Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Barcelona summer weekend

After four jam-packed days out of town (well three relatively chill days in Paris because very few people were working) and then one action-packed day in London giving presentations and leading meetings, I was delighted to get back home to Barcelona.

But quiet and restful it wasn't... exactly. Frenchy and I managed to fit in two big bike rides, two tennis matches, a couple of jogs, and several hours at the beach. And it also happened to be the opening weekend of the Fiestas de Gracia, the annual party in the neighborhood of Gracia which starts right across the street from my apartment.

So of course we went to check it out, and it was pretty impressive. The residents of various streets and plazas had banded together to create cool little worlds, complete with stages for bands and DJs, street bars, and food stands. Everything was handmade (well, aside from the stages, of course) and really impressive... and sometimes downright bizarre. It's good that we decided not to go to bed early Friday night because we wouldn't have been able to anyway: one of the main attractions of the Fiesta is the fireworks. And the drumming groups.

One of the streets (yes, they created a makeshift roof covering the whole street to give it an under-the-sea vibe) filled with homemade fishes. Everything was created from garbage - plastic water bottles, yogurt jars, etc.

Crazy fireworks celebration
With really loud firecrackers... ok I was a little startled, but look at the woman behind me!
That is indeed a copy of the lizard from Parc Guell, with fireworks shooting out!!
Another little plaza, which was filled with huge Smurfs. (Pitufos in Spanish.) All made out of papier-mache... they even had houses and Gargamel!!!! I told you it was a little weird...

And here's what happens when you decide to go for sushi in the middle of the biggest party of the year:

On Saturday night we headed to Camp Nou to see Barcelona play a friendly match Boca Juniors from Buenos Aires. In a strange turn of events, an inexplicable 5 minutes of extra time were added at the end, giving Barcelona the opportunity to score a second goal and beat Boca 2-1.

We managed to get seats in the mega-rowdy Boca section, which went awfully quiet in the last minute of the match. But a perfect ambience for Frenchy's first Camp Nou experience. Add to that a full lunar eclipse, and it was pretty spectacular all around. (Though when I first noticed it, Frenchy tried to convince me it was just a cloud.... Hmph!)

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