|Christmas in Barcelona
||[ Monday, 27 Dec 04 | 14:13 ]
Nochebuena or Christmas Eve in Barcelona was like any other large city. The streets were full of last-minute shoppers. The major streets have lighted
decorations all of which were secular in nature. Major buildings also had displays, usually of "icicles" tumbling down the face of the building. There is no nativity scene in Plaza Cataluña, for example. You would not know that you were in the world's second-most Catholic country (after Italy). If there were slogans, they would say Felices Fiestas or Bones Festes. The equivalent of Happy Holidays.
The streets were empty of cars, but there were a fair number of people walking during the late evening. There was an impromptu party at my hostal. One of the hotel staff invited four of his friends over for some wine. They were all medical students from Latin America and all were women. I asked why they were studying in Barcelona and they said that the choice to study was either in the US or Barcelona. They were all going to be GPs and practicing in Barcelona after they graduate.
The owner of the hostal showed up and we all had some muscat wine and cava. The muscat is amber-colored, sweet, and somewhat effervescent wine. I found it very tasty and smooth. Cava, of course, is the Spanish version of champagne. The Freixenet brand is popular both here and in the US. It's a better value for its price than US products. The Spanish do seem to like their wine.
We also had some pannetoni or Italian sweet bread. This particular brand had chocolate on top and marbled inside. It didn't quite match the picture on the box, but was quite tasty nevertheless. I have seen versions of pannetoni that have glazed fruits inside, somewhat like the fruitcake found in the US at this time of year.
The party finally ended around 04:30 in the morning, which I guess is normal by Spanish standards, but quite late for the US. I got up just before noon and headed down to a ciber cafe that I knew would be open on Christmas day (but only for 10 hours.) I like this particular place because I am able to use a 256MB flash drive to copy files to and from my PowerBook. And also the price is right, only 1,20 € an hour. I was able to download about 30MB of updated software that I installed on my Power Book when I got back to the hostal.
I talked to my kids during the early evening and also touched based with Alberto. He chided me for not having my cell phone at my side at all times, that I wasn't being European enough yet. I said that he had tried to call me when I was in the shower and that my cell phone isn't waterproof. :-)
And one final observation. I didn't really notice people heading for church on either Christmas Eve or Day as is common in the US.