Monday, 31 October 2011

Museums of Sitges will be restored, not remodelled

What started as a partial halt to the refurbishing of the museums Cau Ferrat and Palau Maricel in Sitges (Garraf), is now officially a change of plans. The details are still to be worked out, but the CiU-lead municipal government has announced that the most controversial feature in the original plan – the glassed-in ramp on the facade facing the Mediterranean - will not come into existence, which in fact means that some already completed reforms have to be undone.

The now announced changes meet with protests from the earlier PSC-lead local government, which claims that they threaten the financing, since it depends on an agreement between several parties (the Spanish central government, the Catalan Generalitat and Diputació de Barcelona) and also risks delaying the end date with up to two years.

On the other hand, representatives of SOS Sitges – the platform channelling the anger many citizens feel since this project was initiated above their heads – reveal signs of restrained jubilation. As they see it, the town cannot be allowed to destroy an architectural heritage so closely connected with the artists Santiago Rusiñol and Ramon Casas, with the art promotor Miquel Utrillo and the North American collectionist Charles Deering.

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Read more in Catalan – Ajuntament de Sitges – and Spanish - El País

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Related earlier post

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Do you want to read more news from Sitges in English? Click here to find older posts and do not forget to sign up for the free newsletter Penedès in English.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Penedes Agenda November 2011

November 1 (public holiday), at 12:00
Vilafranca del Penedès (Alt Penedès); plaça de la Vila
Human towers: Tots Sants – Diada de la colla
by: Castellers de Vilafranca, Capgrossos de Mataró, Castellers de Sants, Xiquets de Tarragona
Read more in Catalan
Earlier posts on this event: 2009

November 4-5
Vilanova i la Geltrú (Garraf); Auditori Eduard Toldrà and Envelat
Concerts: Faraday Tardor - Festival de música independent
Faraday Autumn – Independent music festival
Entrance tickets required.
Read more in Catalan, English and Spanish.

November 10-13
Vilafranca del Penedès (Alt Penedès); Vinseum and Cine Club Vilafranca
Film Festival: Most – Penedès festival internacional de cinema del vi i el cava
Penedès international festival of films related to wine and cava
Entrance tickets required.
Read more in Catalan, English and Spanish.

November 10-13
In the wine regions D.O. Penedès and D.O. Cava; at many wineries
Theme days and open doors: Dia Europeu de l’Enoturisme
The European Day of Wine Tourism
Read more in Catalan

November 11-12
Vilanova i la Geltrú (Garraf); Neàpolis
Conference: Blanc – Festival de Disseny Gràfic de Catalunya
Blanc - Catalan Graphic Design Festival 2011
Entrance tickets required.
Read more in Catalan and Spanish.

November 11-13
Vilanova i la Geltrú (Garraf); Rambla Principal, Rambla de la Pau, Parc de Baix a Mar
Trade Fair: Fira de Novembre
The November Multisectorial Trade Fair
Read more in Catalan
Earlier posts on this event: 2009: 1, 2; 2008, 2007,

November 13
Vilanova i la Geltrú (Garraf); plaça de la Mediterrània
Food Festival: Festival del xató i la cuina de l’hivern
Xatonada - a festival dedicated to the sallad xató and winter related food
Read more in Catalan
Earlier posts on this event: - 2008 - and on the topic xató -  2009.

November 13, at 12:30
Vilanova i la Geltrú (Garraf); plaça de les Cols
Human towers: 40è dia de la colla
by: Bordegassos de Vilanova, Jove Xiquets de Vilafranca, Minyons de l’Arboç
Read more in Catalan

November 13, at 12:00
Sant Martí de Tous (Anoia)
Human towers: Festa Major
by: Moixiganguers d’Igualada, Castellers de Solsona
Read more in Catalan

November 17-19
Igualada (Anoia); barri del Rec
Fashion and design festival: REC.0 Experimental Stores
Read more in Catalan

November 19-20
Sitges (Garraf); la Fragata
Trade fair - artesan design: Mercat de Disseny
40 stands selling artesan design items.
Read more in Catalan

November 20
All around Penedès and the rest of Catalonia and Spain
Elections: General elections to the parliament in Madrid
Read more in Spanish

November 24-27
Igualada (Anoia)
Town festival: Sant Faust - Festa Major d'Hivern
Read here in Catalan about the 2011 edition

November 25-29
Sant Sadurní d'Anoia (Alt Penedès)
Town festival: Festa Major de Novembre
Program in Catalan, Read more in Catalan on

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The Penedès Agenda is a collection of events which I recommend to foreigners (expats or tourists) who want to explore Penedès or events which I consider important from a – highly subjective – international perspective. It is biased towards the comarca Garraf (Vilanova i la Geltrú and Sitges) but also covers Alt Penedès, Baix Penedès and Anoia.

The agenda posts are up-dated whenever I learn about new things. To the greatest extent possible will I link back to official pages for information on time and locations and cannot guarantee the correctness of the data presented. Feel free to inform me about events which you think would fit in here, either by writing a comment or contacting me on twitter: @wirdheim

Finally, please, excuse me for adding Sant Faust of Igualada only after it took place. It has now been added for future reference.

Friday, 28 October 2011

'Dolce Sitges Hotel' nominated for 'Condé Nast Johansens Award' 2012

Dolce Sitges Hotel in Sitges (Garraf) is the only hotel from continental Europe nominated in the category for Excellence in MICE (meeting, incentives, conferences and exhibitions/events) among establishments with more than 100 rooms in the 2012 Condé Nast Johansens Awards. All in all there are 19 categories and the winners will be announced in a ceremony in London, on November 7. Catalonia will be represented by two more hotels, both in the centre of Barcelona; Duquesa de Cardona (Passeig de Colom) and Bagués (la Rambla).

This time as many as 14 Spanish hotels have been nominated – a strong development compared to earlier editions. Apart from the three already mentioned ones there are candidates in Andalucia (4), Canary Islands (2), Basque Country (1), Valencian Community (1) and Balearic Islands (1).

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Read more in Spanish: La Vanguardia

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Do you want to read more news from Sitges in English? Click here to find older posts and do not forget to sign up for the free newsletter Penedès in English.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Sitges Film Festival 2011 - Awards and Figures

Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival - in 2011 held during the ten days October 6-16 - was a great success for the organizers as well as for local business. Some 65.000 tickets were sold, an increase with 8% versus 2010 and 150.000 people visited the town, resulting in average hotel occupation rates at 80% with peaks close to 90%. Of these, 600 were accredited journalists representing 430 media channels from 20 different countries. As a peculiarity, let me add that the zombie walk counted as many as 1.400 participants.

The award for best motion picture 2011 went to Kevin Smith for Red State, with the motivation that the horror lies in the uncomfortable reality of the American society it depicts, marked by intolerance, double standard and religious fanatism. Michael Parks won the award for best actor for his role in this movie.

The movie which took home the most awards was Attack the block by Joe Cornish – best soundtrack, the Special Jury Award plus best motion picture as chosen by the critics and by the audience, respectively.

Eva by Barcelona based Kike Maíllo was the only Spanish movie awardedbest special effects – but Mientras Duermes by Jaume Balagueró and Extraterrestre by Nacho Vigalondo were both very popular with the audience.

Here is a list of some of the other awards:

Best Director: Na Hong-jin for The yellow sea
Best Actress: Brit Marlin in Another earth
Best Screenplay: Lucky McKee and Jack Ketchum for The woman
Best Photography: Markus Förderer for Hell

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Read more in Spanish – LaVanguardia and TusDestinos – and Catalan – El Punt / Avui

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Human tower builders 'Moixiganguers d’Igualada' are 'Colla de 8'

On October 23, in plaça Pius XII of Igualada, Moixiganguers d’Igualada did their best exhibition ever in human towers. It could have ended totally differently, because they had a difficult start with two constructions which were dismantled before being crowned (intents desmuntats). However, the team could control the nerves and after having completed 5de7 they achieved the big objective of the day, to build and dismantle 4de8 - something they had only done once before (during last year’s festa major of Igualada). In the third round they added another 3de7s to the six they had already completed earlier this year.

On the same occasion one guest team, Castellers de Lleida, crowned 4de8 plus completed 2de7 and 5de7 while the other one, Sagals d’Osona, completed 5de7, 2de7 and 3de7.

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Read more in Catalan: Anoia Diari and Web Casteller

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

'Jove de Sitges' become 'colla de 8' and 'Verds' crown '5de9'

The most traditional day of human towers this weekend was Santa Úrsula in Valls, but the one organized in Sitges, on October 22, was not far behind in terms of spectacular constructions.

One day before Vella completed it, Castellers de Vilafranca became the first team in Catalonia to crown 5de9f this year and that was their 18th castell of the most advanced level (gamma extra) this season – a new record in the history of human towers. The same team completed a 3de9f where the base (pinya) was made up of what will be the second support level (folre) and the folre in turn made up of what will be the third support level (manilles) when, in Vilafranca del Penedès on Tots Sants, Verds will make yet another attempt to build 3de10fm. During the same event, what was a 2de8f in Sitges is meant to be converted into 2de9f (i.e. without manilles). On top of this they completed a Pde7f.

The second best team in the square Cap de la Vila were the guests from Barcelona, Castellers de Sants (Borinots), who completed 4de8, 3de8 and 5de8.

However, the strongest emotions of the day were provoked by the local team, Colla Jove de Castellers de Sitges, who made their 2nd best exhibition ever. Their top construction this day was a 4de8, but they also completed 7de7 and 3de7s. It is worth pointing out that 2011 has been Jove’s best season in the 18 years since the team was founded and that this year they have not seen one single human tower collapse.

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Read more in Catalan: Vilanova Digital and el 3 de Vuit

Monday, 24 October 2011

'Vella de Valls' complete the first '5de9' in Catalonia 2011

Valls, in the province of Tarragona, is the town where the Catalan culture to build human towers has its origin and thanks to a strong historic rivalry, this municipality of just about 25.000 inhabitants, regularly organizes one of the most traditional and interesting diades castelleres and this based only on local teams. The event is Santa Úsrula and it is the main annual challenge between Colla Vella dels Xiquets de Valls (Vella) and Colla dels Joves Xiquets de Valls (Jove).

For this year’s edition, held on October 23, Vella were the favourites and certainly lived up to it. From a technical point of view they were, by far, the best team and all of us who were there will remember their absolutely impressive 5de9f - a construction which Vella themselves had not completed (descarregat) since 2002 and which Castellers de Vilafranca – the otherwise best team in Catalonia –, have only crowned (carregat) so far this season. Apart from this, Vella completed 3de9f and 4de9f. Their attempt to build a 4de9 without a second support structure (net) unfortunately collapsed before being crowned.

Having said that, from a motivation point of view, I judge that it is Jove which have the most to celebrate now. Being considered one of the best teams of Catalonia becomes a burden when you do not “deliver as expected” and until today the team had not completed one single castell of nine levels in 2011. Today, on the other hand, they had the clàssica de nou within reach: after a strong start when they finally completed 4de9f they at least crowned 3de9f and rounded off with a solid 2de8f.

If you plan to go visit the Santa Úrsula day of human towers, you had better take note that plaça del Blat is a beautiful, but very small square and that most of the spectators therefore have to watch the exhibition from the narrow streets leading up to it.

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Read more in Catalan: Diari de Tarragona (N.B: The journalist was mistaken in writing that Jove completed a Pde8f. If they had done, that would have been on top of the ‘gamma extra’ construction Pde8fm).

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Regarding my YouTube videos, I ask you to forgive me for the very low quality this time. The combination of the light conditions and the use of zoom turned out to be really bad.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Remodeling of Sitges’ museums will exceed budget

The remodeling of the Maricel, Can Rocamora and Cau Ferrat museums of Sitges (Garraf) -  approved by the earlier local PSC government - met with severe protests from many inhabitants of the town. For that reason, the works were partially halted by the CiU lead coalition which took over in May this year.

The current status was recently analysed by the two entities standing behind the project – the municipality of Sitges and Diputació de Barcelona - with the outcome that already before the halt, the costs will exceed the original € 6 million budget with another million. However, the company carrying out the works is claiming for more.

The initial deadline for the remodeling was June 2012 but people involved send the signal that it might take until the end of next year before it is completed.

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Read more in Catalan: Vilanova Digital

Thursday, 20 October 2011

D.O. Penedès well represented at Salón Guía Peñín 2012

October 13-14, the wine exhibition Salón de los Mejores Vinos de España Guía Peñín 2012 was organized in Madrid’s Palacio de Congresos. In recognition of recent quality improvements, the organisors had selected six wineries from the wine region D.O. Penedès: Albet i Noya, Celler Pardas, Gramona, Josep M. Raventós i Blanc, Juvé y Camps and Parés Baltà. These together presented nine wines, whereby D.O. Penedès was the most well represented wine region from Catalonia.

The 200 brands present at this annual exhibition promote wines from the categories ”excellent” and “exceptional” and serves as a foretaste to the publication of the Guía Peñin 2012, by recognised wine crític Jose Peñín.

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Read more in Catalan (Vilanova Digital) and Spanish (Verema).

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Make sure not to miss any news from here by signing up for the free newsletter "Penedès in English".

'Venca' reduces staff in Vilanova i la Geltrú

CIFDSA – the company behind the mail order clothing brand Venca – has announced personnel reductions at its headoffice in Vilanova i la Geltrú (Garraf). In a so called ERO (expedient de regulació d’ocupació) - now in the hands of the Generalitat de Catalunya - the company argues that after four consecutive years of losses, by now letting 86 of 473 people go, it will be possible to get back to profitability within two years.

The cuts will hit all departments – customer service, logistics and the central staff – and is a response to big sales drops throughout Spain and even more so in Portugal, which is also served from here.

CIFDSA and the brand Venca belong to the French mail order group 3 Suisses International.

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Read more in Catalan: Vilanova Digital

Vilafranca del Penedès aspires to be the Capital of Catalan Culture 2015

Vilafranca del Penedès (Alt Penedès) was the first town to make public its candidacy to be the Capital of Catalan Culture in 2015. By October 31 it should be clear which the competitors are but the initiative has already won the support of more than 200 local cultural entities, political parties, trade unions and intellectuals.

Towns within the Catalan speaking corner of the world are selected the cultural capital of the year based on plans for how to promote the Catalan language and culture. This year the distinction was conferred upon Escaldes-Engordany (Andorra), for 2012 upon Tarragona and for 2013 Ripoll.

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Read more in Catalan: El Punt / Avui and el 3 de Vuit

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

El Vendrell and Calafell co-hosts of 2017 Mediterranean Games

October 15, cava bottles popped open throughout the province of Tarragona when the Interational Committee for the Mediterranean Games made official that this Catalan town had been selected to organize the 18th edition, 2017.

The Tarragona edition is expected to result in a financial injection of € 130 million and up to 7.000 job opportunities.

Two Baix Penedès municipalities will get their share as co-hosts in some sports; el Vendrell in football and boxing and Calafell in football, table tennis and fencing.

These games in total cover 31 sports and are meant to be a peaceful athletic competition uniting youth from the countries and cultures along the Mediterranean. They are organised every four years, nowadays in the year after the latest Olympic Games. Before they reach Tarragona, they will stop in Merish (Turkey) in 2013.

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Read more in Catalan: el 3 de Vuit

Crisis hits Baix Penedès and Garraf especially hard

An annual economic study of the 41 comarques of Catalonia, published by Catalunya Caixa, reveal a weak 0,1% general growth for the year 2010, but there are big geographic variations.

All parts of Gran Penedès end up in the second half of the list and, sadly enough a growth rate at +/- zero in Anoia is our best position (24). Alt Penedès is number 34 with an economic contraction at -0,7%. Especially critical is the situation in Garraf and Baix Penedès in the third last and second last positions and with negative growth rates of -1,7% and -2,1%, respectively, above all due to the effects the financial crisis has on the real estate and construction industries.

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Read more in Spanish: Expansión

Sunny Santa Teresa Fair in el Vendrell

October 13-16, el Vendrell (Baix Penedès) saw the 182th edition of the town's annual multi-sectorial trade fair, Fira de Santa Teresa. The organisers are very content with the event and suggest that the sunny weather helped them making so many people decide to take a walk among the 143 stands built up in the middle of the historical town centre. Here they could find offers from grocery, real estate and automotive companies as well as visit the areas dedicated to ceramics or wine.

In connection with the fair, there were also several performances of popular culture and a concert to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Catalan pop-rock group Lax’n’ Busto, which comes from here.

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Read more in Catalan: el 3 de Vuit

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

'Jove de Tarragona' prove strength during 'Santa Teresa' in el Vendrell

Colla Jove Xiquets de Tarragona have this year managed to build their first human towers of the most advanced level – gamma extra –, and on October 16 they proved their great shape at the Fira de Santa Teresa in el Vendrell (Baix Penedès). Although their initial 4de8a was only crowned (carregat), they ended up the best team thanks to 3de9f plus their 5th 4de9f this year.

Colla Vella dels Xiquets de Valls completed one construction of nine levels (3de9f), but possibly were even more content with their lower castells. During Diada de Santa Úrsula next weekend, October 23, it is expected that what was this time a solid 5de8 will develop further to a 5de9 and that this weekend's 4de8 has given them the confidence to opt for 4de9 net (i.e. without a second support structure, folre) during the coming derby in Valls.

Bearing the same event in mind - and since their form is clearly dipping this year -, Colla dels Joves Xiquets de Valls decided not to take any risks in el Vendrell. A 2de8f was their top achievement, to which they added 3de8 and 4de8.

For the local team, Nens del Vendrell, things did not go their way this time. They completed 2de7, 5de7 and 4de7a but not the desired 4de8.

The big anecdote of the day was that Colla Vella returned to plaça Vella of el Vendrell after more than 100 years without performing in that square. The reason for the long time gap is that in the sixties and seventies Colla Vella’s number one rival among the casteller teams in Catalonia was precisely Nens del Vendrell, so exhibitions in this historic human tower square were out of the question. On the other hand, this is a very small square and when Colla Vella now returned as the fourth team, the lack of space was obvious to everyone present.

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Read more in Catalan: Web Casteller, El Punt/Avui plus the web of Jove de Tarragona.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Sign up to receive the free newsletter 'Penedès in English'

To help you to stay up-dated on important or interesting things going on in Gran Penedès, I now launch the newsletter “Penedès in English”. The intention is to send you a monthly (later on possibly bi-weekly) e-mail with an agenda of events which are about to take place and a summary of the most relevant news.

As far as I have been able to find out, there is not anything of this kind being offered yet – not even in Sitges - and Penedès both needs and deserves it.

All information will be available here on the blog as well, but the newsletter will on the one hand serve as a filter and on the other as a reminder about things which you might not want to miss to do or to have heard about.

This service is, of course, provided free of charge and you subscribe by signing up here below.

For any recommendations on things to include in the newsletter or comments on this service as such, please contact me via e-mail or on twitter @wirdheim.

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Masquefa scarred political violence

The little town of Masquefa (Anoia) has attracted a lot of attention in Catalan media this week. It all started on October 12el día de la Hispanidad -, when García Mora, a town councilor from the local party Força Masquefa, put up a Spanish flag on the local town hall (ajuntament) and then sat waiting in his van to see what would happen. When the flag was removed by a Catalan independentista, García Mora started the engine and hit him with the car and at the same time hurt another person. García Mora stands accused for attempted murder but has been released from custody without bail. One of his victims is still hospitalized.

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Read more in Spanish (LaVanguardia 1, 2) and Catalan (Anoia Diari)

Garraf unemployment situation worsens with the end of summer

The peak season for tourism is over for 2011 and that is already reflected in the employment statistics. In the comarca Garraf, the September unemployment rate was 16,4%, an increase with 3,0% versus August this year and with 7,9% versus the same month last year. The majority of people who have lost their jobs come from service industries, above all hotels and restaurants.

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Read more in Catalan: Diari de Vilanova

Sitges Design Centre came with a high mortgage

The annual mortgage payment for Sitges Design Centre (Sitges Centre de Disseny) is € 350.000 – quite a burden for a heavily indebted municipality like Sitges (Garraf) since the space of 3.600 square meter is underused. The building was opened in 1994 as the design centre for Seat and the Volkswagen group, but was bought by a municipal body in 2006, when the car manufacturer concentrated its activities to Martorell. To pay the price of € 12 million, the town council of Sitges sold adjacent land for € 13,5 million. However, in the end only a small part of the additional income was dedicated to the mortgage payments and the rest spent elsewhere.

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Read more in Catalan: Diari de Vilanova

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Jove Xiquets de Vilafranca in their best human tower exhibition

Today, October 12, Colla Jove Xiquets de Vilafranca celebrated their Diada de la Colla in the best possible way - by performing their most advanced exhibition in human towers since the team was founded last year. Without any real problems and - for the second time ever - they completed the full clàssica de 7” (3d7, 4d7 and 2d6) and then rounded off with a pillar of five levels followed by three pillars of four levels.

Among the guest teams, Bordegassos de Vilanova maintained the pace from their successful exhibition last weekend and completed 2d7, 5d7 and 4d7a. This equals the result they reached during the Festa Major of Vilanova i la Geltrú and was their best performance this year outside their home town.

The second guest team, Tirallongues de Manresa, impressed all spectators with a magnificent 3d7a (the second most difficult castell we sas in the square today!) , but also completed 3d7 and 4d6a.

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Find here Web Casteller's summary of the event.

Torres voted Europe’s most admired wine brand

Wine producer Torres, having its head office in Vilafranca del Penedès (Alt Penedès), has been voted the world’s second most admired wine brand by the British magazine Drinks International. This means that it reached the top position among European wines, since the winner was Concha y Toro, based in Chile.

The wine brands were nominated in a secret ballot carried out within a 60-member jury made up of wine specialists, including wine makers, critics, analysts, retailers and buyers. Among the criteria which were taken into consideration we find a consistent or improving quality, that the wine reflect their region or country of origin but also that it should be well marketed and packaged.

Earlier this year – and for the third year in a row, Torres was selected Europe’s most powerful brand among non-sparkling wines in the survey “The Power 100: The world’s most powerful spirits & wine brands 2011”, compiled by the consultancy company Intangible Business.

Bodegas Torres currently see their strongest growth figures in P.R. China - with a 40% sales increase during 2010 - and at the end of this year the company expects to have 37 points of sales in this country.

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Read more in Spanish – LaVanguardia 1, 2 – and in English – Drinks International.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Castellers de Figueres celebrating with human towers of 9 levels

Sunday October 9, Colla Castellera de Figueres celebrated their 15th anniversary and to make the day special, they had invited not only their “protectors” (padrins), Castellers de Barcelona, but also Castellers de Vilafranca.

The green team (els verds) lived up to all expectations and completed two human towers of nine levels (3d9f and 4d9f) followed by a 5d8. The last construction was somehow a preparation for the 5d9 Castellers de Vilafranca plan to attempt in Sitges, October 22.

Castellers de Barcelona completed 5d7, 4d8 and 4d7a.

The top achievement of the local team, Colla Castellera de Figueres was a 4d7a, but they also completed 3d7 and 4d7. In total that sums up to their best exhibition since 2003 – quite nice birthday present.

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On the Saturday one day earlier, Castellers de Vilafranca made an exhibition in la Bisbal del Penedès. In spite of being the only team present, they built a 3d9f as their most advanced construction but also completed 4d8 and 5d8.

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Read more in Catalan: Web pages of Colla Castellera de Figueres, Castellers de Vilafranca, Castellers de Barcelona plus WebCasteller.

Bordegassos de Vilanova returning to the 8th level

For five years in a row, Bordegassos de Vilanova have organised a day of human towers in honour of late team member Albert Salvany (la Diada d’Albert Salvany). With three human towers of eight levels and three 2d7, this year’s edition, celebrated on October 9, must have been the most spectacular so far.

Bordegassos de Vilanova have seen a lot of new faces in their training sessions (assajos) recently and the team is rapidly gaining in stability and confidence. But although things have looked promising for some time, the results of the exhibition this weekend are extraordinary. After a solid opening with the third 2d7 this year, Bordegassos had decided to take on two brave challenges; to complete the first 4d8 since 2006 and the first 3d7xs (3 by 7 lifted up from below) since 1998. Honestly, how many vilanovins believed that we would make it? Well, we did and in both cases on the first attempt. By the way, this was the 100th 4d8 completed in the history of the team.

As if the local success was not enough, both guest teams offered more spectacular constructions:

Castellers de la Vila de Gràcia made us doubt in the beginning, since they started with two dismantled attempts (intents desmuntats), but then completed three beautiful towers: 4d8, 3d8 and 2d7 (i.e. the so called clàssica de 8).

Xiquets de Reus, who as late as a week ago made a strong exhibition in their home town, arrived in Vilanova with a limited number of team members, but still completed their 14th 2d7 this season. Apart from that they completed 3d7 and 4d7.

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Find Bordegassos' official report from the event here (in Catalan).

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Personally - since I joined Bordegassos de Vilanova in 2009 – this is the second time in my life I take part when “my team" builds a 4d8 and the first time ever I see it completed, so I am highly emotional about this achievement. I was tercer lateral and – as the majority of the people in the base (pinya) – could only judge what was going on by the sounds from the square; first the gralles (the typical wind instruments) indicating that the tower was about to be crowned and then the stronger and stronger cheering of all spectators, as it became clear that we would not fail during the dismantling. All this followed, at a really late stage – probably when the third level (terços) was about to start descending – by the magic moment when the core of the pinya - all of us who wore Bordegassos’s yellow shirt this day - dared to scream with happiness.

Friday, 7 October 2011

8th edition of the human towers 'Concurs-7' in Torredembarra

October 2 saw the 8th edition of Concurs de Castells Vila de Torredembarra. Unofficially this human tower challenge is called Concurset, which is a pun in Catalan since it means the “little competition” – in contrast to the big one, Concurs de Castells of Tarragona – and, when written Concurs-7, at the same time reveals that the participating teams belong to the group which makes constructions of seven levels (colles de set).

While many castellers prefer to call their performances exhibitions, this event is a formal competition and the winners 2011 were Castellers d’Esplugues, above all thanks to a 2d7, crowned (but not dismantled - carregat) on the second attempt. Except for this, their most advanced towers were Pd4cam, 5d7, 3d7xs and Pd5. The second place was taken by the local team and organisers, Nois de la Torre (Pd4cam, 4d7a, 5d7, 7d7 and Pd5) and the third position by Castellers de Poble Sec (Barcelona) (Pd4cam, 5d7, 7d7, 4d7a and Pd5).

The Concurs-7 is celebrated all odd years - and thus does not coincide with the Concurs de Castells, taking place during even ones - and it is open to teams which did not qualify to the last edition of the other event. This time 13 teams took part.

Penedès was represented by two teams: Minyons de l’Arboç took the 5th position (P4cam, 4d7a, 5d7, 3d7a and Pd5) – in 2009 they shared the 1st place with Castellers de Badalona - and Colla Jove Xiquets de Vilafrancathe “newcomers” - ended up as number 12 (P4cam, 3d7, 4d7c, 2d6 and Pd5).

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Find here a recording of the event, made by Tac12 TV.

Read more in Catalan: and

Castellers de Vilafranca crown a 4d9 without ‘folre’

During the human tower exhibition Mercadal de Reus on October 1, Castellers de Vilafranca crowned the 5th 4d9 of their history. Constructions of nine levels are common when we talk about the best teams of Catalonia - all present on this occasion - but to see them without a support structure  (folre) on the second level is extremely rare.

The construction 3d9f (i.e. with a supporting folre) was the most advanced castell completed on this day by Minyons de Terrassa and Colla Vella dels Xiquets de Valls, while Colla dels Joves Xiquets de Valls had to make do with 3d8 as their top achievement.

The local team, Xiquets de Reus, is one level below the others but proved great stability by completing the so called clàssica de 8 (3d8, 4d8 and 2d7).

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Read more in Catalan: Penedès Digital and

Thursday, 6 October 2011

High hotel occupation rate in Sitges

The tourism industry of Sitges (Garraf) looks back on a very good summer season. The average hotel occupation rate was 74,56% - up from 70% last year, and peaked in August (95,40%) but also saw an unusually good September (90%). On top of this we have to add all the tourist who only spend the day here, estimated to 55% of the total number of visitors.

It we look at the nationality of the tourists, Spanish citizen obviously take the lead, followed by Frenchmen, Germans, Britons and Dutchmen, with Russians coming up as a dark horse. According to local business owners, during their stay the foreigners spent as much money as last year, while those from different parts of Spain were more careful with their expenses.

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Read more in Catalan: Vilanova Digital

Audit of Sitges reveal € 67 million municipal debt

An internal audit of the municipal accounts of Sitges (Garraf) presented late September, sums up the debt as per June 30, 2011, to € 67 million, of which 43 million are loans from banks. The accounts payables amount to 24 million, 2 million more than earlier estimated.

The four party coalition now ruling the town, lead by Miquel Forns (CiU), are putting in place plans to improve the finances and have started by reducing the number of politically appointed personnel in public services (càrrecs de confiança, in Catalan), a measure expected to result in savings of € 500.000 As a next step, fees for municipal services – among them waste collection – will be increased with objective to fully cover not only for direct, but also for indirect costs.

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Read more in Spanish: LaVanguardia and

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Catalan Blog Prizes to 3 Penedesfera bloggers

Blogs by members of Penedesfera - the Penedès blogger community – have been nominated but never won any prizes in earlier editions of the Catalan Blog Prize (Premis Blocs Catalunya) organized by This was compensated in this year’s fourth edition when three prizes went here.

El blog de Polseres Vermelles is created by 12-year-old Joan Pons from Igualada (Anoia) is centered around a highly popular series which the Catalan public service channel TV3 broadcasted during last spring.

365 dies i 365 entrevistes is written by Oriol Rodríguez from Gelida (Alt Penedès) with the intention to carry out an x-ray on the Catalan society of the early 21st century.

Ruta Baobab, la volta al món porta a porta, finally, is about how Francesc Balagué from la Llacuna (Anoia) explored the concept of Six degrees of separation while traveling around the world.

This year the prize ceremony took place in la Seu d’Urgell and prizes were awarded to 24 blogs in 12 different theme based categories.

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Read more in Catalan: el 3 de Vuit

Black vulture discovered in Alt Penedès

A Eurasian black vulture (Aegypius monachus) has been discovered in Torelles de Foix (Alt Penedès). The bird was malnourished and has been taken to a wildlife recuperation centre (Centre de Recuperació de Fauna Salvatge de Torreferrussa). If the recuperation goes well it will be released in the Pyrenees of Lleida, but it is believed that it has flown here from Central Spain, since it was not ringmarked.

Eurasian black vultures are highly sensitive to human presence and disappeared from Catalonia more than one hundred years ago. The 15 exemplars now líving in the Pyrenees of Lleida were reintroduced there in 2007. The some 2.000 couples living in the whole of Spain represent 80% of the total European population of this species, which is classified as vulnerable.

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Read more in Catalan: Vilanova Digital

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Can Papiol museum reopens in Vilanova

After five years of extensive renovations, the gem of romantic architecture in Vilanova i la Geltrú (Garraf), i.e. the Can Papiol Museum (C/ Major), is again open to the public. The opening hours are Fridays-Saturdays 10:00-13:00 plus 16:00-18:00 and Sundays 10:00-14:00. Visitors have to follow one of the guided tours which start every full hour and the normal ticket price is €3 (€1,5 for children, students and retired people).

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Personally, I warmly recommend you to visit Can Papiol since it gives you a unique insight into the life of one of the richest families of Vilanova in the 19th century. This is a genuine residence with the Papiols’ own furniture and decorations and thus not a collection of objects typical for the time but originally from different households.

Read more in Catalan: Vilanova Digital

Improved digital TV signals in Sitges

An signal repeater installed in the barri Quint Mar of Sitges (Garraf) is now operating and improving the reception of digital TV (TDT) above all in this area and in Vallpineda, but also in Can Girona, Santa Bàrbara and parts of Poble Sec.

These areas have all had difficulties to receive the signals from the main Garraf antenna located on top of Mont Gros.

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Read more in Catalan: Vilanova Digital

Calafell approves plans for 'insitut' in Segur

The politicians of the town council (ajuntament) in Calafell (Baix Penedès) have unanimously adopted the project to build a secondary school (institute) in the area of Segur, between l’avinguda Brasil and carrer de la Cúspide, to be more precise.

The drawings will now have to be approved by the provincial commission for urban planning (commissió territorial d’urbanisme) in Tarragona. A tougher challenge will be to receive the financing. The Generalitat - the regional authority of Catalonia - confirms that this school is among its top priorities but has not yet earmarked any funds for it.

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Read more in Catalan: el 3 de Vuit