After enjoying the relaxed atmosphere of Ibiza for a week, the gang and I thought we better spice things up again so we headed over to Barcelona to catch their annual festival, La Mercè. Now, don’t be fooled into thinking this was a spur of the moment decision, La Mercè became a permanent fixture on my annual calendar after I was introduced to it last year, and myself and some of the La Mercè regulars were keen to show it off to the newer members of our group. Also, as far as I am concerned, jet setting from one holiday to another has to be one of the most cat-got-the-cream-grin-inducing activities EVER!
The five day La Mercè festival celebrates Mare de Deu de la Merce, the Patron Saint of Barcelona, and they don’t do it by halves. The city’s streets are alive with performances, spectacles, traditions, fireworks – lots of fireworks in fact – culture, dancers, revelry and altogether a fantastic atmosphere.
We arrived into Barcelona early afternoon, and settled into our beautiful apartment in the El Born district of the city, which has got to be one of the best places in the world. It is full of winding cobblds streets, funky bars and literally hundreds of great places to eat tapas – which was high on our agenda.
Our lovely lounge area, including a dining table that never got used – too much tapas restaurants to explore!
The streets of Barcelona were calling, so we didn’t stop in the apartment for long and soon were out exploring. We found ourselves in one of our favourite tapas bars, Navia one of the El Rioj restaurants which you’ll find opposite the Franca train station. It’s not a fancy-pants place but the food is excellent. We ordered loads, ate it all and washed it down with wine.
Insalata Russa – Russian Salad – a mix of tuna, potato, egg, peas and more – yum
Octopus salad, just the right amount of tanginess
Pimientons Padron – Padron peppers – are my FAVOURITE tapas. They are generally cooked in hot oil and salted so they are sweet, salty and delicious. And the best bit, about one in twelve is spicy hot. It’s a real lottery – I don’t like to share this one, as i’d hate to lose one of my spicy ones!
And despite us ordering about 40 dishes, this is all I managed to get pictures of as everyone was so hungry, by the time I looked up, the plates were demolished!
Full bellied, and slightly light-headed from the wine, we hit the streets again and headed to the Parc de la Ciutadella to see what was going on there.
After watching a recreation of the siege laid on Barcelona which put an end to the War of the Spanish succession by people in period costume, and jumping a lot from the exploding cannons, we headed to the Arc Del Triomf where we found the vineyards of Catalonia sharing their wares.
We grabbed a glass, and some tickets, and headed along the avenue along with throngs of other wine and cava lovers to exchange between one and four tickets for a delicious glass of cool spanish vino.
After ‘spending’ all our vouchers, we headed back to the apartment for a quick change and headed over to the Gas Jetty for one of the firework displays which are held each night of the festival between the Barceloneta and Somorrostro beaches. Tonight’s fireworks were thanks to Valencia, and they did a splendid job of it.
After the fireworks there was only one option – more tapas of course. Unfortunately no pics of this delicious meal as we all but one ordered a mojito, which I can only presume was spiked as we all went a bit crazy. For the next few hours the only thing I can say is what happened in Barcelona, stays in Barcelona!