Back to life
Finally, my year has begun being flung straight into work and emails flying out in typical Akin fashion, long, detailed, particular and quite particular indeed.
I cannot fail to note that I have only spent five nights at home since the 17th of November that has had me in South Africa, in London and I have just returned from Barcelona.
I had considered going much further afield after my birthday, the choices, at first, were the Thailand (Bangkok or Phuket), Canada (Toronto) and the United States (Miami), all places I had never been before, but with so little time to plan for these I defaulted to either Berlin or Barcelona. The latter won for slightly warmer weather.
Of Barcelona again
Now, the last time I was in Barcelona was in November 2008 when I attended the now defunct Microsoft TechEd Europe conference, before that it was December 2006 and my first time in some 18 years ago.
Then, whilst Barcelona was an exciting place to visit, the tourism elements had not been overly commercialised as they are now. I note that Palau Güell and Casa Batlló were not accessible to the public.
This time, I availed myself of the opportunity to visit these masterpieces of Antoni Gaudi’s genius, which if you know anything about Barcelona are a draw for tourists from the world over. The fact that Barcelona has beauty, treasure, culture, architecture, history and nationalism cannot be debated, there are lots to see and do.
It’s all about money
However, for all the tourist things I did, from the bus tours to all the buildings, things I did and the souvenirs purchased, no one can fail to notice how pricey all these places and things are, it is a case of over-exploiting the World Heritage status for outrageous price gouging and profit advantage. The whole idea that what we pay maintains and supports these sites should not excuse the atrocious profit motive of the custodians of these places.
Even the taxi drivers in Barcelona agree that this is the only motive, profiteering. We tourists pay top prices for accommodation, eat in the restaurants, shop in the fancy stores, visit all the places of significance paying full whack and to add insult to injury, as we leave we are charged as city tax. Then for what I paid from city centre to the airport, the thievery continued to the end of my visit.
You gotta pick a pocket or two
They say Barcelona is full of pickpockets, that might be true, but the real pickpocket is Barcelona and all the great beauty of this place is in the process of being marred by the inordinate quest for filthy lucre. I loved visiting Barcelona, but this is not the kind of Barcelona I would like to return to, already, in an honest survey at the hotel where I spent 11 nights, I categorically said I will not return to stay there.
If you are spending more than 5 nights in a hotel and they cannot attempt to make it feel as a home away from home, they neither deserve my custom again nor a recommendation to others. Barcelona can do better, but this time, it was a shame.