Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Monumental Curtains

It's widely accepted that the Catalans don't like bullfighting. That's something very Spanish - Osborne's monstrous black silhouettes around the country's highways and festivals such as San Isidrio in Andalucia are huge events for local people, and it has to be said that as an imagery to foreigners most people recognise Flamenco, Paella & Sangria and Bull fighting as a typical weekend in any Spaniard's diary. Not so in Catalunya. They mock the bull.

While the city has been the home of two bull rings over the years - Las Arenas and Monumental - it will be the proud owner of none come this Sunday. Saturday sees the very last appearance of bulls within Monumental, at least in  front of Matadores for the viewing public that is. Across town, Las Arenas has been converted (albeit very slowly) into a rather snazzy shopping mall with gyms, Rock Museum and endless shops and restaurants.

You can't say it hasn't been coming. From locals recording disgusted tourists on camera and then uploading the videos to youtube, to official protests and demonstrations, the whole thing went to court and the new law will be introduced and enforced as of 2012 - No bullfighting in Catalunya. I think if you ask the majority of locals what they think about, they'll agree that it doesn't bother them one bit. In fact, it's true to say that the majority of the seats at Monumental over the past few years have been filled by tourists, so it's hardly going to be missed.

So what will happen to Monumental? I have no idea, so welcome any comments of people who may be in the know. Of course it can stay as a concert venue, or sports venue of sorts, I don't think there's a need for another Mall of sorts, but surely the structure will be kept - as much as the locals don't like what goes on in there, it's become part of the urban landscape of the city and is extremely distinctive. Feel free to comment if you do know what's planned!

Thinking of visiting the city this Autumn ? Check out these apartments for rent via BCN Rentals for a great deal on accommodation. And for a quick heads up of what to see and what not to miss, check out their Barcelona Guide.

Monday, September 19, 2011

La Merçe 2011

Well, it's that time of the year again. It just seems like a little while back we were enjoying the summer festivals of Gracia, and squeezing the very last drops of summer out before the routine starts again, when the big one sneaks up on you without you quite realising it. Yep, it's nearly time for La Merçe.

This year looks to be fairly short in terms of the actual days that the festival runs, as the 24th is actually the Saturday. For those of you not in the know, the 24th is the actual feast day of Our Lady of Mercy - one of the patron saints of Barcelona, and the whole reason for La Merçe festival. Other years the festival has been spread over 4 or 5 days (and more) but this year it's squeezed into the 22nd - 25th September.

I've blogged before about the several activities to do with kids in La Merçe and some of those are equally as fun for adults, too. The weather looks like it's going to stay fine so download your programme here and get planning!! Like every year, there are over 500 different activities going on all over the city, as well as the Mas i Mas Music festival and BAM, too. Street performers, traditional ceremonies, fire attractions and the festa del cel on the 2nd October again tie it all in before the autumn arrives.

As usual, there'll be a circus big top up in the gardens of Montjuic, with plenty to see looking at the promotional video on the site, with special guests from St. Petersburg this year.

The evening events are mainly musical apart from the typcial correfoc (fire-run) and are a great showcase for newer bands to get an audience through Barcelona Accio Musical (BAM mentioned above) as well as the Mas i Mas pulling in the big guns like Mando Diao at the Old Damm factory on Rossello. Over the years I've just wandered around the old town mainly from Plaça Reial to Plaça Catalunya or Plaça Angels just seeing who seems decent depending on my mood! Never been let down yet!!

So, are you planning to go to La Merce this year? Anything in particular you're looking forward to? Let me know in the comments!! And if you're coming to Barcelona this autumn, check out these barcelona apartments as a great alternative to a hotel.

Friday, September 16, 2011

When Will It Change?!

A fairly small news short this morning caught my attention, re-affirming the incredible stupidity of the laws regarding petty crime here. I know I've complained about this in the past so forgive me for going over old ground, but it really annoys me.

The news story reports nothing new - that one of the hot spots for pickpockets in the city is around the Magic Fountains of Montjuic. I've blogged before about my aunt being robbed on the metro just after going to the fountains. This morning's news bulletin details an operation by the Mossos to round up some of the theives targeting tourists while they watch the show. Funny that they've waited until a Thursday evening in September to try this rather than the height of summer when you generally have busloads ( or coach loads literally) of tourists happily distracted by the jets and flumes of the fountain.

So undercover agents are deployed amongst the public to catch the scumbags en fraganti and inevitably find a fair few. These are then taken to a less crowded place, searched and if anything stolen has been found, then rounded up in yet another more secluded location until the fountains have finished. In this particular evening, FIFTY ONE  people were detained - mostly Eastern Europeans including women (quel surprise) - and (here's the best bit) of those 51 people detained, the police arrested ONE person. For drug trafficking. Yes, that's right. And what happened to the other 50 ? Well, they were let on their merry way, of course, once the fountains had finished. This is Spain, you fools!

Yes, unless any thief is caught red-handed (like these were) with MORE THAN 400 EUROS ON THEM, then they are simply given a stern talking to by the police. It's no wonder they laugh in their faces. Of course, they'll be back tomorrow night and will likely recognise the undercover cops now, so it's just become even easier! I mean, who carries 400 Euros around with them?! And even if it's accumulative over various robberies, I've seen footage of thieves immediately dropping any booty in plant pots and the like, for another person to come along and collect, ensuring they never have anything on them other than loose change.

It's the system that's to blame, and what gets Barcelona such a terrible reputation online - something that I think is greatly over exaggerated. There are even metro vigilantes taking things into their own hands (hat tip to robbed in barcelona for that one), however, until there's a radical shake-up in the laws, it's just going to keep happening. Don't worry, this is not me gettng political on the blog or wanting to start petitions and the like cos I don't even think it would do any good. Just me venting a bit of public frustration...comments welcome as always guys...

Barcelona is a great city to visit, and I don't want people to be put off by my posts like these. If you're thinking of visitinjg soon, check out BCN Rentals for some accommodation tips.
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