I'm used to writing about films and I've been told to attempt to write about my rare travel excursions and being a yout' that loves a challenge I accepted.
What my friends didn't mention was that they did a secret survey of my work amongst themselves and apparently they came to one overwhelming and affirmative conclusion; "My writing stinks and so do I!"
So with that sobering thought freshly in my consciousness I decided that a change of emphasis was needed so instead of films, today I will be writing about my trip to...Barcelona. A city that I've been to before, however this was the first time for wifey who was accompanying me, so hopefully, she was in for a treat.
It is a beautiful city consisting of roughly 1.5 million people who have arguably the best football team of all time (do you need me to tell you this? Isn't this the universal opinion?) The team also features the world's greatest footballer, Lionel Messi who was named after Lionel Ritchie (the lead singer of The Commodores).
So I've told you a little bit about the place but what’s it like for shopping, eating and getting around?
Read on and hear more from me and my take on a truly breathtaking city that the ambitious are drawn to ...

Thursday April 4th 2013

Getting around Barcelona couldn't be easier it can be done by using Barca's state of the art Metro system or utilising the many yellow and black taxis dotted around the place. We used one to get from the airport to the hotel.  The journey time was roughly 15mins and cost us €30 however our hotel which was called The Alimara (4 Star), and is located about 15mins away from the city centre via the world famous Metro system, and costs €10 for two people, giving the users ten trips which you'll have to acknowledge is CHEAP!
For those who know me would realise that I'm a seasoned traveller having travelled to Melbourne (Derbyshire), Allenton (Derby) and California (1 mile outside the city centre of Derby) so I know how to get around.
I told Wifey before the trip that I'd got all the things I needed so I wouldn't be doing any shopping, it's all about you Baby Girlfriend!
So we walked "hand in hand" onto the Metro, walked up the steps leading from the underground to terra firma, gasped at the splendour of the architecture in the city of Catulunya. Then I virtually broke her hand, as I ran into the huge Zara outlet to try on then asked the beautiful girl behind the counter to save me three garments until Saturday that “I just had to have!”  For some strange reason, at this point, wifey was giving me looks that could kill! (Women eh!)
Whilst walking around the city that could easily be my second home I met a young Japanese man who had a shop in the city in one of the back alleys off an area called Las Ramblas.  The guy was selling some seriously great glasses so I took the liberty and I tried on several pairs needless to say they all looked good. 
Tepe (his name) told me that he ended up in Barca because he had a desire to sell his own range of glasses having collected vintage glasses for 12 years.  I saw a brown pair for €140 which I may just sneak back over the next few days and buy! Have a look at his wares on www.wildestore.com
Whilst chilling in my hotel room after my shopping spree.  I mean fact finding trip, I was watching TV and noticed the same report on repeat that there's a potentially new outbreak of Bird Flu aka H7N9. This made me think "haven't we been here before!" Well, judge for yourselves. 
These are some of the "Plagues" we've had that spring to mind in the last few years.
Bird Flu =100s of deaths. 
Tami flu = 100s of deaths
Common flu = 250,000 deaths per year.
We are being scare mongered repeatedly by those who are in line to make the most financially from these diseases and who benefits? The same people who only need 5% of the users of their product to pass the clinical trials for their product to get FDA approval.
"Big Pharma" has a vested interest in you being scared and them having the cure, why? Because it spells "ker-ching!"
Another quote from an executive from Big Pharma is "90% of our products only work on 70% of users"...
Both stats are rubbish.
You decide...

Friday 5th April 2013

I'm still loving the city and surrounding areas.  What I love about the sunny areas of Europe which is better known as PIGS (aka Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain, Barca is part of Spain) is that the weather is virtually guaranteed unless your name is gman or you're travelling with gman or you're taking advice from anyone called gman!
It has rained everyday; however, we've had a great time.  Why? Because we have each other! What I mean is if you focus more on the great company rather than the weather then life quite simply is good.
While I've been here I have discovered two things that I think are interesting and also what I feel is worth sharing.
Firstly, even though people of African origin are considerable in number, in this day and age we still stick out like a sore thumb aka we do not blend into a society designed to negatively exclude us on mass unless we play a sport.
Also I feel that Britain has a lack of understanding of how Europe and the area called PIGS views people of African origin.  I also felt that we (wifey and I) were on show wherever we went.
For example, I left wifey perusing on another floor of a clothing store while I bought stuff in the Men's section and arranged to meet up with her later.  When I went to the floor we had agreed to meet on I couldn't find her.  I tried every floor and was about to ask the assistants if they had seen her.
I felt that the language barrier was gonna be a problem for me to try and describe her, so immediately the thought came to me to use the fewest English words as possible.  I tried to communicate by saying "excuse me," then used my hands to show a short person and then said "Negro" denoting her colour/race.   
Now some people may feel that I had no real reason to use such words to describe my wife, however, its a word I felt everyone around me would have been comfortable to use, just like how a Brit might say in greeting "hiya" and the Spanish "hola" I felt these terms would have been acceptable to the Spanish which brings me to my second point.
The Liverpool FC player Luis Suarez who called an opposition player "Negro" a few years ago and was not just castigated but was labelled a Racist even though he is classed as being of mixed heritage himself, so he would understand more than most.  Before people judged him so harshly they should have remembered or taken into consideration that he is a descendant from the African continent and he had been plying his trade in Europe and The Netherlands in particular where they are renowned for their tolerance.
I do not find the word Negro offensive in any way because it denotes a colour just like "Blanco" is used on the continent a lot because it means "White." I've also been to Ghana where they referred to the light skinned Jamaican man I was with as "Bruni" meaning "White man" (no offence meant and I know none was taken).  These terms, though lazy, aren't meant to give offence whereas the other 'N' word can never be a term of endearment to any right thinking person of colour or otherwise because it doesn't define the colour or race of a person rather it insults/denigrates the recipient (just saying).
On our journey back to find the store selling glasses I passed an outdoor market style shopping area where I saw a leather bag that can hold a large laptop.  Now if you know me you know I love bags, so buying it from the lovely designer was the only thing to do. Her name is Eva, and she informed me that she has a blog site and would I mind if she took a picture of me with the bag because it suited me so well (her words not mine. You know I'm far too modest to boast and state that I'm a fantastic specimen of a human being however, I digress!)
Check out Eva's blog at Kiniria.blogspot.com and if you want a great bag like mine at the great price of €85 in the softest leather then email her on Kiniria@gmail.com
What I love about chilling in Europe is the traditional coffee shops and my favourite one is called Bou.  Think very traditional in look, selling all types of coffees/drinks (I didn't see any tea though) and also with a food menu.  Check out its website to see what I saw www.cafesbou.com let me reiterate that it is the best coffee shop we have seen and visited on our trip and the best one I have been to for service, style and products...

Saturday 6th April 2013 - The final full day here.

I had the opportunity to go to the match between Barca and Mallorca however I had taken a trip to the ground the day before.  Instead of milling around the ground, or even paying €23 for a tour of the pitch area, like many of the other tourists we saw, we chose to spend our money in the coffee shops or buying stuff we wanted.
"The journey can be just as exciting as the destination"
We returned to the hotel early after eating a very bad Indian meal which I have to say was without doubt the worst meal I have ever purchased abroad.
Wifey ordered Chicken Rogan Josh and I ordered Chicken Bhuna.  When our dishes came to the table they both looked and tasted the same! (Note to self; avoid this place like the plague!)
Back in the hotel, feeling a little bit disappointed about having been through something no human should ever have to experience, I decided to sleep.  A deep but troubled sleep, filled with the thought that I was missing something, that I'd not done or that I should have done.
I felt that I needed to go back and get the glasses even though I don't really wear glasses or more importantly need them, but I thought I'd "follow my mind" and make my way back to the city and see if I could A: find the shop and B: would it still be open when I got there?
I remember Tepe the Designer/Owner of the bespoke spectacles shop who had told me the day before that they closed for an hour between 3-4pm then opened again right up until 10pm (or was it 9pm?). The time I set out from my hotel was 8:35pm and the metro ride was roughly 20mins but to find it could take roughly 30mins however I aimed to get there before 9:15pm.
I asked a Policeman for directions and based on his guidance I arrived at the sister shop just as they were closing!
I explained to Cao (who I had met on Friday at the other shop) and told him that I seemed to have stumbled on his shop, also called Wilde, and that I wanted to buy the glasses I had seen in the other shop, which Cao explained was now closed.  However, he offered to go and get the ones that I had previously tried on and loved from there.  As he's gone I'm left with another member of the Wilde team.  
A chap called Franz who's Brazilian and a football fan (obviously) he loves Barca but he isn't a fan of Mourinho based on his treatment of the Brazilian contingent at Real Madrid.
I wanted Franz's opinion on the upcoming Football World Cup in his home country next year.  He said that he had left his country due to the violence meted out on the streets by robbers and pickpockets which reminded me of the film "The City of God" (if you haven't seen it then you need too).
He explains that in his opinion Brazil 2014 maybe problematic due to the afore mentioned problems. We will see though eh... 
While we're shooting the breeze Tepe pulls up on his fixed wheel bike and states his surprise at seeing me again.  I explain my journey to the shop and we agree that it isn't a coincidence but a "Co-ordinated Instance!"
Cao arrives back with my glasses which I try on for the umpteenth time and hand over my Visa card. While this is all going on Cao explains he's originally from Manchester and has travelled around various parts of the world before deciding to live in Barca.  He also explains that he would love to open up a Wilde store in London at which I stated, "You never know."
One of the main things I've learned while being here in the beautiful city called Barca is that the country attracts people from all over the world who don't just fall in love with the city, many have decided to not just be seduced by the intoxicating city, but to offer their peculiar skills to the city and make a living.
This seems to be the ethos that has brought the individual's from varying countries to all come together with a common love of vintage and unique glasses to form Wilde. 
I also met another member of the Wilde team who stated he was from Venezuela and as a point of contact;  I mentioned "Chavez" at which he replied "Michael Jackson" which made me realise, be more clever when trying to start up an intelligent conversation!
Speaking of football, the TV was constantly repeating the return at of the footballer who seems to embody the spirit of the club, Abidal to Camp Nou.  He had been ill with kidney problems for a while and had a transplant. After 402 days recovering he makes an appearance for Barca and plays for 22mins which is some feat and testament to his fitness. 
Also making an appearance at the same match after many months out recuperating from cancer was the manager Tito Villanova.  Both men reinforced and demonstrated the ethos of Barca and their motto which is "More than a club."
After the match he was hugged by all and took off his shirt to reveal a slogan thanking his cousin for donating part of his liver.

Sunday 7th April 2013 - Sunday, Sunday...

Time to return home having spent three nights in the not so sunny but however truly wonderful Barca.  Do I recommend this place? Yes, if you like great scenery, historic buildings, great coffee shops, Barca FC or just like to shop, then this place is definitely for you.
Two things to bare in mind whilst in Barca:
1: When frequenting the many coffee shops and if you order a chocolate drink you are in fact ordering a cup of molten chocolate which looks more like a dipping source and is very, very thick.
2: When crossing the road look left and right, do not be overly reliant on your ears otherwise you may end up in "De Hospitalé" having been hit by the very quiet and Eco friendly Toyota Prius! 
Finally my marks out of 10 for this fine city, 10 because it has all I need.  Wifey scored it 8.  Chesterfield FC Striker and a person who's travelled there also gave Barca an 8 but I wonder what you will give it?
Now to fly back via Ryan Air courtesy of the generosity of @Davidjgolding and @MrHague333 who have allowed me to live my dream and to truly be @ZeN
Where next? Dubai in just over a week!!!! 
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Article by @gmanzen / 9th April 2013


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