Barcelona FTW

I’m typing this from Danny Bohm’s session at IT Forum in Barcelona (he asked me to sit in to help cover Forefront for Exchange questions.) While I have a minute, I wanted to jot down a few of my impressions of Barcelona and IT Forum.

First, if you don’t speak Spanish or Catalan, you’re probably going to have trouble outside the normal tourist spots. I tried to shop for a Christmas sweater for Arlene yesterday, and it was an equal mix of hilarity and frustration. I can speak pidgin Spanish thanks to my French fluency, but that doesn’t help much with people who primarily speak Catalan. Everyone I’ve encountered has been very friendly, which helps a lot, but before my next visit I’m going to brush up on both languages.

Second, it would be much nicer here if the sun came out. The show is at CCIB, which is right next to the water. It’s beautiful, but the overcast and haze remind me a little too much of Seattle. It’s been around 60 degrees F, which means that lots of the locals are bundled up in scarves, big jackets, and so forth. (Boots are incredibly common here, both for men and women– a little surprising.) I’m hoping to see the sun on the water at least once before I leave.

The event itself has been lots of fun. Ask the Experts last night was very well attended, as was my session today; I had probably 250 people (in a room with 300 capacity). It’s fun seeing and hearing the variety of attendees, from pretty much every country you can think of in the Western hemisphere. Danny’s session is in a big rigid tent that, on the inside, looks like a traditional meeting room. It’s nifty. 

The event support was great: my speaking room had a clock, a cue box that showed red/yellow/green lights from the staff to indicate my remaining time, and an excellent AV setup. It’s much nicer than the setups I’m used to at other Microsoft (and non-Microsoft) events in the US. There are some other aspects of event support that are drastically different here, too, like the snacks (lots and lots and lots of fruit, plus other stuff) and the large designated work areas for attendees (called delegates here).

There’s a large mall, the Diagonal Mar centre, right next to the CCIB. I went there shopping yesterday and bought some treats for the kids. I stopped for dinner at Sagardi, but couldn’t find even one thing on the menu that sounded appetizing. I hit Canas y Tapas instead and it was OK; I’m not sure what I’ll have tonight; I’ll post an update sometime between now and the time I get home.

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