Barcelona is a beautiful, ancient, dizzying, modern city by the sea. Nestled between the mountains and the Mediterranean, the city resonates with both the history buff and the budding entrepreneur. Walking past gothic gargoyles on our way to meet with an app developer, I was struck by the fantastic dichotomy of Barcelona.
Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia, a medieval-era kingdom, a subject of pride that lives on in many hearts throughout the city. That passionate pride spills over into the art and architecture of Barcelona. The legacies of Picasso, Gaudi, and Dali are visible on every block. Sagrada Familia, giant basilica, takes your breath and captures your imagination.
These gothic spires, built on Roman ruins, are quickly being outfitted with fiberoptic wire and wifi hotspots to fuel the infectious innovation city-wide. We had the opportunity to meet with startup experts, business angels, and men and women succeeding in the entrepreneurial world. Innovation comes in many shapes and sizes in a smart city. In the span of a single day we spoke to the founders of both a nightlife app and a grocery coupon website. Men, women, young, old, and all those we met were inspiring.
I still don’t know the secret to being a successful entrepreneur, but I’m convinced that if I spent enough time in Barcelona, I’d find it. Disrupting industries is never easy, and the entrepreneurs were disarmingly honest about their failures, weaknesses, and faults. Despite these shortcomings, they never slackened their grip on their dreams. That determination, above all else, was the crux of their advice to us neophytes.
As I am writing this on my way to dinner, I must digress a little. While Iberian ham and cheese are the staples of our diet in Barcelona, the seafood is a must-have. Prawns, cuttlefish, anchovies, and calamari are local favorites that complete any meal. I’d be remiss if I forgot to mention the delicious vino and cervesa. This rich combination of Catalan cuisine comes at a comfortable price. A tourist, like an army, walks on its stomach, and we’ve been able to galavant through the city thanks to the dozens of tapas bars and the world famous outdoor market, La Boqueria.
At this point, it is almost needless to admit that I’m loving my decision to spend a week in Barcelona. My classmates and I live every day to its fullest in the real city that never sleeps. I cant wait to see where my next adventure takes me.