Friday, January 30, 2009

It sooooooo quiet ….

Barcelona appears to be subsiding into a crisis-induced slumber.

We have driven down the main thoroughfare of Avenida Diagonal at 8pm on the last two consecutive evenings. This is rush hour time in Barcelona and normally one of fearful traffic jams– people work late here; yet on both nights, we have sailed down a clear road in minutes.

The economic activity of the city and the region is slowing down rapidly. The car industry is coming to a halt; tourism is down and with it takings in bars and restaurants; construction is finished.

Another major leg of the economy – fairs, conventions and congresses – are also in big trouble. Bread & Butter, the fashion tradeshow is returning to Berlin while the Barcelona car salon has been axed – it’s very much a second tier event, the type that get the chop in a climate like this.

It’s not all gloom. We celebrated Rebecca’s 16th last night in the bar of the Omm Hotel and at El Japones restaurant. Both were humming.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The wind in Barcelona

Some of the damage in the park opposite our flat caused by the hurricane winds that whipped through the city on Saturday morning ...

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Ben's latest talent ...

... is a hugely impressive impersonation of the Camp Nou announcer, who (and he's done it for the last 50 years) discloses the team lineups before the game in a deep and rich Catalan accent.

Worth asking Ben for a riff next time you see him. sadly, I don't think we can count on this as a career prospect. While the incumbent may indeed retire at some point, the job is an unpaid one.

Idiot wind

The Barcelona Council website runs a very useful RSS news service which updates you on what is going on in the city.

One feature is a Friday update on the weekend weather. Last Friday's called for some cloudy and mixed weather.

what we got on Saturday were hurricane force winds nearing 140kph which did huge damage to the city and region as a whole. Ben and I left the flat at 10am, saw a tree careering down the road and turned back. Huge pine trees were felled in our local park and on the main roads. Many of the suburbs in the hills still have no electricity.

Most tragically, four young baseball players, aged 9-12, were killed when the sports hall they were sheltering in collapsed and buried them. The photos of the boys, so smart in their outfits and caps, are too awful to look at in the papers.

But what on earth were they doing even going out to play on that morning? The winds had been wll signalled, having battered the Basque country on Friday and tracked down from there.

Why didn't the Generalitat cancel all sports as the Basque government had done?