Dikesh Malhotra mixes business with pleasure at the charming seaside city of Barcelona  

Travelling is food for my soul. It gives me new ideas, perspective and a different approach to work and life. I mostly travel for business and as much as I’d like to enjoy the landscape, architecture and surroundings, I usually don’t have enough time.

Recently, I went to Barcelona, Spain to attend the Mobile World Congress (MWC). As a tech-freak, I was extremely excited to attend one of the world’s most coveted mobile phone events. Spain has been hosting the MWC for many years and the event attracts over 85,000 people each year. This meant that all the hotels in Barcelona were booked, the traffic was at its peak and there were so many

foreigners that to experience Spain in its entire authenticity wasn’t quite possible.

We booked rooms at a hotel in a city close to Barcelona called Sitges. It is a quiet, peaceful area with a riverside, away from the hustle and bustle, so it did make for some relaxing time. The medieval infrastructure reminded me of London, the same English style

alleyways and cathedrals lined the narrow roads. Barcelona is Spain’s second largest city after Madrid, its capital, and is rich in historical legacy and diverse landscape.

One of Barcelona’s most famous sightings, the Sagrada Família, is a large Roman Catholic Church that has been under construction since its establishment in 1882 (and I am not exaggerating!). Designer architect Gaudí died about 90 years ago but the site’s structure is

incomplete and it doesn’t look it will be in some more years. It might be the reason for the church’s popularity and thus it

being named one of UN’s World Heritage Sites. We were told that about 70 per cent of Spain’s population identify themselves as Roman Catholics, making churches more significant in spiritual value to them. That to me looked like Spain’s way of showing their tourists their culture and religious sentiments.

Being an avid football fan, I could not imagine being in Barcelona and not visiting Camp Nou. Home to some of the world’s football greats, it was a top priority to see the stadium I had seen thousands of times on TV. The walls filled with international trophies, Messi’s achievements, his golden boots, the league cups et cetera, was majestic to say the least. We even got the opportunity to sit on the player’s bench, the manager’s seats and the VIP box. It was déjà vu.

Spain, being bordered by both the Atlantic Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, is popular for seafood. The Mediterranean cuisine was very familiar and quite similar to my taste. I enjoyed their very famous Paella and noticed how different all the Paellas I had eaten

before was. Barcelona was quite reasonable with prices, so shopping was fun. Even though the only day I got to shop was Sunday and it is the day most shops closed, I got some really good deals in a place called Old Village. Spain to me is the perfect place to travel, mixing old culture with modern technology, great food and inexpensive shopping.

The experience was enriching but it didn’t end as well, as we came back to Kathmandu, our aircraft crash landed at the TIA. The next few days we were greeted by friends, family and journalists and I didn’t have time to reflect on my journey. It is only with this article that I am thinking about how fun the travel was and even though it ended scarily, it only made me appreciate life more and has encouraged me to continue to travel and see the world, in the life that I have!

Author is the President of IMS Group