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Briefly Barcelona Tourist Arrivals Grow 4.4% in 2011
Posted by Gromco in Barcelona on 31/Dec/2011
The Ajuntament de Barcelona reported an increase of 4.4% in tourist arrivals in 2011 compared to 2010. The number of Russians visiting the city doubled, but the leader among the foreigners was the USA: the number of Americans grew 8.5% and has surpassed that of both the French and the Italians, whose presence in Barcelona has traditionally been very strong.
Source(s): Ajuntament de Barcelona (2011-12-21)  
Briefly The New Puerta del Sol: Moving El Oso
Posted by Gromco in Madrid on 19/Sep/2009
el osoNext week one of Madrid's most prominent symbols is going to disappear from its central square: due to reconstruction work in the capital's (and the country's) most central square, the landmark statue of a bear licking (sniffing?) a tree ("el oso y el madroño"), currently installed a few steps from the Puerta del Sol, will be moving a few blocks east, towards the Carrera de San Jerónimo.

The relatively unassuming (and easy-to-miss) statue of the bear is the work of the Spanish sculptor Antonio Navarro. [CORRECTED]

Source(s): El País, ABC (18 Sep 2009)   Photo: Sébastien Bertrand
AVE TrainsStarting this week, RENFE, the Spanish railroad company, is increasing the frequency of its high-speed train service (AVE) between Barcelona and Madrid by one third. Instead of the previous 19-20 scheduled trains, there will be up to 26 daily departures in each direction. Two of the newly added trains will be direct, making no stops, the others - local, extending the existing Madrid - Zaragoza line service...

Read the rest of: "More AVE Trains Between Madrid and Barcelona
Playa de la Malvarrosa (teaser)If you're the type who just can't leave their work behind, even on vacation, Valencia may be the right place for you. Since July, the municipal government is running WiFi access points on two of the city's beaches - El Cabanyal and La Malvarrosa...

Read the rest of: "Valencia Beaches Going Wireless
De Liceu Station Renovated
Posted by Gromco in Barcelona on 01/Sep/2008
De LiceuA few weeks ago, a round of renovations was completed at the de Liceu metro station (línea 3) in the Rambla, reported local transportation authority, TMB. All in all, four halls and two platforms were given a complete make-over at a total cost of 2.5 million euro. This phase of renovations took one year...

Read the rest of: "De Liceu Station Renovated
Caixa Forum - Madrid
Posted by Slavito in Madrid + Places on 15/Jul/2008
Caixa Forum - Madrid (teaser)Few makeover projects have been handled with such a degree of architectural audacity as the recent transformation of a disused electric station in Madrid's Las Huertas district into the cultural center La Caixa Forum - Madrid.

The Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron not only gutted the building, removing most of its interiors and changing its shape and size by conspicuously adding a layer of several floors, they also literally lifted it from its foundation, giving the whole structure a tense “suspended” look.

The resulting space now houses a cultural center with its own exhibition space, a large auditorium, a bookstore and a top-floor café...

Read the rest of: "Caixa Forum - Madrid
Tío Pepe sign at nightOne of the most frequently photographed sights in Madrid that's nevertheless completely ignored in the city guidebooks is the Tío Pepe sign in Puerta del Sol. Given the number of tourists taking pictures in front of the sign (with many opting for a silly trick where they pretend to be "holding" the giant bottle behind them... very creative, guys, but it's been done before) and consequently, given the sign's status as the city's de facto second emblem (at least in tourists' minds... the first still being the bear, of course), it seems almost unbelievable that no guidebook provides at least a cursory look at the sign's story. Allow me to take the onerous task upon myself..

Read the rest of: "Glowing Above the Sun: The Tío Pepe Sign
Sabatini GardensIf there's one place that symbolizes the quirkiness of Madrid's history for me, it is the Sabatini Gardens next to the Palacio Real.

Of course, it's not the quirkiness that draws hundreds of people here every day - the gardens are beautiful and for anybody who's tired of the city's heat (in summer), or crowds (all year round) it's a perfect place to chill, relax a little bit, read or just people-watch. And did I mention the location? Quite literally in the shadow of the Palacio Real, perhaps Madrid's most famous landmark: it just doesn't get more central than that.

But still, that's not the whole story. The whole story would need to mention a few quirky facts. Here's one, for example: the Sabatini Gardens are named after Italian architect Francesco Sabatini who... had nothing to do with them...

Read the rest of: "Sabatini Gardens: Chilling With the Kings
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