“When the temperatures start to rise, many in Barcelona head out of the city for the traditional August break. But for me, it’s the perfect time to enjoy balmy days and sultry nights, seduced by the weather and the sound of the cicadas.
Ocata Beach - © Jose Canovas
Barceloneta beach is undoubtedly the most famous, but being a tall foreigner there are one or two hazards I prefer to avoid. It can be hard to sink into the sound of the waves if the local beer-sellers decide I’m their perfect lady for the day. They are always incredibly polite, but it can get wearing being asked twenty times in thirty minutes if I’d like a nice cold beer. Plus, I really don’t drink beer under a hot sun. So for the beach life I’ve taken to heading to Ocata, far from the crowds, and within easy reach of Plaça Catalunya on the train to Blanes. Within a short time, I’m whisked away on a clean and air conditioned train to the beach, where the beer sellers are far less persistent. The view from the train often seems like being on a boat, as the train magically glides above sea-level. It stops right at the beach, where you step straight onto the boardwalk down to a clean sandy stretch. It’s a way to really unwind, floating in the warm waters, snoozing on the towel, and I never have a sense of the ‘body police’ patrolling for those of us without a perfect Hollywood figure. I can pick up pieces of fresh coconut from the friendly vendors without being constantly hassled. There’s also plenty of beach cafes and showers. The whole affair can roll into a leisurely day out, complete with a picnic. Read the rest of this article…
The balconies of the Festa Major de Gràcia
The 195th running of the Festa Major de Gràcia starts today (Mon 15th Aug 2011) and runs all week until Sun 21st August.
This Gràcia festival was my first experience of any of the barrio festivals when I arrived in Barcelona just over a year ago. I went to the Poble Sec festival just recently and I have to say, even with their Correfoc, it isn’t a patch on the Gràcia experience. In terms of size, entertainment and all round effort, nothing beats Gràcia. Read the rest of this article…
My friends at Beach Fit Barcelona are organising their first boot camp. I love what they do. Even though I am yet to attend. I want to go. I really do. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. But I might go along to this just for the evening activities. But somehow I don’t think that’s allowed.
Anyway, read what the guys at Beach Fit have to say about it… Read the rest of this article…
This is what Google Maps is great for. Creating your own map with points of interest relating to a specific topic and place. This map was created by a friend of mine who is partial to the odd glass of vino. It highlights what he considers to be the best Barcelona bodegas. Or the ones he has come across so far at any rate.
The Best Bodegas in Barcelona (via the medium of Google Maps)
So what is a bodega?
In Spanish the word ‘bodega’ means cellar. But in Spanish-speaking countries it is often used to describe a winery, wine cellar, wine shop, bar or even a small convenience store. Read the rest of this article…
So what is vermouth?
“Vermouth (pronounced ‘ver-məθ [UK] or /vərˈmuːθ/ [US]) is a fortified wine flavored with various dry ingredients. The word “vermouth” comes from the German word wermut for wormwood that has been used as an ingredient in the drink over its history. The modern versions of the beverage were first produced around the late 18th and early 19th centuries in Italy and France. Vermouth was consumed as a medicinal libation until the latter 19th century when it became an important ingredient in many of the first, classic cocktails, such as the martini.” Wikipedia
Cala del Vermut, c/ Magdalenes, 6
Now my knowledge of vermouth is limited to say the least. I always associated it with the Italian red vermouth, Martini Rosso. A foul drink as I remember. A drink from a different era. A drink my parents drunk at dinner parties. I’d tasted it, but generally it was to be avoided. Maybe in the odd cocktail, but on its own, no thank you.
And then I moved to Barcelona and was taken to my very first ‘vermut’ bar, Cala del Vermut, where they serve their own label, Catalan brewed, Spanish vermouth on tap. It comes in a tall straight glass, with ice and a green olive. It was fantastic. I loved it. The perfect apéritif. And at €2 it is an absolute bargain. Read the rest of this article…
Green Tea French Macaron
I’m quite partial to a cake, especially carrot cake. And I make a very good apple, date and walnut cake that may well be the death of me. That’s if the walnut and sour cherry chocolate brownies don’t get me first.
So bribe me with anything cake-like and there’s a good chance I’ll do pretty much anything for you. Except ironing. I hate ironing. But a blog post? No problem. I have absolutely no blogging morals whatsoever when it comes to cake.
So, here goes… Read the rest of this article…
The Dancing Egg (L’Ou com Balla)
Today is the Feast of Corpus Christi, a Western Catholic tradition. Catholics (and a few other religions) celebrate this day with processions through the streets of towns and cities around the world.
But something that seems to be unique to Barcelona (or certainly Catalonia) is the tradition of L’Ou com Balla (the Dancing Egg).
There are many stories as to its origins. Some say it’s a metaphor for the cycle of life or simply that it was an amusement for the nobles as the processions went by (which I much prefer). But it does seem to have been going on for a rather long time. Since the sixteenth century! That’s quite a few eggs!
Read the rest of this article…