La Merce 2016


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Well it is that time of year again, that time of year that the Catalan nation put on yet another festival, well yes they basically have something kicking off every day of the year, or so it always seems…

La Merce, a patron saint of Barcelona, official day is the 24th September, and th festival will normally finish on the Sunday closest to that date. Apart from last year but i won’t go into that cos i missed one of my favourite events that was the previous weekend due to the elections that took place instead.

What is La Merce, well it is something in the region of 600 events, things for children, loads of free live music (and some paid), castellers (human towers), a glorious wine festival (lucky i’m teetotal…), a piromusical at the magic fountain and by far my most favourite part of the festival, which i missed last year.

The magic and brilliance of a ‘correfoc’, a what now. Google it, seriously, it is utter bloody madness and you can get involved as much as you want, but take the advice and cover up. Skin and fireworks don’t always get on as i know from getting burnt on my first correfoc, by pure accident as i was mainly covered, just bad luck. Still a brilliant event i never want to miss.

Anything else to do, maybe. The city itself apart from the events and the areas they are in continue as normal, and yesssssssssss the bars and restaurants are open as normal, well most of them.

So, i will be enjoying the events, the castellers, the correfoc, loads of the wine festival and the lovely friendliness of the the Catalans.

And i will be seeing Barcelona based friends whilst i’m there with other friends on the trip as always.

Bona Nit!


Museu d’Història de Catalunya



Took a while to actually blog this but there you go…started it in April after visiting it in December, what do you mean i’m slow.


My trip to Barcelona in December 2015 included a couple of touristy things for a change, second up was the Museu d’Història de Catalunya or the Catalan History Museum if you speak English.

Set in an massively impressive building (former trade warehouse) and now called Palau de Mar. Designed in 1881 (Restaurant on top floor is called Restaurant 1881) and finished in 1900.

On the ground floor and first floor and temporary exhibition areas, went to an exhibition on first as got a combined ticket for €6.50. Wasn’t the most exciting exhibition (on Marriage or similar from memory).

Second and third floor contain the main purpose of the museum, which is to show the history of Catalunya from it’s birth right up to the present day. Britain gets blamed a lot but basically we were backing Catalunya and changed our minds and screwed them over. there is so much to see in here and it took about three hours to go round and was well worth the entrance fee. Coming after the Born CC trip, it just re-iterated the culture of the Catalan people.

Apparently there is a decent restaurant on the roof, i had a quick look but it was our last day and had to go back for bag etc … Honestly, the restaurant is run by a couple of friends who have a lot of restaurants and i’ve always had good food at any of their places but since i haven’t eaten here i could never recommend it, though i doubt it won’t be anything but good.


El Born Cultural Centre


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My trip to Barcelona in December 2015 included a couple of touristy things for a change, first up was the El Born Cultural Centre.

The building in use now was the old Mercat del Born, which was designed in 1873 and opened in 1878, as is the case within Barcelona as a market for the local area.

I was aware a number of years ago that the old market building was going to be turned into a Library (if that had happened in the UK, it would have closed down again…) and whilst undergoing renovation, they discovered underneath extensive medieval ruins, of the part of the city classed as La Ribera. It is still called this today, though most tourists will only know it by the name El Born, which actually is only a couple of streets.

La Ribera as was, was basically destroyed after the Siege of Barcelona in 1714, which lost Barcelona almost 20% of its size at the time to make way for La Ciutedella (Citadel fortress) to enable the Spanish conquerors to maintain control over the city.

September 11th 1714, is the date that Catalunya lost its independence, which is one of the current major issues within Catalunya and Spain, as there are massive demands from a large number of people within Catalunya to regain this independence. The date is also their National Day.

The date of opening as the cultural centre was 14th September 2013, inside the ruins have been preserved and you can tour these at a cost, though you can come into the centre for free for a look around. Also, there are a number of exhibitions on, some permanent and some temporary, and the cost for these was €6 which included a mobile phone guide (with a hired phone) with headphones, and you have to leave a passport or similar so you don’t run off with the phone…

The permanent exhibitions show what Barcelona would have been like in 1700 and the progress to the Siege of Barcelona, it is a fascinating insight into local history and should be a must for anyone wanting to find out what the city was like three hundred years ago, and the fight that ensued to try and remain independent.

As well as the exhibitions and the ruins, on one part of the building is a large book and gift shop and also a bar restaurant called El 300 del Born run by the brewery Moritz. No idea what the food is like but the beer is half decent and not as gassy as Estrella Damm, and was very reasonably priced considering if you went to most of the bars local to the centre it’d probably cost a lot more.

Time wise, if you do the exhibitions as well as following the guide round the ruins (not the ruins guide as such as that has to be booked), you can easily spend two-three hours in here, then time for a beer or two.

Next up will be the Catalan History Museum.



Been more than inactive – three mini-breaks away since


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Since last blog post (been bloody ages hasn’t it, you lucky lucky people), been to Barcelona twice and for first time ever to Palma in Mallorca. Will get some stuff up in next few weeks to cover all three trips, and probably some posts on wine as well, if i remember that is.


One thing with Palma is the lack of farmacia’s compared to Barcelona, woefully short of them. Lovely city though so hopefully will go back there again within the next few years (might even be this year).


The obligatory flight and apartment booking has been made for La Merce 2016 in Barcelona, for those who don’t know what it is…


A big festival with around 600 events usually around the closest weekend of September 24th (last years elections screwed up the trip as we only turned up right at the end and missed the correfoc).



Watch that if you have a spare 26 minutes…

Back in a few days or maybe 3 months…

Been quiet

Bit of an understatement, not done anything on here for two months, need to get December out the way with work and hopefully can be more after again.


Things to do shortly.

Re-start the sodding Spanish.

Remember to go to Barcelona on the 27th.

Have a bomba or two whilst i’m there…

Talking about being very inactive – running (and a potential half marathon)


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Used to do a bit of middle to long distance running as a kid, nothing spectacular but in the days of actually having a half decent level of fitness…

So i found out this morning via twitter that there is an annual half/full marathon that takes place in Priorat, starting and finishing in Falset, now i’ve only stayed in Gratallops, and the half marathon turns back to Falset at this point and its then mainly downhill from there.

Now, i am the heaviest (approx) and unfittest i’ve probably ever been and have dodgy knees probably due to being a fat bastard. Was due to join Sefton Meadows Leisure Centre anyway as swimming has always been good for me and very easy on the knees, so i may see if i can get weight off and see if i can actually do some running once i’ve lost a bit. And more cycling.

Half tempted to do it, with donations to charity (will probably try and split it 50/50 with a UK based one and a Catalan based one. I have no idea what charities to split it between.

So, first things first, get fitter and lose weight and get a few months of that done before seeing how the knees are for running. Will be good to find a local running club in Maghull area.

Pray for me.

Been very inactive – plus Farmacia Nadal update (the pic i use)


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Need to catch up with a few things and got a busy month with work again.

Need to finish off the last two Duesseldorf pages (well i actually need to start…).

You’ll all be pleased to know i’ve got some more stuff to put up after my latest visit to Barcelona (stop sniggering at the back).

Farmacia Nadal which is the picture i use for the blog is on the world infamous La Ramblas in Barcelona, the street i only ever use these days to cross from El Raval to Bari Gotic.

Well last Sunday i was taking someone down the Ramblas and went passed Farmacia Nadal, and yep i forgot to take a picture so i could update the pic on the website.

Got the delights of a 4 day work course coming up with exams on day 5, so that will be taking priority as got a 250 page book to read and hopefully take some of it in prior to the course.

Oh and it’s Derby weekend (Everton v Liverpool) which i absolutely hate, even if i’m at the match, even if Liverpool are 8-0 up, i still hate it whilst it is still being played.

Up the REDS

Spanish Civil War (very brief post)


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Will go into a bit more detail over the coming weeks and months on part of my trip last September into Catalunya and a day over to Aragon, but i did 3.5 days in Spanish Civil War country mainly around the Ebre river (Ebro in Spanish) and the villages and towns close by.

Two harrowing parts of this (which i will go into more detail at a later point when i have the time) were the visits to the destroyed villages of Corbera d’Ebre and Belchite. To say i was chilled to the core was a massive understatement, though both villages have the new villages there, Corbera is on a hill and the new village is below, Belchite has the new village next door separated by yards.

More to come on that in a few weeks, but everyone i met during this part of the trip were lovely and very welcoming even when they knew what i was there for, as it is still not really spoken about, but there is a organisation running things for the Ebre river part.

Duesseldorf – World’s Longest Bar (Part three of five – ish)


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Saturday was mini-golf day, it was also German day, yes i know we were already in Germany so it’ll be ‘German Day’ every day, but meal out that evening with our German friends who we’ve known most of them for the last ten years.

A few delicate faces met up at lunchtime, always good to see the state of some of your fellow travelers when they clearly look far worse than you (yes it is possible for that).

U-bahn tram over to the first stop over the Oberkassel bridge for the short walk along the Rhine to where we’d seen the mini-golf sign the day before. Finally after walking to Denmark it appears, and even better it sells bier! Two non golfers were in charge of the beer and the table to keep the beer on whilst the rest of us pretended to have a clue what we were doing.

I’ve no idea who won in the end, because not once was it mentioned at all by Lee Jones, nope he never did mention it at all, the jammy bastard.

We had a 7pm date, so what do we do when we find no tram for 8 minutes at the stop to go back to Hotel prior to going back out? Yep, the bar next to the tram stop was used for a brief interlude and obviously no chance whatsoever of drinking the beer in time for THAT tram.

Meeting place for the meal was Brauerei Kurzer, barrel of beer was there for us when we got in to meet all of our friends. Food was ok but just about ok, a few said theirs was poor, so somewhere not to eat at next trip.

Off for more beer, and we end up at Uerige (after a brief two drink stop at Et Kabuffke the Killepitsch bar, where most just get served through the open pane of glass in the window of the bar – saves going in…), another brewery bar, absolutely loads of people drinking outside with waiters going past every few minutes with trays of Alt Bier (heaven), and an arrival of an oompah band (Dutch by all accounts) who proceeded to play loads of tunes, one apparently a Koeln song, so that was always going to go down very well in these parts…

Last stop of the night for those of us left out, was what we call the ‘Woy Hodgson bar’ or Zur Uel to give it the proper name, owls everywhere…

I think we went somewhere else before here as well but memory faded a bit as it was three weeks ago, or more the fact a bit of alcohol had been consumed.

As always, many thanks to all of our German friends who came out, and Lahs for coming all the way from Frankfurt to see us, and getting the 5am train home.

Oh, and just in case, Lee won the mini-golf in case you wanted to know.