The alternative guide to Barcelona

NB Team

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The glistening waves of the Balearic sea. The spiralling towers of the Sagrada Familia. The mosaic wonder that is the Park Güell. These are just some of the attractions that probably come to mind when you think of Barcelona. But if you ask the 100,000 professionals planning to flock there in a couple of weeks what they hope to see, these sights will likely be the last thing on their mind.

They might get a chance to enjoy some tapas at one of the city’s late-night food joints. However, they won’t be carving out any time to admire Gaudi’s work. Instead, they’ll focus on their annual pilgrimage to what some* see as the Mecca of the telco industry – Mobile World Congress (MWC).

Set in the not-so-attractive, but equally impressive, Fira Gran Via, MWC spans eight exhibition halls. It takes up to half an hour to walk from one end of the conference to the other. Notwithstanding the handy airport-style travelators installed by the venue. Travellators which visitors prefer to stand on than walk.

To first-timers, MWC can be a  daunting event. It has grown enormously since it started 33 years ago. So, whether you’re making your first trip, or need a refresher, here are some do’s and don’t at MWC:

  • Do look at the site map when you’re booking in your meetings. Also, allow yourself half an hour if you’re hopping from hall one to hall eight. It’s a good idea to arrange meetings so you don’t have to run from one end of the event to another. Take the time to download the MWC app and familiarise yourself with it before heading out.
  • Do remember to take a comfy pair of shoes. If you really must buy a new pair ahead of the event, be sure to wear them in before. Take some Compeed (other brands available) and a backup pair of shoes for evening wear.
  • Do take advantage of the fact you can pick up your event pass from the airport on Sunday. Picking up your pass then saves a lengthy queue first thing on Monday morning. But keep in mind you’ll still need your passport to get into the venue each day.
  • Don’t wear your pass when you’re out and about in the city. To pick-pocketers, these passes are as good as a big sign which says, “I’m a tourist at a mobile trade show, pick me!” Opportunistic thieves descend on Barcelona for MWC. Keep your wits about you when you’re out and about.
  • Do take some time out your week to check-out what freebies Android is giving out at this year’s event. Previous years have seen the team bring back personalised water bottles, badges and many more – don’t get drawn into thinking you need to collect all the badges.
  • Do take a spare battery pack and keep it charged. You’ll be surprised how quickly the battery life can fade when you’re using the interactive app to get around and find out what’s on (and you’ll also be surprised how patchy the mobile coverage is for a telecoms trade event).
  • Do take a day bag packed with a bottle for water, fresh fruit and other snacks to help you get through the day. After long days on bad coffee, and drunken nights on red wine and salty chorizo, a crunchy apple is a welcome healthy kick.

Above all, don’t forget to take the opportunity to network. It can be tempting to stay glued to your phone at the event, but take the time to talk to new people, check out the tech that’s on display and get down to one of the many stand-parties which start kicking off circa 5 pm every day.

*not many