Friday, June 29, 2012

El Oceanografico, in Ciudad de las Artes y Ciencias

Today, I would like to take you back to Valencia. El Oceanografico is part of the  architecture-wise very cool Ciudad de las artes y ciencias in Valencia. 

It’s a marine park, the largest of its type in Europe. It has 45000 animals of 500 different species, from fish to mammals to birds to reptiles. I am usually not the typical aquarium-goer, but this is something else and I strongly recommend a visit! 

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The park is divided into different marine areas representing the Mediterranean, the Arctic, the tropical seas, the temperate seas and the Red Sea. There is a dolphinarium, there are seals, whales, penguins, sharks, walruses and well…lots of fish!

The sea water is taken from the urban beach La Malvarrosa in Valencia. And there’s lots of it… The Oceanografico has a water capacity of 42 million litres, and the dolphins have 24 of those 42 to play in.





You must make sure to see a dolphin show! Whenever I am close to dolphins I turn into a five year old and am completely enchanted. I think they are just so utterly beautiful!

The auditorium has a huge Red Sea aquarium, I wouldn’t mind having one of these myself! So relaxing.


 
The seals are also totally adorable. Just look how cosy they are!



Notice the 'couple' in the front. They take turns at cuddling!


In the 30 meter long tunnel you get a nice underwater view to many species found in the open sea. Look at this funny guy!


And of course there are sharks! The biggest one, 302 cm long.



It is cool, no doubt about it. They offer some fun activities in el Oceanografico, two of them in this tunnel. Dive intothe tunnel if you dare, or spend the night in the tunnel, on the dry side of it. 

Have you ever been to el Oceanografico? Do you like aquariums? 
Are you as crazy about Dolphins as me?


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tiger

Yesterday walking a random street in Barcelona, I saw "Tiger" spelled out in familiar white letters on a black background over a shop entrance. Can it be? No, for sure it's not. It's probably some independent shop of some kind, and they thought the name was catchy. Those were my thoughts, cause what's the chance? Well anyhow, I had to check it out so I crossed the street and went up to the shop. Hopeful till the last moment, I stepped inside and saw that –YES it was in fact the Danish chain store of Tiger! 

I have close family in Denmark and have been to Denmark many many times, and I always make sure to stop by a Tiger  store just cause they have so much fun stuff at a great price. I was thrilled to find a Tiger-shop in Barcelona!!

When I came home I went onto the website, and I found that they have stores in many countries now, and two in Barcelona. So it turns out it wasn’t as unique as I thought, but I am delighted to be able to shop at Tiger here! 


Monday, June 25, 2012

San Juan / Midsummer / Summer Solstice in Barcelona

La verbena de San Juan really is a big party here in Barcelona.

I was fascinated by the way the bonfires are lit all over Catalunya, I think it is so nice that people carry the flame from the mountain top of Canigó in the Pyrenees all the way down to Plaza de Sant Jaume in Barcelona. I was there to see the flame arriving, and it arrived with an eagle and two gegants – giants... 


The 'gegants' is a big thing in Catalan fiestas, but I am not quite sure what the point is, or the deeper meaning if there is one. (Do you?) I have seen them on a few occasions, and they are huge figures representing kings, queens and noble persons.


When they arrived the Plaza, there were fireworks, and lots of people let go of their baloons! Fun!


Then two people came forward with the flame carried from Canigó,




There were speaches and honestly I got a bit bored with this. I only understood a couple words, but it was all in Catalan (a language I thus far can’t say I know very well). I just understood that they were speaking quite a lot about Catalan pride. 


Then, the flame was carried out to light the different bonfires all over the city. There were 12 official big bonfires around the city…


...but also smaller ones here and there. I saw people jumping over the small bonfires, and I learned that this is a symbol of cleansing and purification. You jump over the fire three times and your sins are burned away!

Another tradition is to burn your school notes in the bonfires, as a way to detach from the last schoolyear. These adorable kids were just burning whatever they found around! 



There were several "revettles de Sant Joan", around the city, where you could get something to drink and a piece of Coca de Sant Joan. Like here, outside La Sagrada Familia. Nice!


All night long, there were fireworks and petardos (firecrackers?)I love fireworks, but I can’t say the same for the petardos. Too much banging constantly, and too many kids and teenagers playing around with them without much control. Cheeky teenagers throwing petardos after girls / random people etc. I guess I am very 'Norwegian' on this, and not as laid back as they are here in Spain...

Oh well! It was interesting to see how San Juan is celebrated here! I'll leave you with a last picture of the bonfire in front of Sagrada Familia. 


Did you celebrate San Juan / Midsummer / Summer Solstice? And if you did, please tell me how! 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Sant Joan in Barcelona & la Flama del Canigó


Sant Joan/San Juan (Catalan/Spanish) is tomorrow. I heard the celebration of San Juan is a BIG deal here in Barcelona so I had to find out more. I went on to the offical Barcelona web, and they have made a very informative site for San Joan celebrations here.

An important key word is the bonfires. In Norway, it is also common to make bonfires at some beach for the night of the 23rd. It’s nice to see that this is also done in Spain. There will be 12 bonfires spread around Barcelona, here:

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Bonfires are mandatory for a real San Juan-celebration. But I really like the way the bonfires are lit!

First I have to take you to the mountain range of the Pyrenees (between Spain and France), and Canigó, one of the highest peaks (2784m). Every year on June 22nnd, since 1955, a fire is lit at the mountaintop. At midnight, the Flama begins its journey to light San Juan bonfires all over Catalunya (the autonomous community). According to Wikipedia, a total of 30000 bonfires are lit with the flame of the Canigó, La Flama del Canigó

The flame actually never dies. It is kept alive all year long in a museum in Perpignan in southern France (Mueso de la Casa Solariega) until it’s brought up to the peak of Canigó on June 22nd.

So… the flame arrives Barcelona at 19:30h to Plaza Sant Jaume, after passing through different city streets on its way. This is already a big party! (Follow the flame at Av. Diagonal - av. del Doctor Marañón - ctra. de Sants - Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes -  la Rambla - pg. de Colom and c. de Pau Claris.)

Then after some speeches and some entertainment, the flames will be distributed to various torches and teams responsible to light all the 12 bonfires in the city. 

See the little video of the whole process of the Flama del Canigó, and see why I say this is so special!



There are fireworks. There are petardos (firecrackers?), and there is a special cake to be eaten on San Juan, the coca. I think this is a local, Catalan tradition. There are many different kinds and with different fillings, but if they are anything like the Coca de Chocolate I tasted in Sitges at the Fira de Corpus, count me in!!


And as if this wasn’t enough. Salsera as I am, I have to tell you about this salsa event taking place down at the beach, Barceloneta, on the night of San Juan. There will be workshops, shows and a big salsa party. Dancing salsa at the beach a warm summer night sounds close to perfection if you ask me!

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What are you plans for San Juan? Will you celebrate it?
I would love to hear how San Juan is celebrated in different countries!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Why Vanisha Could Move to Spain

Some days ago, my dear (blog-)friend Vanisha posted a curious post on her lovely blog:
"Why I could pack up and move to Spain". 

We've been reading each other's blogs for a long time, and every now and then she has been saying "I should move to Spain!" after having read blogposts of mine. This time she has collected a few of her favourite reasons why she could move to Spain and packed them into a post of her own. 

It was so fun to read her reasons, referring to my blogposts! And even better, seeing my photos- each brought out beautiful memories of my New Life In Spain. I am so grateful for being able to have these experiences, and the memories will live with me forever. No. Doubt. About. It. 

Thank you so much Vanisha for reminding me of all these wonderful things Spain if offering to me,
every single day. And for being the sweet, wonderful person you are. 

A while back Vanisha and I talked about music, she was curious about Norwegian and Spanish music, and I was curious about Fijan music (music-lover as I am, I love discovering new music!) A week or so ago, an envelope found its way from Australia to Barcelona and me. It contained a handwritten letter and a memorystick filled with Fijan music! How fantastic is that? THANK YOU again.

And thank you to all of you who read my blog, I am so grateful! 

Now, please head over to Vanishas blog to read why she could move to Spain too!
(The picture is linked to her post)


Monday, June 18, 2012

About being tall: the upsides!

A while back I wrote about how standard Spanish beds are so small, and that it leaves me with my feet sticking out. I am a bit tall. Taller than the average Spanish person. I feel like a giant sometimes.

But it has it upsides though. 

For instance on the metro in rush hour, and it’s so full you can’t move an inch, it’s quite nice to be taller than a lot of people. I feel sorry for shorter people, crammed up against a sweaty back or stinking armpits. It’s really hot here now, and the people on the metro don’t always smell like roses… At least my head is above the majority of people, and that makes it less claustrophobic.

At the supermarket, I can always reach the products at the top shelf. This might not sound like something special, but believe me. I have had little old ladies ask me several times if I can please grab them some products from the top, cause they simply can’t reach them.

When going to a concert, it’s a big advantage to be tall! After all, it’s not just about the music. I like to see who’s playing as well. And as I am so passionate about music, I love being able to see where the music is coming from, i.e. each instrument and who’s playing them. I love that I can be at the back and still see well.

Same goes when people are gathering up around a street artist. It’s great to actually see what the fuss is about!
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Although there are probably more downsides to being tall here than upsides, 
I am trying to focus on the good parts for now!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Sand storm in Barcelona

Although I noticed the very stong winds on tuesday, little did I know that a 'historical' sand storm was taking place down by the sea! The older man who told me, said that this is something he has never before seen or heard about in Barcelona, it was a very unusual event.

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Something about a water column shooting up from the sea, (very unusual with a clear blue sky), followed by strong winds (up to 70 km/h!) which lifted sand and most other things at the beach. Someone said it resembled a hurricane, and thankfully we don't get hurricanes here. So, yes, it was unusual.

A restaurant afterwards. Via
In the newspaper, La Vanguardia, people kept sending in photos and comments via twitter, and someone said that it felt like Sahara (!) in the Parc de la Ciutadella, dust/sand everywhere. And this park- although it's not super far from the sea, it's not super close either. 
A little video from Antena3 news:

Más vídeos en Antena3

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Corpus Sitges Flower Carpet Festival!

So, when I was in Sitges this weekend, there was an event going on and it was pretty spectacular!

They had been laying out/building “flower carpets” all over town! Yes, streets filled with flowers petals, grass and seeds in different patterns. I have never seen anything like it, but apparently it’s a Catholic tradition also done in other Spanish cities.


It’s called the Festival de Corpus, “Corpus Cristi”, body of Christ, and they call it “alfombras de flores” which means flower carpets. It’s celebrated each year 60 days after Easter.







Apart from the flower carpets, there was a “Fira de Corpus,” a fair with stands filled up with lovely artesan products of all kinds.






Champagne o'clock, Vanisha? Always!

Chocolate lover? Then you need to try Coca de Chocolate, yum yum!!
I love bumping into things like this, and how would I learn about "flower carpets" if not? 
Have you ever seen a flower carpet?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sitges!

This weekend was absolutely lovely, spent in different villages and places around Barcelona. One of them being this cute little lively sea side town of Sitges. It’s a gem, just about 45 minutes away from Barcelona by train, definitely worth a visit if you’re around.

Sitges has a population of about 27000, and is very international. According to Wikipedia, a 35% of the population are people from the Netherlands, the UK, France and Scandinavia. Apart from foreigners, Sitges offers 17 sandy beaches, great night life and beautiful architecture!

The carnaval and film festival has given the town an international reputation, and Sitges is also said to be one of the most gay friendly places in the world?!
There seems to be a lot going on here, and I was lucky to bump into an event when I was there this weekend. I love bumping into cultural events I had no idea about! What better way to learn about culture and traditions than this way?

I’ll tell more about the event in another post, but first a little presentation of the town, in pictures: