23.12.2012 - 23.12.2012 18 °C
I had discovered in a web search that there was an International Church of Barcelona (ICB) that represented over 25 nationalities that held services in English. We thought it would be great to give it a go. We hopped the local metro (have we said how much we love subway systems) and within a half an hour were halfway across the city walking along warm sunlit streets. We still are no sold on Barcelona as it is dirtier and seedier than Valencia but the wide boulevards are nice.
ICB has a service at 10:00 am and a duplicate service at 12:00 pm. When we arrived in the foyer, the din was incredible with all the people milling about and talking. Much like our experience in Morocco the vast majority of people attending were from Africa. The pastor and his wife are from California and have been in Barcelona for 10 years and have been elsewhere in Europe for another 10. There were somewhere between 100 and 150 people at the service with visitors from the UK, Holland, USA and Canada in the mix. There were many Spanish speaking people there and they were the ones wearing the headphones to hear the English being translated to Spanish which was a bit of mind bender for us.
It was pretty much a Christmas service, which is what we were hoping for. All the young kids came up and sang and as a group we sang quire a few Christmas carols. The sermon was very interesting in that it compared Christ life to that of immigrants and refugees. Ninety percent of this church are immigrants and refugees who are starting from nothing. It is a community that is helping each other make a new start in a foreign land with no resources.
After the service a visitor from the UK asked us where we were from in Canada. He was quite excited when he heard we were from Victoria as he had visited relatives in Vancouver on several occassions. He had immigrated to the UK from Ghana 30 years ago and his daughter immigrated to Spain several years ago so he gets around. We had quite a good time comparing cultural experiences and observations (including North American addition to conveniences and very large portions). In no time Emmanuel and his wife gave us their name and telephone number in London and told us to call them for lunch when we got to their neck of the woods. It was nice to talk to several English speaking people and be part of a community for at least a short time.
After church we went to walk La Rambla, Barcelona's premier shopping and walking street. It seemed the whole city was out to do the same thing. There were many trinket stalls set up and a generous amount of stalls selling Christmas decorations and Catalan fire logs. We ended up buying a Poinsettia to add some more Christmas cheer to our apartment and picked up wrapping paper and a few other stocking stuffers on the way. Our biggest challenge was finding a store that sold cellophane tape. We took in a few more of Gaudi's creations during our walk and then headed underground to take the metro back. When we popped up again the streets were dark and we walked home quite contented with our day out.
In the evening we had a tree decorating party with hot chocolate and gave the kids Santa hats that we had secretly picked up in Portugal. I also gave the kids the three wisemen figurines to hide in the apartment (who knows where they will appear--freezer, inside coffee maker etc). We had the Christmas tunes going as well so all was great in the world as we took turns wrapping presents. We wound down with a little online television and went to bed well past our bedtime.