Barcelona is in the top five of most popular cities in Europe. It’s full of turists round the clock, throughout the year. They run like crazy from Sagrada Familia to Park Guell, from Placa Catalunya to Placa Espanya, following Gaudi and Picasso’s footsteps. How do the residents of Barcelona live with that? Wherever you move there are hundreds of pleople from all corners of the world, constantly in the rush to see something more, to visit next place.
During our trip we decided to check how Catalonians deal with that, how they relax and how they sepnd their weekends away from crowds of tourists.
It turns out that they have a wide range of entertainment, depending on age and phisical form.
- First and the most important sport which comes to everybody’s mind when they think about Spain is football. That’s an activity for the most fit. For children especialy. Saturday morning, in the residential area stadium is full of kids and their parents having some of footbal tournament. No wonder that Barcelona excels at football.
- Another activity that comes right after footbal is building human towers. That sport reqires as much or maybe even more physical fitness than football. The tradition dates back to early 18th century when castells were built in relligious spirit. Today in Catalonya it lost that character and castellers build their towers just as social and fitness activity.
So the thing is to build a tower (castell) of people as high as possible. Last person, usually a little kid, is supposed to climb to the top and raise his or her hand with 4 straight fingers as a sign of victory. The full sucess is announced when all the participants are safely back to the ground.
All that is acompanied by live orchestra with drums and trumpets.
From our observation, there are two kind of people engaged in the proces: heavy and strong that form lower levels and carry all the weight and light and fit who climb up to the highier positions. Each team wears one color shirts with obligatory sash tied around the waist. Sash is used to protect their back while carrying big weight and as a help for climbers.
What’s ineteresting, is that there are different techniques of building the towers. First one involves building ground level and adding second, third and so on by people climbing on the back of those in lower levels by one after another person. The other technique builds one of the top floor first and adds bottom ones by lifting the other floors up. Hope you understand what I meant.
We even witnessed a failure of buiding a tower and couple levels collapse. Luckily nobody got hurt, as lots of people gathered around bottom level provide security in such cases.
- For less fit residents Barcelona offers other sports. For example pentaque. This is the game for two up to 6 people (2 teams). The main goal of the game is to throw one’s bules as close to as possible to the jack. Each bule closer to the jack than competitors brings the team one point. The game ends if one of the teams gathers 13 points. It’s a perfect entertainment for the people of all ages. It requires willingness, cleverness and not that much physical activity as football.
- If you are totaly not fond of any physical exercise there are also some activities for you. Visit book market around Mercat the Sant Antoni. It’s a big outdoor roofed market of books, magazines, comics, coins, cards and so on. The bookmarket is located right next to Mercat the Sant Antoni – big, late 19th century, really impressive building, currently being renovated. We are not really sure but probably the bookmarket usually takes place next to that historical building. Interior is intended for standard stals with food. Anyway, at the bookmarket everybody will surely find something for him or herself.
- Don’t like reading? No problem. How about lacing? This is a Catalonyan tradition from 17th century. Today it’s practiced just as a hobby by elderly women, while previously it was used for house decorating or production of Spanish traditional mantillas. Mantillas are kind of shawls which were worn by women on special occasions, often associated with roman catholic church, were before 1917 women were even required to wear them. Today laces are produced just for the pleasure of making them and are perfect way to socialize as they are often produced outisde in the groups of hobbyists.
Intersting is the traditional way of lacing using cylinder-shaped pillows withs hundreds of pins stuck into them. The threads are led around the pins by moving, shifting small wooden spools. Pictures will show that the most clearly. The technique requires high precision and is very time consuming. Production of small lace can take months!
That’s all we saw one October Saturday. We bet there are way more attractions to be discovered. Perhaps next time.