Monday, 31 December 2012

'Vilanova Grand Marina - Barcelona' and the Beach 'Ribes Roges' in the Winter

Photos from a winter walk down to the beach platja de Ribes Roges and the luxury yachts in Vilanova Grand Marina - Barcelona; all in Vilanova i la Geltrú, Catalonia.

December Pictures from Vilanova i la Geltrú

Here are a few instagram photos taken during daily walks through Vilanova i la Geltrú (Barcelona, Catalonia) in December 2012.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Christmas in Penedès (Catalonia): Living Nativity Scenes, Midnight Masses and a lot more

Christmas, Boxing Week and New Years Eve (December 21-31) is an unusual time of the year from an events calendar point of view: Rarely do we have so many things going on at the same time, even in the smallest villages of Penedès. Equally rarely does it all, let us say, repeat itself so much, since everything is based on the same Catholic traditions: Living nativity scenes, Christmas masses and a lot of concerts.

You can - of course - enjoy and explore these cultural expressions anywhere in Catalonia, but I suggest you do so out here. The small towns of Garraf, Alt Penedès, Baix Penedès and Anoia will give it all a very special flavour! So, welcome to Penedès!

Find my full Penedès Agendas in English at

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Traditional Rooster Fair ('Fira del Gall') in Vilafranca del Penedes

Saturday and Sunday, December 15-16, were the days for this year's traditional Rooster Fair (Fira del Gall) in Vilafranca del  Penedès. Here are a few picture from the event.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Choir 'Stella Polaris' in Santa Lucia procession for Swedish ExPats in Barcelona

Saturday December 15, the Swedish community of Barcelona celebrated its annual Christmas mass followed by a get-together with glögg (Swedish mulled wine) and pepparkakor (Scandinavian ginger nuts).

This year, for the first time, the event took place in the church Església Evangèlica de Sant Pau (C/ Aragó, 51) - a very good choice, in my eyes.

Warm thanks to the Barcelona based Swedish choir Stella Polaris for the nice Santa Lucia procession.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Improve Europeans’ Image of Catalan Nationalism through Nous Catalans

In my contacts with fellow immigrants to Catalonia from Sweden and other EU countries, I am usually sadly surprised about the limited interest they take in the Catalan language and, on top of that, that they usually have an extremely negative image of our "regional" politics and politicians. Among expats who live and work in the centre of Barcelona, I feel that the majority are quite up-dated with the latest anti-catalanista arguments we tend to find in Madrid based press, radio and TV, while they do not seem equally receptive to the perspectives presented in Catalan media.

To blame this on a lack of knowledge of Catalan is too simplistic an explanation, since the Barcelona based quality newspaper LaVanguardia is readily available in Spanish. Neither can the reason be that these foreigners do not have Catalan "nationalists" among their neighbours, since the sum of the parties which (more or less) have this profile (CiU, ERC, ICV-EUiA and CUP) always beats the number of votes for the typical unionist parties (PP anc C’s), even in municipalities like Cornellà del Llobregat, Castelldefels and Badalona.

So can it be that these foreigners simply do not have any natural spaces to interact with catalanistes? Or, alternatively, can it be that Catalan "nationalists" prefer to remain silent when their foreign-born neighbours or colleagues joke about or openly challenge, for example, the overwhelmingly well accepted Catalan education system? So far, I do not have the answers.

Catalonia is different and, to me, that is only fascinating! Ant it is a fact that among the European expats I know, who live further away from the centre of Barcelona, almost everyone accepts Catalan "nationalism" as something absolutely normal. Not all of us out here in the small towns are independentistes but very many of our friends are, and that makes understand that their Catalan identity is 100% genuine and does not have anything to do with a greed for money or political power – the typical explanations promoted in Madrid based media.

The time has come for me to start to actively discuss my picture of Catalonia with other expats. To leverage my efforts I have decided to join the association Nous Catalans (New Catalans) where they are just about to establish a section for us Europeans, Espai Europa.

The plans for now are to kick off early next year with a theme day on the topic “Entrepreneurship and Business, Catalonia and Europe” where we will invite all European residents (from the EU as well as other countries, not the least Russia) who want to learn to know Catalonia.

Are you interested in this project? If you are, please, let me know or get in direct contact with the head office of Nous Catalans.

- - -
Just to clarify: Catalanisme (Catalan "nationalism") is not the same as independentisme (separatism). Let me exemplify: Today, we would not see as many manifestations of Catalan independentisme (the demand for a new European state) as we currently do, had only Spain and the EU been more prepared to accept a Catalan national identity, albeit as a nation without a state.

- - -
Just in case: The second most voted party in Catalonia, PSC, has not been included here since although they defended the concept of Catalonia as a nation (see the original version of Estatut as approved by the Spanish parliament), they (as I interpret it) do not think that this nation has the right to decide its future unless the rest of Spain agrees to it.

Penedès this weekend: Rooster and Red Wine Fair in Vilafranca, English Theatre in Sitges

Cava and wine tourists in Catalonia will be happy to find out that this weekend - December 15-16 - there is a D.O. Penedès Red Wine Fair in Vilafranca del Penedès (Alt Penedès). It is organized in connection with and at the same place as the more traditional rooster and chicken fair, Fira del Gall.

Foreigners living in Barcelona and looking for family entertainment in English might want to check out Sleeping Beauty by Sitges English Theatre Company in Sitges (Garraf), with shows December 14 -16.

Finally, on Sunday December 16, Catalan TV3 holds its big annual charity event, Marató TV3, this time collecting money for cancer research. In Penedès there will be several activities related to this, for example sardana dancing in Calafell, a concert in El Vendrell (Baix Penedès) or a bicycle tour from Els Hostalets de Pierola to Igualada (Anoia). 

A good way to support Marató TV3 is to buy the Penedès charity t-shirts which you can find at

Full Penedès event calendars in English can be found at

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Vilanova i la Geltrú (Catalonia) on Swedish Public Radio

Vilanova i la Geltrú (Barcelona) was well represented (some will say over represented) on Swedish radio in the weeks leading up to the elections to the parliament of Catalonia on 25 November 2012.

From here the program Konflikt (conflict) started its 24 minutes (!) long description and analysis of the political situation in Catalonia. As a backdrop of Catalan culture, journalist Lotten Collin used the the big human tower exhibition which was organised here to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the local team Bordegassos de Vilanova. Obviously, it was not her intention to focus on our little town, but when she returned to Barcelona to interview political experts and politicians representing separatism as well as unionism, she happened to meet Santi Rodríguez (PP-member of the Catalan parliament), who also he happens to come from here. The program was broadcast November 17 on P1 - the channel for current affairs – on Swedish public service radio.

It was also here in Vilanova i la Geltrú journalist Robin Olin met up with me, Erik Wirdheim, and carried out a light hearted interview about the meaning and manifestations of a Catalan national identity. The result was broadcast on November 25 as a part of the program Korrerapporten (approximately: the correspondent’s report) on P3 – the youth channel – on Swedish public servive radio. (The part on Catalonia starts at 27:00 while I, personally, turn up around 30:45.)

However, although Swedish radio listeners might now be slightly aware that there is a Catalan town with the name Vilanova i la Geltrú, I will do my best to make them hear more from us.

- - -
Interestingly, Lotten Collin knew that there was a Swede present among the around 500 participants at the human tower exhibition she watched in Vilanova. I still do not know who told her...

Falcons de Vilafranca - Gymnastic Formations from Penedès (Catalonia)

Four videos from the end-of-season exhibition (dia de la colla) by Falcons de Vilafranca in Vilafranca del Penedès (Alt Penedès). Falcons are gymnastic formations - thus not Catalan human towers (castells). This cultural expression is typical for the cava and wine region Penedès and has its historical origin in the small town Llorenç del Penedès (Baix Penedès).

Cava & Wine at 'VineTast' in El Vendrell

Atmosphere and product pictures from streets and squares of El Vendrell (Baix Penedès) during the gastronomy, cava and wine fair VineTast (7-9 December, 2012).

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Cava & Wine Fair in El Vendrell, ‘Falcons’ in Vilafranca del Penedès and more

For those of you who want to explore Penedès as the land of wine and cava, the fair Vine Tast in El Vendrell (Baix Penedès) is the main event during the weekend 7-9 December, 2012. If you, on the other hand, above all want to have a cultural experience which you can only have here in Catalonia - and nowhere else in the world -, then the end-of-season exhibition by Falcons de Vilanfranca in Vilafranca del Penedès (Alt Penedès) is what you must not miss.

Full Penedès events calendars in English can be found here (comarca by comarca): Garraf, Alt Penedès, Baix Penedès and Anoia.

Welcome to Penedès!