2 November 2010

RIOT! - Barcelona [Day Two]

We decided to get up early and make the most of our first 'real' day in Barcelona. After a nice breakfast at the cafe next door to our hotel we headed out. Across the Plaza de Catalunya we immediately we noticed the protests had grown in size. There were people all over the streets chanting and waving signs, flags and huge banners over some of the buildings. All seemed pretty harmless though.

We walked down La Rambla - the main street in Barcelona. It was quite strange as it was really quiet - most of the shops were closed and there were hardly any tourists around. We had planned to do a walking tour around Barcelona but missed it by about 10 minutes, so instead we took a stroll through the Boqueria Market. Unfortunately most of it was closed also, but what was open was really cool - lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, chocolates, a huge fish market, even a couple of little bars.

From there we headed down to the port where we checked out the Christopher Columbus memorial and the amazing rejuvenated waterfront. After a short while we made our way back to the meeting point for the 1pm walking tour. Our guide told us that we might have to change the route slightly because of the protests. He emphasised how serious it was - people were actually rioting in the streets! It was suddenly becoming clear why there were almost no tourists and all the shops were all closed.

The walking tour was OK, I wouldn't rave about it. We did learn all about the Catalin region, the history, wars, and why the people consider themselves as quite separate to the rest of Spain. We also saw a courtyard that was used for executions (pretty terrifying seeing all the bullet holes in the stone), streets on which the plague victims were piled up to be blessed, old woman singing opera style in an open courtyard and even George Orwell Square (under 24 hour surveillance).

After the tour we all went back to a bar for a quick drink. Our guide told us about other activities the company ran, including kayaking tours, pub craws, flamenco and Paella making lessons. He was also very helpful; giving us advice on what we might like to see while in Barcelona, directions, and an awesome map! He told us all about the protests; apparently Spain is having a bit of a hard time economically due to the recession - similar to Greece. All state employees were having their pay cut by 5% across the board. Not surprisingly, people weren't too happy about that. So the whole country not only went on strike, but decided to go out into the streets and have a bit of a protest. Anyway, we ended up booking the Flamenco for that evening before retiring back to the apartment.

On the way back we saw the extent of the riots. There was rubbish everywhere, as well as grafiti all over shop windows. The riot police were still out and about, although by this time I think most of it had died down. I think we were just very lucky to have missed most of the action. Just by coincidence everywhere we went was either just before or just after the rioters. Apparently the bar we left from had to close at one point when things got a bit crazy outside. We saw on the news that evening the craziness that was occurring all around us - including fights with police and burning down police cars!

We met back later that night at the bar, and were led to our pre-show tapas dinner, including all you can drink sangria. The tapa's were very average, and the sangria not much better unfortunately. Soon after we made our way to the show. It was quite good - they had a live band, two dancers as well as a small girl that got up to dance as well. It wasn't quite as we expected - I was imagining large colourful dresses with big ruffles. They were dressed all in black with small scarves. I blame my false expectations on TV! The show, while interesting and very impressive (I thought her feet were going to set on fire at one point; they were moving so fast!), was over quite quickly. As we exited found a huge line of people waiting to get in - the faster you get them out the faster you can get a new lot in, I guess.

A couple of videos:

So a good second day, not without its hiccups. We had our fingers crossed that the city would be back to normal tomorrow.

Next Post - '130 Years in the Making'

1 comment:

  1. Confession: I've always kind of wanted to be in a riot. I don't know- I just figure I'd be good in mayhem. ;)


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