Posts filed under ‘Culture’

Easter Weekend

We had an amazing Easter weekend. On Friday, Alex wanted to go to a parade which was starting in Raval at this huge old church. Other churches added groups to the parade. It started at 5:00 so we went close to where it bagan. Apparently, it makes its way to the cathedral and arrives around 8:30 at night. Leading the parade were 2 mounted police. Beautiful horses and uniforms. The riders were very friendly too.

We picked a spot where people were shortest and right across from the mounted police. While we were waiting for the parade to start we met these three Catalan women. They were just too funny. They were chatting up the mounted police and flirting with them. They were laughing and have a great time. We chatted with them and they told us all about the parade, where they lived, how long they’d known each other and lots of other chit chat. The one on the right said I looked american and apologized when I told her I was canadian. We had so much fun with them.

The procession started and this massive float came down the street. It was being carried by many men who were actually under it and physically carrying it. One man was in front of the float yelling out instructions and directions. There was lots of gold on this float. Really gorgeous.

The fixtures just glowed in the sun. Very beautiful creations and I am sure they were REALLY heavy.

In between the floats were people walking. A group of Spanish women in traditional dress walked by and I managed to get her attention and a big smile. I was so excited I blurred the shot. I had to soften it up to save the photo but her smile was beautiful.

The parade had other marchers and one other huge float but I didn’t manage to capture them well. The crowds were too dynamic and it was hard to get good photos.

On Saturday, Sebastian drove us to Besalou, it’s just 50 kms from the french border and on the way we could see the snow covered mountains of the Pyrenees. Just beautiful. The drive through the country was just great. The trees were just showing the tinge of green that showed new life was on it’s way. It made me feel amazing inside and I enjoyed it immensley. We arrived at Besalou and I was really pleased we had come here. It was like out of a book.

Walking around the city we popped into an artist’s tellier. Josep was the artist and once again we were treated like old friends by another catalan. They are so welcoming. We chatted with him for quite along time and he shared a bit of muscatel wine with us. A really interesting individual and I loved his workshop.

Lot’s of studies and unfinished pieces.

We left Josep and wandered around the town some more. I guess you can only see so many old buildings and churches. I tried imagining what it was like 700 years ago but couldn’t get there.

The others had a good time and Alex wanted to see some part of the Jewish legacy that this village held.

Just outside the walls, down by the river, was a very serene scene. I could have sat under the tree and lost myself. Everyone was getting hungry and we still had to get to Olot.

We finally arrived in Olot and had a great meal there. It took a bit of time to find the restaurant because Sebastian was looking for one that they had been to a while ago. It was well worth the wait because the food was sooooo amazing. After eating we finally managed to catch up with Joy and her friends. We had been paying tag with her all day. We all went for a drink at some bar in Olot and then headed home. We went over towards Vic and saw snow by the side of the road at the higher elevations. It was a great day.

April 10, 2007 at 3:19 pm Leave a comment

Cantonigròs

This past weekend we went on a camino with Pau and Mireia. This hike had been in the works for quite a while. Sebastian and I had talked about organizing one way back in January. We wanted to hike up north, around Vic and Pau, who is a member of the hiking feferation in Vic, knows many of the trails there. We contacted him about a month ago to see if he was available to go for a hike with us. Sunday was the day we went. We let people know where we were going and when to meet but in the end only Alex, myself and Sebastian went from Barcelona. We left for Vic on the 9:20 train out of Placa Catalunya.

Pau i Mireia

An hour and a half later, we arrived in Vic. Pau and Mireia met us at the train station and off we went. They told us that they had made reservations for lunch and that we would be hiking to the restaurant, eating and hiking back. We were in for a huge, pleasant surprise. We headed off in the direction of Olot, which is north of Vic. The highway progressively climbed as we got further from Vic. The whole landscape changed from what we were used to in Barcelona. Most of the trees were bare of their leaves and the sky, wow, so dramatic. The sun and clouds were having this huge battle for dominance and the clouds were winning each skirmish, although at times it seemed the sun would win. It was like this for the entire day and made for some of the most dramatic skies I had ever seen.

So here’s a photo of what Barcelona was like on Thursday of last week, lush and green. Keep this in mind when you view the photos from our hike.

We pulled into a parking lot for a restaurant and our hike began. we were in an area called Cantonigròs. Pau pointed the way and off we went. The light was really flat so it was hard to get good photos since there was hardly any contrast.

We walked down the highway to a dirt road that went towards the mountain.

Actually, the road ran along a valley in between mountains, the scenery was amazing. We walked past working farms and the livestock was right there. Some of the biggest bulls I have ever seen were here too. These are cows by the way.

The path eventually started to wind it’s way upwards. It started off with a gentle climb and as we entered the forest we ran into some hunters with their dogs. We could hear dogs howling since we entered the valley. I’d never seen hunters with dogs before (except in the movies) so it was quite a treat.

Aparently there are a lot of wild boars here and signs were everywhere warning hikers of the possible danger. We kept on walking upwards and the path started to narrow at points as we made our way across the terrain.

That soon ended as we started some serious upward movements. The path varied from lots of vegetation to rock. The sky kept up the show and at this time, the clouds were really winning the battle. They were so thick it was getting dark.

You could see we’d climbed a fair bit up into the mountains

and of course we had to shoot some photos (just the excuse I needed for a rest)

After our rest, ooops, I mean photo session, we climbed at a much quicker rate. The slope of the path increased quite a bit. I was sweating like mad. I sweat easily, even just doing my weight workout. I keep meaning to ask a doctor if it’s good to sweat so easily or is it a sign that something is up. I’ll have to wait until I get back to Canada I guess. Here’s the view from a little higher up, note the sky again. The sun is starting to gain a little ground.

At this point we’re “almost” at the restaurant. It’s on top of that mountain in the back and if you look closely you can see the trail that leads up. This was going to be fun (tongue in cheek).

We started up the trail and Sebastian, the mountain goat, went bouncing up the trail. You can see where we had come from and now, where we are going.

I went up at a good rate and stopped about half way up. I could actually hear my heart pounding, it was amazing. On the way up there was a marker and it gives you an idea of just how high we’d climbed in 1 hour and 30 minutes.

On top of this mountian were more trails continuing on and walking the narrow trail gave you fantastic views on both sides of the range.

It was weird because the sun was winning the war on one side and it seemed like the clouds were gathering on the other side to attack.

This was an amzing place to be. So close to the edge and nothing to guide you. You really felt the three dimensional world when you looked at the edge of the cliff.

There was also a geological marker placed at the top and there were indicators to different areas on the horizon.

As high as we were, the trail climbed even higher. Since our table was ready we only went so far.

From here we turned around and went back to the restaurant.

The restaurant, Sanctuari de Cabrera, is in a building that heralds from medieval times. It was a church and a sanctuary and the church is still there beside the resaurant. A really amazing place and a fantastic treat.

We had salad, mountain paella, beef, wine, dessert,coffee and penty of great conversation. I might add that at the beginning of the day, we, or should I say they, decided to speak only spanish and catalan. I survived and even managed to get into the conversations.

Pau and Mireia even taught me how to drink wine from a porron, a catalan wine dispenser. It takes a bit of time to master and after pouring lots of wine on my face and shirt, I finally managed it.

Here’s some clearer photos of the porron.

The room was very humid with all the cooking going on and the outside looked so uninviting. Fog was just rolling across the ground and being inside was so comforting.

The cooking was done like it has been for centuries, by fire. The kitchen had few modern conveniences since the place was so isolated.

When we left, it seemed like the sun was finally going to win the war, at least in the valley we were heading down into. The dark clouds were still blowing across so it could go any way.

The return trip took far less time than it took to get up there and when we finally made it back to the car, the sun poked out and gave us a grand farewell.

Shortly after that photo, the clouds waged a massive assault and won the day. Less than 2 hours later, the rain started.

Pau and Mireia had given memories that we will treasure for the rest of our lives. A fantastic day with fantastic friends.

February 19, 2007 at 8:11 pm 5 comments

Taller (Pronounced tay – ae)

I had a great day yesterday. By the way, Taller is spanish for workshop and it’s the title of this post because I went to a workshop. A friend of mine, Francesca, is a ceramic artist and graphics designer. She has a workshop near the Torassa metro staion in Barcelona.

I met with another friend, Keiko and we both headed out to Francesca’s taller. Kaeko, a clothes designer, wanted to see it to get an idea of what she could expect if she wanted a taller.

My first view on entering this huge loft was of Laura at work on a few of her pieces.

There are quite a few artists who share the loft and each has their own section. Most of them work in ceramics but I suspect there is a least one silk screen artist there. The loft is huge and one whole wall is window with the afternoon sun shining in.

Sophie, from south Wales, works beside Laura and Francesca’s area.

Francesca comes here to work on her ceramics and other creations. She fuses glass with ceramics and comes up with some very interesting pieces. One of her pieces she is working on ..

The place is full of interesting little pieces that are just laying around on desks ….

on little shelves

stuck in the corners

under mirrors (no that’s not a master’s impression of moi)

It was like a huge toy shop, so many things to see ……

Even Francesca, who is there all the time, is still in love with all the aspects of this wonderful place. She had a great time showing Keiko all the pieces from other artist’s areas. You can see Keiko is having a blast.

I had to get Francesca to do a little work so I could take some photos of her in her element.

She started to get into it, look at her concentration.


You could see all kinds of items, some used for inspiration, some tools, rejections, experiments.

Laura kept working while we were there. I guess she had to have some pieces ready for the next steps.

There was a collection of music to match the powerful ambience that was in the studio.

Depending on where you were in the loft, determined how you felt, it was really incredible that these artists had created such a variation of ambience. Just behind these shelves was a sitting area where you could rejeuvenate. They had everything there.

I got a good picture of Laura working with the light coming in from the windows ..

On leaving, I had to get a shot of Francesca’s tradmark cat.

You know, when I met Keiko at the metro, the sky was grey and the light was not good for taking photos. Once we got there, the clouds had cleared and bright sunshine was lighting up the whole studio. I had a great time there. Such a powerful place that is dripping with creative forces and yet so peaceful.

I can see how artists can escape.

January 17, 2007 at 2:08 pm 2 comments

Josep María Subirachs

I’ve never been accused of rapidly clicking into something. Alex knew this trait of mine for a long time and always waits for my “eureka” to come. In truth, she’s already suggested it months ago. Anyhow, this post is about Josep María Subirachs, a catalan artist born in Barcelona 11 March 1927. To read more about his interesting life and see other works go here.

About a month ago, Alex and I went to Mercé, a fiesta here in Barcelona. We were down in Placa de Sant Jaume in Bari Gotic and found that the public were permitted to tour the Generalitat, a governement building facing the square. It’s actually Palau de Generalitat and was built in 1596 so we were really interested in touring. Once inside, I came across this wall with an impression embedded in the wall.

Jump ahead a few months to Nov 25. That’s the day we went hiking in Montserrat. When we were walking from the cathedral to the cafeteria, Sebastian pointed out another sculpture. It had the same style as the photo above.

Here’s a close up of the face. It’s as if someone imprinted their face in the rock. To view it is really amazing, it changes with the light.

As if this discovery wasn’t fateful enough, Alex and I were walking home last night and passed Banc Sabadell building on the Passeig de Gràcia. This is what we saw ……….

Actually, these last pieces were what sparked my interest. Here’s some detail of this piece which is part of dual works. The face will turn as your viewing perspective changes.

The labirynth on top of the pedestal. I have no idea as to the meaning of the items in the relief.

And here’s the right side of the piece.

and a detail of this piece ………

Much to my surprise, I found out that this other piece, which is right around the corner from our apartment, was also created by him.

It’s amonument to Narcís Monturiol. who is the real inventor of the submarine. It was created in 1963 of concrete and copper and is approx 420 cm. high.

I think this is pointing the way to a project. The artist has many pieces here in Barcelona and around Spain. I should try to find as many as I can before I go back to Canada,

November 30, 2006 at 5:28 pm 3 comments

Gran Fiesta de Barcelona – Mercè

Norbert and Carole visited this week and we were really happy to see them. We spent the week wandering around the city and I had my first experience with pickpockets (see the previous post). We also discovered another little alcove in Bari Gotic. It was so relaxing and peaceful, almost zen like.

The sound of trickling water combined with the soft reflected light really made this alcove a place for reflection. What really added to the ambience was the sound of classical music filtering in from outside. There was a violinist and a cellist playing just outside the building.

I hope they enjoyed their week here as much as we enjoyed having them visit.

Well this weekend really was another kicker. Mercè started on Friday and it was a very wet day. It rained on and off for most of the day and a lot of events were either cancelled or postponed. It must be extremely disappointing for those who have dedicated so many hours of their time to organize, construct or practice for this major Barcelona event.

We had planned to attend a number of events on Friday but decided it was too wet. Besides, we had a party to go to that night. Tio Seb was having a surprise birthday party for Jackie at a club called Senses. We had a great time there and Jackie was completely caught off guard. They have a lot of friends and it seems like they all showed up. It goes to show how really great people those two are. We left the party around 2:00 and I heard it went on until about 7:00 the next day. Needless to say, all our plans for taking in the Mercè on Saturday were shelved. Saturday was a quiet day, a day to recharge my batteries.

Sunday we were up early and headed to Plaça de Sant Jaume to meet Francisca at 10:30. The square was packed.

The giants were performing when we arrived and because they were giants we could see them, at least the upper half of them. They are quite amazing and always come in pairs, man and woman. Some sport real hair and are very lifelike.

After the giants paraded around the square, Francisca discovered that the public was allowed in the Palau de la Generalitat. What a treat. The inside of this building is gorgeous and the few photos I took do not do it justice.

The marble floor is made of individual tiles of differnt coloured marble. You had to look very closely to see where they actually joined. From a distance they looked painted. The craftmanship put into this building was beyond words. On one wall, which is a modern addition and is actually a piece of art, is an inverted figure. The figure is a hollow in the wall. If you look at the bottom of the figure you can see what I mean.

From there we walked over to Ravel to eat. Alex and I had eaten in an Indian restaurant called Shalimar across from Jackie and Sebastian’s place and we really enjoyed it. Alex decided to call them so they came down and ate with us. Sebastian told me that he too had a quiet day yesterday (I wonder why). We visited with them for a while and then headed home. It was a full day.

Monday we wanted to go hiking but the trail we wanted to take was probably too muddy to be any fun. We were going to take the GR6 trail over to Sant Cugat. The beginning of the trail is very steep so we decided to do it some other time. Instead, we grabbed both of our cameras and headed to Bari Gotic (old Barcelona). We just walked around taking photos of anything that appealed to us. Here are some examples………

I saw this one when I was watching my feet.

This poster and reflection made me do a double take when I caught it out of the corner of my eye.

And then we needed an animal shot to round out the day, he was probably wondering what the heck we were doing……

We headed in the general direction of home and found Psseig de Gracia was closed to traffic and filled with kiosks. We browsed our way up the street and came across these wild hair dressers………..

The red dresser

and the gold dresser

So the long weekend comes to an end. It seems like we always chance upon the most interesting things because of wandering randomly around.

Hope you all have a great week.

September 25, 2006 at 5:36 pm Leave a comment

Vallfogona and Roca Guinart

It’s amazing the way we thread our way through various interests. Where one thing leads to another and another and another……… until we find ourselves in a place that has no common links to where we started from. In this sense, this post is probably an intermediate step.

Yesterday I posted some Catalan poetry I had picked from a booklet given to us on September 11 to celebrate a Catalan holiday. I understood the context of one of the poems but didn’t know the first one. Antoni, a phtographer from Sant Pol de Mar explained that the poem was about a famous Catalan bandit, Roca Guinart. Of course I had to look into this. It’s difficult to research because I do not speak Catalan and almost all of the references were in Catalan, after all he is part of Catalan folklore.

Well, I found reference to the author, Francesc Vicent Garcia (Rector of Vallfogona) and the town Vallfogona.

Vallfogona de Riucorb is a pueblo of 130 people. It’s roots go back before 1038 with the Queralt and Cervallo families (they have a history all to themselves) and it was known as Vallis Alfedi or Vall d’Aleu until the 12th century.

In 1193 the Knights Templar established a Templar castle there and, after the order was dissolved in 1312 it was taken over by the Hospitalers. In 1416 the castle was restored and in 1811 became the house of Vallfogona de Comalats. The town was surrounded by a fortress with towers and had a hospital that cared for pilgrims and the sick. There are still ruins from the chapel of Sant Pere dels Bigats dating back to the 13th century.

As I mentioned, one of the towns citizens was Francesc Garcia Torres ( Tortosa 1582-Vallfogona 1623,) and also known as Rector of Vallfogona. He studied in Lleida and Vic and, in 1607, he came to Vallfogona where he befriended Rocaguinarda and wrote the poem. In 1951, the town erected a monument in his memory.

The famous “bandoler” Perot Rocaguinarda (Roca Guinart) was born in December 18th 1582 in Oristà, Catalunya. He is also refered to as the gentleman bandit Roque Guinart in Don Quixote. The Castilian writer Miguel de Cervantes imagined the Catalans as being fearsome natives. He writes: “More than forty highwaymen suddenly surrounded them and told them in Catalan to stop and do not move until the captain had arrived.” The captain was Perot Rocaguinarda, and Don Quijote and his attendant spent three days and three nights with that Catalan highwayman, hiding themselves together through the woods around Barcelona. Just as a point of interest he was one of a a very few highwaymen who escaped the gallows. His house of birth can still be seen (at least the ruins) inOristà.

September 14, 2006 at 12:19 pm 2 comments

Some Catalan Poetry

I had mentioned in my last post that we were given a book on Catalan poetry. I was browsing through the book and realized that the poems were written over many centuries and by people from all levels of Catalan society. One poem written in the 16th century seems to be about a man named Roca and was written by Francesc Vicent Garcia who was the rector of Vallfogona. It was a random selection as I can only understand a little.

A ROCA GUINART

Quan baixes de muntanya, valent Roca,
com si una roca de Montseny baixara,
mostres al mon la fortalesa rara,
que per a tu sa furia tota es poca.
Ninguna de tes bales lo cap toca
de qui no et veja, si no fuig la cara,
que ton valor insigne no s’empara
tras falsa mata ni traidora soca.
Tot aquest Principat fas que badalle,
Que et persegueix de sou i persegueixes
Ab mortal i funebre parasisme.
Qui tinga el tal judici mire I calle,
O diga’t senyoria, que ho mereixes
Per lo millor pillard del cristianisme.

This next poem written Anonim (anonymously) is about the war of 1812 against France. It stood out because of our visit to Montserrat and the destruction caused by Napoleon’s armies there (not to mention the theft of history).

De la Guerra Del Frances
Es una meravella
De veure els sometents;
Com mes els aturmenten,
Sempre son mes valents.
Francesos valerosos,
direu a vostre rei
que dintre Catalunya
mai hi fara la llei.
La primera vegada
que al Bruc vareu anar,
molt contents i alegres
hi vareu arribar.
Amb els canons de fusta
els llevarem la pell.
Es van posar a correr
fins a Molins de Rei.
A la guerra, a la guerra,
contra Napoleon,
per defensar Fernando,
la Patria y Religion.

Hope you enjoy and if any reader would care to comment on the content of the first poem, it would be very much appreciated.

September 13, 2006 at 8:57 am 1 comment


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