his youth. Gothic Quarter is situated on the right hand side of the La Rambla, it contains a concentration of medieval tall Gothic buildings (14-15th century) on narrow cobbled streets and now is home to much of the city’s nightlife.

La Sagrada Familia – La Sagrada Familia is one of the most famous and magnificent among Barcelona’s landmarks. The life’s work of Barcelona’s famous architect, Antoni Gaudi, the magnificent spires of the unfinished cathedral imprint themselves boldly against the sky with swelling outlines inspired by the holy mountain Montserrat. Above each facade there are four towers, 12 in total, which are dedicated to the Apostles. The tower in the center, the tallest of all at 170 m., is dedicated to Jesus Christ. Around these there are the towers of the four Evangelists, and the tower over the apse is dedicated to the Virgin. They are encrusted with a tangle of sculptures that seem to breathe life into the stone. Gaudi died in 1926 before his masterwork was completed, and since then, controversy has continually dogged the building program. Nevertheless, the southwestern (Passion) facade, is almost done, and the nave, begun in 1978, is progressing.

La Pedrera – Casa Mila (Mila House) is an apartment building, the last example of Gaudi’s civil architecture.It is one of his finest and most ambitious creations, extraordinarily innovative in its functional, constructive, and ornamental aspects. Visitors can tour the building and go up to the roof, where they can see spectacular views of Barcelona. One floor below the roof is a modest museum dedicated to Gaudi’s work.
Montjuic – the largest open space in the city, its main attractions are the Olympic installations, the Spanish Village and the hilltop fortress. Montjuic, the hill overlooking the city centre from the southwest, is home to some fine art galleries, leisure attractions, soothing parks and the main group of 1992 Olympic sites. Montjuic is covered in ornamental gardens with water features and is the most popular destination in Barcelona on Sundays.

Tibidabo – is the highest hill in the wooded range that forms the backdrop to Barcelona. It has amazing views of the whole of Barcelona, a stunning cathedral, and a family fun park Parc d’Atraccions with old-style rides offering breathtaking views. A glass lift at the park goes 115m (383 ft) up to a visitors’ observation area at Torre de Collserola telecommunications tower.

Modernisme – spectacular modernista architectural creations dotted around the city by famous Antoni Gaudi and his contemporaries.

Camp Nou – home of F.C. Barcelona, one of Europe’s leading soccer teams, with capacity of almost 100,000 spectators.

The Seu Cathedral – Built in medieval times on the site of a Roman temple, La Seu is one of the great Gothic buildings in Spain.

Parc de la Ciutadella – Barcelona’s favourite park and a Sunday afternoon rendezvous for families, friends and ducks

The Sardana – traditional Catalan dance, performed outside the cathedral and at national festivals, with everyone encouraged to join in.

MUSEUMS – The Barbier-Mueller Museum of Pre-Columbian Art -the only museum in Europe devoted exclusively to Pre-Columbian cultures. Housed in a gothic palace, its collection is one of the finest of its kind and gives visitors an insight into the rich world of the earliest cultures on the American continent. This tiny museum contains one hundred pieces, including wood and stone sculptures, ceramics, tapestries, jade, often found in international exhibitions and prestige publications. The exhibits represented the Olmec, Maya, Aztec, Chavin, Mochica and Inca civilisations.

Palau de la Musica Catalana – one of the world’s most extraordinary music halls, it is a Barcelona landmark. From its polychrome ceramic ticket windows on the Carrer de Sant Pere Mes Alt side to its overhead busts of Palestrina, Bach, Beethoven, and Wagner, the Palau is the flagship of Barcelona’s Moderniste architecture.

Museu Picasso – is Barcelona’s most visited museum. 3,500 exhibits make up the permanent collection. Picasso spent several years (1901-06) in Barcelona, and this collection, is particularly strong on his early work. Displays include childhood sketches, pictures from the beautiful Rose and Blue periods, and the famous 1950s Cubist variations on Velazquez’s Las Meninas (Ladies-in-Waiting).

Gaudi Casa-Museu – Gaudi lived in this pink, Alice-in-Wonderland house from 1906 to 1926, which now houses a museum of Gaudi-designed furniture, decorations, drawings, and portraits and busts of the architect.
Fundacio Miro – it was a gift from the famous artist Joan Miro to his native city. The museum opened in 1975, and now it is one of Barcelona’s most exciting showcases of contemporary art.

BEACHES – One of Barcelona’s greatest draws is undeniably its beautiful beaches. Beside world-famous Costa Brava and Costa Dorada which are within 1-hr drive time from Barcelona, there are also several nice beaches over 4 km long within the city boundaries, we will list just several of them here: Nova Icaria- Closest to the Olympic marina, always crowded, this wide swathe of rough golden sand is great for food goers. There are three perfect beach bars and two very popular restaurants on the promenade (Mango and Chiringuito de Moncho) and countless bars and restaurants are just a short stroll away. Bogatell- This beach is twice the length of adjoining Nova Icaria and fringed by a stretch of stone walkway perfect for jogging, roller blading and cycling. Three large informal restaurants on the promenade. Mar Bella (Metro Ciutadella Vila Olimpica, plus 20-minute walk)- Barcelona’s only naturist beach close to a peaceful park – good for a picnic or siesta under the trees. Barceloneta- wide and long, a traditional and popular stretch with locals, crowded, noisy and very jolly.

WHEN TO GO, WEATHER: The best times to visit Barcelona are late spring and early autumn, when the weather is still comfortably warm, around 21-25°C. Summers are usually hot and humid, with temperatures averaging +30 (+ 86 Fahrenheit). Especially avoid the “dead” month of August, when many shops, bars and restaurants close for the month as many local inhabitants head out of the city. Winters are cool with average daytime temperatures around +12 C (+59 Fahrenheit), occasionally rainy.

GETTING THERE AND AROUND: By a direct flight to Barcelona, or through Madrid or via another large European city from almost any major airports in the world. The highest fares are from May to September, the lowest in March-April, October-November and December to February (excluding Christmas and New Year when prices are hiked up). Note also that flying on weekends may increase your ticket cost. If traveling to Barcelona from within Europe you can also chose train, bus or car, though these take much longer than a plane and often work out no cheaper. Many Mediterranean cruises include Barcelona as a port of call.

ACCOMODATIONS: We can offer you a range of choices. You can choose vacation rentals in Barcelona starting from $ 125 USD for a double room in a 4-star apartment hotel. Or you can opt for hotels from $ 65 USD for a double room in a 3-star hotel. Accomodation prices do not change much throughout the year due to the steady all-season flow of visitors to this extremely popular tourist city and surrounding resorts.

DINING: Besides restaurants you can eat at bars where you would have a succession of tapas (small snacks- three or four chunks of fish, meat or vegetables, or salad, which traditionally used to be served up free with a drink) or raciones (larger ones). The bar option can be a lot more interesting, allowing you to do the rounds and sample local specialities. Generally, the average cost for a meal consisting of two dishes and dessert would come to about 25 Euros. Travellers on an extremely limited budget can do well for themselves by using the excellent markets, bakeries and delis and filling up on sandwiches and snacks. Decent restaurants and cafes are easily found all over the city, though you’ll probably do most of your eating where you do most of your sightseeing, in the old town, particularly around La Rambla and in the Barri Gotic. Look for the best and most authentic seafood restaurants in Barceloneta, a seaside neighbourhood. Gothic Quarter neighbourhood is home to some of the oldest and most traditional restaurants in the city. Gracia is a very popular area among young people during the weekend, it leads the way in terms of exotic restaurants (Lebanese, Egyptian, Thai etc.).

TRANSPORT: Barcelona has excellent transport system comprising the metro (subway), buses, trains and a network of funiculars and cable cars. You can find a link to transport maps at the end of our guide. On all the city’s public transport you can buy a single ticket every time you ride, but even over only a couple of days it’s cheaper to buy a targeta – a discount ticket strip. The T-10 targeta is valid for ten separate journeys on the metro, buses and trains. These tickets can be used by more than one person at a time. The metro is the quickest way of getting around Barcelona. For black-and-yellow taxis there is a minimum charge of $ 2 euro. You’ll obviously have a great deal more freedom if you rent a car . Major roads throughout the city are generally good, and traffic is generally well behaved, though Spain does have one of the highest incidences of traffic accidents in Europe. It also has some of the lowest fuel prices on the continent.

SHOPPING: Barcelona, one of the most stylish cities in Europe offers great shopping, from designer clothes and accessories to household items. You will find the city to be quite cheap for a lot of items, especially if you coincide with the annual sales ( rebaixes in Spanish) lasting from mid-January until the end of February, and throughout July and August. The best shopping areas in Barcelona are the old streets off the upper part of the Ramblas. Souvenirs include ceramics, which are widely sold in the streets around the cathedral; leather goods; city’s delicatessens, particularly cooked Catalan meats and sausages; a porron (the long-spouted glass drinking jar); CDs and tapes of Catalan rock and pop, sardana music, Spanish rock or flamenco. If you’re looking for original gift ideas, some of the best hunting can be found in the shops of any of the city’s museums, where you’ll find reasonably priced and unique examples of Catalan disseny (graphic), and other original items ranging from postcards to replica works of art.

We wish you a nice and safe trip!

London Named World Destination of the Year at the World Travel Awards

Considerably, on the fifth consecutive occasion, London has been chosen as the ‘World’s Leading Destination’ at the high-prestige ‘World Travel Awards (WTA)’. Although there was a stiff competition between the world’s so-called top-notch hospitable cities including New York, Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town and Sydney, the British capital amazingly bagged the award at the end. London’s accolade follows the last month’s phenomenal news that Britain is the world’s fourth most admired country, lagging behind the USA, Germany and France.

In the beginning of the year, tourist arrivals in the metropolis rose to 27 million, thanks to a few prominent events, which saw an influx of international tourists as well as to the excitement builds before the 2012 Olympics. In addition, the capital boasts arrays of world class tourist venues which spellbind visitors all around the year. Not to forget, Christmas which every year sees flocks of people from all around struggling to find accommodation in jam-packed London.

World Travel Awards is the biggest and the most prestigious awards programme in the world of travel industry. WTA rummages around excellence across every sector of the international travel and tourism industry and picks out only the elites from the widespread industry. Also known as “The Oscars of the Travel Industry “, the World Travel Awards is the supreme travel accolade. From last 17 years, WTA is constantly in action to elevate the standards of customer service and the travel industry’s overall performance.

After a substantial year-long hunt, the World Travel Awards settled on their award winners and honoured all the frontrunners in the capital’s Grosvenor House hotel in the spectacular Grand Final Ceremony. A few hotel groups having UK properties including the InterContinental Hotels and Resorts, JW Marriott, Holiday Inn Express, von Essen and Ritz Carlton were also awarded at the programme.

Without doubt, the World Travel Awards has escalated London’s prominence in the world travel and tourism industry by honouring it yet again. Even if the capital has owned numerous influential awards so far, this award has its unique importance.

Become a Travel Agent Superstar

What is the essence of high sales for any travel consultant?
What makes you become a travel agent superstar with high sales volume?
Have you ever pondered these questions effectively?

Well after coaching 146 small businesses and spending 13 years in the travel industry here are my top 4 tips for maximizing your travel sales and overachieving as a travel consultant.

1. What is your personal vision for your role?
That is – what are you aiming for?
I urge you to set a yearly target for your sales and break it down to quarterly and monthly targets for your sales.

Without a target to aim for it has been my experience that there is no possible way to overachieve.

Interestingly my experience has been that sales of any travel agency individual without a target to aim for are usually about 20-40% lower over a year than a competing travel agency with a target.

After all, how can you possible stay motivated enough to push through the inevitable challenges and roadblocks that come your way. This point is critical to high sales. Mark my words you must have a target to pursue, to smash or to push towards.
Example: 1 year target is $1 million gross sales for the company.

2. Follow up every enquiry with 5 multiple professional communications.

If I could convince you of the mightiest of strategies, the one that takes the pick as the first tactic I would introduce to any travel business, it would be following up every quote within 3 business days and to keep in touch with your prospects until they buy.

Burn this secret into your mind. To build any business to consumer relationship you need to accept that several contacts should be considered the norm and not the exception when dealing with your prospects. Three, five or seven contacts or communications with your enquirer virtually means a booking will result with you rather than a hit or miss one contact approach.

The biggest mistake most new travel businesses make is to NOT consistently follow up every enquiry. The best way to enable this to happen is to have a sales system whereby every consultant professionally and without fear is trained to simply have 3 or 5 or 7 communications after someone enquires. I recommend you start with producing a simple 5 step sales system.

3. Generating most of your clients from referrals

The reality for us all in the travel industry is that most clients are very happy with your service. Generally speaking we are dealing with a delightful subject – travel and people warm to the advice we give.

So because we are in an industry like this, we all need to capitalize on these good feelings and reward ourselves with many more clients.

Put directly, if you have not got a referral program in place for your travel business, you are missing out on a lot of extra business.

So to maximize sales and to become a travel agent superstar you must give your current customers an opportunity to sell for you by recommending others to you. There is so many ways this can be done effectively. But in essence it is about offering to help all of your delighted clients friends, family and colleagues when the time comes to travel.

4. Do you really want to become a travel agent overachiever?

You may think this is a strange question to ask. But listen up. In business and in life I have found a direct correlation with over achievement and the reasons why you are doing it. Have you got your reasons why sorted as to why you want to become a travel agent superstar?

If not, let us make a start right now.

I suggest you list down ten to twenty reasons why you want to overachieve.

Examples could be:

I want to earn a high income to support my family.

I want to earn the prestige and recognition of my travel agency colleagues.

I want to win the award for best travel consultant in my organization.

I want to sell $1 million of travel this year and earn a 14 day Mediterranean cruise that our company gives away for over achievement.

I want to become a travel agent superstar because I have the urgency to help give value to as many customers, who I deem to be personal friends rather than clients.

Whenever you have your reasons clear for anything this clarity often becomes like an unstoppable force heading down a fast track.

Imagine as a travel agency business you go through these 4 areas above with every consultant individually and collectively in team meeting. Can you imagine the end result?
I can safely say from experience the end result means every individual has the tools and motivation to become a travel agent over achiever.