– You’re lucky. – says the driver, who stopped in the middle of a roundabout to give us a lift from El Prat to camping in a small village on the Barcelona outskirts. Frankly speaking, this is our only hitchhiked ride in the whole Spain, something around 5km. – You’ve arrived in Barceolna in time of the biggest celebration, La Merce. There will be parades and concerts all around the city.
After all these trouble with hitchhiking, three days waiting for a cheap flight from Bergamo to Barcelona, finally the luck is on our side. But right now the most important thing for us is the fact, that we are in this unattainable Spain, come what may – we’ll see Barcelona and the returning flight from Sevilla is not that far away.
We find the camping Tres Estrellas, which was adviced by my friend Kasia during the preparations for the wandering (thanks, first class place!), we set up the tent and leave for the beach. Unbelievable change of action, not further then yesterday we were camping in a half-deserted stone mine in Albino in the Orobian Alps (about this in other text), and today with towels and beer we set off in full sun for the spanish beach. There’s a reason for saying, that during travelling in three weeks you live the time as for three months.
After an hour I am so bored I build a castle, but Dani is having a great time. After all, the beaching & frying was high on her expectations list, mission completed!
We devote two days for seeing Barcelona, checking the most important sights on our list. Mostly the free ones, because prices in Barcelona are killing us. Entries to museums around 15 euro per person and long queues even in the end of September – thank you very much.
But the free ones are also amazing – Park Güell, designed by architect Gaudi and built in the beginning of the XXth century:
Generally speaking the whole Barcelona seems to be full of Gaudi spirit, but it’s natural – not only seven of buildings he designed are now on the World Heritage list of UNESCO, but also he was a great catalan patriot.
Speaking about Catalonia, it is a very interesting case. Autonomic region, with separate language – for me catalan sounds a bit like a merge between spanish and french, which would be geographically correct – with separate history and culture. I won’t write much about it, because I haven’t gone deep into this topic, but you can see the emphasising of autonomy of Catalonia on every step. Catalonian parliament announced the will to hold a referendum on independence from Spain in 2014.
We differ with Dani in the matter of buying souvenirs from the trips. I am not a big fan of them – as a utilitarian I hate all the cuuuute stuff to put on your shelf, as memories my photos and stories are enough for me. But in the end I give in to the thought of buying something useful and being a souvenir in the same time – cork for a wine with Gaudis mosaic and a glass with Barcelona’s sights. I don’t want to be perceived as a a soulless robot, do I? Dani, in contrary, is like a fish in the water, choosing fridge magnets for herself, for the family, friends… What in the end led to some problems on Bergamo airport, when she was stopped for a luggage control and being asked especially about the magnets. She was carrying so much of them, that probably they thought she’s a smuggler.
After shopping for magnets and leaving the shop far behind, we want to check further directions. Dani realises, that her tablet isn’t with her – in the fever of buying souvenirs she left it on the counter in the shop…
We managed to retrieve it, and thanks to coming back to Calle Princesa we unexpectedly encounterd the La Merce parade:
… and a necessary team after them:
Pikachu – national hero of Catalonia?
… probably yes, here hand in hand with Capitain Catalonia:
Giants parade – great figures, which can be seen above – has been organised for more than 100 years, and La Merce origins can be taken back to 1871. The celebration is connected to saving Barcelona from locust plague in XVII century and also to conquering Barcelona by Burboun’s army after 14 month long siege. I couldn’t dig up the reasons, why would Catalonians celebrate the day of defeat as their national holiday. Because of this defeat their autonomy started to decrease, and applying Nueva Planta decrees led to unity of Spain.
In the evening we watch fireworks show in a terrible crowd, It wasn’t worth it, especially that while returning to the camping we get lost in small villages around Barcelona in the middle of the night. Thanks to directions from a friendly Libyan bus driver we find the correct way, and after few kilometers we get to the highway, on which of course you cannot walk on foot. So we go – straight onto a police patrol.