our (almost impromptu) visit to barcelona in february coincided with the la laia festivities, in honour of the city’s 13 year old patron. as the tragic story goes, in the fourth century, young eulalia refused to renounce her christianity, rebeling against the rule of emperor diocletian… which ended up getting her imprisoned, gruesomely tortured and killed. pretty depressing stuff… but she’s remembered as a martyr child who fought for her convictions until the end.
i love discovering the traditions and costumes of the places we visit, so we had to ask… how do they celebrate a young martyr? turns out, the answer is with dances, giants… and dances with giants!
people started gathering in a square one afternoon, chatting, grouping, putting their stuff on the floor… then suddenly, the band started playing and everyone around us was giving hands dancing sardanas! the footwork seemed rather tricky, with sudden twists and jumps but everyone seemed to be in on the secret steps!
after that, the giant laias and other characters walked the streets of the old town, eventually joining the dancers in the square for a little dance too while nearby, some volunteers distributed hot chocolate and buns for the children!
giants dancing, you say? yup! pretty awesome in my book!
there’s plenty of stuff to write about barcelona, but before we get to that, let’s just take a moment to appreciate the delicious simplicity of churros with chocolate:
holy lactose-sugar-gluten combo, batman! but there is something so irresistible about fried dough dipped in hot chocolate… :D guilty pleasure indeed!
so after years dreaming and trying and failing, it finally happened in barcelona: we flew on a hot air balloon! one day, i was randomly browsing gidsy for interesting and local things to do there, and then i saw it: balloon rides! i quickly sent an email to the company, who confirmed that indeed, they flew every weekend and that, weather allowing, that weekend would be no exception. so we booked our tickets right away and, drawing from previous experiences, braced ourselves for disappointment…
as the day dawned, we were quite pessimistic since that saturday turned out to be the only rainy day in our 2-week stint in barcelona, but we needn’t have worried… turns out the ballooning.es team was not afraid of the cloudy skies, and promptly scouted an alternative location to take off. :)
when we got there, things were unloaded, and some of us helped inflate the balloon…
… while ooooh’ing and aaaah’ing at the sheer size of it!
when that was done, we just hopped on the basket and off we went!
i was actually kind of surprised at how smooth it was… not at all like flying on a plane! no bumps or turbulence – or sweaty palms grabbing onto paulo’s hands for dear life.. the balloon just lifted itself gently off the ground and slowly hovered the towns and villages… it was so serene and peaceful!
definitely thumbs up, we couldn’t have asked for a better first flight experience! :)