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Barcelona: Probably the Best City in the World!

Barcelona: Probably the Best City in the World!

There is nothing objective about this article. I love Barcelona and anything that I write about this city can only ever be positive. Of course, I have known tough times in the city too, but she always draws me back. I’m pretty sure she always will.

For those who have not been fortunate enough to ever visit Barcelona before, I hope these words inspire you to go for the first time. If you’ve already been, hopefully, this will make you want to return. Whether it’s your first time or your tenth, Barcelona will never let you down.

The Barrios of Barcelona

In the fifteen years that I have been lucky enough to call Barcelona my home, I have lived in well over 20 different apartments and in almost every neighbourhood (barrio) within the city.

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The Born was and still is one of the places a lot of tourists and students head to when they visit Barcelona today. The squares of Gracia are also a classic and often many people’s favourite memory once they leave the city.

In recent years, however, a lot of previously unheralded neighbourhoods have become a lot more interesting and exciting. Poble Sec and the nearby block of streets known as Sant Antoni have bars and restaurants to keep you entertained all day, and this is definitely one part of the city that I feel most comfortable in these days.

The Raval was my home for years and will always be a place I go back to. It might feel a little bit wild for some people’s tastes, but it is still one of the most authentic slices of real living, breathing life to be found in the centre of the city.

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The Architecture

You cannot write about Barcelona without talking about the architecture. His masterpiece, The Sagrada Familia, remains a work in progress, but Antoni Gaudi is the still Barcelona’s favourite son. Gaudi’s influence on the city is immense, with both visitors and residents alike forever in the debt of the great man for leaving such a magical imprint over so much of the city.

The buildings all over the city are impressive, but it is not just these structures that make Barcelona such a welcoming place. The old city planners who decided to grid the city in blocks deserve special mention for making this place so easy to navigate and the sheer number of open squares that just invite you to sit down for a second and take it easy under the sun are really something special.

Add into the mix all of the fantastic buildings that home some of the city’s best museums, and the cathedral and all of the beautiful churches, and it’s pretty impossible for you to not leave this place feeling inspired.

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The Culture

Barcelona is unique in that it is perhaps the best-known city in Spain, but for many residents, this is Catalunya, not Spain. This conflict is still an ongoing and open one, but the history of the story behind this sentiment, or its reverse, is very much a part of what makes life in Barcelona so interesting today. We are in Catalunya, but we are also undoubtedly in Spain, and in many ways, this contradiction is what seems to fuel a lot of the artistic passion within the city.

From the Picasso Museum to the fantastic National Museum of Catalunya (MNAC) up on the side of Montjuic, Barcelona has something to offer the tastes of all culture vultures. This vibrant culture definitely doesn’t stop with art either. Food, sports, film, music, literature, and anything else that plays into a great city’s cultural heritage can be found in the amazing melting pot that is Barcelona.

The Diversity

It is perhaps because the city is so conflicted in terms of history and its place within Spain that so many people from outside feel so at home here. The Catalans and the Spanish may fight over whom this city really belongs to, but for us outsiders, we can simply take pleasure in being here.

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Of all the cities I have visited in Spain, Barcelona is the most diverse both in terms of its visitors and the residents. It is a Catalan city. It is a Spanish city, but it is also a Filipino city, a Pakistani city, an Arab city, and a home both permanent and temporary for people from all over the world. It is where you can come for the best party ever, but it is also one where you can find yourself and make a whole new life.

As a young man from Manchester who had never lived away from home before, Barcelona stole my heart. I’m certain that it did the same thing to at least one more person today and that it will do so again tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after that. Don’t take my word for it, go and find out for yourself.

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How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

Keeping yourself awake at work can be a real challenge when you’re bored, exhausted or sleep-deprived.

But before you reach for that can of Red Bull, bottle of Mountain Dew, or pot of coffee, try these healthy remedies to stimulate your 5 different senses and help you stay awake at work:

Sight – Visual Stimulation

The first thing you do when you wake up is opening your eyes, so your visual stimulation is very important to keeping your energy level high.

1. Maximize your exposure to light.

Your body’s internal rhythm is regulated by the amount of light you receive. The greater your exposure, the more alert you will feel.

Open the shades and let in the sunlight. Step outside or look out the window. Turn on all the artificial lights in your office or around your work space.

2. Exercise your eyes (or give them a break).

Roll your eyes up and down, side to side and diagonally. Rotate them clockwise and then counterclockwise. Squeeze them shut and then open them wide. Do this several times.

Reading and sitting in front of a computer screen for long periods can lead to eye fatigue.

Take regular breaks with deliberate blinking and looking out into the distance.

3. Take note of your environment.

Learn to enjoy people-watching. Observe their activities, speech, body language and interactions with others. Notice the details of building, trees and other objects around you, including their color, shape and size.

By doing this, you’re not only relaxing your eye muscles but also calming your mind.

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Hearing – Auditory Stimulation

What you hear or listen to have direct effect on your brain. This is why we feel so annoyed and sometimes angry when we hear construction noise when we’re working.

4. Engage in conversation.

Talk to a friend or colleague. Trade funny stories. Discuss your business venture, a creative idea, the latest political scandal, or any other topic that interests you.

Practice mindful listening to what you and the other person are saying. Tune into the tone, volume and content of the conversation.

Learn how to practice better listening from this guide:

Why Listen to Reply Instead of Understand Is the Key to Failure

5. Listen to upbeat music.

Try hip hop, rock or jazz to keep you alert. Instrumental, non-distracting music works best.

Sing, whistle, and hum along if you can. Plug in the earphones if you must.

Smell – Olfactory Stimulation

If you’re feeling sleepy and suddenly smell the coffee, you’ll probably feel more energetic. This is why smell is an influential stimulation.

6. Work your nose.

Aroma therapists recommend essential oils of peppermint (to boost energy), rosemary (to build awareness), eucalyptus (to increase oxygen), cedarwood  (to activate your mind), and cinnamon (to improve your reaction time).

If you don’t have essential oils on hand, you can use lotions or burning candles that provide the same scents.

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Citrus like lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges are also natural olfactory stimulants. Get a whiff of these citrus scents to stay awake.

Taste – Gustatory Stimulation

If you want an energetic day at work, you can’t let your tongue feeling plain and flavorless.

7. Have a good breakfast.

Start off with the most important meal of the day.

Think fresh, light and healthy: bran cereals, wholegrain breads, fruits, and yogurt.

Nix the heavy stuff like sausages, greasy eggs or pancakes.

Need some breakfasts inspirations? Check out these ideas:

20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time

8. Drink lots of water.

Keep a glass or bottle of H2O near you and sip from it throughout the day. Dehydration can leave you feeling tired, sluggish and sleepy.

So make sure you drink enough water throughout the day. Not sure how much to drink? This can help you:

How Much Water Should You Drink Each Day (and How Much Is Too Much for You)

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Think that you’ve been drinking too little water? Try these friendly reminders:

3 Best Apps To Help You Drink Much More Water

9. Eat energy-boosting snacks.

Nuts and fruits (like bananas, apples and strawberries) are sure bets. Pairings with staying power include baby carrots with a low-fat cream cheese dip; celery sticks with peanut butter; red peppers with hummus; and plain yogurt with granola.

Avoid carb-filled, sugary snacks that make you crash and leave you feeling tired.

Here you can find some healthy snack ideas:

25 Healthy Snack Recipes To Make Your Workday More Productive

Touch – Tactile Stimulation

Last but not least, your sense of touch will make you physically feel more energetic and less stressful.

10. Splash cold water on your face.

Do this in the morning, during bathroom breaks and in the afternoon. Being exposed to cold water pushes your body to adjust and regulate its internal temperature, which in turn keeps you alert.

This works the same as you take a cold shower to increase mood and alertness. Take a look at this article to learn more about it:

5 Surprising Benefits of Cold Showers

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11. Use acupressure.

Apply pressure to, massage, or tap on the stimulation points of your body. These include the top of your head, the back of your neck, the back of your hand (between the thumb and index finger), just below the knee and your earlobes.

Watch this video to learn about the acupressure points you can try:

12. Get moving.

Move away from your chair and stand, walk, run or climb the stairs. Feel the earth under your feet. Stretch and twist. Do jumping jacks, lunges, push-ups and back bends.

And if you need to move more discreetly, wiggle your feet, bounce your knee up and down, scrunch your toes, or cross your legs.

You can also try some simple stretches and exercises at your desk:

Unlike addictive caffeine fixes, these remedies activate your senses, engage your attention, amp up your energy and prevent morning grogginess and afternoon slumps without the side effects or health risks.

Pick a few ways from this list of suggestions and practice them consistently. And when you do this consistently, you’ll soon see the positive results — a more energetic and productive you at work.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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