My year in pictures…

Here are some of the highlights of 2006 for me.

In January and February I was in Exam Hell so I would rather forget those…

March

March 22nd we left Toronto to Montreal, where we spent a week relaxing and visiting family and friends. On the 29th we left for Paris were we spent 4 days before heading down, by train, to Barcelona…

Our beighbourhoodAlan's brother's farmBenjamin Angus

April

We arrived in Barcelona on April 3rd, and after settling into our apartment, we took a bus tour of the city to get our bearings… The first thing I noticed were the wonderful balconies in the modernist buildings… And the beach of course! And our first Catalan festival – Sant Jordi!

WindowsSant Jordiand more windowsBeach

May

Our first visitors arrived! Pearl and Al came from Toronto to spend two weeks in Salou, just south of Tarragona. We spent the weekend with them and visited Tarragona and they came to spend a few days with us in Barcelona. At the end of the month, Melissa, a Brazilian friend who was spending some time in Porto, came for a weekend.

TarragonaPearl, Al & MeMelissa at Hospital Sant PauCathedral in Tarragona

June

This month I had a conference in Madrid. After the conference we spent a few days in Toledo, and it was really worth it! Despite being early June, the area of Madrid was hit was a heatwave that brought temperatures up to 40! Our retreat in Madrid became the park El Retiro. Loved Toledo!

RetiroGran ViaPlaza MayorWindowsToo hot in Madrid, off to Toledo

Toledo train stationJewish pastToledo's Alcazarwonderful foodwonderful people

July

Summertime! We discovered St Pol de Mar and our friends Gordon, Jean, and Jen came to visit from Montreal.

Sant Pol de MarGordon, Jean, Al & Francesca in SitgesFriends in Sant Pol de Mar

August

The highlight of this month was a weekend in Delta del Ebre with our friends Jackie, Sebastian, Naomi, and Francisca. The month ended with the Diada Castellera de Vilafranca del Penedes, the best castellers event in Catalunya.

Cycling through the rice fieldsRice fieldsBoatsDeltaDiada Castellera

September

Our friends Norbert and Carole came for a visit and we had a great time showing them our new city. Norbert and Carole had been to Barcelona before, but that was back in the 1960s… Barcelona celebrated its patron saint in the week-long festival of La Mercè…

La MerceGetting ready to performLittle Catalan feetNorbert & Carole

October

My parents came for a visit and my little nephew proved to be quite the little trooper ;)

Beach in octoberMatheusMatheus in Paris

November

We visited Vic and our friend Christine visited from Montreal. Together we explored Girona. Ahh, the wonderful autumn colours

The narrow streets of GironaGironaVic MarketVic

December

Lisboa!! what can I say? you’ve read it all before… I’ll end with table setting for a wonderful Chinese meal we had at Jackie’s & Sebastian’s

Lotus leaf

PS: I’ll be touching up the layout and the links during the next couple of days. I wanted this to come out today…

Videos of the bonfire

I've never been to a warzone but I feel it may feel like these. The videos don't quite capture how loud and weird the whole thing was but I guess they give an idea. Detail: the street was never close before or during the fire. City buses went right by the fire as they crossed the intersection!

San Juan (or Sant Joan)

The feast of St John – a religious holiday that conveniently coincides with ancient pagan ceremonies related to summer solstice  (or winter solstice in the southern hemisphere)- is celebrated in many catholic countries with lots of music and bonfires. 

In Brazil, the end of June marks the feasts of St John, St Peter and St Anthony and in the north and northeast part of the country their celebration is bigger than Christmas. In most of Brazil the festvities have a rural flavour and everybody dress as hillbillies and do square dancing, build up big fires, and eat all kinds of food that are typical of that holiday.  Festa Junina, as we know it, is very popular and its celebration has gone beyond June 24 to mark the last few weeks of June and beginning of July. Every school has its own dance and here's my nephew Matheus in his daycare's Festa Junina and my niece Lorena and her brother Luan at last year's event:

 

 

Now, the parties in Barcelona are considerably wilder than anything I've seen in Brazil. The main festivities happen in the beach, where they enact the coming down of the sun and moon and the beginning of the age of hell. I heard there are some wicked fireworks involved. But since we are not into crowded events, we decided to check out the neighbourhood parties and bonfires. You'll see pictures and more comments of the night in Alan's blog . Suffice it to say that it felt like WWIII was on and anarchy had set in. They actually lit a bonfire in the middle of the street – without stopping traffic(!!) – that rose to about 4 stories!!! Very surreal. Anyways, I'll try to put a video of it here later. I'm trying to get them on youtube. Stay tuned.