I left the motel near Valencia in midmorning and arrived at my hotel in Molins Del Rei, a suburb of Barcelona, in early afternoon. In another serendipitous bit of scheduling, I had arrived on the first day of Barcelona's major annual festival, La Merce.

I had no idea that the festival was scheduled the weekend I was there, but that explained why I couldn't find a reasonably priced hotel room in Barcelona proper.

The schedule of events had one on Friday evening that caught my eye. There was a free concert by the Barcelona Municipal Band outdoors in the Plaza Major de Nou Barris, in the northwest outskirts of Barcelona. Finding the concert turned out to be not so easy, but it was worth the difficulty.

On Saturday morning it rained, but my goal was to see the Cathedral, so I took the train to the center of Barcelona. By the time I got there, the rain had let up. Like many Spanish and Portuguese cathedrals, the roof is open to tourists who want a view of the city. I wasn't sure I really wanted to climb the hundred or more steps, but much to my surprise the medieval cathedral had an elevator (of somewhat more recent vintage) to take you up. And the view of Barcelona from the roof made it worthwhile.

When I left the cathedral and wandered around the area, I found a temporary stage set up in the plaza behind it. And there, at 6:00PM there was a traditional (folk) dancing exhibition/competition (I never determined which) with a traditional band playing Sardanes, but also a bagpipe player performing with one of the dance ensembles. Bagpipes in Spain?? When that ended, I caught the end of a choral concert on a different stage on the other side of the cathedral.

Shortly thereafter there were "parades" by first young people and later adults in costumes representing the devil, many were in the form of bulls. For all the world they reminded me of Trinidad's Jourvert, except the Barcelona version included enormous amounts of firecrackers. Like the other events, there were thousands in the audience. This lasted all evening, and I took one of the last trains back to my hotel.

Sunday morning I thought of attending more of the La Merce fiesta events, but decided to tour and photograph some of Barcelona's unique architecture, particularly that of Gaudi, who broke with traditional plain design and built wonderfully fanciful structures that "flow". So I spent the day wandering from building to building, taking photographs and enjoying the views.

That evening I had considered enjoying another free outdoor concert, this time by the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra. But I was exhausted, and then it started to thunder and lightning in the distance, and eventually rain. So I stayed at the hotel and went to bed early.