Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Barca! Barca!

If you've not been to Barcelona yet then you are missing one of the great cities of our time. The capital of Calalonia it has always been distinctly different from other areas of Spain (and the locals aren't quite sure whether they are part of Spain) and the language is also quite different (Bon Dia instead of Buenos Dias for example), as is the cooking and even the general outlook.

It had a huge boost in the early part of the last century when it was one of the foremost European cities for art, especially Gaudi, the architect. It is worth going there just to see some of his rather bizarre creations. But the whole city has a jump and a jive which is really rather different from anywhere else in Spain, and while it's different from anywhere else I've been on the Mediterranean I can only speak for what I've seen, not the totality. 

But if you're going to go there then obviously you need to think about Barcelona hotels. My recommendation would be to click through that link to a site that specializes in offering the best the city has to offer. It's possible to stay up by the Gaudi Park, where some of his best buildings are located, or perhaps near the Olympic Park. My own suggestion might be to stay on Las Ramblas, the central street for the nighly passagiero, perhaps here, right on Las Ramblas.

Another might be, if hotels aren't quite your thing, to rent an apartment in Barcelona by the night. Many areas of the city are available.

But wherever you stay, do make sure to get to Barcelona at least once: it's one of the great cities of the world.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Britney Spears and Rehab

There are suggestions that chcking into an expensive rehab place might not be the best option for Britney Spears. Unless you get down and dirty with the other addicts you don't learn the humility necessary, as Britney may find out later:

Britney Spears' pals hope she found solace at the luxury Promises rehabilitation clinic in Malibu but some experts question whether the spa-like center is the best place for the erratic pop star.

At Promises, Spears will be able to relax with the help of massages, walks on the lawn, horse riding, or she can simply sit and look at the ocean. At night there is a roaring fireplace. The center's Web site promises "uncommon luxury," and also private rooms - rare for what is billed as an intense rehab facility. Sounds more resort vacation than treatment hospital - and that's the problem, critics say.

Centers like Promises are designed to lure California's poshest clients. Indeed, its Web site claims it is popular with "celebrities" and "business executives."

"They say, 'We have 500 thread-count sheets.' It trivializes what we do," John Schwarzlose, head of the Betty Ford Clinic, told Newsweek.

"The best thing for you in rehab is to sit next to a guy from skid row and realize you're just as much an alcoholic as he is," he railed. "Learning humility is part of the recovery process."

My own opinion is rather different, that most rehab is in itself in fact a mistake. But that's another matter altogether.