COOL YOUR VISIT. Searing heat fueled by a merciless sun might not be your cup of tea. July, August and September in Catalonia boast peak temperatures of around 30 C and there is the promise of about 10 hours of daily sun. No? Then plan to be cooler when it's cooler. October is delightful at around 22 C (6 hours of sun each day) and May is about the same (but with 8 hours). While searching out the shade may seem evident if it’s all still too much, the coolest places are usually the Cathedrals and churches dotted everywhere – their thick walls keep the heat out. Backup plan - anywhere with air-co.
COOL YOUR DAY. Although air-conditioning means that is no official excuse for a siesta, the idea of avoiding exertion during in the hottest section of the day does not occur to everyone. While Catalans often break their working day between 12.00 and 15.00, visitors frequently decide that this sun-baked mid-day window is the ideal moment to play tennis, run, sun bathe, cycle or go walking. Those in the know - the locals - advise 'go active' early (before 11.00) or late (after 18.00) and if you simply can't help yourself, then at least apply liberal lashings of sun protection and wear a hat.
DO COOL THINGS. It goes without saying (nearly) that the classic attractions - many of them in Barcelona - are worthy of your time and attention: Park Güell, La Sagrada Família, Museu del Futbol Club Barcelona, Castell de Montjuïc… it's a long list. But there are some other very cool, lesser known destinations including: Fórum Romá (Taragona) – a ruined temple to the God Jupiter; Moll Parc (west of Figueres) – an extensive wildlife park in the Pyrenean foothills; Parque Nacional de Aiguestortes (just west of Andorra) – a beautiful and expansive national park packed with all manner of flora and fauna; Beget Village (north west of Girona) – an attractive, quaint town well worth spending a half a day in; Mount Monserrat (highest point of the Catalan lowlands) – you could easily spend a whole day at the abbey and museum… search, and ye shall be the coolest.
LOOK FOR COOL CATALAN BRANDS. Catalonia has a number of cool brands worth checking out: Desigual is an international clothing brand with its roots in Barcelona; Mango – another fashion house – has its origins in Catalonia and was founded by a Turkish entrepreneur; for sports and fashion shoes, what about the Catalan brand Munich which has been around since 1939?; beer your thing? there is a host of micro-breweries and 55 locally brewed Catalan beers (check this site for more info: www.lacervesera.net); if you want to go Spanish with rental car, try a Seat? (OK, technically it’s not from Catalonia and was bought by Volkswagen); as for food – the world is your oyster… keep an eye on the locals and have the local experience.
ACT COOL. Looking for something 'arty' to do but cannot be bothered to actually visit a gallery or museum, then why not get into some Spanish films starring someone Spanish (possibly from Catalonia) filmed on location where Spanish is spoken (possibly Catalonia although for completeness, the official language is in fact Catalan). Here are a few films to start you off: Los últimos días (The Last Days, 2013); El sexo de los ángeles (The sex of the Angels, 2012); Anita no pierde el tren (Anita takes a chance, 2001); Todo sobre mi madre (All about my mother, 1999). If you need to check-off famous stars from your 'seen them' list then start by watching anything starring any of the following: Antonio Banderas, Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Paz Vega, Elsa Pataky, Jordi Mollà, Óscar Jaenada.
Be c o o o o o o o o l.