Karie on Mar 1st 2008 08:58 pm
You just never know what you’re going to find in Barcelona. I’m pretty sure that every night we stay in, we miss something. For example, we spent most of the day today inside, preparing for our upcoming trip, doing chores, etc. So about 6:00pm we were ready to get out. We had nowhere to go, so we just started wandering.
Walking down one of the main streets that we take pretty regularly, we heard some music, so we followed our ears. We wound up in the Plaza de la Constitución, where a band was playing and people were dancing the Sardana. Sardana is a traditional Catalan dance that represents unity. People gather in circles, holding hands up high, and step in unison. Coats and bags are usually placed in the center of the circle for safe keeping.
We’ve witnessed this before, usually with groups of senior citizens outside of the Barcelona Cathedral on a Sunday afternoon. We still don’t know the reason for this particular celebration, but we enjoyed watching it for a while.
Then we continued wandering. We thought we had been down nearly every street in this area, but we found a new route tonight. What looked like a network of quieter, mostly residential streets, turned out to have a plethora of cafes and shops that we had never seen. They weren’t necessarily clustered together like you typically see downtown, but spread out amongst some apartments and other businesses were these little jewels. Unique clothes & jewelry, neighborhood bars & cafes, more art galleries, and even a shop with hand made espadrilles. We spent a couple hours just following the streets to places we had never been.
On our way back home, we passed through the plaza again, which now had even louder music and more dancers. However, the band now had some competition – a demonstration march not too far away. We continued walking in the direction of our flat, and before we knew it, we were actually IN the parade of activists.
Barcelonans love to demonstrate. I think there’s probably some type of demonstration just about every weekend (always peaceful in our experience). Last weekend it was for animal rights, so there was a parade of dogs and people carrying pictures of their pets down the boulevard near our flat.
We couldn’t quite figure out what tonight’s demonstration was about. From clues I gathered based on what little I could read of their signs (which was restricted due to a) my limited Spanish, and b) they were waving them too vehemently to be read), my guess is that it had something to do with homelessness. The demonstrators were a group of drummers, followed by crowds of young people dancing & waving their signs. Drum marches seem to be quite popular here, but this was by far the most talented group we have seen. Even tourists pushing strollers, who were now part of the parade just like us, couldn’t help but bounce to the beat.
Now the Barcelona-Madrid football (aka, soccer) game is on, so after all that excitement, the streets are now quiet and the bars are loud… the night has just begun for the Spaniards.
So our efforts to just get some fresh air for a few minutes turned into an evening of unique entertainment that didn’t cost a dime. That’s just the way this city is, and that’s one of the things I love about it. We should never leave home without a camera.