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La Mercé, the Ginat's parade, casa Mila and fireworks

Home -> City trips -> Barcelona -> Travelogue Barcelona -> 24 September 2008

Wednesday 24 September, La Mercé, the Ginat's parade, casa Mila and fireworks

View form our roof terraceThe sun is already blurred through the veiling clouds, would it be nice weather for a few days? From our roof terrace we have a better view over the city than we have had in days. After breakfast we first go into the city for a cup of coffee and then find a spot to view the procession of the giants.
Parade of the Giants, La Merce Parade of the Giants, La MerceOn September 24th is the actual party La Mercé, although the festivities lasts 5 days and if it so happens a little longer with the weekend before it. Mare Déu de la Mercè (Mother of God of Grace, or Our Lady of Mercy) is alos a patroness of the city of Barcelona (together with Santa Eulàlia). Actually, it is a Catholic holiday, but Barcelona has fully made it its own. One of the highlights is the giant procession with dolls of up to 5 meters high that are being led through the city. The dolls symbolize people and events from the history of Barcelona.
Parade of the Giants, La Merce Parade of the Giants, La MerceEvery doll is worn by one person but because they regularly run pirouettes, two men walk next to each doll in an inconspicuous way in case they become unbalanced. We have found a nice spot along the Carrer Ferran and just in time, because after us there will be a whole crowd of people on the procession.
Parade of the Giants, La MerceIt takes almost an hour for the entire procession to pass by and if we want to take a detour afterwards we get stuck in a crowd of people who want to cross the Ramblas but have to wait for the parade that also comes along. So we could have better walked behind the parade, we would have been here in the same time!
Casa Mila, also called La PedreraSince it is now dry and not too cold, we take the metro to Casa Mila for which we have already bought tickets on Monday. The building has a wavy facade that was unprecedented in Barcelona (or wherever) when it was built in the early 19th century, designed by architect Antoni Gaudi. Soon it was called La Pedrera, the quarry, because people thought it looked like that.
There is a bank in the building, but fortunately there are also parts open to the public: the roof terrace, an apartment on the fourth floor and the attic from where we take the elevator.
On the roof of Casa Mila On the roof of Casa MilaWe get an audio guide, but it has so much information that we prefer to wander around on ourselves, we would never be able to remember all that information. In the attic you get a good impression of the strangeness of the building, but the best part is the roof terrace, with sculptures that are all functional, such as a chimney, a ventilation shaft or a cover for a water reservoir. Everything about this building is wavy; it is recognizable a work by Gaudi but it also has a distinct style: waves!
On the roof of Casa Mila View on La Sagrada Familia from Casa MilaFrom the roof you also have a great view of the city and of course you can also see the Sagrada Familia in the distance, the still unfinished cathedral of Gaudi. We will certainly visit it again next time.
On the roof of Casa Mila Elisabeth on a bank made by GaudiLeaving the roof you can go downstairs to visit another typical apartment in the building. Gaudi was an all-round architect and not only designed buildings but also furniture such as the bench on which I sit. In the attic you can see very nice examples of natural products where Gaudi got his inspiration from. In nature you find actually no right angles and Gaudi has made this building very 'natural' in that respect.
Interior of Casa Mila Interior of Casa MilaThe apartment we walk through seems to be consist of several apartments, so many rooms are there. Bathrooms, living rooms, study rooms, a kitchen, it is all there with the original decoration. I keep taking pictures because everything looks so beautiful. The only downside is that it is so busy with visitors ... what are they all doing here?
What did the pigeon order?We spend a long time inside and have walked a lot, so it is time to give our feet some rest and drink coffee. And something to eat, of course ... why does it always smell so good on the streets, all those food smells? No wonder you regularly find yourself eating again even if you are not hungry at all. The pigeons benefit from everything that people leave behind and occasionally they are so cheeky that they even try to eat from your plate. But those neighbors on the terrace, hey ... we have no idea why, but we are surrounded by other Dutch all the time these days. We definitely did not come to Barcelona to meet Dutch people!
Lamppost, Passeig de Gracia Balconies, Passeig de GraciaAlong the Passeig de Gracia are a number of beautiful lampposts with nice benches underneath. Works by Gaudi? No, this time it is from another architect, Pere Falqués i Urpí, but from the same time (1906). In ancient times this street was already a Roman road, but it was not until the beginning of the 20th century that it became an elegant boulevard with houses for the wealthy. Now it is primarily an exclusive shopping street, and it is full of special buildings.
Lamppost by Gaudi, Placa ReialVia Placa Catalunya we walk back to our apartment. On the way there is some shopping to do, of course, because Barcelona is a great shopping city. A nice typical Spanish dress with matching shoes for our granddaughter. And after a few hours of rest, we go out again, of course first to Placa Reial again. Here are some old lampposts designed by Gaudi. We especially enjoy watching the passers-by and the artists who now and then pass the tearrces.
Crowd for the fireworksLater in the evening we meet tens of thousands of others at the fountains at the foot of Montjuic. Here is the closing fireworks of La Merce, with music. The squares and boulevards are full of people, a mass like we have not seen often. But the music this year is a compilation of radio broadcasts, statements and we do not really like it, it certainly does not fit with the fireworks that are not really spectacular either. After fifteen minutes of fireworks (we have been there for more than an hour!) We decide to go back.
But how to do that against a wall of people??? Teije pulls me through, now and then shouting this is an emergency and that we have to come through, but now I understand why people faint in a crowd. Normally I am not so claustrophobic but here I feel like it anyway. Sometimes we only get a few meters ahead in a minute. Later we hear that there must have been at least 150,000 people.
And once we are in the metro we do not seem to be the only ones to escape the spectacle, so full is the station. How happy I am that I sit on Placa Reial again and can breathe again normally. In such a crowd you can literally and figuratively go nowhere. If we had liked the fireworks and the music then we would just have gone with the current but now we had to go against it. I will never do that again!


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