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Archive for November, 2014

spanish people love to celebrate and christmas is no exception in that regard! the festive period that proceeds christmas covers a large part of the december month and is build up by many national bank holidays. if you come to barcelona during the month of december, you should definitely have the following special dates in mind in order to fully experience the catalonian christmas vibe:

• 6 December – constitution day (bank holiday)
• 8 December – day of the immaculate conception (bank holiday)
• 25 December – christmas day (bank holiday)
• 26 December – boxing day (bank holiday in catalonia)
• 1 January – new year’s day (bank holiday)
• 5 January – parade of the three kings
• 6 January – three wise kings’ day (bank holiday)

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christmas lights in barcelona

christmas celebrations in spain basically implies many colourful christmas lights spread out over the city´s main streets and boulevards, extensively decorated nativity scenes and many food stalls selling sweet almonds or roasted chestnuts. all of this creates a lovely festive atmosphere that forms a warm welcome for all the tourists visiting spain at this time. for spanish people this time is characterized by many family gatherings and local customs as spain is a country with comprehensive cultural roots. below we will discuss the some of the most important events, main traditions and must-see sights in barcelona.

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hotel majestic 5* fully decorated for christmas

the real christmas holiday season in spain kicks off on december 8th with dia de la inmaculada concepcion (day of the immaculate cnception). this is a religious celebration and catholics around the country rejoice the magical “conception” of virgin mary in the local churches, but it’s also the time when the proper christmas preparations can start and all the stores in barcelona come to life with all kind of perky holiday decorations and music to cheer up the shoppers.

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el corte ingles, all lit up for christmas

to continue on the shopping note, christmas markets are probably the most common feature that pops to mind when talking about the christmas time for many people. barcelona is a city that upholds a strong christmas market tradition and every year both inhabitants and tourists can enjoy the beauty of the lit up stalls and the many special decorations and attributes that can be found there. the two most famous markets are the fira de santa llúcia christmas market and the fira de nadal at the sagrada familia.

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fira de santa llúcia

the fira de santa llúcia was first set up in 1786 and has since been one of the most important christmas fairs in town. its location, in front of the cathedral, and the fact is it is one of the oldest fairs in town contribute its importance as well. as is deeply rooted into the catalan christmas traditions, the market brings many stall that sell candles, scarves, sweets and of course nativity scenes, do not expect mulled wine here but enjoy over 270 stalls and live music instead. a very popular and traditional figure is “el caganer” (the pooper), to be found hidden in catalan nativity scenes and to be bought at all christmas markets. another special creature is the christmas “caga tio” (a smiley face log) from which the children receive their presents.

the market is open every day from the 28th of november till the 23rd of december from 10h30 until 20h30.

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many “caga tio” atributes are sold at the christmas markets in barcelona

the christmas market fira de nadal which is takes place in front of the sagrada familia every year and even tough it is much smaller than the fira de santa llucia yet very impressive due to its magical setting. It also focusses more on attributes that can be used to create a nice nativity scene. among others, one can find a wide selection of honey, sweets and candles.

this market is open every day from the 29th of november till the 23rd of december from 10h00 until 22h00.

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torre agbar during the month of december

when talking about christmas, the real city decorations can of course not be overlooked! here in barcelona the emblematic christmas lights were switched on by the mayor of barcelona, last friday and can be enjoyed in more than 300 locations and streets of the city. in catalan they are called “els llums de nadal”. the famous magic fountain of montjuic is part of the christmas lights as well and a special christmas water and music show can be enjoyed here in the december month. this show is always free and can be watched on fridays and saturdays in december and on 25th december and 1st january between 19:00 to 21:00. please keep in mind to dress warmly! another part of barcelona’s christmas lights is the torre agbar tower in the sant marti district, which lights up and shows a special christmas lights show displaying animated designs including christmas tree decorations.

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the montjuic fountain christmas-style

the three wise men parade on the 5th january is called the night of the three kings and marks more or less the end of the holiday season. here in spain, the christmas tradition is that the three kings bring the presents for the children instead of santa claus like in many other countries around the world. this night there is a big parade celebrating that the three kings have arrived and then, the day after the parade, on the 6th january, the children get their presents.

enjoy the most wonderful time of the year in barcelona!

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almost all of us know this famous heading quote from lord edward stark from the tv serial “games of thrones”. he was referring with this sentence that the people should prepare for the winter which is coming soon.

as the days are getting colder in madrid and the first christmas decoration are hanging around the city center, we also prepare for the coming winter.

for this week we came up with the idea to write about different ways of enjoying the winter and practising sports, so let us introduce you several activities which can be done during the winter in the snow.

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a rather unknown yet very refreshing way to get to know the natural beauty of spain is touring the ´vias verdes´. for many people this may sound new but the spanish government has been working on this initiative for some years now. the vias verdes, literally the ´green ways´ are old railways that are currently not in use as such anymore. they were restored by the government in order to serve as cycling lanes and hiking paths for nature lovers and people who like outdoor sports.

touring these ´vias´ is a different and very fun way to explore the spanish nature while at the same time being a very budget and eco-friendly one. since these paths are a great promotion of outdoor activities, they literally bring a breath of fresh air for people of all ages. it is therefore, no surprise that their popularity in spain is increasing every year. now is the perfect time to indulge yourself into the cycling life and to get your sport shoes ready, let´s go!

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via verde over an old train bridge

a little note on the history of the via verdes; after trains stopped running along these tracks, they fell into despair. however, today the old railways have been restored and rearranged into proper bike lanes and trails for walkers. In total there are currently 1900 kilometres of ´vias verdes´ and they can be found all over spain. all tracks can easily be reached and they is a range of difficulty in them so that there is a path for everybody, from young kids and their parents to senior citizens or people with reduced mobility.

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enjoy the variety of the spanish nature

the beauty of the spanish nature can be enjoyed to the fullest on the ´vias verdes´ since there is no outer-disturbance due to the fact that all motor vehicles are forbidden so there is no traffic noise. a track along a ´via´ will lead you to charming villages, over beautiful bridges and through dark (former) train tunnels. the gorgeous scenery is very unique and shows you the beautiful forests, olive yards and rivers and even beaches. along the way you will find areas to rest and enjoy the views while you can have some lunch or a snack at one of the many picnic areas. information about the routes, the towns or the nature can be received at the restored train stations that now serve as information points.

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restored train station along the via verde in bot in terra alta

bellow we will present some ´vias verdes´ which we recommend to our clients and think are worth a trip. first of all, we would say that the ´via de la jara´ is a beautiful track that one has to check out. this path will take you over the aqueducts and train tunnels in toledo and offers stunning views on the rivers and valleys.

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via verde de la jara

In catalunya the via verde ´sant feliu de guíxols´, located close to girona, is one of our recommendations. this route is 39 km long and leads cyclists through tunnels, forests and even brings them to the beautiful seafront. the route is perfect since it shows us the variety of the catalan countryside and provides for an interesting and challenging one-way track.

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via verde sant feliu de guíxols

the last recommendation from our side is to go and explore the beautiful ´torrevieja greenway´, which could also easily be reffered to as the ´salt flats greenway´. this route is based on the old albatera-torrevieja railway line and combines an urban section and a beach one at acequión. the trail leads cycslists around the local salt lakes where flamingos can be spotted if you are lucky.

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flamingos & torrevieja

please contact us for more information on the routes, hotels or other recommendations for the ´vias verdes´ for all regions!

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