Wednesday, September 28, 2011

BARCELONA: FESTES DE LA MERCE 2011

According to legend, on 24 September 1218, Our Lady of Mercy – La Mercè – appeared before King James I and Saint Peter Nolasco, ordering them to found the Mercedarian Order to free the faithful who were prisoners of the Saracens. This manifestation of the Virgin was made patron saint of Barcelona later when, in 1687, the city overcame a terrible plague of locusts after offering up prayers to Her.

Nearly two hundred years later, Pope Pius IX officially recognised La Mercè as the city’s patron saint and the people of Barcelona began to celebrate Her feast, though the current format of a programme featuring Catalan traditions was not adopted until the late-19th century.


This time I could enjoy the following activities:
  • Correfoc (Run Fire)
  • Projections onto the façade of the City Hall
  • Piromusical near the Magic Fountain
  • Festa al Cel Airshow


Correfoc (Run Fire)

The beasts from hell have been released and, accompanied by the devils, are ready to bathe the city streets in fire. El Correfoc is actually an outstanding event on the traditional Mercè programme of activities




El correfoc de la Mercè is one of the activities I like the most. The gunpowder that devils, fire beasts and all sorts of evil creatures bring with them, ready to begin their route around the streets of the city centre, is really spectacular




Going from Via Laietana to Sant Jaume Square I saw this nice image of El Palau Reial lit at night in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona




Projections onto the façade of the City Hall

At night, throughout La Mercè, the City Hall will become the “house of magic”. A spectacular show featuring stunning projections will breathe life into the stone of the building, revealing its nocturnal alter ego



In this way, then, light technology joins the party to produce one of the most attractive events on the programme


Piromusical

This is one of the events that awakens the greatest expectation and draws the biggest crowd, yet it is also ne of the saddest moments. For the Mercè Piromusical marks the end of celebrations until next year



The fireworks launched from behind the Montjuïc Magic Fountain la Mercè light up the sky, perfectly synchronised with music that, this year, will feature some of the best-known songs, tunes that form part of the soundtrack o our lives




Festa al Cel

Poster of La Festa al Cel 2011


The day was lovely and there were many people on the beach enjoying this fantastic airshow in Barcelona


Patrulla Águila is one of the most spectacular performers of this airshow. The aircrafts fly really close


Besides these activities, there are many live music shows in several interesting areas of Barcelona, like the Magical Fountain, La Plaça del Rei, Plaça Catalunya and so on. Finally, clicking on the next link, you can also see pictures of La Mercè 2010 and La Mercè 2012.

Monday, September 26, 2011

SHOPPING IN BARCELONA: TRADITIONAL FAIRS



Barcelona is a cosmopolitan city where you can find several shopping areas like:




However, it has a lot of respect for its old traditions. It is a good example of a Mediterranean city, its streets full of life, commercial activity and interchange between its inhabitants.

Fairs and markets are one of the best reflections of street life. In Barcelona, there are fairs that go back a long time and others that only last a day, fairs that specialise in one product and travelling fairs, big fairs and small ones, that reach into every corner of the city. Next you have some of the most important traditional fairs in Barcelona.



Fira de Sant Jordi - Saint George, the patron saint of Catalonia

Every year, on 23 April, the city fills with books and roses for the most important civic festival on the Catalan calendar. On Saint George's Day, books and roses are given as presents. This tradition, which combines the rose as a symbol of love and the book as a symbol of culture, has turned 23 April into a cheerful celebration where everyone joins in, filling the city's streets and squares with little stalls, covered with books and flowers. It is a day to take a walk and enjoy looking at streets that have been turned into open-air bookshops.

In fact, thousands of local people and visitors crowd the streets. This is a very popular event and a special day for enjoying Barcelona.



Fira de Santa Llúcia - the Christmas fair in front of the cathedral

This fair announces the arrival of Christmas. Here is where the pessebres (nativity scenes), Christmas trees and Christmas decorations are sold. The biggest is held on Plaça Nova in front of the Barcelona cathedral's main façade and around the sides, where you can buy presents and handmade objects. It takes place between 8 and 23 December, from 9am to 10pm.

Fira de Santa Llúcia in Barcelona
El Caga tió is one of the christmas gifts you can buy in La Fira de Santa Llúcia in front of the Cathedral Square in Barcelona

There are other fairs on Avinguda de Gaudí, at the Sagrada Família, from 4 to 23 December, and on Plaça de Bonet i Muixí, in Sants-Montjuïc.

On Plaça Nova there is also an antiques fair on thursday from 9am to 8pm (except august).


Fira de Sant Ponç - Ciutat Vella, on Carrer de l'Hospital

The street fills with stalls selling the typical produce of Catalonia, natural products and medicinal herbs, with their different colours and aromas. The Costumari català (Catalan Customs) attributes the worship of Sant Ponç (Saint Pontius) to the old church at the Hospital de la Santa Creu (Hospital of the Holy Cross) where herbs were blessed.

This tradition is celebrated in other districts, for example, on Carrer de Blai, in Poble-Sec, on 10 and 11 May. In Sants typical festival sweets and cakes are sold.



Traditional fair in Plaça del Pi in Barcelona
Traditional fair in Plaça del Pi with stalls selling the typical produce of Catalonia, natural products and medicinal herbs


More info clicking on the following link of the Barcelona website



Numismatics and Philately


This fair is held on Plaça Reial on sundays from 10am to 2pm.


Other traditional fairs

Fires de Rams

All week prior to Palm Sunday, "palm fairs" are held to mark the festival, around the cathedral in the Gothic Quarter, on the Rambla de Catalunya, Plaça de la Sagrada Família and Plaça de Bonet i Muixí, in Sants-Montjuïc.

Fira de Reis - Kings Fair on the Gran Via


There are toys and presents for everyone on this stretch of the Gran Via, between Carrer d’Entença and Carrer de Muntaner, from 23 December to Kings Day (6 January) It stays open till very late on Kings' Day Eve. Presents are collected for hospitals and children from poor families.


Craft fairs


Fira d'Artesans - craft fair in Plaça de la Vila de Madrid

Next to La Rambla. This is organised by the Col·lectiu d’Artesans i Creadors Sant Jordi-Grup Fèmina, every Saturday, except in July and August, from 11am to 8.30pm, and between Christmas and Kings Day.

It sells handmade ornaments and decorative items. The same people hold a fair on the Moll del Dipòsit, next to the Palau de Mar in Port Vell (on Sundays in winter, at weekends from Easter on and every day in July and August, from 11am to 8.30pm) in Portal de l'Àngel (11am to 8pm, between 8 and 27 March) and Plaça de Joaquim Folguera.


Encants Vells or Fira de Bellcaire - flea market


Now next to Plaça de les Glòries, it sells second-hand objects and antiques. From November to March: Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 9am - 6pm. From April to October: same days, 9am - 7pm. More info cliking on www.encantsbcn.com

Friday, September 16, 2011

SHOPPING IN BARCELONA ALONG DIAGONAL

Today I would like to show you another shopping street in Barcelona, located on Avinguda Diagonal. The area of Avinguda Diagonal between Plaça de la Reina Maria Cristina and Plaça Joan Carles has a major concentration of business and commerce, which can be divided into two parts: 

The first part is from L'Illa Diagonal shopping centre (very near Plaça de Francesc Macià) to the shops in Pedralbes Centre and El Corte Inglés, in Plaça de la Reina Maria Cristina. As well as finding everything you could want to buy in these centres, you can have a break from shopping and have lunch or a snack here.

El Corte Inglés



El Corte Inglés shopping mall in Barcelona
El Corte Inglés is a large shopping mall where you can find everything. This one is located in Avinguda Diagonal, 617-619



Other Corte Inglés shopping malls you can find in Barcelona are:

  • Avinguda del Portal de L'Angel, 19-21
  • Plaça Catalunya, 23
  • Plaça Catalunya, 14
  • Avinguda Diagonal, 471-473
  • Passeig d'Andreu Nin, 51


L'Illa Diagonal 


Illa Diagonal shopping center in Barcelona
L'Illa Diagonal shopping center in Barcelona


Pedralbes Center 


Pedralbes Centre shopping mall in Barcelona
This is the modern look you can see inside Pedralbes Centre shopping mall

Pedralbes Centre shopping mall in Barcelona
In Christmas, and next to the Pedralbes Centre shopping mall, there is an ice rink perfect for having fun with children 


The second part is from the top of Passeig de Gràcia, where it crosses Avinguda Diagonal (Plaça de Joan Carles I), to Plaça de Francesc Macià. This is where you will find department stores, shopping arcades and many designer fashion shops, like:


  • Farga Diagonal (Avinguda Diagonal, 391)
  • Furest (Avinguda Diagonal, 468)
  • Unión Suiza (Avinguda Diagonal, 482)
  • Loewe (Avinguda Diagonal, 570)
  • Mango (Avinguda Diagonal, 586)
  • Podivm (Avinguda Diagonal, 557)


There are also a lot of cafes and restaurants when you want a break.

Besides, along El Passeig de Gràcia you can also visit many beautiful modernist buildings, some of them designed by Antoni Gaudí, like La Pedrera or La Casa Batlló.


Passeig de Gràcia in Barcelona
The top of Passeig de Gràcia, where it crosses Avinguda Diagonal (Plaça de Joan Carles I), is marked by an obelisk


Thursday, September 15, 2011

BARCELONA: BEWARE OF PICKPOCKETS

If you are planning to visit Barcelona, although Barcelona is a safe city, you have to take care of your belongings because there are a lot of pickpockets, especially in La Rambla. These people have a great ability to detect people who are distracted. So, I would like to advise you to try to avoid looking lost or showing a map in the middle of the streets of the city center.

 La Rambla de Barcelona, one the most lively places in Barcelona


It is important to pay attention when you take the metro in rush hours because they try to rob your wallet without you noticing. Pay special attention when you take the metro green line because there are a lot of formal complaints of this line between Sants station and Passeig the Gràcia station. Moreover, the same caution we should have when we take the train from the airport to the city center.

If you were robbed, you could make a formal complaint in the following police stations:

- Sants-Montjuïc quarter: 
  • 1) Address: Plaça d'Espanya, 1 - Phone: 932 903 737 (next to Montjuïc Magical Fountain)
  • 2) Address: C/ Creu Coberta, 104 - Phone: 932 903 421

- Raval quarter:
  • 1) Address: Carrer Nou de la Rambla, 76 - Phone: 932 902 854

- Plaça Catalunya:
  • 1) Address: Plaça de Catalunya, s/n - Phone: 93 412 61 56 (under the square)
  • 2) Address: Via Laietana, 43 - Phone: 932 903 327

- Les Corts quarter:
  • 1) Address: Travessera de les Corts, 319-321 - Phone: 93 495 97 00 (next to Camp Nou, the FC Barcelona Stadium)

- Horta quarter:
  • 1) Address: Carrer Marina, 347-349 - Phone: 93 326 82 00 (next to Sagrada Familía)


Friday, September 9, 2011

BARCELONA: BEWARE OF SCAMS



La Rambla is one of the most beautiful and lively streets in Barcelona, where you can discover its Mediterranean life but, unfortunately, you can also be a victim of a scam.

La Rambla is not only full of actors who are playing an interesting performance, but also there are a lot of restaurants which offer you an economical menu, such as a paella and sangria for 15 euros pro person or pizza and two tapas for only 13 euros.

However these advertisements are only a way to attract the customer, because drinks are not included in the menu. Moreover you have to be aware if you order a beer because waiters don’t ask you for the size and they serve you the biggest one. Obviously the prize is extremely expensive, such as 12 euros for a 1,5l beer.

Therefore, I recommend you that, before ordering in a restaurant located  in La Rambla, you ask to the waiter for the prize of drinks.


La Rambla is probably the most lively street in Barcelona


Besides, trileros are another scam that you can find in La Rambla.  They try to cheat tourist people playing a game. The game consists in moving three recipients fast during less than a minute after having hidden a small ball under one of them. A person wins when he points the recipient where the small ball is hidden.

It seems really easy to win because one of the trileros starts betting and he always wins money. It is done to caught the attraction of the tourist. I want to say that the more you bet, the faster he moves the recipients and so it is impossible to know where the small ball is.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

CATALONIA - COSTA BRAVA: CATEDRAL DEL EMPORDA

After spending a nice day in Besalú and Banyoles, we drove to Castelló d'Empúries, a village located in La Costa Brava near Empuriabrava and El Cap de Creus, to visit the impressive church of Santa Maria. It's really beautiful.

The gothic church of Santa Maria in Castelló d'Empúries has a structure and dimensions of a cathedral. La Catedral de l'Empordà, as it's popularly known, it's one of the most interesting examples of gothic religious architecture in Catalonia.


Church of Santa Maria in Castelló d'Empúries
Fantastic marble portal of the church of Santa Maria in Castelló d'Empúries, also known as La Catedral de l'Empordà

Catedral del Empordà in Castelló d'Empúries
Detail of the tympanum and archivolts of the beautiful marble portal of La Catedral de l'Empordà you can visit in La Costa Brava

Catedral del Empordà in Castelló d'Empúries
Detail of the tympanum of the portal of La Catedral de l'Empordà

Catedral del Empordà in Castelló d'Empúries
Detail of two sculptures in the archivolts of the main entrance of La Catedral de l'Empordà

Catedral del Empordà in Castelló d'Empúries
The interior space of La Catedral de l'Empordà, a paradigm of Mediterranean Gothic

Catedral del Empordà in Castelló d'Empúries
The bell tower, decorated with Gothic windows, has an architectural composition influenced by the Romanesque Lombard style


If you have more time after visiting this impressive gothic church, there are other interesting nearby places to know like:



Finally, clicking on the next link you will find links to other beautiful places in Catalonia, among them, more nice places in La Costa Brava, like the beaches of :