Besalú – possible world heritage sight

Studying Christian-Jewish relations I couldn´t ignore the existence of this beautiful little town. Besalú is located north of Girona between the planes of the Empordà and Garrotxa mountains. Much of its medieval heritage – when it was the capital of a wealthy county and bishopric – is still intact but it is its Jewish heritage that has spurred the town´s recent bid for world heritage status.

In the Middle Ages, Besalú had an important Jewish community and the survival of a 12th-century mikvah (a ritual bath) and a synagogue testify to this heritage. The mikvah is one of only three in Spain and one of the few in Europe. Today, Besalú has about 2,000 inhabitants and on Dec 3 they are having a festival. Can´t wait to check it out!!

besalu

Lisbon, here we come!!

Lisbon at Christmas

The main plan when we first got to Barcelona was to spend the year here for my dissertation research and then move on to Lisbon when I finished my degree to research a second project there. But then we fell in love with Barcelona and, suddenly, my second project in Lisbon didn’t sound so good anymore. I needed to find ways of staying in Barcelona. Who cares about Portugal?

Well, fate is funny and it has it that many of our good friends here have lived in Lisbon and they all LOVE it. Jackie & Sebastian lived there and they introduced us to many of their Lisbon friends who come for a visit. Naomi was there last week and loved it. Suddenly the interest to go to Portugal rekindled and we have booked our flight for a long weekend in december. We leave Dec 8th and come back on the 12th. Can’t wait!!!

High season at our household

Our friend Jenn P arrived wednesday morning from Montreal to stay for 10 days and friends Gordon and Jean (also from Montreal) arrive on monday. That means rediscovering Barcelona! We spent the past couple of days walking around with Jenn – old town, Rambla Catalunya, boardwalk & olympic port, Park de la Ciutadella, etc. Last night we went to Park Guell around 7:30 pm and the light was just magical. We walked all the way back, cutting through Gracia and stopping for ice cream at Pl. de la Revolucion. This morning we are off to St Pol de Mar with Jenn, Matt & his mom. Should be fun… will have pics of Jenn’s visit soon.

On another note – the neighbours decided to have a party last night that was still going full blast at 6:30 this morning. Techno music at full blast and smell of smoke coming into our room. They seem to be brits. The middle-aged spanish women who live in the two apartments above were not impressed and started telling them off. I then poked my head out of the window and the woman upstairs pointed to the other one “see, someone else is bothered by this”. I asked them if they had called someone and they said not yet but they will if they don’t turn down the racket they were making. Thankfully they did. The older ladies then told me “in their countries they wouldn’t do that, but they come here, think it’s all allowed…” Sad, but she’s not the one in Barcelona disgruntled with foreigners…

Why Civilizations Decline

Click here for Peter Montague's interesting commentary on Jared Diamond's (Guns, Germs, and Steel) op-ed on the New York Times entitled "Collapse; How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed." In his article, Jared Diamond looks at how past civilizations have collapsed and highlights the role of damage to the environment and isolationism of the country's elites in the sudden demise of past superpowers. Interesting reading. The environmental issue worris me. I hope we don't have to completely destroy the planet before the powers that be finally decide to do something about it. How long will be we able to fool ourselves that the situation is not that bad?