Christmas Day was always planned as a quiet one. I needed to give my feet a rest so began the day with a leisurely buffet breakfast in the hotel for the first time (not included and cheaper on the Rambla!). A little light blogging, music and reading saw the morning whizz by. I decided to take a brief stroll around the neighbourhood finding a pretty passageway with orange trees – the mind turns to marmalade making in a month or so. There were a large number of other splendid examples of modernisme architecture – there were even plaques on the pavement showing on was on the correct route.
I’d been debating spending quite a lot of money on a meal at one of the two restaurants run by Martin Berasategui. Dee and I had a memorable meal in 2016 in San Sebastián at his original place. However I walked by them, looked online and Lasarte (3 Michelin stars) isn’t open until Thursday when I leave and Oria (just the one so far) on its site, won’t let me book for fewer than four people. My appetite is not that great at the moment so maybe I’ll leave it for another trip.
Boxing Day was all set up for a trip into the countryside to join Rosa and her mother Pepita for lunch. We’d agreed that I’d catch the 11:51 from Passeig de Gracia. I made an small error – I thought the Metro and train stations were connected – they are not – so I walk briskly to the train station three blocks up the Passeig. As I reach the platform the clock says 11:51 and there’s a train there so I jump on. After ten minutes it stops at Estacio de Franca which I think is jus a pause at a major calling point. After another ten minutes I investigate and find the train is at the buffers and I have to take the next one back to Passeig de Gracia and then get the 12:51 to Sils where Rosa will collect me. Quick WhatsApp to confirm late running and we’re underway again. We rendezvous OK and go to the lovely Terme Orion where Rosa and Pepita have spent the last three days relaxing after a flurry of family activity. My Spanish is a bit more relaxed this year and we are able to have a reasonable conversation with only occasional translating duties for Rosa. Food was great, wine all included and they wouldn’t let me contribute anything. A lovely afternoon – if a little shorter than planned.
Rosa and her mum are heading back home to Terrassa and fortunately Sils is on the way so they drop me off with twenty minutes to wait for a train that will categorically got me to the Passeig de Gracia – albeit ten minutes later than promised. It’ll be a bit tight to get to my Sant Esteve concert but more brisk walking to the Palau gets me there in time to hear the applause for the conductor coming on stage – from outside the door. They won’t let me in for ten minutes so I miss the first three items in full glory.
When I do get in I find that my seat is high up in the gods with only a partial view – I think I asked for ‘best available’ and it was certainly a sell out. In keeping with its Orfeo Catalana label, the only instruments were a piano, the giant organ and a trumpeter while there were choirs ranging from the junior and middle childrens’ choirs to the professional choirs of the Palau. There were some familiar carols – Silent Night, Little Town of Bethlehem and a Catalan one I’d heard at a concert by Pegasus the choir my son sings with back in London – Fum, fum, fum. It was a spectacular event full of joy and tradition and I think at one point there must have been close to a thousand voices on the stage and in the galleries on either side. Fantastic!
As an encore we had a rousing version of the Hallelujah Chorus which culminated in a flurry of unfurling of Catalan flags and shouts of ‘Independencia!’ It seems the prime minister has ruled out another referendum but there are general elections in May so it’ll be interesting to see what happens then.
I had a voucher for three euros so decided to have a glass of wine and send friends and family my reactions to the concert via WhatsApp What a great end to a great Christmas. As I walked back to the hotel I was struck by the variety of lights on each street – much less showy than London but original and (sorry) delightful. Here’s a selection.