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Monday, December 19, 2011

Handel's Messiah

Because it is Christmas we went to hear a special performance of Handel's Messiah inside the most beautiful church in Barcelona, Santa Maria del Mar. It was a very cold night and the church was full of people all rugged up. All the candles were lit and incense was burning. It was very special to be in such an old church. There was a tenor, a soprano, a mezzo soprano, a baritone and a full orchestra.  

Santa Maria del Mar is a Catalan Gothic cathedral in the Barri of Born.

It only started at 9pm at night and finished very late so Olympia fell asleep. My dad took her up into a sacred crypt to sleep the sleep of the dead. 

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It's all about churches this week! We took Papou, Maria and Philippa up to Montserrat, a Benedictine monastery carved into a mountain outside Barcelona. Around 80 monks still live here. I saw some!

There are amazing views of Barcelona. If the weather is good you can see as far as Mallorca. I came here with my Grandma Chris 6 years ago.

To get there you have to take a train and then a cremallera, a rack train up the mountain. Montserrat is home to the Black Virgin (La Moreneta) and she is very special to Catalunya. She is kept in a 16th century basilica, and people queue to kiss the orb she holds in her hand. She is actually black from centuries of dirt and candle soot but Catalunyans are in denial about this.

Olympia and I lit a candle for our families and thought about those we miss and love.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

it's beginning to look a LOG like Christmas

It is almost Christmas, although we are going to South Africa for Christmas. Barcelona is twinkling with Christmas lights that hang on buildings, from buildings, in trees and between buildings along every avenue. Mum said that it doesn't look like austerity measures to her.

There is also a big Christmas market in front of the Cathedral that sells ornaments and Christmas decorations: real mistletoe, holly and Christmas trees,

nativity scenes,

things to make your own nativity scene with,

and even Australian gum leaves and wattle!

A very common ornament is the Christmas log - we are not quite sure what it is all about but kids like to gather around a BIG log and whack it with a stick. This makes Spanish children happy. Olympia and I are planning to whack the log too when we get a chance.

This is the big department store El Corte Ingles all lit up...

Leo loves the Christmas lights!

(that's Gerry poking her head out - more on Gerry later!)

I am sure Santa will know how to find us in South Africa...

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venice comes to barcelona

This weekend Mum and Dad's good friends Raffaella and Francesco came from Venice to see us. Mum has known Raffaella for 18 years.

They brought many amazing gifts, games such as Bata Waf and Oudordodo as well as chocolate and a HUGE wedge of parmesan! 

We did a lot of things in a few days! We went to a very famous tapas bar called Quimet i Quimet,

we went on the telefrique to see the castle on Montjuic and see the view of Barcelona (Raffaella and Dad did NOT like looking down),

we bought cava from a famous place called Xampany,

we skipped along the Passeig de Gracia,

we ate at a restaurant at Barceloneta that Jean Paul Gaultier had also eaten at ( he drew a fish!) and ate 12 hour cooked cuttlefish,

and we ate special treats made in the convents and monasteries of Spain at Caelum in the Gothic quarter.

We really enjoyed our time with them, and wish they lived closer. We were sorry to say Ciao, but we will go to Venice soon!

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Blades of Glory

There is an ice skating rink in Placa Catalunya in the lead up to Christmas! We went ice skating with our cousin Philippa from South Africa (Mum has a LOT of South African cousins), who is staying with us for a few weeks until we all go to South Africa, and Gerry who is here from Australia. Gerry held Leo while we all skated.

We had to wear helmets in case we fell down. I was actually pretty good compared to the last time I went skating.

Philippa was REALLY good!

Dad was quite good too.

Mum thought she was really good.

Olympia just fell down!

It was great fun.

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