Barcelona Photoblog: 2021

December 21, 2021

Bubble Dreams Under an Arch of Triumph

Children playing with soap bubbles in Barcelona

Dreaming is one of those things that you can grow for free in your particular world of Oz beyond that yellow brick road. You could add a beautiful arch of triumph at the end and why not, some mesmerizing bubbles through which you can look at the future with joy. Perhaps it is all as simple as that. The end of the year is coming and it is time to detach from all the noise, look at what is right in front of you in awe and let yourself go, the child way.

Arch of Triumph and Modernist Lamp in Barcelona

August 22, 2021

Beasts of Barcelona - The Lion - El Lleo de la Ciutat


The lion of Barcelona - Beasts of the city

What better to resume Barcelona Photoblog's posting than showing one of the leading figures in our festivities and an important member of the bestiari, a Catalan term to refer to a group of real and imaginary animals of Medieval origins mainly associated to Corpus processions. The lion represented Mark the Evangelist and the Eagle, Saint John. Both 'beasts' are also part of El Seguici de la Ciutat

Together with the Eagle, the Lion (Lleó) is always presiding over the parades, especially during Corpus, La Mercè or Santa Eulalia. Our particular king of the jungle, or at least, the first impersonations made by men wearing costumes, date back to the fifteenth century and it is not till 1600s that it appears as it is today. He was completely gone during most part of the last century until his stellar reappearance back in the 90s. Franco's regime was not very fond of rescuing Catalan traditions. 

Of course parading the animal is adorned by its own dance and music, The Dance of the Lion. There used to be roaring, many years ago, but Charles III forbid such ignominious noisy doings to the disillusionment of our citizens. We have to thank local groups like Associació d'Amics dels Gegants del Pi for the initiative of bringing back the Lion in 1993. 

Maybe some other day I write more about other fantastic beasts that run wild in our imagination thanks to the magic of our cultural heritage, the Catalan folklore. I leave you with the manes of a ferocious and yet gentle beast that I want to dedicate to all those born a Leo, like this humble blogger. 

PS: Do not forget to visit La Casa dels Entremesos to see replicas of the bestiari.

April 15, 2021

Barcelona. A Day. A Life. ~ A Short Film by Ben Holbrook

Lockdown has been tough on us all, but especially for those of us who have not been able to get our fix of Barcelona! 

It’s been one of the longest periods of time I’ve not been able to visit since moving there all those years ago, and I miss it so much. It may not be my physical home anymore, but it’s still my spiritual home. 

I miss the simple act of heading out with no agenda and no destination, following the crowds and wandering like a flaneur. There’s always something going on, always somewhere to be – experiences to be lived! 

For this reason I almost always kept my camera with me. Not only to take photos for my blog, Driftwood Journals, but also simply because I knew the amazing was always just around the corner! 

As well as photos, I also shot quite a bit of video between 2017 and 2019. But I didn’t have the time (or skills) to do anything with it. Fast forward to now, 2021, and I have had time not only to develop my video editing skills but also to produce an entire short film using this old footage. 

It starts early morning on the rooftops of Eixample and move through the city as day becomes night. The final scenes are the insanely explosive celebrations of La Merce (I was so involved in the action that my lens got blown up by a firework – true story!). 

It’s sort of “a day in the life”, but the footage was taken over many years, so it’s more like a whole life – my life. Maybe you’ll recognise it as your own. 

Here it is, amigos! Watch and enjoy! This is Barcelona. A Day. A Life.

 Discover “Ben’s Barcelona” on his blog and watch more of his short films on Youtube.

April 06, 2021

Sant Andreu Tapas A Succulent Remedy

Sometimes not only vaccines are the remedy that can save you from the havoc in your head wreaked by a year of seclusion, dying like a sparrow in a cage. Sometimes the cure, the mental relief, comes with the satisfaction of the animal in us, our primeval instincts. No, I do not mean sex. Don't be so basic! It's the food that kindles your soul, like a sun ray breaking through your prison cell.

And so, being a refined animal with a taste and on a spring parole in the way of lockdown break, I set sail for promising quarters in the city of Barcelona where nourishment abounds, the oasis of tapas known as the Sant Andreu neighborhood. Behold above its renown narrow streets dressed in bitter orange groves more typical of the sacred gardens of paradise than from a working class enclave. Nothing like some peace and quiet to go and sin for a while.

As you can see my mind is obscured after so much confinement and is hard to hit the bar that explains the tasty tapa of morcilla de Burgos and the cheek pads hamburger (mollete de carrilleras) on the menu at Bar Torrente of Carrer de Parellada, 28, 08030 Barcelona.

I never said it was easy to share the secret troves of a Barcelonian but believe me, everything has been so lonely lately that the city misses the usual buzz (not the noise!) and bar owners well deserve to get their lives back so the more we are the merrier. 

Thanks to Bar Torrente for the marvelous sinful day! 


February 08, 2021

Sant Pau Hospital: A History of Fervent Passion and Anonymous Endeavor

Sant Pau hospital detail a history of passion and endeavor
Amidst the weird silence imposed by this pandemic disgrace, these stone marvels strike us as significant reminders of past religious devotion, of saints like Santa Eulalia (hanging up there on this side of the Modernist compound of Sant Pau Hospital - Cartagena street façade), of the fervent passion and disinterested endeavor of women and men who invested their lives in that of others not only to seek salvation but out of pure love for their peers.
Sant Pau Hospital
Thanks to the skillful hands of Catalan artists who set out to venerate these acts of faith against the wrath of merciless plagues, against the paradox of so much suffering cast upon the human race, we can remember them and resume this endless fight on the very places where we once perished.  

From here we, your descendants. shall honor your lives and rise on our knees to overcome this Covid mess, just like you banished your misfortune one day, in unison and anonymously for the sake of our fellow men.  

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