martes, 18 de diciembre de 2012

Eixample corners: Sea or Mountain? Besòs or Llobregat?

"Let's meet at 10 in a bar at the corner of Bruc and Diputació streets".

If you are a true Barcelonian, you will notice that there is something missing in the sentence above. What is it? Very easy: you need to say in which of the four corners of the intersection is the bar where you are supposed to meet if you don't want to be waiting in different places!

The code we use is simple: Sea side or Mountain side (which meaning is very easy to figure out), and Besòs side or Llobregat side (this may make you think a little bit more; there is even people who prefers to say "Girona side" and "Tarragona side", in order not to mess up the two rivers that delimit the city.

You must admit it is a foolproof method to give directions!

lunes, 3 de diciembre de 2012

Barcelona Television

Is there anything more "Barcelonian" than a TV Channel like BTV?
Who hasn't been tempted to talk in front of the cameras of Videomaton?
Who doesn't remember the fish tank they used as the test pattern? And the eye they had as a logotype?
And what about emblematic shows as Telemonegal, el Temps del Picó or the literary Qwerty?
BTV is turning 18, and by the way...someone working there, Albert Muñoz, contacted me some time ago and told me they wanted to prepare a little note for BTV's web about this blog. So here you have the video. It is always a bit embarrassing to see and hear oneself, but that's life, I guess...

martes, 27 de noviembre de 2012

Rooftop antennas

The image that any city shows, just like with most things in life, is not unique, and it often depends on the viewer's gaze. Above the asphalt of sidewalks, pedestrians and shops at street level there is another reality that is only noticeable by birds or from high places: the rooftops.
Anyone who has lived on a high floor of Ciutat Vella, Gràcia or Poble Sec will probably know  what I am talking about, a very specific image that fits naturally in the chaotic Mediterranean spirit of Barcelona.
These roofs are used for many things: hanging clothes, holding neighborhood meetings or sunbathing, but what I like to see are the antennas. And I do not mean satellite dishes, but the traditional aerials, which look like small twigs of fragile static trees.
I know that for many people the antennas are "dirty" visual elements, and that they have many drawbacks, including the difficulty of access, the higher maintenance costs and a lower quality of reception of channels, and I know that they will gradually disappear.. that's why I like looking at them thinking they are an endangered landscape.
I leave two images: a Picasso painting titled "Roofs of Barcelona" (1903) and the cover of a very good album: El món en un cafè, by the band 4t 1a.

miércoles, 14 de noviembre de 2012


One of the good things that Barcelona has done in the last years is the recovery, refurbishment and modernization of fresh produce markets in all the districts of the city. Through its history, Barcelona developped a special small-store model, which is getting now hard to maintain. Many of us like this model, compared to having huge, impersonal malls in the suburbs.
Some time ago I posted on this blog about the Born market and its eternal building works, but now I want to write about other elements that accompany us for years: those fresh produce markets that set provisional big tops while the building is refurbished
Among others, the city has refurbished in recent years the market of Barceloneta and Santa Caterina (Ciutat Vella), Clot (Sant Martí) and Llibertat (Gracia), and during the works, the big tops have been placed in nearby open spaces.
Some of these works last so long that the concept of "provisional" seem to become "definitive" but generally we know that the tops will only be there for a certain time. And then they will disappear to leave free way, again, to the original market.
Now Sant Antoni market is being refurbished, and I am looking forward to the ending of the works because a building as spectacular as this one, inaugurated in 1872, will be for sure gorgeous.

miércoles, 7 de noviembre de 2012

The knife grinder

Some weeks ago I heard on the radio that some traditional trades that were disappearing are now coming back because of the economical crisis. The main reason is that, in hard times, we prioritize fixing things before replacing them with new ones.
Among those trades that are surviving there is one that is very related to our streets, a mobile profession associated with a repetitive melody of flute: the knife grinder.
If we have to judge me by the number of times I've sharpened my knives, knife grinders would already have disappeared, but luckily there are people who still do it, and some grinders still survive on the streets of Barcelona. The photo of this post, for example, was taken a couple of weeksago in the Rambla del Poble Nou.
In a city subject to all kinds of loud noises, there are some sounds that do not go unnoticed and that currently resist: that of "Butanoooooo" for example, is one of them. The knife grinder's "Tiruriroriroriro" is another very typical one. Hopefully, after the crisis, there will still be knife grinders circulating with their old mopeds on the streets of Barcelona.

An additional curiosity: Dani Cortijo explains in his blog altresbarcelones, that after the defeat of Barcelona in 1714, it was forbidden to have more than one kitchen knife per family at home, to prevent possible uprings or riots against Spanish troops.
Moreover, this single family knife had to be tied with a string to the kitchen table, and people who didn't obey this law could be punished even with the death penalty. Thus, the grinders did their work moving through the houses of Barcelona, and specifically working in their kitchens!

lunes, 29 de octubre de 2012

The Blue Tram - El Tramvia Blau

I know, I know, it is clearly something for tourists, but there someone from Barcelon who never used the Tramvia Blau (Blue Tram)? And if there is, what is he waiting for?
I remember nothing that made me as happy as boarding the Blue Tram to, and then the Funicular to take me to the Tibidabo amusement park with my family!
Obviously, for me the most important thing was not that we were riding the only tram left in the city, or travelling in a wagon built in the early twentieth century, but getting closer to my dream destination, the amusement park. Specifically, the 1276 meters it takes, bridging a height gap of nearly 100 meters, from Kennedy Sq to Doctor Andreu Sq, who, for the record, was the driving force behind this tram line.
The Tramvia Blau was the only one circulating in Barcelona from 1971, after the other lines were replaced by buses, until 2004, when the Trambaix started to circulate. 
Of course, if someone came from another planet and saw these two trams, he surely would doubt that the modern tram along Diagonal Avenue and the old one in Av Tibidabo are individuals of the same species!

martes, 23 de octubre de 2012

Cobi (the best mascot)

Cobi the mascot

We recently celebrated the 20th anniversary (yes, twenty years already!) of the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Barcelona. Those of us who are old enough have a big amount of mental pictures and memories of those two weeks that changed Barcelona.

And we all have in mind which was the mascot of those Olympic Games, Cobi. We must admit that there were very few who loved him from the beginning. Perhaps we were not prepared to love that groundbreaking, cubist-inspired, Catalan shepherd, who apparently had no volume and had his nose on the side of his face.

But gradually we were able to overcome the cold welcome (to say it in nice words) welcome and get to love him, to the point that he became one of the most popular mascots in the history of the Olympics. Then came Petra, Jordi, Olivia and Forçut, who formed the Cobi troupe.

lunes, 15 de octubre de 2012

Cinema at Montjuïc

One thing about traditions is that they are established over time. In Barcelona we have some very old ones (like the dancing egg or the Fira de Santa Llúcia) but fortunately we are also creating new ones.

For me, a recent tradition that has a special place on my agenda is the cinema outdoors in the summer. I do not know how long it takes to turn a habit into a tradition, but I do know that for me it is enough with the 10 years that the Cinema at Montjuïc has celebrated.
And do not tell me it's not an important tradition to be preserved. Going up the mountain with friends up to the castle of Montjuïc, installing oneself on the lawn, having picnic while hearing live music and then watching a movie is priceless!

And feeling the need to wear a jacket in the summer heat of Barcelona is also priceless!

lunes, 8 de octubre de 2012


Motorcycles Barcelona

You just have to walk down through streets of Barcelona to see that it is one of the European cities with more motorcycles. In fact, only Rome has more of them. When you see how they position themselves in the red crosslights to leave first then you understand that they are the queens of the asphalt.
It's one of the things that often draws attention to people who visit, especially if they have to drive around Barcelona, and they are not used to having to think about having motorbikes everywhere around! Even us, people from Barcelona, who are used to them, find sometimes in tnese situations created between motorbikes and other vehicles.
I am, myself, sometimes a pedestrian, a cyclist, a motorcyclist and motorist in Barcelona, and  I also use public transportation. I think we can all live together if we all are willing to cooperate. Actually, problems are caused not by the type of vehicle, but by who and how they are driven it!

martes, 2 de octubre de 2012

Flip-flops and socks

Flip-flops and socks

I remember there was a time, long ago, when you could walk around the city center and find more locals than tourists. Now that is almost an almost impossible experience, and it becomes more evident during the touristic peak season...although I am starting to think that Barcelona is always in "high season".
By the way, and for the record, I have nothing against tourism itself, I am only pointing an objective fact.
Well, we have always associated the word tourism with another word, which may be a little unfair, "guiri", a word including some characteristic as blond or red hair, extremely burned skin by sun exposure (known as "prawn effect"), flowered-printed shirts, hanging cameras.... and sandals or flip-flops with socks!

lunes, 1 de octubre de 2012


I was 10 and I had fallen asleep in the back seat of the car. Back then, it was not mandatory to fasten your seat bealt. I was accompanying my mother to run errands around Barcelona. 

Traffic is chaotic, perhaps even more than usual for a Friday afternoon in June. Sirens began to sound. Ambulance, police, firefighters. Something has happened. My mother turns on the radio and confirms her suspicions.
She looks at me through her thick glasses and cries.
Surely many locals have memories of that fateful day. I usually write other kind of entries for this blog, but it is still part of our recent history. Twenty years later, fortunately, the scenario is completely different. The future is unwritten but that kind of past will not be repeated.

jueves, 27 de septiembre de 2012

Horchata at Poble Nou

Horchata Tio Che Poble Nou

I like seasonal products because you have to wait to the right time of the year, and when they arrive, they are much more appreciated. Furthermore, we link them to certain habits and ideas, so you are transported to that time of the year just by remembering them.

That happens to me with horchata. Its season is limited to summer, and that is why it is inseparable from the heat, the sun and the muggy weather.

And in Barcelona it is clear that drinking horchata is already a tradition, especially at a terrace. There are historical horchaterías, like "Tio Che" at La Rambla del Poble Nou, which this summer celebrated its Centennial! The founders were Joan and Josefa, who, coming from a village in the province of Alicante, began serving horchatas in the Born one century ago. And their family is still cooling the hot afternoons in Barcelona with this nutritious drink. Congratulations Tío Che!

martes, 4 de septiembre de 2012

The dancing egg (L'ou com balla)

The main purpose of ​​this blog, as its name suggests, is to collect some things that are really typical in Barcelona. And the truth is that there must be few traditions that are more typical from Barcelona than l'Ou com balla (The dancing egg), held on the day of Corpus Christi. although it is also celebrated in other catalan cities and villages, this tradition has its origin in the Cathedral of Barcelona, and is known at least since 1673.

The idea of this celebration is to make an egg dance. The egg has previously been emptied, of course, and you can see it dancing in fountains of cloisters, courtyards and gardens that are decorated for the occasion with spring flowers and fruits.

If you have never seen it before, it is worth going to see the dancing egg, which moves playfully over the water. It is a simple but very mysterious ritual at the same time, which rememorates the consecrated host and has also clear references to the fertility of the egg.
The tradition was lost for a while and the city recovered it some years ago, so now you can go see the egg dance in various locations in Ciutat Vella, as the cloister of the Cathedral, la Casa de l'Ardiaca, l'Ateneu Barcelonès, the Archive of the Crown of Aragon or the Museu Frederic Marès.

martes, 28 de agosto de 2012

Balcony blinds

Blinds Barcelona

When the good weather starts, one must assume an objective fact: Barcelona, in the summer, is a hot city.
And long before there was air conditioning, it was already hot. So the locals had to protect themselves against the sun. And they found a solution that is ideal from my point of view: the shutters on the outside, leaving them hanging over the balcony.
Thus they stop direct sunlight, but they also let the air in in order to get the natural cross ventilation (if there is a little breeze blowing, the heat is more bearable) and, unlike horizontal blinds, they preserve a certain degree of privacy.
I will not say I thank an air conditioner in the summer in the city, but if we don't have one... what could be better than the these typical blinds?

lunes, 20 de agosto de 2012

The Vain Giraffe

The sculpture of Flirty Giraffe has always aroused some fascination on me.

At the end of the Rambla de Catalunya, on the corner of Avinguda Diagonal, she has seen and keeps seeing all the locals and tourists walking around, with an attitude that I consider at the same time seductive and a bit indifferent.

The sculptor, Josep Granyer, engraver and illustrator was close the style Art Deco, and created an entire universe himself, with surreal and humorous touches, as animals are represented in human attitudes.

Thus, it seems that the giraffe is flirting and relaxed at the same time, waiting for someone to come get her. It could be, for example, the bull that we can find at the other end of the Rambla de Catalunya, meditating at the junction of Gran Via, evoking the thinker of Rodin. The sculptures are in the same location since 1972 but the bull still hasn't had the courage to ask out the giraffe. He keeps meditating...

viernes, 17 de agosto de 2012

The Bikini sandwich

Calling "Bikini" the hot ham-and-cheese sandwich is not an exclusive characteristic from Barcelona but from the whole Catalonia, but the origin of the word is fully Barcelonian.

All the locals know the Bikini concert hall, in the district of Les Corts. Well, Bikini opened in 1953 as a dance hall with terrace and mini golf, and also as a meeting place for dining. Among its culinary specialities there was an adaptation of a well-known French sandwich, called croque-monsieur. This snack was becoming increasingly popular and was eventually known as "the sandwich they prepare at Bikini". From that to the current name of the sandwich there was only one step.

Well, or at least that's what I've heard and what I've been able to investigate. If anyone is aware if that is an urban legend, please tell me!

What it is for sure is that I know more than one person who has asked for a Bikini at a bar outside Catalonia and has been looked at as a freak.

martes, 31 de julio de 2012

Sunday afternoon at La Ciutadella

Some people compare the Parc de la Ciutadella to Central Park in New York.
I guess they are not thinking about its surface (Central Park is 20 times larger than the Ciutadella) or its origin, but rather about its role in the city.

After the War of the Spanish Succession of 1714, Philip V had a citadel built on the area that the park occupies now to dominate the city of Barcelona, ​​and incidentally, all of Catalonia. The building, which also forced the destruction of the Ribera district, became a symbol that was hated by the locals, until its demolition was decided in the nineteenth century, leaving only some of the interior buildings. One of them was the arsenal, which now houses the Parliament of Catalonia.

Anyway, what I meant is that the Ciutadella Park is now a meeting place for many locals, that go there for a walk, a picnic or just to spend Sunday afternoons. there anything better than having a nap on the lawn, with the spring sun heating your body?

martes, 10 de julio de 2012

Dividing walls

I would not say that the dividing walls are aesthetically what makes us feel more proud of Barcelona. Actually, I guess we would agree that in general they are pretty ugly, but we are so used to them that I think many of us don't even realize they are there when we walk through the city. The are everywhere, in every neighborhood, and in some streets there are not two contiguous buildings with the same number of stores, so all of them have visible dividing walls.

Dividing walls are supposed to be shared by two buildings, but many of them are visible, shamelessly displaying some kind of secret, a world that should be hidden. They seem to be waiting for someone to cover them, in a state of permanent provisional nature. The urban development rules make it unlikely or impossible to build the missing heights to cover the walls. Thus, some fractures are created, public spaces despised or even ignored.

Similar to what they are doing with the block interiors of the Eixample, the Institute of Urban Landscape of Barcelona is working to restore these walls, and has remodeled more than 100 in the last three years, entrusting graffiti or vertical gardens.

Now, would Barcelona be Barcelona without its brick dividing walls, simple and even rough?

miércoles, 27 de junio de 2012

The cemetery of Poble Nou (and El Santet)

My grandmother used to say that having a cemetery close to home was not a problem at all, but something good: their tenants do not make any noise, they have no complaints and it is very unlikely that something else is ever build there that might disturb you.

Poble Nou Cemetery is the oldest in Barcelona, ​​although it was at first out of town. It was developped because there was the need to bury the dead outside the walls of the city, when Barcelona was still walled and lacked space and hygiene. Now, however, this cemetery lays in the middle of the city, and tenants have many neighbors who seem to have no complaints.

There are many famous Barcelonians buried in Poble Nou, such as the musician Josep Anselm Clave and the politician and engineer Narcis Monturiol or the actress Mary Santpere. But the niche that is the most visited belongs to Francesc Canals Ambrós. It gets so many visits that they had to empty the twelve niches around his to make enough room for the amount of gifts and flowers that he receives. Francesc Canals, known as "The Santet", was a humble boy from Barcelona who died at age 22, victim of tuberculosis. It is said that this young man, who was reputed to have powers of divination, is now able to intercede for miracles or favors (other than economic).

If you want to ask a favor to Francesc, you have to write the wish on a paper note, send it through the glass of the gravestone, say a prayer and go down the right side and not look back. Do not say I didn't warn you.

miércoles, 20 de junio de 2012

Block interiors of the Eixample

It is nothing new to say that the differences between the original Plan Cerdà for Barcelona and how the city was finally urbanized are more than remarkable. In fact, even though the locals are now proud of our orthogonal Eixample and can not imagine the city with any other street design, the truth is that the Plan Cerdà was not very appreciated by the people from Barcelona at that time, even less among the middle classes.

Thus, one of his ideas was to leave the central areas of the blocks free of buildings, in order to install gardens, usually as "corridors" between two parallel strips of houses.
It goes without saying that the block interiors were filled with buildings, often family workshops and small factories, and eventually ended up joining the two strips, closing the blocks completely.
And this way was, very briefly, how it was born another typical landscape of Barcelona's Eixample: what we see from the windows overlooking the courtyards in the Eixample.
The good news is that in recent years the City Council is making an effort of recovery of these gardens, and there are 44 block interiors recovered, open to us all.

martes, 12 de junio de 2012

Easter cake (La Mona)

The bakeries of Barcelona are always full of different types of candies depending on the season. Among others, there are the Lent fritters, the Sant Joan "coca", panellets for All Saints´ Day... But perhaps the king of them all (or rather, the Queen) is the Easter cake. For anyone who likes chocolate, walking past a bakery these days can be a delight. Tradition says it is the godfather or the grandfather who gives it to the godson for Easter. 
Initially it was a simple dough made ​​with sugar and other sweets, always topped with boiled eggs. Generally one put as many eggs as the age of the child, until age 12, when he made the Holy Communion.
But with time Easter cakes evolved and natural eggs became chocolate eggs, and Easter cakes were eventually made basically of chocolate. Now we find truly wonders, and must also follow fashion trends each year (although the issue of the Smurfs, such as the one in the photo, is a classic).
Particularly, I have to say I never was very fond of chocolate myself and also my godfather didn't give me my "Mona" because it is not a tradition in the Basque Country...but that does not mean that I stand in front of the bakeries to look at them!

martes, 15 de mayo de 2012

Hydraulic mosaic of the Eixample

One of the things that amaze me of the houses of Barcelona are the mosaics of many floors of the Eixample. This pavement is closely linked to the Modernist movement, and for that reason it is so commonly found in BarcelonaIt was a technique imported from France that was very popular among the families of Barcelona's high society.
One of the leading manufacturers was Escofet, who collaborated with architects as Domènech i Montaner and Gaudí in developing unique hydraulic mosaics, such as those found inside the Pedrera, hexagonally shaped and green-apple coloured, which later inspired the tiles of Passeig de Gràcia.
There was a time when many people, trying to be practicalcovered these tiles with other materials such as wood flooring or ceramic which looked more "modern" and uniformFortunately, it now appears that there is some consensus in considering these ceramics positively and therefore make the effort to preserve them. Some have beautiful designs, others are more discreet, but they all have their charm, and are still produced using traditional methods, so can be considered unique pieces.
Those of you who have this kind of mosaic at home, take care of it and preserve it!

jueves, 12 de abril de 2012

Chocolate at Petritxol street

Petritxol street is special for many reasons. Some reasons why:

- Because, despite being within walking distance of the 
saturated Rambla, and despite linking the busy Portaferrissa and Plaça del Pi, it conveys a feeling of returning to the past.

- Because it has ceramic tiles along its 130 meters of length, which explain stories that happened in that street.

- Because it was the first entirely pedestrian street of Barcelona. Even its name is said to come from the word "Pedritxol", due to the stones placed at the entrance to the street that prevented the carriages from entering it.

- Because of its unique combination of inimitable and art galleries and what we call "granges". Among the former there is the gallery Parés. It opened in 1840, and was a meeting place for lovers of art, who after the visit used to have something to eat in the area. And among the "granges" there are still surviving the Pallaresa and Dulcinea.

- For the infinite pleasure that gives eating chocolate with sponge fingers, Swiss chocolate with "churros" or simply a dish of cream while you enjoy all those reasons!

miércoles, 7 de marzo de 2012

Pigeons of Plaça Catalunya

I think I am right if I say that Plaça Catalunya is, for the people of Barcelona, a place we don't usually stay very long. In the old days, before the walls of the old city were demolished, there was a big space where markets took place and the paths to the towns in the vicinity started. Later, when the Eixample was developed, that area was occupied with cafés, theaters and fair stalls. Actually, the square was the scene of political and literary gathering for many people from Barcelona before Civil War broke out. Now, however, we hardly stay there for more than some minutes, unless there is a concert or a demonstration.
Perhaps there is another circumstance under which a Barcelonian would stay for a while in Plaça Catalunya: as a child, chasing (and sometimes also feeding) the pigeons. I have to say I am not a big fan of urban pigeons, that are a plague in Barcelona, transmit diseases and damage street furniture and fixtures. If I have to choose an urban bird, I prefer Argentine parrots, as I already commented.
Anyway, beyond my preferences, I must admit that pigeons form an very typical image of the city.
Ah, and one final curiosity: it seems that pigeons were introduced in Barcelona for the Universal Exposition of 1929, by a police chief that thought that the image of Plaça Catalunya with pigeons would be much more attractive! I don't think he was aware of how they were going to spread.

domingo, 4 de marzo de 2012

The Sagrada Família (from the outside)

It is obvious that the Sagrada Família is an icon, a benchmark for Barcelona, and its silhouette is associated with the image of the city itself. Just as London has Big Ben and Paris has the Eiffel Tower, we have the Sagrada Familia by Gaudi.
It is also true that many locals know it only from the outside. The Sagrada Família is there, we know it, we see its evolution, but we seldom visit it. The fact of having it so close to us, knowing that we can go whenever we want, makes us delay it so much so that we never go. And besides, the sight of all those tourists queuing, makes us difficult to find a good moment to do so. The Safrada Família is the most visited tourist attraction of all Spain, with near 4 million visitors last year.
If someone is waiting until the construction of the church is finished, you must know that we still have to wait a while. The most optimistic estimation is that the work could be ready by 2026, the centenary of the death of Antoni Gaudí, although no one dares to set a date. In addition to the complications of the work itself there is the expropriation to be done to complete the project. There is even the idea of ​​opening a wide avenue from the main entrance, on Mallorca street, to the Diagonal!
By the way, I visited the Holy Family (on the inside!) last weekend taking advantage of the visit of a relative who came from outside, as usual. I leave a couple of pictures in case you do come the urge to go visit. Indeed, it is worth it!

miércoles, 22 de febrero de 2012

Antoni Tapies Foundation

On a blog like this one, that speaks about those things that define Barcelona, I have to mention the loss of one of our most famous citizensAntoni Tàpies was always proud of Barcelona and Catalunya from his universality.

As I don't have a clue about art, I will leave that for experts and I will recall landscape that the artist leaves us: the Tàpies Foundation, at Aragó streetan impressive building designed by the architect Domènech i Montaner and topped by the sculpture "Cloud and Chair". Inside the building there is a reduced version of the controversial sock that was supposed to be exposed at the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya.

Beyond aesthetic controversiesthe building of the Tàpies Foundation is already an icon of the landscape of Barcelona.

Rest in peace Antoni Tàpies.

jueves, 16 de febrero de 2012

Late-night shows at Verdi cinemas

I was surprised to hear that a classic of Barcelona's night is back: (sessions golfes) at Verdi cinemas. And the reason I was surprised was because it seems difficult to find good news as these nowadays. Seven years after canceling the late-night shows due to the fall in the number of spectators, these sessions are taken up again. And by the way, with a good price: € 5.50!

I remember having been there several times, although I admit that I usually fall asleep when I go to the cinema too late, especially with a fully belly after dinner at some restaurant in Gràcia. I remember a French musical movie French called On connate la chanson, which I found good enough as to keep me awake!

Luckily, another tradition from Barcelona that does not go away: the late-night sessions of Verdi cinemas! 

lunes, 13 de febrero de 2012

The timing of the traffic lights

First, a couple of curiosities about traffic lights: there are about 34,000 traffic lights in Barcelona; the first one was installed at the intersection of Balmes and Provença among criticism about if it was necessary and many people had the opinion that those lights would have no future in the city.

I remember that some years ago there was a controversy in La Vanguardia about the time that the traffic lights remained green for pedestrians. Most people's opinion was that the time for pedestrians to cross was actually too short, especially on wide streets as Aragon or the Diagonal.

I remember that the Council promised then to improve traffic light timing and I haven't heard about the subject in quite a long time. I am not sure if now pedestrians have more time to cross, but what I know for sure is that it is virtually impossible to cross the streets after the green light starts to flash. I am an average, healthy, non-disabled "young adult". I wouldn't like to figure out what it must be for an elder person or someone using crutches, for example!

I have done a little checking myself and it could be said that you'd better start running if the little green man starts to blink while you are crossing the street. In the corner of Sicília and Aragó, for example, you have less than 6 seconds to cross 7 lanes. And in most streets of the Eixample flashing time is about 3 seconds! That is a bit too tight! Is that perhaps to encourage sport among the citizens?

domingo, 12 de febrero de 2012

Pruned planetrees

I'm sure we all agree that the tree that we most associate with the streets of Barcelona is the planetree (also known as London planetree :) ).

In fact
, more than a third of the approximately 150,000 trees that grow on the streets of the city are platrees. The reason is that they are quite bright and colorful, grow fastadapt easily to various conditions and provide shade during the hot summer months.

It should also be noted, however, that not everybody loves planetrees. Many people suffer from pollen allergies during spring, and autumn leaves always fill the sidewalks. Some people even say that those leaves are slippery and dangerous. Also, many of these trees are sick and have pests. Who knowsmaybe.

Therefore, and in order to counteract the historic dominance of planetrees in Barcelona, the city tries to replace them with other species that are considered best for the city, such as Mediterranean hackberries and cherry plums, especially on those streets with narrow sidewalks.

Planetrees rapid growth and the freedom they need to grow up happy can not be found in many streets, so they have to be pruned, and in a quite severe way. That brings us to a landscape that is also typical of Barcelona, as shown in the image: a street full of banana trunks. It doesn't matter how pruned they are, the trees always find the way t recover. I do not know you, but I like the planetrees.

jueves, 9 de febrero de 2012

The Race of the Noses

La Cursa del Nassos (literally, The Race of the Noses) is also a tradition of the streets of Barcelona.

Actually, the tradition is going out to the streets and looking for the Man of the Noses, the man who has as many noses as days are in the year, and who can only be seen in Barcelona on 31 December.

But running through the streets of Barcelona with more than 10,000 other runners is a great way to 
say goodbye to the current year. I have not done it, but I've seen the race go by and encouraged the runners.

And still another tradition of this day: the good intentions for the new year. Mine is to run the Race of the Noses 2012!

Happy New Year everyone! And do not worry, there is a play in the theater in Barcelona that wisely says: next year will be better!

domingo, 29 de enero de 2012

Santa Llúcia Fair

Is there any Barcelonian who, as a child, has not visited with his parents the fair of Santa Llúcia? And of course, bought there everything necessary for Christmas: the nativity figures, with the Caganer as undisputed big star, the Christmas tree, the moss, different kinds of plants and herbs...

Santa Llúcia, by the way, was a Sicilian martyr of the third century. The medieval legend says she was subjected to a trial in which she was punished and they took her eyes out, but miraculously she kept watching. That is why she is the patron saint of the blind and people with sight problems, together with the dressmakers and tailors, among other professions. Her festivity is celebrated on December 13.

This year the fair of santa Llúcia celebrates 225 years! It is one of the most deeply rooted and ancient Christmas traditions in Barcelona, ​​documented since 1786. In fact, years ago there were several fairs, with stalls placed together by type of goods sold. Over the time, however, they were united into a single one, and currently there are about 270 stalls altogether.

All the inhabitants of the city, of every social class, visited the fair sooner or later. It is said that it was a good place to arrange weddings!

For those who have not been there yet this year: it will be open until December 22, from 10:30 am to 8:30 pm. When the fair closes we will have to go to the one that is held at the Gran Via.

viernes, 27 de enero de 2012

The Born market...always under construction

Contrary to what many people think, the Born market has not always been under construction!
Actually the building was completed in 1876 and it is, along with the San Antonio market, the main example of iron architecture in Barcelona. This was a popular architectural and construction trend of the second half of the nineteenth century, and arose thanks to the availability of new materials as an effect of the Industrial Revolution.

After the demolition of the citadel and walls of the city, Barcelona needed a market for the supply of fresh produce, mainly fruits and vegetables. The Born market was a very modern building: quite large, under cover and ventilated. This market was in use for a century, until Mercabarna opened in 1971. The location of the Born was obsolete and there was a need of a new market, more powerful and far from the city center.

And so 
the emblematic building of Born was left abandoned for 30 years, while someone figured out what to do with it. Finally it was decided that it should serve as the main building of the Provincial Library in Barcelona, ​​but the discovery of some remains of the medieval and modern city made the works stop. If everything goes as expected, it seems that in 2012 a cultural center will open there, and it will include the archeological site and a display of the War of Succession and the subsequent loss of freedoms of Catalonia.

That would be great, but it is a promise that has been progressively delayed since 2005, so I have some doubts about it. I start to think that those works will be forever!

martes, 24 de enero de 2012

Chestnut stalls

Every year, a couple of weeks before the festivity of All Saints (November, 1st), stalls selling chestnuts and sweet potatoes are settled in the streets of Barcelona. They are with us until well after Christmas and Epiphany. In fact, selling chestnuts in the streets of Barcelona is an ancient tradition. There is evidence that in the late eighteenth century there were over two hundred stalls stops on the streets of Call, La Boqueria and Hospital.

Many of us imagine the figure of chestnut sellers roasting chestnuts in front of the fire, warm enough, giving us a cone made ​​of newspaper, full of steaming chestnuts. They are energetic fruits that are supposed to help us beat the cold.

But it's been more than a month since All Saints and it is still warm in Barcelona. In fact, this was the second warmest month of November of the last century. I have a theory that states that the seasons come now later than before, but that is a feeling without any scientific basis, so I'll leave it for another time...

Finally, if winter ends up showing up and you feel like eating chestnuts, there are twenty-eight stalls scattered around Barcelona. You can even see their location on the website of the City Council. After all, they are and have always been part of our landscape!