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Independent shops in Barcelona, Catalonia

Friday January 7th, 2011 10:06 PM

tiendas de barcelona

One of the things that has always fascinated me about Spain in general but Barcelona in particular is the large number of independent shops that seem to thrive despite competition from large chain stores or out-of-town malls.

Barcelona’s Barrio Gótico  – or old centre – is full of such shops which, at the extreme, may specialise in only one product. Arlequí Màscares, in Plaza St Josep Oriol, sells only masques, many made in-house. Not far away, the hat shop Obach, was attracting a constant stream of customers through its doors when I passed by as was Subur, a shoe shop that sells only one style of shoe, albeit in a variety of colours.

In Calle de Pi is Drap, which sells dolls houses and miniature furniture and figures destined to live in them. And if you get peckish after all the walking required between shops, a few doors up is Pineda, a café which specialises cured meats.

All this is not to say that Barcelona is bereft of department stores and high-street names – in fact they were packed with people on the first day of the sales when I took these pictures – but the fact that the city is able to accommodate both is surely one of the factors Barcelona’s continued success.

tiendas de barcelona

tiendas de barcelona

tiendas de barcelona

tiendas de barcelona

tiendas de barcelona

tiendas de barcelona

Bar El Refugio photography, Ezcaray, La Rioja

Monday December 13th, 2010 07:38 PM

Bar El Refugio Ezcaray La Rioja

My sister-in-law, Allende, has just spent a fortune renovating her bar in Ezcaray. Technically known as Cervecería Refugio (where ‘cervecería’ translates, I guess, as well-stock pub), I’ve always thought it’s best known for its marvellous selection of sensational tapas and, perhaps too, the forceful character of its owner. She is, as they say, unique. The day before the builders moved in, I took some photos so she’d have a memory of the proverbial good-old times.

The renovation, eventful to say the least – they discovered a stream flowing under the floor-,  is now finished. If you think the place looks good in the photos, it’s even better now.

Bar El Refugio Ezcaray La Rioja

Bar El Refugio Ezcaray La Rioja

Bar El Refugio Ezcaray La Rioja

Bar El Refugio Ezcaray La Rioja

Bar El Refugio Ezcaray La Rioja

Clay pigeon shooting competition, Ezcaray, La Rioja

Monday September 20th, 2010 09:50 AM

Torneo de Tiro al Plato, Ezcaray, La RiojaThe landscape may still look parched after the dry summer but the nights are getting longer, the mornings cooler and the swallows have gone. And with the changing season, the crack of far off gunfire from the hills has returned. The hunting season is underway.

Fowl shooting began the middle of last month and the deer season will get going next month. In the mean time, dozens of game sport enthusiasts met in Ezcaray, La Rioja, last weekend for a clay pigeon shooting competition.

The competition attracted some serious hands who turned up in kit embroidered with their names and autographed weapons. But most of those taking part borrowed a gun and stood in line in their t-shirts, shorts and trainers while waiting to have a crack at the 20 targets.

Some hit almost all; a few hardly any. But what was really noticeable was how competitive and emotional almost everybody became.

Torneo de Tiro al Plato, Ezcaray, La Rioja

Torneo de Tiro al Plato

Torneo de Tiro al Plato, Ezcaray, La Rioja

Torneo de Tiro al Plato, Ezcaray, La Rioja

Torneo de Tiro al Plato, Ezcaray, La Rioja

Torneo de Tiro al Plato, Ezcaray, La Rioja

The Duquesa de Alba visits Ezcaray, La Rioja

Friday July 2nd, 2010 10:18 PM

Duquesa de Alba en EzcarayFive times a duchess, 18 times a marchioness, 20 times a countess, twice widowed and aged 84, she might seem an improbable candidate to draw half the town out to the streets of Ezcaray. But the Duquesa de Alba nevertheless attracted a pop star-style reception when she visited La Rioja yesterday.

I’ve just uploaded a photo gallery showing the crowds and how there was barely standing room left in the church during her visit.

Of course, any Spaniard will tell you that the duquesa, perhaps the original darling of the “prensa rosa”, is legendary not only for her wealth and forceful character, but also for her generosity of spirit and general warmth.

She came to Ezcaray for the premier of the eponymous “pasodoble” (literally double-step dance), Cayetana, written in her honour by the local composer Luis María Monge. Luis María told me his initial idea for the piece came from her passion for bullfighting. After the performance the duquesa told the audience how touched she was. Though physically frail, she managed a short dance with Luis María in the garden of the Echaurren hotel opposite the church.

 

Duquesa de Alba en Ezcaray

Duquesa de Alba en Ezcaray

Duquesa de Alba en Ezcaray

Duquesa de Alba en Ezcaray

Duquesa de Alba en Ezcaray

Duquesa de Alba en Ezcaray

Santa Bárbara, Ezcaray

Sunday May 30th, 2010 01:13 PM

Santa Bárbara, Ezcaray, La Rioja, Spain

Ezcaray has just finished its annual Santa Bárbara celebrations – four days of fiesta that left plenty of parents bleary-eyed as they dropped off children at school the morning after the final onslaught. “I wish it was only every other year,” one told my wife.

The festival traditionally marked Pentecost – and it still includes a hike up the hill to the Santa Barbara chapel which overlooks Ezcaray. But somewhere along the line, someone had the bright idea of dancing round the bandstand as the musicians played the tune of “Ay, mamá, cuánto me quiere mi novio!” (Oh mum, how much my boyfriend loves me!)

And round and round and round they go until, one assumes, the muscles in one leg are considerably stronger than those of the other. And, strange though it may seem, going round in circles for four days is a perfect recipe for a superb atmosphere – a beautiful mix of bonhomie, booze and fun by people of all generations.

Santa Bárbara, Ezcaray, La Rioja, Spain

Santa Bárbara, Ezcaray, La Rioja, Spain

Santa Bárbara, Ezcaray, La Rioja, Spain

Santa Bárbara, Ezcaray, La Rioja, Spain

Santa Bárbara, Ezcaray, La Rioja, Spain