By Tay Suan Chiang
Win air tickets to Barcelona
Answer the question below and you could win a pair of air tickets to Barcelona.
Name the hotel where Vicky, the character played by Rebecca Hall in the film Vicky Cristina Barcelona, has tea with her aunt in the cafe.
E-mail your answer, together with your name, IC number and contact details to email@example.com by Oct 23.
It is hard not to fall in love with Barcelona. So it is no wonder that American director Woody Allen chooses to set his latest movie, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, in the Spanish coastal city.
The movie, which opens here on Thursday, stars Rebecca Hall (Vicky) and Scarlett Johansson (Cristina) as two women who spend a summer in Barcelona. There, they both meet and fall for Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), a painter.
Barcelona provides a pretty background to the plot. It enjoys a warm climate all year round, boasts amazing architecture and great shopping.
While actors Penelope Cruz, Bardem and Johansson keep audiences glued to the plot, travel buffs will find themselves drawn to the city's sights.
And if, after the movie, you feel like packing your bags immediately, don't forget your camera. Never mind if you are no movie director, you would want to capture on film these landmarks where Allen shot his scenes.
The quirk, colourful sculptures on the roof terrace
Tibidabo Amusement Park (above)
Placa del Tibidabo
The girls headed here for an afternoon of fun. It may be out of the way from the city centre, but it is more than 100 years old and is one of Europe's most well-known amusement parks.
There are carousels, a ferris wheel and plenty of fun rides to keep the kids entertained.
Fundacio Joan Miro
Parc de Montjuic
The late Miro (1893-1983) was one of the city's most well-known artists, and the museum houses more than 8,000 drawings, 150 sculptures and nine textile hangings. His works have been described by critics as surrealist.
Don't miss the quirky, colourful sculptures (above) on the roof terrace; one work appears in a shot in the film.
Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia
This is arguably Barcelona's most famous building. You cannot say you have been to the city unless you have come here, so it is not surprising that this is one of the first places that Vicky and Cristina visit in the film.
Although its construction first began in 1882, the massive cathedral is still not completed.
Barcelona's most amazing architect, Antoni Gaudi, took over its design almost two years later, when the first architect quit the job, and dedicated the last years of his life to it.
He designed three facades representing the Nativity, the Passion and the Glory of Christ. Only the Nativity facade was completed in his lifetime and features sculptures of plants and animals.
Since his death in 1926, a new team of architects has gone on to complete the Passion facade. Work is still ongoing for the Glory of Christ facade.
A museum in the basement of the cathedral shows models, photographs and floor plans of the building. No date has been set yet for the cathedral's completion.
Hotel Casa Fuster (right)
Passeig de Gracia, 132
To date, it is the city's only historic hotel, set in what was once a home that was completed in 1911.
The five-star hotel is luxurious but retains its old-world European charm, which was why it appealed to Allen.
Architecture buffs will like its beautiful castle-like facade which was designed by renowned Barcelona-born architect Lluis Domenech i Montaner.
Allen shot a scene where Vicky has tea with her aunt at the hotel's Cafe Viennese. He also plays the clarinet with his band here whenever he is in town.
La Rambla (right)
This 1.2km tree-lined pedestrian walkway is the most iconic street in Barcelona.
No surprise then that Allen also filmed Johansson taking in the sights along this walkway.
It is always packed no matter what time it is, so keep a close eye on your belongings.
It is lined with kiosks selling souvenirs, flowers and even pets. Restaurants here also have alfresco dining areas, making this a great spot for people watching.
Walk down the street and you will see many live 'statues', such as a man sitting on a toilet bowl. Some of these buskers do not stay still, however, but invite tourists to take pictures with them - for a tip.
Museu Nacional D'Art De Catalunya (MNAC) (above)
Palau Nacional, Parc de Monjuic
If you have time for only one museum, this is it.
The MNAC houses a range of Catalan art and sculptures from the 11th century to the 1940s.
A highlight are the wall paintings from the Middle Ages that have been stripped from churches, restored and blended into the museum's interior walls. Doing this prevents such paintings from being sold commercially.
The wide range of works over the centuries means that there will be pieces that will appeal to most visitors.
Even the painted dome ceiling of the museum is worth a photo shot. In the film, Vicky and her aunt take a stroll outside this building.
Parc Guell (right)
Yet another Unesco World Heritage Site by Gaudi. In the film, Vicky bumps into Juan Antonio here.
Modelled after English parks, Parc Guell was meant to be a housing estate for the rich, but was commercially unsuccessful. The Guell family donated it to the city in 1922.
Set aside at least half a day to explore the park. Most of its attractions are near the entrance. A colourful mosaic lizard is a popular photo spot, which leads to a hall with 100 palm-shaped pillars which was meant to be a market hall.
Head to the top of the park, marked by three crosses, for a panoramic view of the city.
La Pedrera (left)
Another of Gaudi's work which was completed in 1912.
Also called the Casa Mila, it is more popularly known as La Pedrera (Catalan for the stone quarry). It was designated a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1984.
It is amazing to know that there are no straight lines in La Pedrera. Its wavy facade appears as if Gaudi was sitting at the bottom of the sea when he designed it.
Meant to be rented out as an apartment block, today La Pedrera houses exhibition space, one of which showcases Gaudi's works.
An apartment has also been done up to resemble a family home there during its early years.
Be sure to climb to the roof terrace where there are several alien-like structures. Called scare-witches, they are Gaudi-designed chimney stacks.
Vicky and Cristina also visited this place.
5 things to do
1. Do watch out for pickpockets. Always keep your bags in front and close to you, especially when taking photos. Never leave your bag at the back of a chair, even in restaurants.
2. Do remember to apply sunblock. The day can start off cloudy but the sun will be out at noon. The cool breeze will make you forget the heat but you may still get sunburnt.
3. Do visit the old markets, such as the Mercat de la Boqueria on La Rambla, Barcelona's most well-known one. With supermarkets springing up, markets like these are fast disappearing. Fresh produce such as fruit, vegetables and lobsters are on sale. Refresh yourself with fruit juice from the stalls near the entrance.
4. Do remember to pack a pair of comfortable walking shoes. There is little reckless traffic and Barcelona is a great city to explore on foot.
5. Do head to the airport early for some last-minute shopping. Besides the usual duty-free shops, fashion labels La Perla, Zara and Massimo Dutti have shops there and there is usually no queue for the fitting rooms.
1. Don't take a taxi unless you absolutely have to. The meter jumps at an alarming rate. Instead, get a three-day travel pass at any metro station that allows you to take the metro and public buses.
2. Don't just walk on the main streets such as La Rambla and Passeig de Gracia. Side lanes sometimes have quirky shops and little bars that are worth checking out.
|Other cities in movies
City: Las Vegas
Movie: Ocean's Eleven (2001)
George Clooney and Brad Pitt lead a team of 11 that take down three casinos along The Strip. Their targets are The Bellagio, the Mirage and the MGM Grand.
Movie: Lost In Translation (2003)
Directed by Sofia Coppola, the movie stars Bill Murray (above) as an American film actor who forms an unlikely bond with neglected newlywed Scarlett Johansson whom he meets in the Japanese capital.
Movie: Before Sunset (2004)
A sequel to the indie romance Before Sunrise, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy meet again, this time in Paris.
They stroll through the Parisian streets, spending hours talking, talking and talking.
Movie: Match Point (2005)
American director Woody Allen's first film shot outside the United States. Johansson and Jonathan Rhys Meyers play a pair of illicit lovers.
City: New York
Movie: I Am Legend (2007)
Will Smith (above) plays the last healthy man left standing in New York City. The rest of the
world has supposedly been killed by a vicious virus. The movie included a US$5-million (S$7.1-million) scene shot at the Brooklyn Bridge.
Movie: Bangkok Dangerous (2008)
A remake of the 1999 Thai movie by Hong Kong directors Oxide and Danny Pang, this Hollywood version - also directed by the brothers - stars Nicolas Cage. He plays an assassin who arrives in Bangkok on an assignment and later falls for a deaf-mute
Singapore Airlines flies to Barcelona via Milan daily.
This article was first published in The Straits Times on September 23, 2008.