Siurana

Today I was in Siurana, a beautiful little town on the top of the Prades Mountains in Catalunya. Joan Miró painted it in 1917:

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Joan Miró. Siurana, the Path. 1917.


Caricatures and Calçots

Having guests this weekend lent the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the best Tarragona has to offer at this time of year. Unfortunately with less than 48 hours we could only scratch the surface, but we had a lot of fun!

Here are the highlights:

Nit de la Caricatura

Café Metropol organizes lots of cool events and gigs, but even on a regular night it’s a great place to hang out and have a drink. This particular Saturday they hosted the Nit de la Caricatura (Caricature Night) where four caricature artists (including Tziqui and El Chico Triste) drew caricatures of whoever chose to sit for them for a price of only €2. It was great watching the artists at work and seeing their remarkable illustrations unfold, they managed to capture their subject perfectly each time –warts and all! We were so engrossed in drinks, caricatures, and conversations, before we knew it it was 4 am!

Calçotada

The Calçotada is a Catalan tradition which originated in the town of Valls. The calçot is a vegetable particular to Cataluña, something in between an onion and a leek, which is cooked on a fire until the outside is burnt. To eat them you must take off the outer leaves so that you’re left with the nice and moist interior which you dip in a special sauce called salsa romesco (made of tomatoes, garlic, hazelnuts, almonds, and roasted red peppers), a delicious combination! In a calçotada you have calçots and their sauce, plus grilled meats and vegetables, and plenty of red wine, all in the company of good friends. The calçot season is in February/March, so if you’re in the area during these months, make sure to put this in your agenda.


Carnaval!

Two weekends ago was the Calçotada Festival in Valls, last weekend was Cós Blanc in Salou, and this weekend was Carnaval in Tarragona! This is what I love about living in Spain, there is never a dull moment.

Carnival in Tarragona lasts one week, though the most important days are the Saturday and Tuesday. Saturday is the day of the main procession of floats and revelers, accompanied by music and hundreds of spectators watching in their own elaborate costumes. The costumes can be anything from Superman to chickens to mustard sachets and everything in between, but whatever it is, people take it very seriously (kids and adults alike!). The costumes in the band are also elaborate, but closer to the flamboyant carnival of Rio (glitter, beads, and feathers abound).

Tuesday is the day of the big finale, known as El Entierro de la Sardina (the burial of the sardine), or El Entierro de Carnestoltes (the burial of Carnestoltes), which is a ritualistic cremation of Carnestoltes, the King of Carnival. Carnestoltes represents carnival, and his cremation symbolises the end of the carnival season and the start of Lent.

The night starts with a solemn procession of folkloric characters and drummers who carry Carnestoltes along the Rambla Nova and up to the main square, Plaça de la Font. Men and women dressed in funeral clothes follow Carnestoltes, weeping and mourning the end of the carnival season. Once at the Plaça, a “notary” reads the last will and testament of Carnestoltes, a satirical poem which references and mocks events of the last year. Then the figure of Carnestoltes is carried to a pyre, covered in gasoline and lit on fire. Simultaneously starts the Ball de Diables, a Catalan tradition where men dressed as devils dance in a circle holding giant spinning sparklers. The effect is exciting and chaotic. If you enjoy this, make sure to come back in September for the biggest festival of Tarragona: Santa Tecla!

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Saturday parade

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Reading of the last will and testament

Cremation of Carnestoltes

Cremation of Carnestoltes

Ball de Diables

Ball de Diables

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