A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about las ramblas

The Day of the Book and the Rose

sunny 22 °C

Spring is fast approaching. The floral scent of warmth is beginning to fill the air and the sky ever-changing into a deeper shade of blue. And just around the corner is El Dia de Sant Jordi - Catalonia’s national day, a true spring-time celebration and undoubtedly one of the best occasions on which to visit its vibrant capital city, Barcelona.

The 23rd of April is a special day in numerous countries around the world with Jordi, or George, being remembered and celebrated in many different ways. But the events held in Barcelona really are something to be seen. Las Ramblas, normally a chaotic, tourist fun-fair, is transformed into a romantic, artistic, living gallery filled with vivid colours, endless curiosities and classic charm. And there is an infectious feeling all round of national pride and joy. Relating back to the legend of Jordi, the princess and the dragon, it has become custom for men to present their beloved women with a rose on this day, and Las Ramblas is subsequently abounding with fantastic, captivating and at times awe-inspiring rose stalls. Infinite and exquisite, scarlet petals beckon our attention and hypnotize us as if they had fallen straight out of a fairy-tale. And it’s not only the traditional roses that take centre stage, but yellow ones, blue ones, purple and even rainbow ones - a true spectacle, and fully worthy of their gathering crowds.

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Coinciding with the story of Jordi, the 23rd of April also marks the anniversary of the deaths of both Miguel Cervantes and William Shakespeare. Of course, never ones to miss a reason to celebrate, the Catalans have added this into the mix as well, and the date has therefore become known as ‘the day of the book and the rose’. And the literary world has of course got in on the action, making it now typical for women to mark the occasion by giving a book to the man of their life. And so apart from the beautiful and bountiful displays of roses on Las Ramblas, book stalls also stretch far into the distance providing a uniquely curious yet enchanting atmosphere. Book signings are common practice and throughout the day across the centre of Barcelona famous Catalan writers and TV personalities can be seen enjoying the festivities and posing for photos with their fans.

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El Dia de Sant Jordi truly is an unforgettable day to be in Barcelona. A magical sense of celebration is felt all round and the pride of local culture expressed to the fullest. It is a perfect opportunity to really begin to understand Catalan identity, and what better way to do so than by wandering the adorned streets of historic Barcelona. All that’s left to do is to hope that someone bestows us with a book, or a rose.

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Posted by lauracerys 13:16 Archived in Spain Tagged barcelona spain books catalonia roses las_ramblas sant_jordi saint_george Comments (0)

Amongst Peppers and Prawns.

sunny 20 °C

Sitting sneakily to the side of the madness that is the renowned and infamous Ramblas, amongst all its lunacy, beauty, chaos and history is La Boquería market, one of the most popular sights of the city and one that is surely on the to-do list of every first-timer in Barcelona. Dodging and hopping, as if attempting a tribal dance, around the hoards that forever hover outside, we eventually arrive at the entrance, and are greeted by sweet and salted dangling hams in all their shapes and forms, proudly posing for endless snap-happy tourists. They looks delicious – the hams that is – and we are instantly tempted by a tapa and a tipple. But we should wait however, as there is so much more inside!

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Like Willie Wonka’s factory, La Boquería is a gastronomic explosion of colours, flavours and aromas, which accompanied by an orchestral clamour and an overdose of people is a roller-coaster ride of a market. Glisteningly sticky sweets and sugar-encrusted treats fill the air with a rich bouquet which blends with exotic fragrances of herbs and spices from realms far and wide. Soon after, magnificent, brilliant fruits enter the playing field, flamboyantly displaying their vibrant shades in a shower of pomp and glory. And above, robust red chilli peppers and shining tomatoes hang from stall tops in true Mediterranean style.

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The maze continues and we are presented with alluring arrangements of exquisite breads and fresh patisserie delights not forgetting endless, potent and dizzying cheeses. We stop and start, are knocked and nudged and no doubt ourselves provoke an irritation or two. But on we press through this culinary bedlam and soon stumble to the fish section – and what an abundant exhibition there is to! Mammoth prawns and twitching crabs, slithery squids and sharp pointy teeth either tempt or terrorise all who pass by, ensuring epic paellas or fishy nightmares. And speaking of nightmares we are of course in La Boquería presented with vast meat selections too – chicken and pig heads included.

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This whirlwind of a marketplace is truly a love it or hate it kind of thing. Some visitors are blown away by the incredible standard and extraordinary range of products on sale, and are amazed by the vibrant colours and infinite sights and sounds produced by this theatre of cuisine. Whilst others, are simple overwhelmed and annoyed by the chaotic number of people squeezed up and down the aisles. Either way, it’s a real experience and surely one not to be missed!

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Posted by lauracerys 13:23 Archived in Spain Tagged food barcelona market spain la_boqueria las_ramblas Comments (0)

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