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Barcelona – a great city

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Our week in Barcelona is at an end, Spain was a total unknown to us when we decided to come here – so how has it compared to Italy our previous holiday location of choice?

Well to be fair, pretty well! Barcelona is a great city to spend a week in, there is lots to see and the food and shopping (for the ladies) is excellent. Something for everyone probably describes it best.

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I loved the Gaudi and other similar architecture, Sagrada Familia was for me an amazing experience and has made my week. But Barcelona is so much more; The people are really friendly and helpful, the Metro system is fabulous. It is spotlessly clean (like the city), and there is a phone signal throughout the system – will London ever achieve this? The carriages are also air-conditioned – pure bliss on a hot day.

The cable cars to the castle and the views from there across the city are spectacular, as is the view from Parc Guell.

I have loved the Tapas – a great way to eat, so sociable and relaxed. A real discovery was the Vegan restaurant, the food was amazing (and no I am not a vegi).

The kids loved the ‘one off’ shops – like Happy Pills, and wandering through the old parts of the city. The late lunch also works well with teenage kids who don’t want to get up early in the morning!

Any downsides? No not really, although I just don’t ‘get’ the Ramblas, it’s too busy and totally touristy – perhaps I am just getting old!

So all in all a very good week, a thoroughly recommended city.

We are off to a villa on the coast for the remainder of our break, we have a pool but may not have wireless internet, so there may be a short break on blogs (or at best they will be sporadic) until we return to the UK. Some enforced R&R which can’t be a bad thing!

Paris – what a great city!

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Firstly let me admit to being a great fan of the French – I realise this makes me a target for much of the UK population. We seem to have an in-built hatred of the French – I assume it is an historic thing, but I don’t share it. I also believe we can learn a lot from them in the way we manage and plan our cities.

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I am coming to the end of my week staying in the Marais in Paris and have to say it has been very relaxing. I have also at no time felt threatened whilst walking the streets or riding the Metro (apart from one incident – and that had a good side). This does feel a very friendly and safe city.

We have been very lucky with the weather, it has been in the low 20’s all week – not normal Easter weather but very nice!

The feel of the city from a ‘property mans’ perspective is generally positive. They do have more vacant units in the districts, but there are still tower cranes over the skyline in many areas.

Their transport system also works flawlessly – let’s hope London looks and performs as well for the Olympics next year!

The only ‘blip’ was when both my wife and I had our pockets picked at the same time on the Metro. A group of women crushed onto the crowded carriage behind us and had my wife’s purse out of her closed handbag and their hands in my pocket on my wallet before we knew what was happening.

Only the quick intervention of some locals stopped them. And this is the difference to the UK – would anyone help on the tube in London or just turn away so as not to get involved?

We need to get back to some proper values in the UK and quickly!