By | November 13, 2018

Photo credit: All images courtesy of Getty Images unless otherwise noted.

¡Buenos días, Barcelona!

Inspiring ideas and tantalizing tapas will be on the “menu” at Sphera’s next inspire EMEA user conference, which will be held in beautiful Barcelona, Spain, from June 3-6, 2019.

Thinking about Barcelona might evoke notions of its rich history, the food, the fun, the splendiferous sangria or the many beautiful places to see—but don’t forget the beaches!

Time for a Day at the Beach

Barcelona beaches

Keep in mind that organizing the Olympic Games is no day at the beach, but don’t tell that to Barcelona. It’s hard to believe that its world-famous beaches, which are part of what National Geographic called the “Best Beach City in the World,” were not even designed or designated for leisure or tourism activities before the city hosted the Summer Olympics in 1992. That means that as Michael Jordan and a who’s who of NBA superstars known as the Dream Team were swishing jump shots by the score, tourists and residents alike were able to swish around Spanish cocktails by the shore.

That includes Barceloneta Beach, which is about a 15-minute cab ride from the Catalonia Barcelona Plaza Hotel where inspire takes place. Barceloneta is considered the most popular of the seven seaside spots in Barcelona, and a place you might want to see before the conference begins.

With average daytime temperatures of about 24-degrees Celsius/75 degrees Fahrenheit and predominantly sunny skies during the day, thrill-seekers can participate in many water-based activities from flyboarding—using a board to propel yourself as high as 12 meters (almost 40 feet) above the sea for 77 euros/$87 for 15 minutes and 144 euros/$164 for 30 minutes—along with catching some air on a high-speed inflatable raft ride (30 euros/$34) and parasailing (90 euros/$102).

Barcelona’s beaches also offer a lot of fun activities that aren’t wet and wild—from renting hoverboards for about 20 euros/$22 an hour to beach volleyball—but if you spike the ball too hard and it winds up in the water, don’t blame us!

Do you want to know a secret? If you’d like to satisfy your hunger pangs after enjoying the beach, consider booking a three-hour Tapas Secret Food Tour. Highly rated on Trip Advisor, this small tour takes participants to neighborhood restaurants to feast on paella (a rice and seafood dish), cheeses, wines and much more. Understanding Spanish is not required since tour guides will be on hand to translate the menu for you. The cost is about $87 per person.

Aquatic Activities

Barcelona Aquarium

For those not interested in getting wet and have satiated their taste for tapas, then L’aquarium Barcelona should satisfy the needs of those fishing for a memorable experience. Less than a 20-minute walk from Barceloneta Beach, Barcelona’s aquarium is something to behold.

The oceanarium, for instance, gives people a chance to experience the underwater world of the Mediterranean without getting wet. A transparent tunnel allows patrons to see the sea in all its glory from moray eels to sunfish to sand tiger sharks and more. If that’s not close enough for you, the aquarium also offers a shark tank dive in a cage where you can immerse yourself directly into the sharks’ daily activities for 150 euros/$171. Not a close enough encounter for you? On select days qualified scuba divers can enter the shark tank for 300 euros/$342 and swim near the sharks.

Magic in Motion

Beyond the beach and the sea, another popular attraction that we can thank the Olympic Games for is the Montujic Magic Fountain, which is pictured at the top of this blog. Less than a 20-minute walk from the inspire conference hotel, it’s a must-see while taking a casual evening stroll. The fountain has a rich and, ahem, colorful history. It was actually built in 1929 for the International Exposition—an astonishing feat for the time—was badly damaged during the Spanish Civil War of the late 1930s, was restored in the 1950s, and then fell into a state of decay and disrepair in the ’70s and ’80s. So before Magic Johnson and the rest of the Dream Teamers could perform their prestidigitation on the basketball court, Barcelona was casting its own presto chango to restore and improve its “magic” fountain. Incidentally, the Magic Fountain was updated again in 2010 to use groundwater to promote sustainability efforts. That’s an environmentally wise decision that Spherions can certainly get behind!

Barcelona has a history of holding on to parts of its history stemming from famous cultural events. The Barcelona Zoo, for example, opened in 1892 in the Parc de la Ciutadella. This is where the Universal Exposition was held in 1888. The zoo became famous in the mid-’60s for housing a unique albino primate named Snowflake, who called the zoo home until he passed away in 2003. Brought to the zoo in 1966, Snowflake became a celebrity the following year when National Geographic featured him on the cover. In 2006, the Barcelona Zoo dedicated its gorilla exhibit to Snowflake with a large mural on the building and an exhibition inside detailing his story. Besides gorillas, the zoo also houses some unusual birds like the Congo peafowl as well as Chinese alligators and the giant Komodo dragon lizards from Indonesia, among other species. There is a 10 percent discount for buying tickets online (19.25 euros/$22).

Speaking of dragons, on the other side of the Parc de la Ciutadella is the Castell dels Tres Dragon building, which—surprise, surprise—looks like a tall castle and was built for the 1888 exposition. Today the building hosts the Museu de Ciències Naturals de Barcelona (the Barcelona Museum of Natural Sciences), which houses an exhibit called “Planet Life” designed to give Earth the biography it so richly deserves. Regular admission is just 6 euros/$7.

Building On and On

 La Sagrada Familia

If architecture is your thing, then Barcelona has got you covered. La Sagrada Familia, a temple designed by renowned architect Antonio Gaudí, is a work of art indeed. Gaudí, himself, worked on it for 43 years until his untimely death in 1926, and some 90 years later, the temple is still only about 70 percent complete. By one estimate the project will be completed around 2032, which would be right around the 150th anniversary of when the first stone was laid. A ticket to see the panoramic view from the towers costs 29 euros/$33, but a basic ticket without the view will run you 15 euros/$17.

Pure Picasso

Picasso Museum

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Want to work some other works of art into your schedule? May we suggest paying a visit to the Museu Picasso where more than 4,000 of the famed surrealists works are housed, including soPicasso paintings such as “Painter Working,” “Portrait of Jaume Sabartés With Ruff and Cap” and “Seated Man.”

Gotta Dance

Flamenco Dancers

You know what else is an art form? Dancing. And there aren’t many dance categories that are more elegant and expressive than the traditional Spanish flamenco dance. If that’s on your radar, then you might want to golpe­—stomp, basically—your way to Tablao Flamenco Cordobes. Since 1970, guitar players have quickly plucked and then strummed the nylon strings of their flamenco guitars as men and women danced to the beats reverberating from the string instruments. Tickets for dinner and a show cost 79.5 euros/$90 or 45 euros/$51 for the show and a tasty adult beverage. It’s only about a 10-minute ride from the hotel.

Food and Old-time Fun

If you want to head a bit further from the hotel—about a 30-minute cab ride—the Palau Requesens is a throwback to another century. Literally. Built in the 13th century, guests can relive Medieval times through a tour, a show that ought to get you fired up and, of course, a Catalan menu based on the cuisine of the time. You can get a 10 percent discount by booking through the Visit Barcelona website, where dinner and a show will cost about 64 euros/$73 per person.

Sangria toast

For those looking for a more modern tapas menu, you won’t need a ticket but you might want to visit Tickets. Yeah, that’s the ticket! The World’s 50 Best Restaurants listed Tickets as the 25th best place to dine on Planet Earth. With notable tapas like crunchy octopus, lobster claws with “sobrassada” sauce and an “enigma” oyster that is raised in super-chilly temps and fed to “enhance” its flavor, there’s something for all the gourmands out there. Note: The Menu changes by season.

Tickets restaurant Barcelona

Courtesy of Tickets Restaurant, Barcelona

Of course, there is much, much more to see, do, eat and drink in Barcelona, including a no-brainer stroll down Las Ramblas to shop, dine and enjoy the scenery, but there’s only one inspire.

In the coming weeks, we will be announcing the list of keynote and thought leaders who will be speaking at inspire, but until then, you can check out the list of excellent training sessions already scheduled for June 6. Register now to reserve your spot at inspire EMEA 2019.

¡Hasta pronto, amigos!