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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Barcelona Malaga High Speed Train plan set!

After MUCH ado about nothing for the last several decades, lots of talk and little action, Development minister Magdalena Alvarez has finally revealed top secret plans about the upcoming Barcelona-Malaga High Speed Train (AVE) connection.

The greatest surprise of the aforementioned announcement is that the AVE train will not pass through Madrid. Talk about cutting out the long-standing middle man! How will the affect Madrid's commercial standing? Probably not too much. They may lose some money on the sandwiches and coffee they would've otherwise sold during the 35 minute layover but that's probably about all.

The "Direct Train Line" (which includes several stops along the way) will shave off 5 hours from the otherwise exhausting 13 hour trip between the two cities.

Currently, there are only two trains per day making this route; one leaves Barcelona at 8am and the other is a night train or "Train Hotel", leaving Barcelona at 9:30 at night and arriving in Malaga the next morning at 9:49am. I can't bare to imagine how I would feel after sitting for 13 hours!! At the very least on a train you can get up and walk around somewhat casually, go to the dining/bar car, have a sizable toilet in which to do your "business", and movies and recorded musical stations - in Spanish. But still, it takes its toll, I'm sure.

No projected date has been set yet for the grand opening of the Barcelona-to-Malaga train line. My guess is it won't happen for another 10 years - but at least now they're more seriously considering it.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Barcelona Drought - Water Delivery

Barcelona's drought continues to worsen and drastic steps must be taken.

The first consideration is to ship water to Barcelona - by ship - from the French from the Rhone River in Marseille, France. Other considerations include receiving shipments of water from the Tarragona or even, more drastically, a desalinization of Mediterranean waters from Murcia.

10 years have passed since the Barcelona region has experienced such low levels of rain. But Barcelona isn't the only city or region which has had so little rain. Most of Spain has had the same problem in 2007.

The Catalan government continues to ask its residents to conserve water. If drought conditions continue when the summertime dry season arrives, the region will be in a desperate state.

In 2009, Catalunya hopes to start its own desalinization program for its citizens use. The desalinization plant would be located between Barcelona and Tarragona. What would this do to the water levels in the Mediterranean? Aren't special permissions required from the European Union or the neighboring countries?

So when in Barcelona, don't expect to be offered a glass of tap water in area restaurants. Besides, it's not the custom in Spain. You have to request water. And be sure to specify TAP water ("agua de grifo") - if that's what you want - or your waiter will bring you bottled water. Or just avoid the whole issue and order wine!!

Be sure to read the article entitled, "Drought and Desertification of Spain".

Saturday, January 5, 2008

La Cabalgata de Reyes de Barcelona

It's that time of year again when the Cabalgata de Reyes Magos passes through Barcelona City - as well as through the different districts in smaller versions. The parade is a celebration for tomorrow's Reyes Magos de Oriente holiday when these Magic Kings bring presents to all the good girls and boys.

At 5:30pm today, the "The Three Wise Men" - Melchor, Gaspar, and Baltasar - arrive in Barcelona's Portal de la Pau.

The annual Christmas parade starts at 6:30pm at the Avenida del Marquès de l'Argentera and will pass through Via Laietana, Plaza del Àngel, Urquinaona, Calle de Fontanella, Plaza de Catalunya, Calle de Pelai, Plaza de la Universitat, Ronda de Sant Antoni, Calle de Sepúlveda, Vilamarí, Lleida, Rius i Taulet, and, finally, the Fuente Mágica de Montjuïc. The parade ends at approximately 9pm.

While the tens of thousands of children await the arrival of the Reyes Magos de Oriente - and the 15,000 kilos of tiny candies thrown their way - little do they realize this is costing their parents (and the City of Barcelona) 400,000 Euros. Wow! I'm totally in favor of tradition and annual Christmas parades but 400,000 Euros!! (source)

Also, this is the first year in several decades which TVE, Spain's national television station, will NOT be broadcasting Barcelona's Cabalgata live. Instead, TVE's news magazine program "España Directa" will televise Barcelona's Cabalgata in delayed broadcast. But to watch the Cabalgata LIVE in Barcelona you'll have to be tuned to BTV, Barcelona's local television station.

One can watch BTV live online - IN CATALÁN language - on the internet via the BarcelonaTV link on BarcelonaMan's Barcelona Radio, TV, Music, and Movies page. The broadcast begins at 4:40pm.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Barcelona Bus Drivers Strike

The bus drivers strike in Barcelona City ends tomorrow - for now.

The strike, with dates of 21-24 December 2007 and 2-4 January 2008, is coming to an end. The bus drivers, whom work 6-days per week, are asking for a 5-day work week. Seems fair to me. But with that, no doubt, will also come a lower weekly salary.

Barcelona also has the metro, thankfully, but with the entire city depending on the already busy metro system, PARTICULARLY during the holidays when people are most on the movie, this a not very positive alternative. Many older persons prefer buses to metro and can't afford taxis - although it's probably the taxis whom benefiting from this conflict.

A number of Barcelona bus drivers are being blamed for sabotage of the 54 buses operated by "scabs". "Scabs" are people whom go against the strike and work instead of striking. Bus stations were also vandalized with spray paint, expressing the wants of the strikers.

How do you feel about the bus strike in Barcelona? Share your views, opinions here. It's unfortunate workers must resort to striking but, of course, employers are typically slow or apprehensive offering "more" when they can get away with less.