A (Naughty) Postcard From Barcelona

December 2, 2011

EDITOR’S NOTE: Amanda is visiting a few friends in Europe this week. Her itinerary is Paris, Barcelona and London. She took a few minutes from slugging cold medicine and Earl Grey tea to write a quick note about Barcelona.

Greetings from London!

I’ve managed to develop a massive cold from a four-day trip through germ-infested Paris, but I’m still ready to hit the Camden Market and Hyde Park tomorrow.

I spent the past two days in Barcelona — one of my favorite European cities. For me, it’s a crazy blend of Euro style mixed with Catalan culture. Below are a few quick photos from a stroll this morning and one cultural oddity. By sharing this tradition, I may be destroying the Peepshow’s PG-13 rating, but I must be honest and report what I see.

One of my favorite Barcelona buildings, designed by Gaudi.

The Barcelona farmer's market

My least favorite part of the farmer's market (don't tell the Spanish - they worship their ham!)

My favorite part of the market - yes, it's a giant wall of gummies.

Famed street performer of Barcelona. They line "Las Ramblas" -- the main walking stretch from the city center to the ocean. (Yes, I paid the requesite euro for the photo.)

So, now, patient readers who are with me (I assume you are John Reinan and my mom): Let me tell the sordid tall of El Caganer.

On the plane ride to Barcelona, I read about a Christmas street fair called “La feria de Santa Lucia.” Well, I love street fairs. I love Christmas. I was once Santa Lucia in a re-enactment for the local Swedish club – no, no photos exist of this event. I assumed this fair was my heaven.

Imagine my shock when wondering around Barcelona and I see these signs advertising the fair:

Yes, that's what you think it is.

Wait, a close-up…

Yes, yes it is.

Yes, an honored Barcelona tradition dating back to the 16th century includes that guy hiding in all nativity scenes. This tradition is so supported that the city attempted to ban it in 2005 in its official display. It was redeemed by popular vote and hides in the back of the nativity scenes.

As I hadn’t had the time to Google this in advance of my walking, I was puzzled by the street advertising, but thought I’d still find a cute ornament or two. As I lived in Spain during Christmas, I should have realized they’re really not into the tree, but very into nativity scenes and…. el caganer.

I couldn’t bring myself to take a close-up of one, thus I’ve borrowed one of this year’s most popular:

Yes, that's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. Lionel Messi was also very popular.

More pictures here.