Got Married in Barcelona

The Diamond Ring. Not rubber. Sparkles !

Age is just a number, right? What’s more important is beating the older brother in everything, including marriage.

Don’t know what the lucky fella’s name is, or where he’s from, but those are irrelevant details. Luckily, a photographer was at hand and I managed to get a picture of the ceremony, at 3:18 AM in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, so that Mum will have something to frame for the mantelpiece:

Charlie (far right) as Best Man and Maid of Honour

As it was our third and last proper night in Barcelona, this seemed like an appropriate way to show our love for the city. Much better than a tattoo; after all, marriages can be temporary…

Backtrack 3 days ago, to Tuesday night, when we arrived in Barcelona. It was pouring with rain. We rocked up at the Gothic Quarter, to yet another set of creaky bunk-beds, in a room shared with an Italian mother and her two daughters. Little did we know that the harmony of our 6 bed dormitory would soon be destroyed by Jennifer…more on that later….

Barcelona quickly returned to its usual sunny weather: a Mediterranean bliss, until you see clusters of elderly nudists on the beach, with sun cream, everywhere. We should have learned from the nudists, because sun cream is not optional in Barcelona. Hence our relaxing day at the Beach turned into a Barbecue of Naive English Travellers, and we went on to the El Maestrazgo Gran Bodega wine bar looking much like the red wine itself.

We were sent to El Maestrazgo Gran Bodega by the Aunt (cheers ;), and the rest of the customers certainly resented the two eighteen year olds revelling in many glasses of especially nice wine and tapas, with the manager Jose. Thanks, Jose

Despite the wine, we still managed to make it in time for a Free Walking Tour of the Gothic Quarter the following day, run by an Irishman called Aidan, who has a Bachelor’s in Spanish history and a Master’s in the Psychology of Happiness. Watch how this blog so smoothly runs from alcohol to culture….

Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia: an “autonomous community” in Spain, consisting of Barcelona, Girona, Lleida and Tarragona. Catalonia has its own language, Catalan, still spoken today; the language developed out of the rough, vulgar, street-like Latin used by the Romans who colonised Tarragona.

Catalonia’s flag on the Right. Spain’s flag on the Left

Catalonia’s flag follows a fascinating legend that dates back from the 9th Century. It is said that in 897, at the siege of Barcelona by the Moors, the Count of Barcelona, Wilfred the Hairy, was wounded. In an act of gratitude, King Charles the Bald dipped 4 fingers into Wilfred’s wound and drew them across his golden shield, hence the four red streaks across the yellow background. Although a romantic story of patriotism, it is unlikely to be true, as Charles the Bald died in 877, twenty years before the siege.

And this is the Estelada – it’s the unofficial flag for Catalan Independence:

The flag, flown by Catalan separatists, is inspired by the flags of Cuba and Puerto Rico; the lone star in these flags represents national freedom and independence. Catalonia’s movement for independence was greatly inspired and influenced by Cuba’s own struggle for independence

There are many reasons why some Catalonians seek independence.

Historically, Catalonia was ruled by the Spanish House of Aragon from as early as 1150 to as late as 1715. Despite numerous attempts by Spanish kings since 1715 to crush Catalonia’s language, laws and customs, the national Catalan government was restored in 1931. Shortly afterwards, Catalan independence suffered again, when General Francisco Franco tried to destroy the separatist movement, by killing 3,500 people after he took control of Catalonia in 1938. Democracy only returned to Catalonia in 1977. All this history of Catalonia has only built up hatred for its Spanish oppressors.

On top of this is a serious economic crisis in Spain; the idea that a wealthy Barcelona supports the poorer Spanish regions has only magnified calls for separation. The Catalan regions are also some of the wealthiest in Spain, with unprecedented success in maritime power, textile trade, finance and tech.

Spain, naturally, are reluctant to let Catalonia go; Catalonia’s contribution to the Spanish economy is twice that of Scotland’s contribution to the rest of the UK. Separation would cost Spain almost 20% of its economic output, and would prompt an even greater issue of how to cough up the sovereign’s 836 billion euro debt. If secession took place, Catalonia would be wealthier than Israel, Italy and South Korea.

Culturally, Catalonians view themselves as different to the Spanish, as characterised in the legendary biannual ‘El Classico’ football match between Barcelona and Madrid.

That wasn’t the whole tour, of course. There were some weird statues of famous people defecating – a tradition in Catalonia (not joking) -, a Church with geese inside, a square that Mussolini bombed and thus killed many schoolchildren at, a cool window at the History Museum and Las Ramblas: the famous street that once was a sewage-infested river.

And food as well, as we took a look around La Boqueria: basically, a tastier Borough Market.

Charlie’s favourite

Not long later brought the arrival of Jennifer. How she sauntered into our harmonious hostel room, sweaty from her mountain climb, and kicked Charlie out of his bottom-bunk-bed, which he had gotten up early to secure when the previous 6th resident had left, forcing him to return to his treacherous upper bunk.

Jennifer being annoying

How she constantly insisted on turning off the fan in our non-air conditioned room. When we, melting under the heat, got up in the night to turn the fan back on, she then got up to turn it back off. Jennifer: a competitor for temperature.

How she roused me from my half-sleep-daze the next morning to ask whether I could rub sun cream into her back. When I say ask, what I really mean is insisted. I had no choice. It was horrible.

These brief moments around the city greatly improved our day.

We did see several Gaudi buildings…but that’s for another post….

All that brought us to Amelia and Lizzie – IPS Legends – and some Aussies and Belgians and Egyptians and Beer Pong (should’ve seen my incredible, filmed trick shot), free bar-crawl t-shirts that say ‘I survived Barcelona’ on the front and ‘Keep the Streets Clean, but the Sex Dirty’ on the back, an Irish pub in a Church, my wedding, and the laundrette -where I am writing this blog from.


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