I love old churches. It’s true that when you do too much traveling they all mush up in your head. I had a tour guide once that called it ABC–Another Beautiful Church. True enough.
The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia is better known as Barcelona Cathedral. It’s located in the Gothic Quarter, right on the edge of the old city and shares a wall that is a former city gate.
There are two mountains in Barcelona, Tibidabo and Montjuic. While I was there the first week of March, I only had time to visit the latter.
Montjuïc is translated as “Jew Mountain” in medieval Catalan, and is the site of a former Jewish cemetery. The top of the hill (a height of 184,8 m) was the site of several fortifications, the latest of which, the Castle of Montjuïc, remains today and can be entered for a small fee. The fortress largely dates from the 17th century, with 18th-century additions. It served as a prison, often holding political prisoners, until the time of General Franco. The castle was also the site of numerous executions.
The mountain was the site of the 1929 International Exposition, a type of World’s Fair. The surviving buildings from this effort include the grand Palau Nacional (now am impressive art museum) and the Estadi Olímpic (the Olympic stadium, which is free to enter). There is also The Poble Espanyol, a “Spanish village” of in different styles of Spanish architecture, which also survives. At the the foot of the mountain are the ornate Font Màgica fountains, plus a grand staircase at the south end of the Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina. Happily, there are also escalators added recently.
Today, cable cars help visitors to have an excellent view of the harbor and city.
I’ve stayed in a lot of hostels at this point. They are inexpensive and often well located, but sometimes the experiences are pretty bad. I’m happy report that the Hip Karma Hostel in Barcelona was a good experience. Exceptionally clean and up to date, also. It helped that I arrived just as they opened for the season. Mostly, I enjoyed meeting owner Christopher, an American ex-pat who sounds like the chamber of commerce for Barcelona. Thanks for a great stay.
The price was less than $10 a night. Rooms and bathroom facilities are shared.
As long as sleep is not important to you, this could be my favorite festival of all time. I admit the all the super powered firecrackers do get me a tad jumpy, this is a very happy, family event. And remember, the body eventually collapses, despite loud bands and sonic booms. I slept 11 straight hours, rising at noon today, so I feel refreshed. Since we still have many festivities and some huge bonfires to come, that’s good.
Falles is a Valencian word for “torch” and it’s an apt one. Incidentally, Google Translate keeps saying the word is Spanish and means “failures” so I was quite confused for the first few days. The Falles or Fallas is a traditional celebration held in commemoration of Saint Joseph. For a full year, the casal faller (Each neighbourhood Fallas organization) raise money and prepare the ninots (Valencian for puppets or dolls). These “dolls” can be five stories tall, made of paper mache, wax, wood and polystyrene foam. They are set up in neighborhoods and even paraded through the streets. At the end of the celebration all the monuments are burnt in huge bonfires. It’s like Marti Gras in New Orleans, except it’s got more fire and less booze.
I’m only beginning to understand what a big deal Fallas is here in Valencia. I still have photos of Barcelona to post, but wanted to sneak in some information about this very festive holiday. As far as I can tell, there’s a lot of alcohol, explosives and fire. What more could you want in a celebration?
This website has a lot of info about last year’s event. So far, I’ve attended one Mascletá, held every day at 2:00 PM in the city hall square, La Plaza de Ayuntamiento. “LOUD” does not begin to cover it. And obviously the park in front of my apartment is a center of a LOT of celebrations in my neighborhood. The bands start at about 9:30 and are still going strong at 3am. I’m not getting much sleep, but I’ve decided to just go with it. I’ll take a siesta in the middle of the day like everyone else and enjoy the fun.