Typical Weekends in Barcelona

It’s always festival time in Barcelona, sometimes we partake, sometimes we avoid. In between we hike and bike. Last weekend, we celebrated the day of Saint Anthony.

Photo courtesy of our dear friend Assumpta Ricard

Our Barcelona friends invite us to breakfast and a walk to see “Els tres tombs.” Catalan for “the tree tours,” in which villagers take their horses and donkeys and carts and circle the village three times. In Barcelona, the route is only one way, making twists and turns through working class and university neighborhoods,  passing through the tourist center with its baffled tourists, and ending in the medieval district of the city.

Why all these beasts of burden on parade? Because it is the day of Sant Antoni Abat, the patron saint animals, the poor, and the sick.  Along the way, the priest blesses all the animals, including dogs who bring up the rear of the parade.  Although we didn’t see it, after the parade passes, everyone else brings their pet cats, birds, dogs, and what have you, to the priest for blessing.

Naturally, the route begins in the Sant Antoni neighborhood, and we catch up to the parade as the equestrians pass the by Mercado de Sant Antoni, currently under renovation, but check out that Modernista design!


A band on horseback leads the parade, followed by a firefighter brigade, known as bomberos in Spanish,or  bombers in Catalan.

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Assorted wagons from the olden days for funerals, timber transport, beer transport, and paper recycling…

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The priest blesses all the animals, great and small.


Of course, Shetland ponies were in the mix.


“Hace frisquito”–a little cold that day, so dogs waiting to be blessed made use of sweaters.


We continue our own celebration of Saint Antoni with a walk in the forest on the north slopes of Collserola Park. We enjoy a different view of the church on top of Tibidabo and a nearby tower.


This weekend is another festival. This time it’s time for Sa Pobla, a bonfire-on-every-corner sort of festival at which our Gracia neighborhood excels. Sa Pobla continues the celebration of Sant Antoni.  On Saturday morning, en route to the beach, we note dirt piles in assorted squares and narrow streets, a clear sign that fire festivities are in the works. But first, let’s go to the beach!

Here are some pictures of our brisk, sunny bike ride along the sea from Barcelona to Masnou and back.

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Although we’ve biked this route many times, it’s our first time seeing this mural in support of indigenous people:


Note that Mary has a new hairstyle that we named “palm head.” Fashion eyewear is a must on this somewhat windy day.


We ride back through our neighborhood and the dirt piles have sprouted 15-foot-piles of logs for the bonfires. In the plazas, civic organizations busied themselves preparing botifarra (sausages) to be roasted later, and stacking decahedronal boxes filled with special Sobrasada (pastry/cake) from Mallorca.

Later that evening, we salmoned against the hordes moving toward Gracia plazas; we’re headed  for the metro station in the opposite direction. We miss the fires in lieu of a wine-tasting party in the suburbs with some of Lisa’s colleagues. We happily see the stars for the first time in weeks. Here’s what we missed back in Gracia:


photo credit for bonfire: http://goo.gl/YtP4J9

By the time we return, only embers remain of the bonfires, and we also missed the correfoc (fire run with sparklers, devils, dragons, the usual stuff) but crowds continue their drunken revelry, along with increasingly dissonant flute-playing, until well past 2 a.m. Not an easy night for sleep.

Today, we return to Collserola Park for another hike, along one of our favorite trails, with beauty at our feet and beauty in the distance.

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From Carretera de les Aigues, Barcelona spreads out like a carpet toward the blue sea. From the ridge we climb, we see Montserrat, Barcelona’s famous mountain.

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All kinds of people and dogs enjoy walking, running, biking, and relaxing in the sunshine.


And thus ends another sunny and happy weekend for Las Chicas in Barcelona.

© 2015 by Lisa Howells and Mary Reynolds. All rights reserved.

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