Our Second Correfoc!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The local festival taking place in our Barcelona neighbourhood this week has a Correfoc, or Fire Run tonight.  We went to the Mercé Correfoc in Barcelona the first week of our trip, and I am delighted to have another chance to experience this wild and crazy parade one more time. FullSizeRender

Wikipedia’s definition: Correfocs (Catalan pronunciation: [ˌkorəˈfɔks], Western Catalan: [ˌkoreˈfɔks]); literally in English “fire-runs”) are among the most striking features present in Catalan festivals. In the correfoc, a group of individuals will dress as devils and light fireworks – fixed on devil’s pitchforks or strung above the route. Dancing to the sound of a rhythmic drum group, they set off their fireworks among crowds of spectators. The spectators that participate dress to protect themselves against small burns and attempt to get as close as possible to the devils… running with the fire. Other spectators will watch from ‘safe’ distances, rapidly retreating as necessary.FullSizeRender

The Children’s Correfoc starts at six pm and we are both very surprised to see little devils actually carrying the fireworks.  We had assumed that adult devils would be setting off the fireworks and that it would just be a tamer version of the adult Correfuc we had seen earlier at the Mercé. Some of these little devils look barely four years old.

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There is so much excitement that it is palpable!  There are drummers, very loud drummers, and the noise from all the firecrackers and the participants and spectators.  During the Mercé Correfoc we attended in September we were pretty much stuck in one spot watching everyone go by. Here we are able to walk and run alongside the participants and follow them through the streets.  It is so much more fun!FullSizeRender FullSizeRender FullSizeRender

I even get brave enough to participate!


The parade lasted for over an hour winding its way through the narrow streets.  We went back to our apartment to have dinner and then we head back out at 8:00 for the adult Correfoc.  It took us a while to find the beginning of the route and as we walked down a narrow street we noticed that the shop windows were all covered up with cardboard.  We soon found out why, as the parade came straight towards us! FullSizeRender

Remember, these streets are very narrow, so we ducked into a shallow doorway as the first devils passed us and we were showered with fireworks!  We quickly decided that we needed to get out of this street as there was no where to hide or move away from all the sparks.FullSizeRender

Did you notice the string of fireworks above the street on the last two photos?  We were very glad that we had decided to move into a nearby open area, as these fireworks were lit as the devils came by and they rained down on everyone below!FullSizeRender

It was quite the spectacle, and there were people running, screaming  and laughing as they tried to get out of the way.FullSizeRender

We are so amazed that all this is going on, and it probably could be quite dangerous but no one seems to think of that. It is totally crazy!! I am sure we would never be allowed to set fireworks off so close to buildings and people back home.  Here you can see the devils holding up their firework pitchforks and what it looked like as they were lit.Image-1

The participants and many of the people who are watching the parade dress up, and some of the costumes were quite ornate. Notice the flame thrower device in the bottom right picture!Image-1

In one open area we watch a Fire Eater, I was quite sure he was going to set himself or someone else on fire!  Image-1

The parade wound through the streets and we ran alongside, but I decided against participating this time.  The fireworks were bigger, hotter, and a bit intimidating. During the children’s Correfoc I got a cinder on the inside of my glasses and it actually burnt a small hole into my lens!  I shudder to think what would have happened if it had gone in my eye.  I am sure it would have burnt and scarred the surface of the cornea.  I learned my lesson, no more fire running without safety glasses.FullSizeRender

The monsters make their appearance for the adult parade and they are quite impressive, throwing fireworks all over as they spin and twirl through the streets.Image-1

The air is thick with smoke and at times it is even hard to breathe!FullSizeRender

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There are some very acrobatic devils and they run and climb fences and other structures along the route all the better to shower their fire onto the crowd.  Image-1

I want to follow the parade right to the end but it has been going for over two hours and I reluctantly agree that we can go home.  I am exhausted from all the excitement and following two parades for over three hours!  This video of the Correfoc is like the one that we saw in September at the Mercé and it gives an idea of the noise and excitement these parades generate.  If you want to see more, just Google Correfoc, Barcelona and there are lots of videos.


Spanish National Holiday, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Guernica

Monday, October 12, Day 30 of our holiday!

Today is Dia de la Hispanidad, Spain’s National Holiday to celebrate Columbus’s discovery of America in 1492.  There is a Military Parade this morning but it is a bit too early for us, so instead we go to the Palacio Real (Royal Palace) which is supposed to be free today.  However, when we arrive it is all cordoned off and there are lots of police and crowds of people everywhere.imageWe decide that we should wait around and see what is going to happen.  Turns out that King Felipe IV is to arrive at the palace, and after about an hour Bob thinks we should move closer to an entrance that is guarded by mounted soldiers.  Good thing we did because a couple minutes later a cavalcade of cars, and lots of police arrive and so does the King.  Only problem is we are still quite far away and the cars drive up and turn into the palace very quickly.  We both try to take a picture and I mange to get this one which shows the King’s car but not much else.  Oh well….image  We do get to see the mounted troops return from the parade and they are magnificent.imageWe find a spot to eat in the park across from the palace, accompanied by a guitar player singing in English. It was quite nice hearing something we could actually understand. I’ve only managed to learn a few Spanish words: I keep thinking of French words instead of the Spanish ones I have been trying to learn.  They just don’t seem to stick in my mind.imageWe decide to walk to the Reina Sophia museum, only we get lost, repeatedly!  Bob is using a new map app on the phone and either the app or Bob is not working well because we find ourselves walking in the wrong direction more than once.  We do walk past some interesting buildings…image

and a newly planted bed of veggies around a statue that was very pretty.image

And then there are the interesting street performers trying to make a bit of money.  If people walked too close to this one, a head jumped out and scared them.

  1. imageWe end up right back where we started after walking in a big circle so we head for a Metro station near Plaza Mayor, and encounter hordes of people.imageThe subway takes us very close to the Museum, but do you think we can find it?   After some more walking in circles, as it seems to be that sort of a day, we finally spot the museum entrance tucked between two buildings.  We are here to see PIcasso’s famous painting ‘Guernica’. I sneak this photo from afar and through a doorway, just to say I was here.

imageThe painting is very powerful.  It doesn’t reproduce well at post card or even book page size as the brushstrokes, textures, lines and subtleties of the paint and drawing just don’t show up.  I was surprised by how much I liked this painting as it never appealed to me before. Here we are posing beside a couple sculptures we liked.  A Picasso for me…imageand a Jacques Lipchitz for Bob. He liked this one even before he knew it was a sailor with a guitarimage I just loved this little head, ‘Portrait of my son Jordi’ by an artist named Joan Rebull.imageThe hallways made an optical illusion in this photograph. Depending on how you look at it it is an arched ceiling or a big white cone. Can you see it?

We take the glass elevators up to the fourth floor just to check oiut the views, then down and we head for home.  Can you find Bob?


The Mercé Correfoc or “Fire Run”

The highlight of our day Sunday was the Mercé Correfoc, or Fire Run that started at 8:30 with an explosion of fireworks right on the street between the buildings.  We heard people talking about tying up your hair and covering your head and face with a scarf.  We soon found out why.image

The ‘devils’ start to run down the street, accompanied by groups of very loud drummers, and the fire breathing beasts!  These devils carry sticks which have firworks on them that twirl around, spraying fireworks everywhere!   They actually aim them at the crowd on purpose and run by us, at times just beyond arm’s distance!  
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Now we know why we need to cover up.  I had my sarong with me so we used it to cover our heads when the devils run by.  It is total madness!!  There is no way anyone should be doing this and yet here we are, along with thousands of others, caught up in the excitement of it all.
 It was hard to get pictures, I took a lot but most of them were too blurry and out of focus. When the devils run too close to us we just covered up, and hoped to not catch fire!  We did see one person start smouldering until someone noticed and put out the fire that was starting on their head covering!imageWe stayed until 10:30 and I reluctantly agreed to leave even though there was no sign of the fun ending.  We needed to get home and finish packing as we leave our little Barcelona apartment tomorrow and head for the Monastery at Montserrat. I am playing catch up on these posts as we have not had internet since Sunday, and it was too late to post anything Sunday night when we finished packing.

Giants and Dragons

There are so many incredible buildings in Barcelona that I have to force myself not to take too many pictures of them, but I am warning you, there will be a few…  imageWe happened across an exhibition of motorbikes as we were walking, so stopped to have a look.image

I stop for a little rest on one of the many fantastical bench/street lights along our route.image

One more building…image

Bob checking out one of the many book stands that line over three city blocks.  Lots of very old books, magazines, and papers of all kinds.image

This reminded us of when our oldest daughter was four and chased the pigeons in Venice.image

We watched the parade of the city’s Giants.  It was so much fun and they looked so animated, twirling and dancing in the street.image

Of course I loved the dragon!image

More giants…image

After the parade we headed back to the Barcelona Cathedral to watch a competion of three choirs, from the Ukraine, Slovania and Lithuania.  Here is the Slovanian Choir.  It was lovely to sit in such a beautiful Cthedral listening to beautiful voices.image

After the choirs competition we catch the Metro for Barceloneta Beach to watch a fireworks competition.  Tonight it  was the Balearic Islands.  We sat on the beach and this is a bit of what we saw.  This is all part of the  Mercé 2015 Festival.


Finally, a sneak peak at a life drawing class….image