September 23, 2018
And it’s on to our next Spanish city, Barcelona. This will be my third visit and Bill’s second – all after Caminos. This one will again be special as Lindsey had another wedding shoot in France and will be joining us there. Or I should say that we will be joining HER there since we piggy backed onto her plans.
On our three hour train ride out of Valencia we passed by the castle, fortress and long stone walls of Castillo de Sagunto. This Iberian community has been around a LONG time, having been conquered by Hannibal in 219 BC and then later by the Romans who built its walls and castle. The Moors and Christians added their own embellishments. It’s recommended as a day trip to enjoy stunning views, a Roman theatre and stones engraved in Latin and Hebrew.
As crazy as it sounds, we passed by at least 10 castles, mostly a ways up in the hills. Truly they are everywhere in Spain! In France, too (Lindsey’s wedding shoot was at one)! Her comment this morning, “This town has probably 6 restaurants & then a river & a couple castles…”. Her brother Will’s comment back, “Strong restaurant/castle ratio.” Heh, heh, heh!
Besides the crying baby, non stop talking girl trio and the headache inducing smell of a lady lady behind us applying nail polish three separate times, the train ride was pleasant enough. In addition to the many castles, we traveled along side the sun glinted Mediterranean off and on as well.
Our afternoon was mostly a get in, unpack and hang out affair since we decided to subway it back to the train station to meet Lindsey at 7:30. We are all tired so stopped for dinner on the way back near our hotel and we had a most excellent surprise- the Le Mercé Festival Tall People paraded right by us as we sat at our window table!!! We took turns going outside, yet the view from our table was mighty fine!! Some of the dancing dolls are taller than others – and some are even short. They are all exquisitely painted, clothed in beautiful fabrics with realistic hair, jewelry and convincing faces! Bands and groups of sponsors, kiddos and confetti tossers march along and there is much interaction with the crowds. I ended up with about a quart of confetti down my neckline!!
Gathered from various articles online, “Les Festes de la Mercè is a four-day festival, which officially took place for the first time in 1902, and is the Catalan capital’s way of saying farewell to the warmer months and ending the summer season with a bang! The festival is a riotous celebration of Catalan culture that honours Barcelona’s patron saint, the Virgin of La Mercè. The official date of La Mercè, September 24, is a public holiday in Barcelona, and when the holiday falls on or near the weekend, most people will take an extra day or two off work and make it into a long weekend – this is known as hacer puente, which literally means ‘making a bridge’.
One of the highlights of the Mercè Festival is undoubtedly the Gegants and Capgrossos (giants and big heads), best described as tall papier-mâché figures worn by ‘giant carriers’. These characters perform dances while the parade makes its way through the streets of Barcelona.”
What a thrill!!