Looking outside the window to this dreary Belgian weather, I can’t help but long for sunnier days in Barcelona. As I told you before, Vueling was kind enough to offer us a trip to my beloved city a couple of weeks ago, and even this Barcelona expert picked up a few new tips along the way! For those of you who don’t know me all that well, I went to Barcelona on Erasmus in 2008 and have been back quite often since I left. Every few months I get this itch and I feel like I need to go back.
So the invitation came at the right moment (who am I kidding, it’s always the right moment for Barcelona) and I was very pleased to discover the Catalan tradition of Sant Jordi, which was the main focus of the trip. So together with Nathalie and Michiel of Yayzine!, Kelly from Tales from the crib and Roderik from Culture Remains we embarked on a short but sweet trip to Catalunya. And as I expected, it turned out to be one of my favorite blogger trips so far.
So let me tell you about this Diada de Sant Jordi. It’s actually the Catalan version of Valentine’s day, which takes place on April 23d every year, the dying day of Saint George, and the dying day of author Miguel Cervantes. Legend has it that Saint George slayed a dragon that wanted to take the life of a princess, and a red rose grew from the dragon’s blood.
On this day, it’s tradition in Catalunya for men to give roses to women and women to give books to men. The roses originated the legend of Saint George, the books are a homage to Cervantes. In the streets of Barcelona, there are roses and bookstalls everywhere, and you see practically everyone carrying a single red rose. An endearing sight, and a small gesture almost all Catalans give to their loved ones.
I had heard about this day but never experienced it, and what I did not know about this legend is that it inspired a couple of my favorite buildings on the Passeig de Gracia, the most famous of them being Gaudi’s Casa Battló.
Another adventure I hadn’t tackled yet was making a feast of Pa amb tomàquet, Paella and other Catalan recipes I miss after my time in Spain. (We did this at Cookiteca) They’ll sure come in handy this summer and dad, if you read this, I’ll definitely make that Paella for you sometime soon!
Our free time was filled with a beach moment, going back to El Nacional, a trip to my favorite multibrand shop, enjoying a pretty impressive breakfast spread in the Vueling Hotel, tea at Barcelona’s finest designer store, an RCR expo at Palau Robert, a morning moment at Montjuïc and the Mies Vander Rohe Pavilion and dinner in El Born. And we finally got a look inside the renovated Sant Pau hospital. I used to live nearby and would walk in to eat my sandwich on a bench there. Ah, memories.