I usually find that the sea in Vilanova almost suspiciously warm in August, but this year - after a brief vacation in Sweden – I have gone for a swim several times. It turns out that the wind has pushed in cold water towards our beaches, but the current heat wave will now make the water temperature rise to 25ºC, or that is at least what I think I heard on the radio.
August 23-24 each year Sitges celebrates the Festa Major de Sant Bartomeu and I, of course, had to take a fast look. That was a good warm-up for Catalonia's "most typical Festa Major" – that of Vilafranca del Penedès, starting next weekend.
Miquel Benavent Seguí, mayor from 1969 to 76, has passed away at the age of 86. In the years when he ruled, for the first time since the Spanish Civil War, was the Catalan flag hoisted on the town hall and a formal request was made to catalanize the name of the town (formerly Villanueva y Geltrú).
The website TripAdvisor has ranked Sitges to be Europe's seventh best destination for sun and beach tourism. The ranking was based on user ratings.
From September 1, el Vendrell and Calafell will again confiscate counterfeit goods (top-manta), in a concession to the Catalan government. Local business owners are not content because, in September, the peak season is over anyhow.
The castellers team Moixiganguers d'Igualada has, for the first time in its history, built and dismantled a human tower of eight levels. This 4de8 was made on the first attempt, during the Festa Major of Igualada.
The Catalan Wine Museum Vinseum in Vilafranca celebrates its 75th anniversary this week.
The Castellers de Vilafranca have launched a new webpage, now with Web2.0 tools for social media.
August 30, the Diada de Sant Fèlix will take place Vilafranca del Penedès - the biggest, annual human tower challenge. Local Castellers de Vilafranca lead the rankings and will only build special structures (gamma extra). Colla Vella dels Xiquets de Valls is expected to focus their energy on pilar de 8 and torre de 9. Minyons de Terrassa are likely to erect torre de 9 and 5de9. Colla Joves Xiquets de Valls, finally, is not in top form, but may add a 5de9, to top their "normal" structures of nine levels.
Albert Vilalta and Roque Pasqual, the two co-workers from the NGO Barcelona Acció Solidària who had been kidnapped by Al Qaeda, have been released and reunited with their families. Although they were deprived of their freedom for nine months, they think that the Spanish authorities have handled their case well. Rumors circulate that up to Euro 10 million have been paid to the kidnappers and Al Qaeda itself claims that a convicted terrorist released early was also a part of the settlement.
Those who live in the surrounding region, foreign young individualists without children - including LGBT people - but also older people who want to relive a trip to Barcelona from their youth are among the groups of tourists which Barcelona will focus on according to a new strategic plan. Analyses show that the city is a strong international brand, but that the impression is being damaged by dirt, noise and petty crime.
The Spanish Ministry of Infrastructure (Ministerio de Fomento, in Spanish) has put aside Euro 500 million from the budget cutbacks planned for next year, in order to develop Barcelona as a European key port for the trade with China. The cooperation partner Terça - dominated by the world's leading port operator Hutchinson Port Holding - contributes to an even larger sum. With 25% of container traffic to and from Barcelona, China is already the biggest individual cargo destination.
FC Barcelona won the Spanish Super Cup 2010 (Supercopa) after winning 4-0 in the decisive second game against Sevilla FC. An own goal was followed by a hat trick by Messi. The match showed how quickly David Villa (bought from Valencia CF, but originally from Asturias) can adapt to his new club's playing style. This was new president Sandro Rosell’s first title and also the match when Barça passed the mark of 300 goals since Pep Guardiola took over as coach.
A.C. Milan are very interested in Zlatan Ibrahimović and will this week present a final bid to Barça. An agreement must include the price between the clubs as well as the player's high salary (Euro 12 million per year), plus the fact that the Italian income tax is 25% above that of Spain.
The negotiations with Liverpool about the Argentinian midfielder Javier Mascherano are coming to an end. Barça wants to pay a part of the price by including Aleksandr Hleb in the deal, but Liverpool is in dire need of cash.
The Spanish ombudsman Defensora del Pueblo criticizes Catalonia's integration policy, based on the Catalan - not the Spanish - language and has requested for the Spanish Constitutional Court to look into the matter. Catalan Minister (Conseller) Joaquim Nadal (PSC) does not consider it appropriate for a temporary agent of the ombudsman's office to send a law – about which there is a broad consensus in Catalonia - to a constitutional court, where many judges remain in office although their appointment has expired.
Pasqual Maragall, former president of the Generalitat, goes against his party PSC and recommends that Catalonia within shortly carries out a referendum on independence. Like Joan Herrera (ICV), he wants to see three different answers: the current status as one of 17 autonomous regions, a federation with the rest of Spain and full sovereignty.
After two weak years, the influx of tourists to Spain now increases. July was up 4.5% versus the same month last year, greatly thanks to visitors from the U.S., Switzerland and the Nordic countries. Among the top three markets for the Spanish tourism industry, Great Britain shows signs of stabilization, France continues with weak figures and Germany presents a small increase.
Moody's - the only credit rating agency which, so far, has allowed Spain to keep its AAA-rating (like eg Germany) warns that this will now be pulled down by low expectations on future growth and the fact that it will take time for the Spanish real estate market to recover. Standard & Poor and Fitch have already made the same decision. As a small consolation for Spain, Moody's this time threatens to worsen the ratings also for the UK and the U.S.
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The summary covers the period from my last text of this series until Tuesday August 24. If there are news which you think that I have missed, I ask you toleave a comment and, even better, include links. All news that I consider fit into this context will be added as up-dates.
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Sources and Inspiration:
Vilanova i la Geltrú, Garraf and the rest of Penedès
VilanovaDigital: Mor Miquel Benavent Seguí
Avui/ElPunt: Sitges, entre les destinacions més valorades
AnoiaDiari: Els Moixiganguers ja són 'una colla de 8'
El3deVuit: Vinseum celebra dimecres el 75è aniversari
Avui/ElPunt: Compte enrere
Barcelona and Catalonia
ElMundoDeportivo: 4-0: El Barça gana la Supercopa tras remontar y golear al Sevilla
ElMundoDeportivo: El Barça de Pep llega a 300
LaVanguardia: Ibrahimovic y el Milan, de acuerdo
ElMundoDeportivo: El Barça, a tres millones de Mascherano
Catalonia and Spain