Progress Report #2

Welcome to the 2nd Progress Report!

Here’s information about accomodation in Barcelona, progress with the programme, projects to translate Spanish SFF into English to make it better known, nice places to eat and drink, and places to see.

Hostels

We are researching cheap room-share hostels in the Ramblas area near to the CCCB for fans without much money—but see Tourist Apartments below for a good alternative which can be just as cheap, and which you might want to book now to make sure of an apartment in the best location, although hundreds of apartments will continue to be available throughout the city.


Hotels

Now that we’re into 2015 and hotels can foresee 2016, our team is busy researching the most suitable hotels within a few blocks of the CCCB, the Centre for Contemporary Culture of Barcelona.  We hope to agree with one of the hotels to designate it as our “official” con hotel, with a price reduction.

In our next Progress Report, in early September 2015, we aim to provide full hotel contact details for convention members to book their rooms.  Booking in September 2015 will probably a good idea if you like a particular hotel near to the CCCB for the convention, which is different from the possible “official” hotel.

HOTEL CATALONIA RAMBLAS  (4 star), C/Pelai, 28.   Single occupany of double room, Euros 110; double 121.  With buffet b/fast.  3 minutes from Plaça de Catalunya.  This is a possibility as a designated “official” con hotel, 120 rooms, its rear entrance very close to the CCCB, with a large restaurant in case we have a banquet at the end of the con.  If we do name it as the “official” hotel, we will have a contact person from this hotel chain to process bookings by conventions members.  Investigations are proceeding.

Other hotels in the area nearby are below, as a guide to prices and streets, in ascending order of stars:

HOTEL MESÓN CASTILLA (2 star), C/Naldonzella, 5; Euros 86 to 102.  About 2 minutes from CCCB.

HOTEL INGLATERRA (3 star), C/Pelai, 14; Euros 80 to 100.  About 5 minutes from CCCB.

ÓNIX RAMBLA (3 star), Rambla de Catalunya, 24; Euros 107 to 116; double rooms 119 to 129.  About 15 minutes from CCCB; close to the famous Gaudí houses on Passeig de Gràcia.

HOTEL ACTA ESPLENDID (3 star), C/Muntaner, 2; Euros 60 to 100.  About 15 minutes.  See notes about Restaurante Flamant and Bier Cab down below.

HOTEL CATALONIA PLAÇA CATALUNYA (4 star), C/Bergara, 11.  Single occupancy of double room Euros 100, Double 110.  Buffet b/fast included.

HOTEL CATALONIA CATEDRAL (4 star), C/Arcs, 10.  Single occupancy of double room, Euros 132; Double 143.  Buffet b/fast included.  Modernist building 100 metres from Cathedral in the Old City, thus higher price; 15-20 minutes walk from CCCB.

HOTEL CATALONIA PASSEIG DE GRÀCIA (4 star),  Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 644.  Single occupancy of double room, Euros 130; Double 150.  Buffet b/fast included.  100 metres from Plaça de Catalunya.  Very desirable location, thus higher price.

AYRE HOTEL GRAN VIA (4 star), Gran Via 322 by Plaza España; individual Euros 74 with breakfast, 62 without b/fast; doubles Euros 95 with b/fast, 71 without b/fast.  This is 2 kilometres from the convention area along the elegant major artery Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes (frequent buses and tram), and the Plaza España is magnificent as well as being the gateway to Montjuic, Barcelona’s hilltop park of culture (and sports).  Barcelona’s other famous hill is Tibidabo, reached by funicular railway, featuring great views and a little funfair.

A note about with/without breakfast:  There are innumerable cafés where you can have a cheap breakfast.


Tourist Apartments

We have been specially recommended half a dozen city apartments mostly in the heart of the city (and one by the beach) at around Euros 60 per night for 2 to 4 persons.  A city apartment considerably reduces the cost of staying, and will be much more luxurious than a hostel.  Hundreds more city apartments all over the city are advertised by agencies through the internet, which will all be of very good standard.  But in the case of this half dozen, if you email info@eurocon2016.org we will put you in contact (first come, first served).

Our friendly contact person for these 6 apartments also offers a pick-up service from the airport to the apartment at Euros 30 (2015 price); the bus service to Plaça de Catalunya is currently Euros 6 per person.

A note about Tourist Tax:  Officially to improve tourist facilities, since 2012 there’s a tax per night within Barcelona as follows (including VAT), all prices in Euros:

  • Apartments: 0.72
  • Hotels below 4-star: 0.75
  • 4-star Hotels: 1.25
  • 5-star Hotels: 2.50

Programme

“Academic” programme items:  Members of the University of Nice (France) and of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona will be collaborating on topics.  And we hope to have a panel on Stanislaw Lem’s philosophy of science.  The curator of literature of European Capital of Culture Wroclaw (Poland) 2016 is interested in building cooperation between Lviv, Wroclaw, and Barcelona as regards celebrating Lem’s writings during our Eurocon.

George Orwell Walking Tour:  This will take approximately one hour, and has now been tested on foot.  Probably 30 people is ideal as a group; if many more sign up we’ll repeat the tour.  While testing the tour, by coincidence we came upon a dynamic young British tour guide near the Cathedral who called out to his group, “Has anyone ever heard of the writer Eric Blair?”  This guide went on to declare that George Orwell was shot in the throat on the roof of one of the buildings around the square which now bears Orwell’s name.  This is total nonsense, as the authentic (and free) Eurocon Orwell walking tour will explain—accept no substitutes!

SF in Portugal:  During this first ever Eurocon in the Iberian Peninsula we cannot neglect our neighbour country!  So far we have two Portuguese writer volunteers for a panel.

SFF in Germany:  We have one volunteer for a panel.

Filking:  We have a little bit of interest in SF folk-singing.

An item on Salvador Dalí:  Any interest?

Gaming:  We have interest in a panel about the new role-playing game Numenera written by Monte Cook and world-building; also from the card gamers of the (Spanish) Space Opera team.

The Romanian editor of Europa SF and of Fantastica.ro is interested in a panel on “What is the place of European speculative fiction within the world?”  Those venues have already promoted Spanish SF&F with a feature, for instance, by Mariano Villareal.  The Eurocon panel (or panels) could also explore solutions for better communication between the diferent euro-continental SF&Fs.

On offer are talks on Climate Change, Exobiology, and Science & Society, and a talk on Transhumanism & SF.

We very much welcome more volunteers and suggestions for the programme.


Publications

In harmony with the Barcelona Eurocon, currently Mariano Villareal and Sue Burke are running an IndieGogo crowdfunder to translate into English as Castles in Spain an anthology of best Spanish SF stories.  Palabaristas Press (Gijón) will very soon launch a Kickstarter to translate into English as Spanish Women of Wonder the all-female competition anthology Alucinadas edited by Cristina Jurado & Leticia Lara.  Also of great note in English is The Best of Spanish Steampunk (Ediciones Nevsky) edited & translated by James & Marian Womack.  A programme panel about Steampunk seems essential.  We are working on the possibility of a surprise tri-lingual publication of a classic work of Iberian SF for the Barcelona Eurocon.


Featured Place to eat well cheaply

#2: Restaurante Flamant

Calle Enrique Granados, 23.  (Between Aragó & Conseil de Cent)  Go for lunch any day 13.00 – 15.45, to take advantage of the Menu del día, the fixed price menu choosing from 3 starters, 3 mains, and 3 desserts, including bread, water, and a soft drink or a quarter of wine.

Here’s a typical lunch menu: black rice with allioli or carpaccio of courgette with parmesan & pesto or creamed potatoes with crunchy artichokes; followed by beef escalope with fried peppers and baked tomato or baked perch with asparagus & herb sauce or chicken breast with cheese sauce and assorted crisps; followed by baked apple with cinnamon cream or soupy strawberries with ice cream or plum cake with passion fruit foam.  All for a fraction over 10 Euros.

 

The menu is in Catalan, subtitled in Spanish, but we may produce a Catalan phrase book to go in the goody bag for conventioners.

There’s a small supplement to sit outside in the leafy pedestrianised street—but who wants to sit outside when inside is a gorgeous large palace of glass and mirrors?

 

Flamant is about 750 metres from the CCCB, north-west.  If this seems a bit far to walk through lovely streets, then go two streets further!—and you’ll reach Bier Cab, Carrer de Muntaner 55, with 30 craft beer masterpieces of the world always on draught (draft)—and they can feed you well too.  Their website  is worth admiring.

Tapas

are what you see in the window here:

“Tapa” means “lid”, and it’s said that a king once paused in a dusty village for a drink of wine, so the pub-keeper cut a slice of meat to put on top of the king’s cup to keep out the dust.  The king ate the lid with enjoyment and tradition was born.

Simple tapas come free with drinks in parts of Spain; more gourmet tapas, as in Barcelona, cost from 1 to 2 Euros and are worth it.  You can have a good  inexpensive lunch of a few varied tapas.

Cones of Cured Ham

Delicious Spanish jamón usually comes in thin slices, but here and there you can buy little cubes of ham in cones for snacking in the street—here trying to catch the eye of Russian visitors:

 


 

Featured Places to visit

 

#4: La Basílica Galería

Calle Sant Sever, 7.  Open 11.00 – 15.00, 16.30 – 20.30
This wonderful shop is inside the Gothic old city quite near the Cathedral.  (Do see the many white geese that live in the fountained courtyard-cloister of the Cathedral!).  Elsewhere nearby you can buy pretty good souvenir ceramics etc themed on Gaudí and Dalí, for instance, but La Basílica Galería is a treasury of art-jewellery and craft items—not necessarily cheap, but you can simply admire this large and very full gallery-shop, where no one will bother you.  If you want to buy a very special gift, here’s the place.

This is NOT a sponsored advertisement!—therefore we illustrate with the geese…

When a Cathedral goose dies, it cannot be replaced until a second goose also dies, so that two new geese will arrive together, as with Noah’s Ark.

No, wait, how can we resist showing the shop too!

#5: Cor Obscur bookshop.

Travessera de Gràcia, 245.  (NOT Passeig de Gràcia.)
A temple of Gothic literature et cetera, not huge, but just in case you’re passionate about Gothic or  happen to be wandering near there, 2 kilometres away from must-see Gaudí’s Parc Güell…

Plaza Real

#6: Parc Güell

Lavishly ornamented by Gaudí, is several kilometres north of Plaça de Catalunya.  If you approach from the seaward end, long open-air escalators carry you upward, though maybe a better approach is from the upper west side of the park.  However, this is a stop on the Hop-On & Hop-Off open-air tourist buses, and these buses give a brilliant view of the many kilometres of towering, varied Modernist street architecture which you mightn’t notice so much at grand level.  For instance, you’ll be level with the grand Principal floor of apartment buildings.  At street level, there’s the Bajo or bottom, probably a shop, above which is the Entresuelo, the mezzanine, on top of which is the Principal where the prosperous live(d), and only then do you come to the First Floor; so someone who lives on the Second Floor is a long way up.  Formerly  servants lived at the very top, though now the top has gone way up in the world as regards cost.

There are 3 different routes with 40 stops for these buses (overlapping at Must-Sees), which cost about Euros 25 for a day and are worth it, provided you sit upstairs, not during rain.  This view is only the beginning of this incredible park.

#6: Els Quatre Gats, also written Els4Gats

Carrer de Montsió, 2.
Tucked down an alley close to Plaça de Catalunya (use map!), this is Barcelona’s most famous Modernist Art Nouveau arts café, opened in 1897 by two of the chaps on the tandem (and two others who couldn’t fit on the bike).

The café was revived authentically after the Franco dictatorship, and has a nice menu as well as being fine for a coffee or something stronger.   A souvenir book in several languages is on sale.  Its elegant website has very cool views of inside.   Els Quatre Gats is close to the Palace of Catalan Music featured in PR1.

A Note about Water

The public water supply in Barcelona is completely safe, but traditionally the citizens buy bottled water for drinking since they say they don’t like the taste of the tap water.  You may or may not agree.  Bottled water is on sale cheaply in umpteen grocery shops and supermarkets; buying the same water from street stalls at tourist places can cost three or four times as much.  The city has many public drinking fountains in the city; the water from these is also perfectly safe, though take care with La Font de Canaletas near the top of Las Ramblas—a drink from this fountain will destine you to revisit Barcelona; not a bad thing.

Media Partner

Science Fiction & Science Fact Concatenation is a great source of European SF news, online at http://www.concatenation.org/   There’s a review by Sue Burke of the 2014 Hispacon

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