It all started with a conversation with a girl I had never met at Fusion Festival in Germany during the summer. “If you’re ever in Barcelona let me know, you can stay with me”. A few months later we booked flights to Barcelona for the weekend before our trip to Morocco. I emailed her to ask if she could recommend any good hotels or areas to stay in Barcelona. She replied “I know a great hotel, it’s called my place”.
As she had a hectic weekend planned for when we were over (a birthday party, a going away party and a wedding). She very kindly offered for us to stay in her boyfriends apartment. Who we had never actually met before. “Just go to this address, here’s his number, he doesn’t have whatsapp, he’s a hippie”.
Enjoy the hospitality of strangers
So close to midnight on Friday evening we were greeted by our host with the greatest of hospitality he gave us the keys to his apartment for us to enjoy for the entire weekend. He had also left some bread and Salami for us to snack on. He asked if we wanted to join him for the end of the birthday party. After a long day of work and travel a beer was exactly what we needed. So we hopped on the metro with our T10 card to Sants. The T10 gives you 10 journeys that you can use between multiple people and works out much cheaper than the other day passes.
Enjoying the nightlife in Sants, Barcelona
Sants is a lively spot just outside the centre filled with bars and restaurants. We were introduced to the “Birthday party” crew. A bunch of local Barcelonians. As one bar finished serving we walked around to the KoittonKlub which was spinning reggae music to a mixed crowd. This space is a mainly a bar, but also a concert hall, a worker cooperative created to provide a platform for the development and promotion of music and cultural activities in the neighborhood of Sants. It aims to be a meeting place between public, neighbors , artists, groups and associations and collaborates with other platforms of the social , cultural entities such as labels , producers and independent publishers. These type of cooperative spaces seem to be common place in many districts around Barcelona.
We chatted to some of the party crew and they gave us some great tips. One member was going to be part of a drumming group who would be performing at the Sants festival the next night. He explained it as a real “Catalan local tradition” where people dressed up in devil costumes holding fireworks and lots of drumming. It sounded pretty cool, not something you would likely come across everyday and we were right.
Exploring Parque Gaudi
After a lazy enough day exploring the colourful Parque Gaudi and chomping away the afternoon in the food market we took the metro back to Sants once again. You could here the drumming as we approached the Parc de L’Espanya Industrial. Kids were running about, drumming groups were chilling on steps while other groups paraded around drumming up a frenzy with various percussion instruments.
Sants Festival – how to enjoy Barcelona like a local
It was all a tad surreal, there was a theater Spectacle in Catalan involving red flares and some devilish creatures. Then the fireworks started in full swing. There was no warning so the spectators ( including me) got caught off guard and had to run away from the sparks.
This random local neighborhood festival is held in honour of Saint Bartholomew who is the patron saint of people who work leather. There must be a festival for everything literally everything. It dates back to the 19th century where locals organised festivities which involved people dressing up as Roman soldiers, devils and angels. Local groups arrange “gegants” (giant figures controlled by people inside), “castellers” (human towers) and “diables” (people dressed up as devils who set off fireworks and crackers in a spectacular procession).
So if you really want to get under the skin of a place, always ask the locals.
Did you ever ask a local for advice? Where did it lead you to? Let me know in the comments below…