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Exploring Catalonia’s Culture

We’ve all heard of Barcelona, the city made famous by artists like Gaudi and Dali. But what about the region that the capital sits in, Catalonia?

This autonomous region of Spain hit the headlines earlier this year when it voted (against the Spanish government’s wishes) on whether to become an independent state. The debate on independence continues, but one thing’s for sure: regional Catalonia, when you remove the shadow that Barcelona casts over it, is an intriguing enigma.

There are plenty of unique, quirky features to this beautiful region. Here are some things to do when you visit.

Photo CC scotbot 

See the Human Towers in Tarragona

On holidays, the people of Catalonia gather to climb each other’s shoulders and form death-defying human pyramids, which are known locally as “castellers”. These towers, which can be seven stories high or more, are a spectacular (and nerve-wracking) spectacle which you can take part in too, if you’re brave enough.

In 2010 they even received UNESCO protection, making them unique to Catalonia. The best place to see them is in Tarragona, which is just outside of Barcelona, at the end of September and the first Sunday of October when the locals hold a competition to see who can create the best and the tallest castellers.

Photo CC by Passion Leica 

Celebrate the Catalan St Valentine’s Day

Catalonia has it’s own unique answer to the conundrum of what to buy your loved-one for Valentine’s. A book!

On the 23rd April each year, the Catalans celebrate Dia de Sant Jordi, a day when men traditionally are expected to give their lovers a single rose, and women are expected to return the favour by giving the gift of a book.

On this day, you’ll see rose vendors out in full force and lots of local women holding their roses as they go about their errands. It’s an even more romantic day than our Valentine’s day, because of it’s traditional feel.

See Some La Liga Football

One thing you must see when in Catalonia is some La Liga football. If the Catalan region becomes autonomous, it’s uncertain whether their talented FC Barcelona team will remain part of the league, or if they’ll form their own Catalonian league.

So, while you’re in the region, be sure to see a match while you can. Venture into the capital to see the famous Camp Nou stadium and perhaps try your hand at some La Liga betting while you’re there.

If you can’t make it to a match, you should at least watch one in a bar somewhere – Catalonia’s passion for football makes for a brilliant atmosphere every time.

Photo CC by Libertinus 

 Sample Some Catalan Food

Catalonia’s unique geographical location sandwiched between the mountains and the sea mean that it has some wonderful seafood and meat dishes. Rural Catalonia has beautiful landscapes of orange groves, olive trees and farmland making it a great place to sample fresh, organic produce.

When eating out, there are a few dishes to try, including a simple delicious tapas dish called Pan amb Tomate which is tomato rubbed on fresh bread. Visit in Spring to try barbecued calcots, which are like leeks or spring onions – you might also get persuaded to enter a competition to see how many you can eat in one sitting – another Catalan tradition!

Desserts are a must too – Crema Catalana (like crème brulee) is a favourite local dish and you can also find the most wonderfully gloopy, thick hot chocolate there called tasse de la chocolate. Enjoy!

Photo CC by Tomás Fano

Are you planning to visit Catalonia? What are your favourite things to do there? Leave a comment.

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Megan is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging since 2007, with the main aim of inspiring others to embark on their own worldwide adventure. Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

Follow their journey on Facebook, TwitterYouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.

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