Thursday, September 29, 2016

Barcelona's Torre Agbar - Past and Future

By Javier Castillo - September/29/2016


Depending on whom you ask you will get different opinions regarding Barcelona's Torre Agbar. Some people love the building while others see it as an eyesore, disrupting the cities emblematic skyline. Some residents describe it as a bullet, while others have a more lecherous imagination when referring to its profile. Regardless of what you think, the building, which got its design inspiration from the nearby mountains of Montserrat and was created to resemble the shape of water shooting upwards from a geyser, is reinventing itself for the coming years. As an official landmark and recognizable symbol of Barcelona, not to mention one of the most photographed monuments in the city, the building will soon give up its public function.

For the last 11 years it has been home to the Barcelona Water Company, yet more recently it has been sold off to the Westmont Hospitality Group (WHG) for close to $150M which will convert it into a luxury hotel. The deal wasn’t a smooth transition as current mayor Ada Colao and her agenda to freeze the issuing of licences for new hotels and holiday homes caused some initial difficulties. Colao had to settle in the end and permit the transaction due to pressure by several parties involved, as well as other binding legal reasons.

Torre Agbar was designed by Jean Nouvel, the same architect that renovated the Fábrica Moritz - Bar & Restaurant in Barcelona and which I wrote about here. The design is reminiscent of London’s own "The Gherkin" building. With its noticeable 38 stories it is one of Barcelona's tallest buildings and when the hotel is finally inaugurated it will then be the second tallest hotel in the city (behind the Hotel Arts Barcelona). When the hotel will actually open its doors is still to be determined but now that it has settled some of the municipal procedures and will soon procure its licensing paperwork, the next steps are the remodeling phase and once that's finished, the official grand opening. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

3 Uber Cool Coworking Spaces in Barcelona

By Javier Castillo - August/31/2016

Most people would say that work is done better together than alone. It is a fundamental philosophy behind why organizations thrive and it helps support the nature of team dynamics. Corporations have banked on it for years, and its true that camaraderie, teamwork and productivity don't happen in silos. If you aren't currently working in an office and need a change from working at Starbucks or from your home in pajamas, don't fret. Coworking spaces are a great solution. They exist to allow you to work alongside other individuals that appreciate the social, collaborative, and more formal aspects of an office environment. A coworking space and the habitat it spawns can and should be a good thing; sparking creativity, fostering a feeling that you belong, and perhaps the opportunity to break some ice and find a new client, a new co-founder, or even a new friend. That being said, here are the top 3 coworking spots in Barcelona:

1. betahaus I Barcelona
Carrer de Vilafranca, 7
(08024) Barcelona, Spain.

"At our location in Barcelona we have around 2000 sqmts divided in 6 floors and 5 terraces. You can spend your working day here, attend a workshop or build your prototypes in our maker area.  You can host your event at our facilities or use it as your breakout office. We have got open space for collaborative work as well as meeting rooms for confidential conversations." - Betahaus website

2. MOB (Makers of Barcelona)
Carrer Bailen, 11, Bajos
(08024) Barcelona, Spain.

"The philosophy of MOB is that of a self-perpetuating, ever-evolving creativity loop. By connecting people, who may otherwise not have the opportunity to know one another, we open an infinite chain of possibilities for collaboration. Your new friend has other new friends, who know other friends, who you should really know. Thus initiating both a strong micro-community and a wider reaching macro-community. MOB facilitates taking these new collaborations and manifesting them into something real by providing tools in the form of the newest maker technologies--like 3D printers and laser cutters-- skill-sharing workshops, and open-sourced knowledge sharing. New discoveries result in new ideas and the drive towards utilizing community in order to innovate." - MOB website

Photo Credit: Heike Schuricht

3. Valkiria Hub Space
Carrer de Pujades, 126  
(08005) Barcelona, Spain.

"We believe that talent, innovation and creativity are needed in order to foster a collaborative environment in which personal and professional development are paramount.
Through our services – including co-working, mentoring and event organization – our aim is to build a community which is pillared by the ideas and energy of those businesses, organizations, freelancers and entrepreneurs who, like us,  passionately work to provide value, generate new ideas and innovate." - Valkiria website

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Building by the Sea: Pier 01 Barcelona Tech City

By Javier Castillo - July/26/2016

Soon after the Brexit announcement last month, many economists and industry experts were prophesying that several major cities in Europe would benefit by becoming the new destination for international financial and technology firms.

While it’s certain many of these will see an influx of new business, companies, investments, and growth -- due to the UK fallout -- we all know the future is impossible to predict. Nonetheless, Barcelona is one of the often-cited cities to be a benefactor of London’s departure from the EU. And, while the city doesn’t really have a strong financial industry -- compared to say Frankfurt or Paris -- many startups and technology companies have sprung up in the last five years making the city, at present, an established and innovative tech hub. To further that point, Pier 01, the new 10.000 square meters startup headquarters that has taken more than 2 years and 3.5 million euros to develop, will surely become a reference in the city when one thinks about cutting-edge organizations, entrepreneurs, and the growing technological industry. Pier 01’s location is inside the 19th century Palau de Mar brick building and will house more than 80 startups which include the likes of ByHours, HolaLuz, and Letgo.

Besides offices, the space will conduct conferences, training sessions, and workshops catering to entrepreneurs as well as national and international companies. Regading the idea behind the name, CEO of Barcelona Tech City - Miquel Marti – explains that a “pier is where the boats arrive and get shelter, and that is what we’re doing for Barcelona startups, giving shelter.” According to President Miguel Vicente, it will be one of the largest “homes for entrepreneurs” in Europe in due time. And so, Barcelona will continue its claim of being a ever-growing hotbed for startups, entrepreneurs, VCs, and the like. All this will continue to put the city on the global map and echo the “Barcelona Inspires” motto the city adopted years back and which continues to ring true today. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Primavera Sound 2016 - A Festival Not To Be Missed

By Javier Castillo - May/31/2016

It's sweet music to my earsThat’s right, Primavera Sound is well on its way! June 1st marks the first official day of this top-notch festival that brings together an amazing array of artists to satisfy the musical tastes of all ages. 


Pop, rock, hip hop, electronica and more are well represented. What better way to great the month of June than dancing alongside your friends and other festival-goers to the sounds of Suede, LCD SoundSystem, Radiohead, Sigur Rós and other big names. The 3-day festival brings out an elite selection of more than 100 artists and bands from all corners of the world, gracing the many stages at Parc del Fòrum in Barcelona. This year's event is expected to break the record-setting attendance numbers of last year which stood at over 190.000 people. You can basically fit the entire Camp Nou (twice) with that many attendees. Since 2001, Primavera Sound has carved out its position as a solid reference when it comes to great musical festivals in Europe and, to no surprise, this has certainly helped put the Barcelona music scene on the map over the years.

For those interested in attending, there are still some tickets available that you can purchase here on Ticketbis:

Also for those smartphone savvy people, Primavera Sound has an app that you can download for in English, Spanish and Catalan and is available in both the App Store and Google Play:

For further information you can always check out the official website and Facebook Page:

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Paradiso: A Taste of Paradise in the Born

By Javier Castillo - March/31/2016

Do my eyes deceive me? What would cause a group of people to stand in line on a Friday night for what appears to be an ordinary-looking sandwich shop in the Born district of Barcelona? Are they giving out free sandwiches? Is this another recently opened Ferran Adrià hotspot? At first glance it doesn't make sense. Why would hordes of people eagerly queue at such late hours for two pieces of bread and some smoked meat? I approached the bouncer at the entrance and he informed me that it wasn't the pastrami sandwiches that were causing a stir -- the real reason,he clarified, was hiding behind a refrigerator door. As it seemed, the sandwich shop, which consequently serves excellent food, was a front for a hidden gem: the latest, ultra-trendy speakeasy lounge properly titled Paradiso. That’s right, behind one of the shops otherwise normal-looking refrigerator doors you find another world all together -- as if the person behind the idea read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe all too often and took inspiration, verbatim. The truth is Paradiso is the brainchild of the local Rooftop Smokehouse crew that always churns out delicious smoked artisan goods from, you guessed it, rooftop terraces, as well as local food trucks. 

However, Paradiso takes their game to a whole new level. One step inside and the decoration is what first hits you. It’s breath-taking and completely unexpected, with wood-paneling from wall to wall. Are we in a sleek Norwegian avant-garde cabin for hipster pipe smokers? Are we inside a petrified whale’s carcass cast in wood? The interior space was the product of pulling from various styles together such as Art-Deco and Minimalism and adding a splash of cool in the mix. It’s the sort of place where you would expect the staff to be wearing tight black turtlenecks and Warby Parker frames. Of course, they aren’t, but they are certainly some of the nicest and most attentive that I have had the privilege of being served by at any lounge in Barcelona. Drinks do often take their sweet time to be made, but what’s the rush? Expect that if you order a complex blend, when the place is packed, the wait will obviously be longer. Still, it’s the sort of place that won’t let that get to you. The chill out music (that despite being a bit loud at times) causes you to lose track of time and reality and helps settle your mood. So go ahead, kick back, and enjoy an expertly-crafted cocktail and if you are hungry order yourself a pastrami sandwich while you are at it. After all, you are worth it. And if adventurous and open-minded is how you would describe yourself, then a must-have is the Kentucky Whisky Sour. So next time you are in the Born area, step into Paradise; its closer than you think.

More Information:
Direction: Carrer Rera Palau 4, Barcelona, Spain
Telephone: 933 60 72 22

Monday, February 22, 2016

Mobile World Congress 2016

By Javier Castillo - February/22/2016

Wondering who all these new people in the city are? Did 20 cruise ships just unload passengers at the port? No my befuddled comrade, it's Mobile World Congress 2016 and it is well underway! The event that dates back to 1987 has had a bit of a slow start today due to a last-minute Metro strike. Yet, the city is certainly buzzing with energy, optimism, and - you guessed it - mobile-minded techies from all over the world. This is the biggest thing in Mobile. Period. This year Zuck was spotted over the weekend jogging around the city to unsuspecting eyes, taking in all the glorious sights Barcelona has offer. Today he made a surprise appearance at the Samsung event to hype up the new Samsung Gear VR.


The day will certainly play out with more exciting product announcements as well as some great demonstrations to catch the public's attention. One thing that is more prominent this year, compared to last, is the protagonism of virtual reality. It's the new "new" - appearing to take center stage and stirring up interest both at a B2B and B2C level. The future looks very bright indeed for Mobile and this Congress and its amazing turnout can attest to that. Here is a great infographic that clearly explains mobile's global reach in regards to subscriber growth trends from 2015 to 2020:

So, there you have it. Get ready for another great year at Mobile World Congress; here are a few important links and information to help you organize and stay ontop of things:

You can find the entire Conference agenda here:
Check out Mobile World Live - they are reporting on all the news realtime.
Check out Mobile World Live TV for live interviews and panel discussions, as well as keynote speech broadcasts.
Read the Mobile World Daily each day for their recap of all of the happenings at the event.
Follow the GSMA on Twitter here:
Last but not least, check out the after-parties here!:

Have fun and get your mobile on! 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Come Con Los Mishras - Indian Food Done Right

By Javier Castillo - January/11/2016

It takes over 10 hours to fly from Barcelona to India. That's almost half a day of travelling. As an Indian food lover and curry fanatic the long haul seems worth it. You would be right if you assume I'm exaggerating a little, but nonetheless I have tried my fair share of Indian restaurants all over the world, from San Francisco to London, and more recently here in Barcelona. I’ve explored many hole-in-the-wall joints and more upscale eateries. But the truth is that most of my past experiences have been lackluster at some of the better-known and recommended spots. I'm not labelling myself as a Indian food super-expert but I know quality and authenticity when its in front of me. Convinced that there has to be a great and genuine place here in the city where one can get truly bona fide Indian food - well-cooked and with fresh natural ingredients - I haven't stopped searching with my rumbling stomach and appetite for discovery. 

One day, out of sheer coincidence during an online search, I discovered Come Con Los Mishras 
(check out EatWith for other local gems). They aren’t found on TripAdvisor, Yelp, or Bon Appetite - or in any major publication or guide - and that actually might be a good thing. The merit comes in that secretly exclusive feeling and ambiance they provide, the warm-hearted service and company, and the brilliantly tasting and undoubtedly authentic dishes they create. The menu is diverse, focusing on a variety of traditional mouth-watering dishes from all over India. And to assure you are well taken care of, they only take one reservation per night for a maximum of 4 lucky guests. Come Con Los Mishras was an idea ex-ESADE Business School student Saurabh Mishra and his wife thought up. Their value proposition? Offer authentic, aptly cooked Indian food utilizing only the best ingredients and do it at a smaller scale so you can focus on making each and every single dish to perfection. You won’t find any supermarket brand curry powders being used. “We bring spices from India” Saurabh explains to me as I delightedly devour a fork-full of the rich Chicken Kundapur. “I have a passion to cook as well as entertain, that’s why we are not a traditional restaurant but rather a place to eat well and socialize” he comments.

I interview him further, over one of his fine dinners, to learn more about the idea behind Come Con Los Mishras (in English “Eat With The Mishras”):

1. Why have you started Come Con Los Mishras? It’s my entrepreneurial spirit. Besides, Farmantra - a financial services company for life sciences I founded - I teach finance which is another passion of mine. I started Come Con Los Mishras in order to diversify my risks. Also, there are several curries from my village in the east as well as delicious curries from the south of India. I thought this will be an opportunity to expose the food from these regions.

2. Where did you learn to cook? I learnt cooking myself when I was in the USA back in 2007. I was craving good Indian food and found that it was not possible for me to eat at restaurants everyday which was not only expensive but also not healthy. I started cooking as a hobby and that slowly converted to a passion of mine. I then started experimenting and cooking several dishes from different regions.

3. How long have you been cooking this type of food? I have been cooking for around 8 years.

4. How would you characterize this type of food? The food that I cook comes from different regions. In restaurants, you mostly get north Indian food such as Tandoori items, Naan, etc. At our place, you not only get food from the north India but also from south and east and many dishes that are cooked at home. Of course we do not have the Indian Tandoor oven and hence we cannot offer Naan that you get in restaurants, but the beauty about the food from all these regions is that if you are vegan/vegetarian you have hundreds of varieties of curries that are delicious and not bland. I have posted several of them on our Facebook Page ( Second, I do not burn the spices (Masalas) while cooking which is also very typical in Indian cooking. This way the benefits of having spices remain when you eat our food. We use a moderate amount of spices such that it is not very spicy yet it is delicious and healthy and something you can eat on an everyday basis. Last but not least you know what you are eating as its home cooked and we also eat with you and answer any questions you may have about Indian food or India in general.

5. What ingredients do you use, are the fresh and easy to find in Barcelona? We bring spices from India. Other herbs such as coriander leaves, fenugreek leaves, etc. are available here.

6. Where are the food and dishes from? The food is from the south, east and north. The first item you are trying tonight is usually serve (Idli) which is from the south. The marinated chicken (Hariyali chicken) is from the north. The fish curry with coconut milk that we sometimes prepare is from the coastal southwest area. Before every meal, I ask the clients by email their food preferences and any food allergies they might have before I shop for the ingredients and begin cooking.

7. What characteristics are the foods from the south of India compared to the rest? In the south are there are more fish or meat dishes? More curry dishes? The differences lie not in the use of meat or fish but in the use of spices and oils. For example, in the south using curry leaves is sine qua non. Also white lentils (Urad Daal) are used a lot and many dishes are cooked in coconut oil. In the east, Indian food, especially from Bihar and Bengal, uses mustard oil especially when making fish dishes, eggplant, and others. In the north we use cumin seeds as well as ginger garlic paste in almost all dishes. Due to the use of different spices and oils, the taste of the curries varies in every region and are very delicious as well. If you see this shrimp curry in coconutmilk dish it is made in mustard oil which also gives it a pungent flavor. This is a typical dish from Bengal in the eastern part of India. This shrimp curry dish, which is from the east of India – from the state of Bihar – is made in mustard oil (no coconut milk in this curry). If you are a vegan, check out this curry. Hence you can see how curries can be so different. It is difficult to get these curries in restaurants here in Barcelona that is why what we offer is unique. I’m really happy to have the opportunity to expose different foods from various regions of India, especially the curries.

Bengali shrimp curry with coconut milk

MasterChef Saurabh Mishra

Shrimp in mustard curry

The info needed to get your grub on:
Come Con Los Mishras 
Email and reservations:
Location: Gracia neighborhood, Barcelona, Spain