I mentioned a few posts back (Protests in France) having been in Paris during a few days of civil unrest. While millions of French protested the government, in Paris the crowds were surprisingly well behaved. This was not the case in later protests, especially in Lyon and Marseille with the outskirts of Paris have some issues as well.
As luck would or wouldn’t have it we headed down to Marseille for a few days and made arrangements to spend some time in Barcelona, Spain. Once again there was news about potential protest, this time in Spain, and on our evening of arrival in Barcelona we were informed by the hotel staff that there could be disruptions in services the following day due to a large strike. Not to worry, we were feeling comfortable with the whole situation and certainly could do without the buses and trains for a few days.
Our first day we headed out for a walk along La Rambla, the long street heading towards the ocean with cafes, galleries, street performers but probably best know for having some of Europe’s best pick pockets. From what we could tell the bus situation wasn’t happening but a day wandering is always good for the soul. Heading back towards our hotel in the afternoon we ran across this relatively quiet group marching as well as a small group with megaphones holding a rally in Placa de Catalunya, the central area of the city. The whole scene looked very “quiet” compared to what we had seen in France so we didn’t make much of it although maybe we should have with dozens of Spanish Policia vans surrounding the plaza.
Being the ever working wanna be photojournalist I moved towards the rally but within seconds sirens were screaming and hundreds of policia in riot gear were swarming the area. Pretty exciting stuff!
Cherie being in the “not wanting to get gassed” frame of mind wanted me to leave but I couldn’t look away with all the action. Besides, I had my press pass with me, what would the policia do?
Anyway, something you don’t get to see on very many vacations! A few quick images shot I finally gave in and headed back to the hotel. As it turns out things did get a little “ugly” that night with a police car being torched, tear gas and arrests. As with so many confrontations a small number of people had likely caused most of the problem. Broken windows were evident the next morning throughout the area.
It’s frustrating times in Spain right now with unemployment having more than doubled in the past few years to over 20% and many people losing their houses and businesses. Reflecting back it makes me really appreciate how good things are here in Canada.