Friday, January 16, 2009
So, around 1991, my parents and sisters came to visit me for Christmas, and they were still there for Three Kings Day which happens to be my sister's birthday. In Barcelona, the Kings actually arrive on a boat (from the Orient, of course) at the harbor on January 5th and then travel through the city (in an amazing parade) so that their royal couriers can collect the "please, can I have a ..." letters from the children along the way. The Kings' retinue is not limited to fancy mailmen, however. They have loads of servants and courtesans and a huge throne and jugglers and at the very end, there are real trucks full of real coal.
Which is all purely incidental to my story... but it turns out we were all in the center of the city watching the Three Kings Parade and realized that we should get some candles for my
sister's birthday cake since Three Kings Day itself is a holiday and all the stores would be closed.
So I went into a store that seemed like a good candidate for candles (I was thinking of a drug store type of thing) and asked if they had any birthday candles. Well, they looked at me as if I had asked for alligator skin or something equally exotic. "Candles?? No, of course we don't have candles."
And when I asked if they knew where I could find some, they said, "Of course. At the candle store." And pointed me down the street.
What we found was the Cereria Subirà, the oldest commercial establishment in Barcelona. Founded in 1761, it now boasted lots of religious candles, lots of artsy candles, a fair number of novelty character candles and quite a large variety of birthday candles. Who knew?
I've told my kids this story many times and today we were walking by the store and they were so excited when I pointed it out that we all decided to go in. I couldn't resist taking pictures.
The other fun thing we did today was go to the Catalan History Museum. I highly recommend it for anyone but especially for families. There are so many hands-on things to play with, and lots of good historical info too. We ground flour, built free-standing arches, tried on armor, saw how they make parchment from animal skins, rode horseback, shot from rifles, consulted fertility calendars, explored castle turrets, lifted knight's equipment, carved with flints, tried on medieval shoes, and irrigated a field. I love that place!