Archive for June, 2006

Tibidabo – From the latin Tibi (To you) and Dabo (I shall give)

Alex and I took the city bus up to the top of Tibidabo, the top of a mountain here in Barcelona. We hadn’t been up there yet so we dicided to give it a try. It was above 30 C and we though it might be cooler up there. It was. A nice cool and steady breeze kept the body temperature down but you really had to be careful with the sun. The Bus took us part of the way. We had to transfer to a streetcar to bring us up to the base.

Once you arrived at the base, you had to take a funicular to the top. Of course there was always the option of walking all the way to the top from where the city bus let you off. We chose the lazy way. The funicular was the easy way up.

Once up there, we found the church and went inside to explore. It was small compared to the cathedrals we had been visiting but it was also very ornate………..

and very colorful……..

Also up there were carnival rides. We didn’t go on any of them but they were pretty spctacular in the sense of the view.

One of the rides was a real aircraft from 1930. I don’t know if it was really the prop that moved the aircraft but it was definitely pushing some serious air. They even had to reverse the prop when going with the wind. I think it seated about 12 people.

All in all in was a pretty interesting day. We ended up walking all the way home since it was downhill and the area on the way home looked interesting.

June 30, 2006 at 7:34 pm 3 comments

Don’t cry…Argentina!!

Football (soccer for you guys in north america) fever continues at full swing and I have been following the matches with passion and interest. Everyday I discuss the previous match with the security guards and personnel at the archives. Now that Spain is out, they assure me they will root for Brazil.

I must be getting good at this because this morning I asked the security guard what he expected of the match between Argentina and Germany this afternoon. He said Argentina would win. I said, nah… it will be a tie and Germany will win on penalty kicks after an Argentinian side misses his kick. I’m never right at these things but lol and behold, that’s EXACTLY what happened!! Granted, the referee made some controversial decisions in favour of the German team but hey, who cares, Argentina is out. And if Brazil is to lose this cup, I’ll rather that it be against Germany.

June 30, 2006 at 1:21 pm Leave a comment

Don’t cry…Argentina!!

Football (soccer for you guys in north america) fever continues at full swing and I have been following the matches with passion and interest. Everyday I discuss the previous match with the security guards and personnel at the archives. Now that Spain is out, they assure me they will root for Brazil.

I must be getting good at this because this morning I asked the security guard what he expected of the match between Argentina and Germany this afternoon. He said Argentina would win. I said, nah… it will be a tie and Germany will win on penalty kicks after an Argentinian side misses his kick. I’m never right at these things but lol and behold, that’s EXACTLY what happened!! Granted, the referee made some controversial decisions in favour of the German team but hey, who cares, Argentina is out. And if Brazil is to lose this cup, I’ll rather that it be against Germany.

June 30, 2006 at 1:21 pm Leave a comment

Barcelona and Sant Joan (Saint John)

It seems that Barcelona celebrates Sant Joan in a much more insane fashion than Quebecers celebrate La Fete de St Jean Baptiste. We were warned about this holiday but to be honest I really did NOT expect what was to transpire. We were going to walk around Gracia instead of going to the beach. Apparently the beaches are filled with partying people until the police clear them for cleanup at 5:00 in the morning. We ended up going to Provenca Rocafort with Matt and Helena, who live in Barcelona.

One of the big things to do to celebrate Sant Joan is light bonfires and set off fireworks. OK, I figured we’d see some campfires on the street and a few firecrackers. Well, I just about fell over when we got to the intersection where this fire was to take place …………..

Now that was going to be a serious fire. They were still piling stuff on so we headed over to a bar for some refreshments. Oh, I forgot to mention that drinking is tolerated on the street for this fiesta. We sit down at the bar and I look across the street at these watchtowers. It was a prison, jeez, fires, fireworks and a prison. This could prove interesting. You know, the interesting that’s used in the phrase “We live in INTERESTING times”.

I looked down the street and they were just lighting the stack.

I could tell by the sudden increase in mortar attacks, oh, I meant firecrackers. These firecrackers were HUGE. You could feel the concussion from them a block away. The thing caught fast and cars and motorcyclists were trying to make their way through the intersection. They had to navigate past the fire, the mortars and rockets and these whizzy whirling things that shot up in the air in totally random fashion. I figured one could easily make it’s way into someones apartment.

The flames fot quite high and you could feel the heat 100 metres away. Check out Alex’s blog for video and sound.

We left soon after and headed over to Gracia for some street dancing.

We got to Gracia around midnight and the parties went on until well after 2:00 AM……

The rest of the weekend was spent at the beach on Saturday and Tibidabo on Sunday …….I’ll post Tibidado later

June 25, 2006 at 4:52 pm 1 comment

Videos of the bonfire

I've never been to a warzone but I feel it may feel like these. The videos don't quite capture how loud and weird the whole thing was but I guess they give an idea. Detail: the street was never close before or during the fire. City buses went right by the fire as they crossed the intersection!

June 24, 2006 at 5:01 pm 3 comments

San Juan (or Sant Joan)

The feast of St John – a religious holiday that conveniently coincides with ancient pagan ceremonies related to summer solstice  (or winter solstice in the southern hemisphere)- is celebrated in many catholic countries with lots of music and bonfires. 

In Brazil, the end of June marks the feasts of St John, St Peter and St Anthony and in the north and northeast part of the country their celebration is bigger than Christmas. In most of Brazil the festvities have a rural flavour and everybody dress as hillbillies and do square dancing, build up big fires, and eat all kinds of food that are typical of that holiday.  Festa Junina, as we know it, is very popular and its celebration has gone beyond June 24 to mark the last few weeks of June and beginning of July. Every school has its own dance and here's my nephew Matheus in his daycare's Festa Junina and my niece Lorena and her brother Luan at last year's event:

 

 

Now, the parties in Barcelona are considerably wilder than anything I've seen in Brazil. The main festivities happen in the beach, where they enact the coming down of the sun and moon and the beginning of the age of hell. I heard there are some wicked fireworks involved. But since we are not into crowded events, we decided to check out the neighbourhood parties and bonfires. You'll see pictures and more comments of the night in Alan's blog . Suffice it to say that it felt like WWIII was on and anarchy had set in. They actually lit a bonfire in the middle of the street – without stopping traffic(!!) – that rose to about 4 stories!!! Very surreal. Anyways, I'll try to put a video of it here later. I'm trying to get them on youtube. Stay tuned. 

June 24, 2006 at 12:26 pm Leave a comment

Weekend of June 17

We are still recovering from our trip and played it close to home this weekend. Saturday was spent at Playa Icaria and I was under the umbrella all day. I still managed to get sunburn. The water is nice now and the waves were about a meter high which is unusual for this beach. We went to Baja bar afterwards because we thought the US was playing Italy. Marc, a furloughed United Airlines pilot was all keen to watch the game. It turns out that the game was at 9:00 and not 6:00 as we thought. Alex and I headed home and met up with them later at Bo’s. Had a great chat with Marc and Matt and headed home around midnight. The streets are still crowded at that time with families strolling about, talking in groups and just being outside.

Sunday was spent cleaning (has to be done from time to time) and studying my Spanish. I have only been doing Spanish in class and last week was getting frustrated by not advancing enough. I guess I’ve hit that point where my dissatisfaction has prompted me to put in more effort. Later in the afternoon we went to la casa de Eliza y Carles where a group of friends gathered for the Brazil vs. Australia game.

Alex dressed me up in a Brazil team shirt and tossed me into the centre of an Australian fan club. Had a great time.

That was the weekend.

One of the things I love about Barcelona are the scooters and motorcycles.

I’ve seen women in their sixties taking their helmets off beside their scooter as they get ready to go shopping. Men in business suits, teens in jeans, women is skirts, they all have their scooters to get around town. Last week, I even saw this young woman driving a Harley and I was SOOOOOOO jealous. They even have parking spots for bikes at the side of the road.

If we ever live here permanently, we’ll be a family of two bikes, a scooter and a big Harley cruiser (for country riding of course).

June 19, 2006 at 6:09 pm Leave a comment

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