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CELEBRATING THE FESTIVAL OF SANT ANTONI IN BARCELONA

There was a time when it was common to see carriages and horsemen in the city, so the Tres Tombs parade and animal blessing felt just like the natural thing to do in a strongly Catholic society. Now animal force has been substituted by cars and other transportation on wheels, however, the tradition has survived as a little homage to the animals that once where a key part of the local economy. The name of the Festival, Tres Tombs ("three rounds" in Catalan), refers to the three rounds that pilgrims make around the local church or the sculpture of the saint - although nowadays it's often just passing three times in front of the church, then parading around the district three times.

Things you need to know about the Saint Anthony Festival: Sant Antoni del Porquet, sempre s'escau en disset

What translated into English, means that the Saint Anthony of the little pig day is on the 17th. Catholics have multitude of saints, and each of them is assigned a day of the year (each day can be dedicated to several saints, of course). There's almost a dozen Saint Anthony's, too, but the one we'll discuss today is Saint Anthony the Great or the Abbot (also called St. Anthony the Anchorite, St. Anthony of Egypt, of Thebes or of the Desert - worry, we seem to like complex stuff). Besides, locals call him also St. Antoni del porquet (of the pig), because the legend says that St. Anthony used to miraculously heal anyone that was hurting, and he once healed a pig that decided to follow him around - which is why you'll often see the saint represented with a little pig beside him. We also call him St. Antoni dels ases (of the donkeys) because another legend speaks of a sick donkey that was going to be slaughtered: the donkey run away, and the servant of the donkey's owner found the animal inside a chapel of St. Anthony, kneeling as if it was praying: then the donkey stood up healed all of a sudden. The day of St. Anthony of the Pig is January 17th, which is supposed to be the day the Saint died, and that day is special in several districts of Barcelona (although the Feast usually extends for several days before and after). If you are around town these days, make sure to check it out!

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The perfect present for your kid in a Barcelona toy store

Are you traveling with kids and want to treat them? Or maybe you want to find the perfect present for your niece, nephew or grandchild that stayed at home? Well, you can find children souvenirs in most souvenir stores and sites but they are often low quality and the choices are limited. Would you rather find something more authentic and unique (even if it's not Gaudi themed)?

Yes, we can help! Many of the guides in our team are moms and dads, or at least proud aunties, so we definitely know great toy stores where to find your special gift. Forget about the industrial and boring toys that you can buy in Corte Inglés but also in any other shopping mall in the world. In Barcelona we have lovely toy shops where you'll find the most original toys and games to make your child happy: costumes, dolls, wood toys for babies, science and technology games, toys that stimulate their creativity... Let us show us where we buy toys for our own kids!

These are our favorite toy shops in Barcelona:

Imaginarium. A fun Spanish toy chain founded in Zaragoza, that has already gone international (but not reached the USA so far). They sell educational but fun toys that promote values such as learning, happiness, movement and creativity. They pay a lot of attention to their toys design, so every element of the toy has its function, and they have to pass strict quality and security tests. Kids love the fact that there are two different doors to the shop, side by side: one is adult-sized and the other is small and kids-only! You'll find an Imaginarium store at the top of Passeig de Gràcia, very close to Gaudi's Casa Batllo - very convenient for quick fun break during your sightseeing!

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Top Barcelona outlets (that locals know about and you don't)

Do you love buying clothes at bargain prices? Can you imagine being able to go outlet shopping in Barcelona during your vacation? Shopping has become one of the top leisure activities to enjoy when traveling: it's fun, it's different from what you can find at home and it's often cheaper... Specially if you are traveling during the sale season or if you can find a discounted store! But how? Outlets aren't usually right there in the main shopping street, so unless you do some research it's hard to find out where they are... Plus they sometimes don't even use the same name of the bran you are looking for. But never mind: we got you covered. Discover in today's post where are the best brands outlets in Barcelona.

Here are our favorite outlets in Barcelona:

Zara Outlet. Zara is probably the most famous Spanish brand for clothes, belonging to the Inditex Group created by one of the richest men in the world: Amancio Ortega, who started out as a humble tailor in Galicia where he was born. Lefties is the name of the shop that started out as the Zara outlet, and after its success, the Inditex group decided to change its strategy and transform Lefties into a low cost brand. So I should say it’s not exactly a Zara outlet anymore but the place to find very low cost clothes made by the Zara group . There are several shops in Barcelona, but the most central one is located at the corner of Pelai street with Plaça Universitat. And there is another (smaller) one in the Maremagnum mall in the port, besides a couple of other shops in shopping malls of perimeter districts of the city. BTW, did you know that Zara has also a Home line? Their outlet is inside the Zara shop on Rambla Catalunya 71. And did you know Massimo Dutti is the upcale brand of Zara? To get to their outlet you'll need to drive, though: there is one in Palafolls (1 hour drive) and another in Llagostera, just a bit further and perfect if you are staying in the Costa Brava.

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Pros and cons of Hotel Majestic (review)

The Majestic Hotel & Spa in Barcelona is one of our guests favorite: every year we pick up lots of guests there taking our tours, and we often hear what they praise and what they don't like. And honestly, before the refurbishment many would complain about the rooms being too small. But now that the works are over, this old school hotel doesn't look old-fashioned or boring anymore. On the contrary: it has become a really exciting and classy place to stay that can totally rival with the Mandarin Oriental down the street and the many other 5-star hotels nearby.

If you are still trying to decide where to stay during your Barcelona trip, make sure to read today's post (you might have a much clearer idea afterwards) ;)

This is our hotel majestic review:

Location, location, location. Isn't it one of the most important things when choosing a hotel? Well, the location of the Majestic Hotel is unbeatable: located right in the center of Passeig de Gràcia, the main street of Barcelona, between two Gaudi masterpieces: Casa Batlló one block down, and Casa Milà (La Pedrera) two blocks up). There are plenty of great food options in the area, and all the shopping you'll need. Also, being located in a wide central avenue, reaching it by car or taxi isn't a problem (unlike for many hotels of the Old Town located in narrow alleys where most taxi drivers will refuse to enter). The area is also very safe, you are one block away from the train station connecting with the airport and the L3 subway line taking you to La Rambla, the Old Town, Montjuic and the FC Barcelona Stadium, and 3 blocks from L5 taking you to Sagrada Familia - although most of the time you'll prefer just walking as most sites aren't really that far. The Tourist Bus also stops by, and the Bus #24 taking you to Park Guell stops also nearby.

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