Francesca took me to Colonia Guell to bring to life Barcelona’s industrial age. Here is an old textile factory worker’s colony, and a half built Gaudi church. The factory donated a community...housing, schools and a church... in exchange for long hours of backbreaking work. There were lots and lots of these villages in and around Barcelona. Not very many survive all in one piece like this. Very cool little expedition 20 minutes from downtown. Ask for Ramon!!!
Here’s another example of what is great about Barcelona. It’s big enough to attract the ATP World Tennis Tour and small enough that you can go watch it without getting a nose bleed. We clapped and ole’d through today’s Barcelona Open finals between the #1 and #4 ranked players in the world from row 12...all for 85 euros. And throw in the doubles final, plus a front row seat to watch Rafa’s warm ups! (He’s much taller from the ground than he looks on tv.)
Ok, update. 2012 tickets went on sale March 5 and these same seats I was bragging about are now unfortunately priced at 105 euros a piece.
And now everyone claims him as their own. He’s the patron saint of Catalunya (and all kinds of other places) and today is his day of celebration. Millions of roses and over 800,000 books are sold today in Barcelona. The boys give the roses...like Sant Jordi slayed the dragon, the girls give the books...because in the 1920s, a clever bookseller noticed that Shakespeare and Cervantes both died on his day too. We “swam” in a hoard of people (think Times Square at New Years) through Plaza Catalunya to the Palau de la Generalitat, which opens its doors once a year to the public on this day. A beautiful gothic structure, the seat of government and Sant Jordi is everywhere, in paintings, statues, carvings and tapestries.
Ok, ok, we couldn’t do it. 8 km straight up a mountain. So we cheated and drove. Rocky terrain covered with wildflowers and a magnificent monument at the top and fabulous views. Bring a picnic!
A short 20 minute walk, from the cute village of sa tuna to the beach on the peninsula. Take the path leading out of the village to your right. Huge schools of fish we could see straight through the water from way up high!
Starting at the light house at sant sebastia, 1.5 hours with steep stairs and slippery inclines, passing cliff top views, pasture land, a small fishing cove, and ending at the beach in tamariu. This was our favorite walk so far!
The Costa Brava begins just over an hour north of Barcelona by car and stretches north to France. Flat, steep, rugged, elegant, solitary, crowded, it’s a mixture of pretty nature and vacation central. We spent our time here following some of the old footpaths etched by fishermen and bootleg patrolmen.
North of Palamos, begin at Sant Esteve de Mar, a ruin at the end of tacky Cala La Fosca and follow the signs to Platja de Castell. An easy walk 45 minutes each way. Platja de Castell is a rustic gem, a large cove, no modern development. 16th century fishing huts, an early 1900s estate and a historic villa dot the beachline instead.
Starting from the south end of the town of Calella, an easy walk of about 30 minutes to the very small, hidden Platja Golfet. Mild ups and downs and lots of little tunnels along the way. We drove to Cap Roig botanical gardens later in the day, but you can also make the steep climb by foot.
Sweet, colorful market along Rambla de Catalunya between Arigo and Diputacio on the days ahead of Palm Sunday. We borrowed Zoe’s tradition and picked out a few tchotchkes to decorate our Mona cake. Also in the stalls, lots of palm fronds, straight and ribboned or delicate crochet-like creations, all mixed in with the tacky little goodies.
Gorgeous candy in the shops these days getting ready for the holiday. First there are the eggs and rabbits and chickens for Easter day.
Then on Easter Monday, there is more of the sugar fest, with the Mona cakes. Cakes decorated with huge chocolate tiaras of kid-themed fun, or simply adorned with boiled eggs and feathers...Godfather brings this to the children.
By Maia Pay Ozguc
Barcelona Impressions. Be curious. Be present. Be Barcelona!