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18th May 2018

Hello you lucky people. Tomorrow, Saturday, May 19th is the Night of the Museums, or, perhaps, more prosaically, Museum Night.

Yes, from 7pm until 1am most of Barcelona's museums, and a few other historic sites, will be open FREE of charge, and several will be hosting special events such as concerts.

It's one of the best nights of the year — in my humble, sincere opinion.

And, I will not be able to join you — I'm in the UK because of the Wedding of the Year.

No, not that one featuring a member of the British royal family — but my daughter's. She's getting married in the Dales in Yorkshire in July. And, I'm here to meet with the groom's parents and discuss arrangements.

Have a great Night of the Museums.


Super Saturday in Barcelona: Castellers & Gegants & Sardana

4th May 2018
Diadas de Gegants & Castellers maig 5 2018

A Super Saturday

If you're in Barcelona this Saturday (May 5th) and you'd like to experience three cornerstones of Catalan culture then you could be lucky. May 5th is looking like a Super Saturday.

This coming Saturday both the Gegants of Gràcia and the Castellers of Gràcia will be out in the streets doing their thing, and there's a sardana planned on the same day. 

However…and it's a big however…the Gegants and the Castellers will be strutting their stuff at the exact same time in the same district, although a mile apart.

If you want to experience both then you'll need to be a little agile as the busses connecting the two locations will be re-routed. 

Let's hope for good weather.


In the district of Gràcia.

The Gegants will be in Vila de Gràcia and the Sardana and the Castellers will be in Plaça Sanllehy in La Salut


The Gegants will be celebrating 25 years since the 'new' gegants were added to the family of gegants.

The Castellers de Gràcia will be competing against two other colles (teams) to crown a day of activities organised by local community groups. The poster below outlines the programme.


The Sardana is programmed to commence around 4.30pm in Plaça Sanllehy.



At 5pm the Gegants will assemble at the junction of Gran de Gràcia and Carrer de Nil Fabra — very near Lesseps Metro stop.

At 6pm the Parade will commence.

At 7pm the Parade will finish in Plaça de la Vila —where the gegants live for most of the year.


The route of the Parade is straightforward — the Gegants will process from near Lesseps metro station down Gran de Gràcia to the junction with Carrer de Goya then head along Goya until they reach Plaça de la Vila.


The Castellers are scheduled to commence at 6pm in Plaça Sanllehy.

To be or not to be…here or there?

I can't tell you what you should do — would never dream of doing so — but I can help you do what you want to do.

You'll need to decide whether you want to experience the Sardana and the Castellers and head for Plaça Sanllhey and stay put, or head up to Gran de Gràcia (maybe Metro Fontana Line 3 - Green) and tag along for the parade of Gegants and other local folk culture groups, e.g. bastoners  (folk dancers) and hang around in Plaça de la Vila, OR try a bit of both.

If you decide you want to try to experience a bit of both then go watch the parade for 20 minutes then head toward Plaça de la Vila and follow the suggested directions below.

However, what ever you decide to do you'll have a great time I'm sure. 

How to get from Plaça de la Vila to Plaça Sanllehy

You could try  Barri Bus 114 on Traverserra de Gràcia. (Normally I would use the Number 24 which stops at Plaça Sanllehy — but the Gegants route includes Gran de Gràcia which will be closed for the Parade and the 24 bus will be re-routed).

When in Plaça de la Vila situate yourself with your back to the Ajuntament (Town Hall) and walk to the left-hand corner of the square and Carrer de Matilde.

Walk up Matilde to where it joins Travessera de Gràcia (about 2 minutes) and turn right  — you should be now be able to see the bus stop for the Number 114.

Wait for the bus. Have your T-10 ready. 

When you see the bus approach, and If there is no-one else at the stop, wave a hand to indicate you want to board.

Hop on. Validate your T-10. Tell the driver that you want Carrer de Praga. It’s 7 stops — about 10 minutes. 

Bus 114 starts its route at Plaça Ga·la Placidia and crosses Gran de Gràcia. The bus route will be affected by the Parade/cercavila. Because of the parade I am assuming that the route will be re-scheduled to start at stop number 2475. However, I may be mistaken.

Now, if you find Bus 114 is not running from this stop then continue walking along Travessera de Gràcia — about until you come to the junction with the top of Passeig de Sant Joan, take a left and walk a 100 metres or so up Carrer de I'Escorial and you will see the Metro station on your right.

Route from Plaça de la Vila to Plaça Joanic

Route from Plaça de la Vila to Plaça Joanic.

Take the Metro (Line 4 - Yellow) just one stop in the direction Trinitat Nova to Alfons X. See map below for walking route from the Metro station to Plaça Sanllhey — about 10 minutes.

Map of route between Alfons X and Plaça Sanllehy

Route between Alfons X and Plaça Sanllehy

OR when at Plaça Joanic walk up the right hand side of Carrer dePi I Maragall until you come to a bus stop and take the Bus number 55 just two stops to Carrer de Praga.

Get off at the stop on Carrer de Praga — the first stop after crossing the busy Ronda del Guinardó — then walk back to the Ronda and turn right

Route betweeween Carrer de Praga bus stop and Plaça Sanllhey

Route betweeween Carrer de Praga bus stop and Plaça Sanllhey.

Walk along the Ronda until you reach the junction with Carrer de Camèlies and Carrer de Sardenya

Cross Camèlies to put yourself on Carrer de Sardenya. 

Walk along Sardenya for about 2 minutes and you're there— Plaça Sanllehy.

What ever you choose to do — best of luck — and have a great day.

Enjoy a Super Saturday in Gràcia.


Feliç Sant Jordi 2018!

23rd April 2018
Sant Jordi rose by Oscar Astromujoff

A rose for you, as created by my friend, Óscar Astromujoff.

You may have seen Óscar's illustrations for La Vanguardia and other periodicals.

To explore more of Oscar's artwork go HERE.

Ok, so now you have your rose you'll need a good book to go with it: HERE.

Enjoy Sant Jordi.


The News in Barcelona

30th September 2017

As you'll know there is a referendum on the future of Catalunya planned for tomorrow, October 1st.

The question on the ballot paper is:

​'Do you want Catalunya to be an independent state in the form of a republic? YES/NO'


As well as sending in an additional 6,000 National Police officers and Civil Guards with orders to dismantle and disrupt the logistics of the vote, the Madrid government has closed down more than 140 pro-independence websites​ without warning; have ordered Google to take down a Google Play app which gave instructions on how to vote; seized control of the regional government's communications centre; mobilzed an army of internet trolls; and tried to block dozens of Twitter accounts and feeds.

Madrid is spewing out vast amounts of propaganda and misinformation, much of it exaggerated beyond parody and much of it based on fabrication.

Used to be a regular reader of El País and El País in English — not any more.

For a concise, and more accurate, summary of events up until September 28th watch the introduction to Matthew Tree's English language Avui TV programme: HERE.

For more up to date information go HERE: El Nacional.

Adéu Monarquia — Hola República.​


Happy New Year 2017 from Barcelona

31st December 2016


Wishing you a healthy, productive and prosperous 2017. And, if you can squeeze in some happiness, all the better.

See you next year. Sincerely hope it’s a great one for you.

The illustration is by our good friend, Oscar Astromujoff — a brilliant artist and illustrator —and a wonderful human being.

Oscar’s work is best known locally through his regular illustrations for the newspaper, La Vanguardia. In fact, there was one of Oscar’s illustrations in today’s (31/12/2016) edition. His artwork extends beyond simple illustration.

Thanks to Lali, his lovely partner, we were at Oscar’s apartment on Sant Esteve (Boxing Day) last week for a tea party. All good fun.

Anyway, here’s wishing you all the very best for 2017.

Fins aviat!


A week before Learning to Drive in Barcelona

6th July 2015
Bacalao al pil pil con pebrots de Padrón by Bil Sinclair

A glimpse of how life is lived here.

Last Sunday evening caught up with a friend from the States en route to Italy.

We headed to Bar Bodega Quimet for a few vermuts before grazing around and settling awhile in a tapas bar, Gastarea, on Carrer Verdi, which I’ve never visited before, to enjoy a couple of montaditos before tucking into plates of bacalao al pil pil and pebrots de Padrón. I’ll be back.

After a stroll, and a relaxed cocktail at La Cigale, we ended the night in one of my favourite drinks bars, El Cine on Carrer del Torrent de l’Olla.

First thing Monday met with an esteemed theatre and opera director to discuss his forthcoming visit to the Edinburgh festival.

Later, after spending an hour or so on a novel in progress (Heavensfield), and an hour or so on a non-fiction book (How to Eat like a Local in Barcelona), I met with a trusted friend at his parents’ apartment in L’Antiga Esquerra de l’Eixample. We discussed plans for a very special tri-lingual wine-tasting I’ll be hosting in November.

Entrance to an apartment building on Carrer Provença

Entrance to an apartment building on Carrer Provença in L’Antiga Esquerra de l’Eixample

On Tuesday that once very special design store, Vinçon opened and closed its doors to the public for the very last time. I didn’t go along. I’d read Quim Monzó’s piece in La Vanguardia and… well, for slightly different reasons…couldn’t face it. Something about being here, in Barcelona, has now died.

Vinçon, Barcelona

Thursday evening  met with the film-maker, Justin Donlon, at Gredos, a granja, or snack bar, across the street from Verdaguer metro, to discuss my role in a planned documentary about the artist, Geoff Harwood.

On Friday evening we met up with dear friends at Gredos and went along to a Beer Festival in Poblenou. It was a good do, and a grand time was had by all.


On Saturday evening my better half, her son and I met at Bar Oller for a drink before traversing across Gràcia to a 22:20 screening of Isabel Coixet’s, Learning to Drive at Cines Verdi. We dropped into Bar l’Amistat, where we had morros and zarajos, before calling in at Lucania II, where we hoped to spend time enjoying slices of delicious pizza. However, it was really very busy, as always, and the clock was against us. We ate what we could but, at the end, had to ask for a doggy-bag. But it was still delicious, excellent pizza, which we scoffed surreptitiously during the movie.


The movie, Learning to Drive, starring Ben Kingsley, and directed by local dirctor, Isabel Coixet, was ok, verging on good. The acting, camerawork and editing all superb. But for me, the script lacked a certain necessary tension.

Enjoy Barcelona.


Art, Food, Wine & great company in Barcelona

5th February 2015

February 3rd, 2015 — 

Off to an art exhibition opening at Vinçon for 8pm and to meet with two visitors from Montreal — Binky and Jennifer.

Very interesting evening.

Francesc Artigau

The opening seemed much more busy than is usual. And, the age profile of those attending seemed much older than usual. The older demographic is in part explained by the fact that the artist, Francesc Artigau, first exhibited at Vinçon in 1975 — two years after the gallery opened. The exhibit consists of just one large painting split over three canvasses.

  • Here’s a LINK to background about the exhibit.
  • And, here’s a LINK to the artist’s website.

We met Binky and Jennifer, and, from the off we hit it off. We had a Moritz beer and a few bites of cheese, crackers, olives and llonganisa then took a tour of the store.

Bar Bodega Quimet

Then we all headed up to Gràcia and Bar Bodega Quimet — one of my favourite haunts for a bite and a drink. At around 9pm it’s a comfortable 15 minute stroll — during the day it can be a frenetic hike. During the day you spend as much energy, if not more, sidestepping the shoppers, gawkers and strollers, as you wend a way up Passeig de Gràcia.

Bodega Quimet was packed. Tuesday night on a cold, damp February evening — packed. Must tell you something.

We perched ourselves at the bar and ordered a bottle of Montsant and a few delicious bites. Then got ourselves seated at a table and ordered more bites and more wine. The chat flowed readily. Laughs came easily — in part prompted by my being locked in the toilets.

Good food, good drink — great company.

We met having exchanged a few emails — we parted as friends.

The Barcelona effect — again.