The most patronly, or perhaps matronly, of the patron saints of Barcelona is Santa Maria de la Merced (la Mercè in Catalan, Mercy in English). In medieval Barcelona, her followers dedicated themselves to purchasing the freedom of Christian slaves from the Saracens. And, while most who praise her name today no longer have such lofty goals, she's still celebrated in Barcelona with the Festes de la Mercè, the city's biggest party.
There's music, dancing and general whooping-it-up throughout town this week, but our favourite spot to date has been Ciutadella Park. Decorated with dragons and luminous eggs, it is the site of an enormous jazz stage and the Asia Festival. The combination of crowd pleasing jazz, a comfy (if slightly obstructed) view of the harbour's firework displays and some truly kick-ass samosas is delectable. Bring a blanket if you want to sit on the dewy grass and don't drop your guard; I'm sorry to say that we've seen thieves about, especially after dark.
This weekend, we also intend to drop by the Catalan Wine and Cava Expo in the Old Port (Moll de Fusta), always an excellent mix of local wines and quality tapas at bargain prices.
La Mercè will party on until Sunday. For a full listing of events see www.bcn.cat/merce. For more on the city's other fiestas, check out The Sounder: Fiesta Anyone?