In all of our travels, the best trips have always been alongside local friends. Secret spots, the best food and deep conversations are all perks of visiting a country with someone on the inside.

It’s become so valuable to us that we find it hard to travel anywhere now and not know someone there – luckily we know a lot of people around the world (and we’re not afraid to freeload).

Our recent trip to Catalonia was no different with our friend Ramon and his girlfriend Marta at our side.

We actually met Ramon during our trip to Myanmar a year and a half ago. As we rode bikes through the countryside, he innocently offered us a place to stay if we ever visited Barcelona. Little did he know how long our memories could be. 

After a quick email exchange in May, we were booked into Ramon’s spare bedroom and he was planning a special program for our visit.

Opening up his home (and booking off 4 days from work), Ramon took us on a hike and a run with his running group, a secret tour through Barcelona and his town of St. Boi, and made sure we ate all the best foods from the area. Oh yeah, there were also dancing eggs.

The highlight of our ‘special program’ was a traditional Catalonian festival called Patum. Celebrating the changing of seasons and honouring ancient Catalonian customs, the party is hard to explain.

Basically it’s this…

  • Put 2,000 people in a small town square.
  • Bring in 20,000 or so firecrackers.
  • Attach some of those firecrackers (lit) to giant puppets, and have them dance around the crowd to music played by a live band.
  • Make sure to have a puppet that’s supposed to be an eagle, but looks like a chicken walk into the silent crowd and awkwardly bow and jump slowly bringing everyone into a frenzy.
  • Finish it off by attaching even more firecrackers to over 100 tree puppets and have them explode at the same time as the crowd dances around and tries not to catch on fire. (Sadly, my sweater didn’t evade the plant people’s flame).

Crazy fun. 

Sweaty, exhausted and a little singed, we survived our first Patum. While it’s tough to explain, I do get why it’s gone on for generations and why the Catalonians love this unique celebration so much.

Now to introduce this back in Saskatchewan…should be fun.