Archive for January 15, 2007

Pobles de Catalunya: Arenys de Mar

As described below, Alan and I went to Arenys de Mar on sunday with out friends Matt & Elena. Known in the Middle Ages as Santa Maria d’Arenys, this town of about 9,000 inhabitants had a very important port from the 16th century onwards. It had then four shipyards and a large shipbuilding industry. After the ports of Spanish America were opened to Catalan commerce in the 18th century, Arenys quickly moved ahead to supply ships for the journey. There were 45 regular ships that travelled to America by the end of the century. The town lost much of its strength in the 19th century, with the advent of steam engine ships and the construction of the docks in Barcelona. Since then it has dedicated itself mostly to tourism and fishing.

We left Barcelona on the 10:18 train and arrived in Arenys a little after 11 AM. The town is quite pretty, spread between the mountains and the sea. We walked from the train station to the older part of town and saw our first odd sighting: bottles of cava. They were everywhere, by each door, reaps of bottles. At first we thought they had some big party on saturday night. But then we realized there were no other kind of bottle – surely if they had a party there would had been beer & wine bottles as well? Other than that, the streets were charming, with that quaint mediterranean seaside feel to it.

We continued our walk and made our way up the hill to the cemetery, which is supposed to be one of the high points of Arenys. I like cemeteries. Oddly, I can’t go to funerals -I didn’t go to any of my grandparents’ funerals, and the few funerals of strangers (usually a friend of a friend or a relative of a friend) I attended left me feeling ill. But somehow, I find cemeteries quite nice and peaceful. The one in Arenys was on top of a hill overlooking the sea and had lots of really nice monuments. I struck conversation with an old lady that was watering the flowers near her family’s grave and she was obviously very proud of the place, despite complaining that the town used to be much nicer thirty years ago. She did enlighten us on the cava bottle mystery. Apparently, in Arenys de Mar everybody puts out their cava bottles on sunday for recycling. Not any bottle, just cava bottles!

The walk up the hill opened our appetites so we walked down to the port to look for a restaurant I had heard about that serves only fresh fish and seafood. It was 1:30 pm and the Bar del Puerto was packed already! As anybody who has been to Spain before, 1:30 pm is quite early for lunch so the fact that the restaurant was already full was a good sign 😉

We had salad, calamares a la romana and boquerones en vinagre to start, a platter of mixed grilled fish and seafood as a main (it was really good!), dessert, coffee, water and wine for less than 20 euros per person. A very good meal! By the way, we ate outside, it was nice and warm and we could hardly believe it was mid January!

After lunch we spent a little while exploring the docks, before we took the 4:30 train home. I took a lot of pictures but unfortunately, I won’t have them developed until later in the week. For now I’ll leave you with a few shots I snapped with Alan’s digital (you can also see more pics on his site):

Port at Arenys

Bar del Puerto

The line up at the restaurant continued all afternoon…

Line up

update: for more pictures, go here

January 15, 2007 at 9:25 pm 1 comment

Arenys De Mar

Ok, I am having trouble putting stuff in this blog. Alex is on a roller coaster, putting posts up at every whim. I was in a slump and tried different strategies to post, but none worked. There is one from Flickr that consists of taking a photo a day for 365 days. It’s a challenge and I tried to do it here but …….you see the results. I may attempt it again soon.

We have booked our flight home. We leave Barcelona on May 2. It has been a fabulous and amazing time and it went by all too quickly. I know we still have 4 months left and we will make use of every single weekend starting with this last one.

We went to a place up the coast called Arenys De Mar. It’s only a 50 minute train ride from Barcelona so we decided to go with some friends and just walk around the town.

We went up the hill into the old part of town and noticed that a lot of houses had 4 or more empty cava bottles outside. We assumed that they must have had quite the party recently but we were told that today is pickup day for the bottles. Poof, there goes this amazing fantasy I had.

Every street in the old part of town is very narrow. Some even have steps to help climb the hill. I can imagine how it must have been in the 14th century.

We even came across a little square. It had a few benches and one tree in the middle. I loved the light that was reflected from the surrounding buildings. It was quite pleasant on the eyes.

From there we walked over to the fishing port and had lunch at a nice little place called Puerto Del Mar. We ate out on the terrace by the sea and it was beautiful.

After eating we took a short walk around the fishing boats.

Saw where someone would mend their nets ….

and caught the train home. All in all a great day.

January 15, 2007 at 6:40 pm 2 comments

New law in Russia

A new law in Russia, passed after race riots rocked northern Russia last summer, set the maximum number of immigrants working in retail to 40% and aims to reduce that number to zero by the end of the year.

You can read more here: BBC News

Am I the only one to think this is a step backwards?

January 15, 2007 at 1:18 pm Leave a comment


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