Don Quixote rode into Barcelona in the 16th century
An article from Hildy Snow about the wild side of Barcelona literature.
Most discussions about Barcelona as a literary city inevitably end up with people mentioning two books: Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s The Shadow of the Wind and Ildefonso Falcones’ Cathedral of the Sea. Not to knock these books – they’re good reads – but there’s so much more to the city’s literary universe than these bestsellers and their Barcelona literary brand of Gothic mystique and historical weightiness. The Catalan capital’s literary life goes back much, much further. Beyond the post-war struggles of Mercè Rodoreda’s La Plaça del Diamant, beyond the Civil War battlefields of George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia. All the way back to Cervantes, whose Don Quixote and Sancho Panza rode into Barcelona in the 16th century. For eons, Barcelona has served as the literary scene of romance, love, betrayal, adventure, friendship, familial conflict, mystery, crime and war. Read the rest of this article…
Baluard, c/ Baluard, 38-40
“My perfect day in Barcelona would begin with a sunrise walk on the beach. It’s so lovely and peaceful before the crowds arrive. Then I’d take a walk through Barceloneta Park and to the Baluard bakery (c/ Baluard, 38-40) for some fresh bread and breakfast pastries. There’s always a tempting range on offer here and the big challenge is trying to choose between all the different cakes and bread. Baluard bread is the best in the city, with people coming from all over to buy it, so I’m thrilled to have the bakery so close to where I live.
As soon as I’ve digested my breakfast, I’d go for a Turkish bath at Aire de Barcelona (Passeig de Picasso, 22). There’s nothing quite like submerging yourself in varying degrees of hot water and getting an exfoliating massage to set you up for the day ahead. Read the rest of this article…
An article from David Leigh about the wonders of the winter calçotadas in Valls.
Calçots roasting during a calçotada
If you stop for a moment and think about food and Spain I bet you get no further than paella and tapas. However, while both of these can be good the quality, particularly of paella, can be quite variable as many of those served in fixed menu restaurants at lunchtime are pre-made.
And Spanish cooking doesn’t start and end with just those. In Barcelona these days you can find cuisine from all over the world. However, if you’re just visiting for a weekend or a few days then why eat what you can get at home when you can try something new.
One of my favourite times of the year in Catalonia, at least as far as food goes, is winter. While temperatures can really plunge, which takes many visitors by surprise, the food can make up for it. Boiled chicken with vegetables and chickpeas might not sound particularly interesting but it certainly warms you up in winter and makes a great tasting soup base when there is snow on the ground. Good as it is, its something you’ll find in the Catalan home rather than in a restaurant and so unlikely to be on the menu anyway. Read the rest of this article…
Pi d’en Xandri, oldest pine tree in Catalunya
“My ideal day in Barca would be to get up for sunrise and make my way down on bicycle, all groggy and sleepy eyed, to the beach, to watch the sunrise, and if it is summer to go for a swim. Then I would head to the Cafe De L’Opera (La Rambla, 74) and grab a coffee and some breakfast which would probably take the shape of one of their delicious cakes they have on offer. And their coffee is hot. I have never had a cold or luke warm coffee there yet. Lovely good hot coffee, a great way to set you up for the day.
Then I would take my bicycle and head off to Sant Cugat for a bike ride. A great route is ‘La Ruta de les Ermites’. It does not take long and you can be back in Barca for lunch. The cycle up Collserola is tough (for me) but there is a petrol station halfway up that you can stop at and buy chocolate treats, water and anything you need to quench your thirst or top up the energy levels. Then the route winds through the Collserola hillside past some ancient ermitages ending in Sant Cugat with the finale being the oldest pine tree in Catalunya. 250 yrs old. Lovely great big tree, worth a hug! Read the rest of this article…
An article from the wonderful Claire Gledhill about why it’s useful to learn a bit of Catalan if you’re staying in Barcelona. And it’s free!
What language do they speak in Barcelona?
For anyone landing in Barcelona ready to start a few months study, experience the city or look to making a new life here, learning Catalan is probably not high on their to-do list. In fact many visitors or new arrivals may be blissfully unaware that they have indeed set foot in one of Spain’s autonomous regions which has its own distinctly different language, cuisine and cultural heritage.
Where do they speak Catalan apart from Catalonia?
Catalan may be viewed as a minority language, and at least geographically it is, only being spoken in Catalonia, some regions of southern France, and dialectal versions in the Valencia region, Balearic Islands and a small section of northern Sardinia. However, with over 9 million speakers, which ranks it alongside Danish, it is certainly not a dying language yet is not recognised by the European Union. And just to be clear, Catalan is NOT a dialect of Spanish, nor a mix of Spanish and French, but an individual Romance language, although of course as any student of a Latin rooted language will know there are similarities between them all.
Now let’s be clear, I am no fluent or even proficient user of Catalan, yet 100 hours of free Catalan classes (more about that later) has given me a base which I believe has opened up another side of Barcelona that I would miss out on without this knowledge. Read the rest of this article…
The Santa Caterina burger at Kiosko
Burgers – often derided especially in relation to McDonalds. And not the most traditional of Catalan foods. But the list of burger places in Barcelona just keeps growing and growing. A phenomenon of relatively recent years that has no sign of dying out.
I do love a good burger. Especially after my recent near death experience with a piece of steak. The allure of ground beef has appreciated ten-fold. So luckily for me burger restaurants (the posh term) seem to be springing up all over BCN. The much-loved Wushu was even turned into a burger bar by its owner Bradley Ainsworth.
In an interview with Le Cool Barcelona, Bradley said,
“Bacoa began almost by accident. I had the space closed for a couple of years and I wanted to sell it, but at a good price. So I set up Bacoa with the idea to sell it… and it turned out to be a hit. It was so successful that I decided to change Wushu into Kiosko, a new gourmet hamburger shop, which opened on January 14th.”
Read the rest of this article…
When I arrived in Barcelona I wanted to learn as much as I could about the city, the region of Catalonia, and its history.
I had read George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia. The title of that book had inspired this blog. But I soon found there were many other fantastic books out there about Catalonia and the city of Barcelona.
Why not add one of these fascinating books to your reading list. They are some of the best books about Barcelona and Catalonia.
Read the rest of this article…