It has been a while since I have blogged about my time in Barcelona but the days I am going to tell you about just now were very busy days!
First of all, my friend Rebecca came across to Barcelona to visit me for the weekend, and boy, she couldn’t have picked a better one. The sun was out and shining bright, I had not started classes yet so I had nothing else to do, and it was the Merce Festival – Catalonia’s biggest festival!
On the Saturday we went to visit the Sagrada Familia, by far the most impressive cathedral I have ever seen in my entire life. A tip to all of those thinking of visiting Barcelona – visit the Sagrada Familia! Oh, and book beforehand. We turned up and the queue was a mile long, with a waiting time of over two hours. I don’t know about you, but I really wasn’t wanting to stand for two hours in the blistering heat.
So we ran with technology.
The cafe next door had wifi so we bought a coffee and booked tickets using my smartphone, then used the email ticket to get in and had to stand in a queue for a total of five minutes! Incredible!
We also went to visit Casa Mila, another of Gaudi’s creations, during the weekend. It was a house (or what was two apartment blocks) with no straight lines. Every wall in curvy and the building is huge! There were also lots of statues on the roof terrace and an incredible view of the city.
Parc Guel was also a good shout, which we didn’t actually know about until our visit to Casa Mila. Gaudi has built many things all across the city, and this parc is not an exception of his brilliance. Although it took us a little longer to get there (it is in the west) and about a million steps to climb – it was worth it. The views of the city were awesome from up there and it actually made Barcelona look really small…it is incredible how many buildings and people are packed in.
The gothic quarter was also added to our tour of the city that weekend, visiting the cathedral and walking down la Rambla. DO NOT BUY DRINKS ON LA RAMBLE. It is literally less than half the price if you jump down one of the side lane cafes – all tourists should know this. Six euro’s for a coke is not a good deal…
And of course, we had to do the beach – and a swim in the sea too. From talks at uni, I heared that the local people of Barcelona do not go to the beaches, because they are man made and full of tourists. They do not like them because they have not always been there.
I am not local, and although I like a bit of beach history, and like to visit natural beaches with shells and caves, etc, I also like to swim in the sea. Man made beaches are great for this because there is no seaweed or sharp rocks to stand on! I could do without the tourists and nakedness though…no longer will I go out on holiday thinking “it’s okay, nobody knows me here!”
BUT, on to the Merce Festival 2013. From what I was able to gather, the Merce festival is a festival of the community. We couldn’t go anywhere without bumping into people dancing, playing music or being stuck behind parades.
There were lots of stages set up in various squares in the city and people danced to the music in front of them. It is called Sardana dancing and I have already made a pact with a Catalan girl in my course to teach me it before I leave (providing I show her some Scottish country dancing…)
We were luck enough to see the dancing and a parade called the ‘Giant’s Parade’ – a little odd, but interesting to watch to say the least – and watch many street performers in the park.
However, the best thing about this festival is the fireworks. We had fireworks on Saturday night, Sunday night and Tuesday night. I have never seen so many fireworks in my entire life and never seen any as extravagant as I did. You would not think there was a recession in Spain anyway…
We were able to get a prime spot on the beach on the Sunday night and watched the fireworks be thrown across the sky and occasionally into the water. The Tuesday night we travelled by the metro to see them in the city centre, along with around 100,000 other people! A bit sweaty…but worth it. This time they were played to music.
Barcelona certainly know how to organise a festival and it is something I wouldn’t pass up going to again – and that is just for the fireworks! A great weekend had by all, onto the next visitors this weekend.
More pictures from my weekend and Barcelona’s Merce Festival 2013 can be found on my Flickr page. Enjoy!
Until next time, adios!