Tag Archives | Montjuïc

Do Olympic cities really win gold by hosting the “Games”?

“The Olympics are a wonderful metaphor for world cooperation, the kind of international competition that’s wholesome and healthy, an interplay between countries that represents the best in all of us. “
– John Williams


During our recent trip to Barcelona, Spain I went on a mission to really see what the aftermath of hosting the Olympics really is.  The answer I found truly shocked me.

First off, you must know, that both Luci and I are huge fans of the games.  I remember fondly of donning my PJs to watch the games on our little black and white tele, watching the games.  Names like Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Mary Lou Retton are linked with my view of the games.  Victors of the games become national heroes overnight it seems.  Needless to say, I am bias when we start to talk about the games.  One must not overlook the international unity that the games create.

But what happens after all of the gold is given out, the spend-happy tourists have been lightened of their coin and the lights are dimmed?  Then what?

Barcelona an Olympic Story

From the start of the games with its dramatic torch lighting display, there was something magical about the Barcelona games:


The before and after picture of Barcelona is just as dramatic as one of those cheeky weight loss pictures where a huge hulk of man is turned into a bantam weight string bean.  The Olympics certainly changed the face, the mind, the strength, but certainly not the heart of Catalonia.

Barcelona 20 years after the Olympics

The Olympics have long been a huge endeavor for the cities that win the bid.  The sheer expense of building venues, building infrastructure to get to and from the events not to mention the efforts to attract the patrons that help pay for all of the above.

Here are the quick facts:


Installation and prep for facilities ($460 million usd)

Services to Olympic Family ($370 million usd)

Telecommunications and electronics ($240 million usd)

Competitions ($100 million usd)

Commercial Management ($10 million usd)

Ceremonies and cultural acts ($90 million usd)

Image and promotion ($80 million)

Security ($40 million)


Key Revenue:

Sponsors:  $580 million

Television Rights: $635 million


Bottom line:  It is estimated that the direct investments related to the games of Barcelona from 1986 to 1993 reached over $8 Billion.  Staggering.

Source: http://olympicstudies.uab.es


Infrastructure Legacy

The Olympic Stadium

The entire area of Catalonia is dotted with improvements.  The stadiums and venues, primary located in Montjuic, Diagonal, and Vall d’Hebron, are a lasting tribute to the games.  A lion share of these venues are still in full use today.  Transportation improvements were significant.  The improved ring roads of the city, improved mass transit capabilities made the city much more easier to navigate for come lately tourists like myself the and millions that call Barcelona home.  There was an increase in new sewage systems of 17%, new green zones and beaches increased a staggering 78%!  The results of these key infrastructure investments continue to pay mighty dividends today.

One of the infrastructure highlights is what has been dubbed, “the Most Beautiful Dive Pool in The World”:


Seeing the Olympic side of Barcelona today

Start your visit at the Joan Antoni Samaranch (The father of the 1992 Games)  Olympic Museum.  Located right next to the amazing Olympic Stadium.  Wander around the many venues located on top of Montjuic.   Footstep of famous Olympians adorn the sidewalk outside the entertaining Museum.

The Olympic Museum in Barcelona


One of the many interactive exhibits at the museum

Money, Money, Money?

Over a third of the game’s infrastructure improvements came from private hands.  This is impressive by any standard.  The Spanish state, regional authority and local municipalities footed the remaining 2/3rds of the bill.  The build up to the games and influx of investment caused a boon for those involved.   The population employed in construction grew 72% from 1985 to 1992.  The consumption of cement rose 74%!  The trickle down effect of this massive influx of investment spread across the entire region.  Average family incomes as well as tax receipts increased dramatically.  (http://olympicstudies.uab.es/pdf/od006_eng.pdf)

What might be one of the most telling reflections on the Barcelona Games is the number of cities submitting bids to host their own.  The total cities submitting bids went from 6 to 12.

Back to our original question asked at the begging of the post, do the games really help cities?  In the case of Barcelona you must say yes.




The Perfect Date in Barcelona

The Fighting Couple is always on the lookout for great day dates.    We found the perfect place during our recent visit to Barcelona, Spain.  In the center of town is a vibrant fruit and fish market.  Located right off of the Las Rambas, is La Boqueria.  Don’t get us wrong, there are a fair amount of touristas there.  But the market continues to perform a vital function for much the central area of town.  Walk up and down the aisles, take in the sights, sounds and smells of one of the really great traditional European markets.

Barcelona spainThe Perfect Day Date

The Boqueria is the perfect spot to get a start on your day date.  Wander around that many tempting booths of fruits and veggies.  Try some tapas.  Do some sampling.  Pick out some ripe strawberries, a passion fruit?, select a loaf of sour dough bread, and your fave beverage.  Best of all, don’t forget to buy some of the amazing Catalan Chocolate!  Head for the lovely vista of Montjuïc.  Take the metro, or hike to the end of Las Ramblas and walk along the harbor to the hill.  Once atop, you will have a commanding view of the city, and the harbor.  A beautiful sight on a sunny day.   There are many gardens along the north side of the hill.  Find your ideal secluded spot and enjoy your finds from the market.  Read some versus of the famed Catalan poet Salvador Espriu. As day turns to evening walk down the hill and take in the waterworks of the magic font.  A perfect ending to a perfect day.


barcelona spainHow to Make a Purchase

If your Spanish or Catalan is limited, the market can seem like a daunting challenge.  Don’t let your heart be troubled.  You are among friends.  This market is one of the more easier markets we have found to make purchases without a command of the native language.  Step one is to survey.  If you are looking for fruits, walk up and down each of the alleys to scope out your target.  It may be helpful to pick a both where there is not a line of people.  This will give you a chance to chat up your stall attendant.   Once you have identified the object of your desire, flash a big smile and point and ask “Quanto Questa?”  The response back will likely be in English.  Discuss quantity, fork over the euros and bam!  You have your items.  Now was that so hard?

Barcelona Spain
A word of warning about the market.  It is not immune of the pick pocketers.  It is close quarters inside the market.  Keep your belongings close by.

Barcelona Spain

A Little History

The market was founded around 1200.  At that time it was an over growth of another market in the area.  For the next 600 years the market held a butchers market, a pig pen and then in the mid 1800s the market was formally recognized by the town.  At the turn of the 1900s the metal roof that exists today was installed.  Today, the market is a destination for the local and visitor alike.


Have you been to Boqueria?  How was your experience?  What tastes did you have?  Leave a comment below and let us know.