Discover Performance

HP Software's community for IT leaders // October 2013
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Discovering innovative Barcelona

The Catalan capital city is the ideal setting for HP Discover. While attending the show, take the opportunity to explore Barcelona’s unique blend of history, art, innovative architecture, and contemporary cuisine.

HP Discover Barcelona 2013 is the ultimate technology conference of the year. When you register to attend the conference, consider staying an extra day or two to discover Barcelona’s many innovative architectural and culinary experiences.   

Barcelona’s monumental Sagrada Família not only dominates the city’s skyline, but also defines its philosophy of innovation. Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí designed his famous cathedral as a perpetual work in progress, evolving with the times. Barcelona is much the same. From the new bullring-turned-shopping-mall, Cúpula las Arenas, to its “molecular gastronomy,” Barcelona celebrates innovation and change, making it the ideal setting for HP Discover.

The conference venue itself, the Fira Barcelona Gran Via, and its surrounding revitalized neighborhood are also prime examples of Barcelona embracing the new. The modern Gran Via venue, which is the latest addition to the Fira Barcelona complex, was designed by 2013 Pritzker Architecture Prize winner, Toyo Ito.

The modern conference center is a model of sustainability, with one of the world’s largest photovoltaic roofs. It lies southwest of the city, roughly between the airport and city center, making it easily accessible to both. A variety of transport options service the venue, including local buses and trains; for more information, check the Fira Barcelona website.

Sights, sounds, and sangria

Choosing a starting point for exploring Barcelona is easy: Las Ramblas. This pedestrian mall is the city’s social and geographic centerpiece, cutting a wide swath through the old town, from Plaça Catalunya to the Mediterranean Sea. There’s no better place in the country to partake in the Spanish ritual of a paseo (stroll) than on Las Ramblas, which thrums with a carnivalesque energy.

Las Ramblas may be the best known, but Barcelona has many smaller walking streets that offer an even more local view of the city, including the nearby La Rambla de Raval, lined with palm trees and cheerful tapas-and-sangria bars that are considerably cheaper than those on Las Ramblas. And in general, this approach is an excellent way to explore the rest of the city. For every big-name sight, there is often a lesser-known alternative that reveals another side to the Catalan capital.

Gaudí’s acknowledged masterpieces include the Sagrada Família and the undulating La Pedrera. But for a glimpse into the architect’s earliest days, head to the Moorish-style Casa Vicens in the lively neighborhood of Gràcia. His first major architectural work, this private house features colorful tiling inspired by the marigolds that grew on the grounds, a foretelling of Gaudí’s signature touch of incorporating nature in his designs.

Holiday humor

Rising over the Gothic Quarter, La Seu Cathedral is a beloved symbol of the old town. During the holidays, it becomes even more so when the surrounding plaza fills with the Santa Llúcia Market (through December), the oldest holiday market in the city. Look for the uniquely Catalan caganer, a small figurine of a pooping peasant. The caganer is traditionally hidden in the back shadows of nativity scenes, introducing a mischievous scatological twist to this otherwise solemn scene. Equally mischievous is the wide variety of figurines—you’ll see everyone from President Obama to Barça footballers.

Top off the day with a hot chocolate, another holiday specialty, at the nearby narrow, balconied Carrer Petritxol, which is dotted with traditional cafés that have been sating sugar cravings for decades—in some cases, even the waiters are original.

Art and athletics

In the old town, make the obligatory stop at the Picasso Museum, housed in five adjoining medieval palaces. The superbly curated museum focuses on Picasso’s formative years, so you can discover Picasso as he was discovering himself.

Top off your Barcelona itinerary with a stop at one of the city’s most visited museums—which doesn’t cover art or architecture, but football. At Camp Nou, FC Barcelona’s home stadium, you can tour the interactive museum—and pick up Catalan phrases like “Visca el Barça” (“Go Barça!”), which will score you plenty of points with local fans.

Catalan cuisine scene

Contemporary Catalan cuisine has become synonymous with local chef Ferran Adrià, who transformed (and transfixed) the culinary world with his famous scented foams and revolutionary dishes. His innovative style has influenced menus across Barcelona, and the city has emerged as a top dining destination.

Even though the new cuisine grabs the headlines, Barcelona is still a master at traditional Catalan fare. For traditional tapas, venture into the side streets of the Gothic Quarter, where you’ll find crusty joints like the one-room La Plata, on Carrer de la Mercè. Try the Catalan botifarra (sausage), washed down with wine served directly from the barrel.

Cava is Catalonia’s answer to champagne, and for the best bubbles in the city, stop by El Xampanyet, also in the old town, on Carrer de la Montcada. Then feast at Comerç 24, helmed by chef Carles Abellan, who excels at experimental Catalan cuisine, with dishes like grilled cod topped with an airy pine nut foam that dissolves on the tongue. Look for marquee lights and a maître d’ in a top hat at the theater-themed Tickets Bar, the new restaurant by the Adrià brothers—try the rabbit ribs with aioli. Next door is their latest restaurant, the Peruvian-Japanese-Catalan Pakta, which opened in 2013.

A variety of designer drinking spots have recently opened in Barcelona, like the three-floor beer hall Fàbrica Moritz, housed in the old Moritz brewery. Or go to the Catalan wine bar Monvínic and toast the night with a wine (or three) by joining the crowds in saying “Salut!” (“Cheers!” in Catalan).

Register for HP Discover Barcelona 2013 and attend a great business event in one of Europe’s most beautiful, vibrant cities.


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