It’s been almost a week since I returned from sunny Spain and the Oktoberfest in Calella, so I guess it’s about time I did this.
Last Thursday I went with the rest of the people in Soffa to Calella to be part of the Oktoberfest that is arranged there. Apparently this is on of the largest Oktoberfests there is. It runs for three weeks so I guess that might be true.
We went there both to enjoy the festivities and to participate with our music in the beer tent. I guess both on and off stage.
We left Norway early Thursday morning on a direct flight to Barcelona, where we eventually got all our luggage and found the bus that would take us the 50 km north to Calella.
After checking into the hotel we had a while before dinner and the first concert. I guess there was a mix up with the times because it looked like we would not be able to have dinner as our dinnertime was set almost at the same time as the concert.
But the hotel arranged it so that we got dinner earlier, but then on a tight schedule.
In Calella we staid at the Hotel Internacional. This is a two star hotel which for the most was good enough. The beds are weird, some rock hard, some really soft, some squeaking and so one. So you might get lucky or not.
The dining at the hotel is a story in it’s own right. The food, although not bad, is plain and uninspiring. I had hoped to get more flavor being in Spain and all. And you cannot visit this place without a comment on the restaurant manager.
I guess he would be ex military or something, because he kept the place running on a short leach. Don’t even think about getting there later for a meal, when meal time is over it’s over and you’ll have to leave. Finished or not. And don’t try grabbing your food on the way out. What you haven’t eaten stays behind. And oh .. please remember to pick up a tray for your plate or he’ll come running after you with one.
I read some reviews on the hotel before I left for Spain and it seems everyone has the same experience 🙂
Our first concert in the beer tent wasn’t the best, the tent fits around 3000 people and it was quite full in evening. I guess the first half of the tent might have heard us playing since we didn’t use microphones. But I had fun on stage, even though it was really hot and the sweat was pouring.
Since we had no plans for Friday we got stuck into the beer right after the concert and continued until they closed down the tent around 2 on Friday morning. The bar at the hotel was still open and everyone thought it was a good idea to have a few Caipirinhas and Mojitos. We played some pool and was promptly thrown out of the bar at three. When they close, they close .. ready or not.
On Friday everyone did what they wanted, some went to Barcelona, got drunk and came back the following morning. But most stayed in Calella. A few of us ended up on the beach where people were bathing in the sea and the rest of us just relaxed and had a few beers.
The beach in Calella is not the best, the sand is quite coarse, and the surf can be dangerous. We had a yellow flag for the whole time there and those that went swimming came back quite tired from battling the waves.
In the evening we went back to the beer tent to drink some more and listen to the other bands
The quality of music at the tent is very varied. From the most horrible of tune to some really good bands.
Saturday was the first day of the last week of the Oktoberfest. The whole thing lasts for three weeks where they start over very Saturday. And it all starts of with a parade in the streets of Calella.
We ended up leading the parade, but I’m not sure that was the plan. I saw the lady who led us trying desperately to get the attention of the band lined up besides us in the street but it seems she gave up. And we were ready to go so off we went.
The streets of Calella are narrow with lots of dividers and poles around, which makes it harder for the people walking on the left and right hand side of the band. I kept stumbling in stuff and guy walking behind me playing the euphonium actually walked right into a light pole.
When we came to the end of the parade we were greeted by people in a bar right by where we stopped and were served beer. Which works fine after having played and walked like we did.
Sunday was the last full day, I went to bed reasonably early on Saturday since we were to go to Barcelona on a guided tour in Sunday. So we got up somewhat early and drove together with another Norwegian band to Barcelona.
We had a Danish lady as our guide which worked out good.
The first stop was the Sagrada Familia, we didn’t have the time to go inside but were able to have a walk around looking at the fantastic façades. The only thing ruining the view, apart from the construction cranes, was huge posters with images of the pope and advertisement for the event that soon is to be. The pope will make a visit to Spain in November, to consecrate the famed Sagrada Familia church.
It’s great that they advertise, but keeping it of the church would be great.
After the church we went to the second “church” in Barcelona, the stadium of FC Barcelona. If it was up to me, and I guess most of the other people in our group we could have skipped that. I’ve got no interest in the world in looking at a piece of turf. And a few other felt the same so we were stuck there outside in the rain.
Our last guide stop took us up to a lookout point above the city, on the way up you pass a lot of the Olympic arenas and museums which would be worth a look at, but no time for that on our trip. The lookout would have been great if it wasn’t for the grey weather. But at least we seems to be able to walk of the bus without getting robbed. Apparently that lookout has a lot of pickpockets lurking around.
After the lookout we drove down to the Plaça de la Porta de Pau (Square of the Gate of Peace) where we were let of the bus to have a wander on our own. A few of us went to get some lunch and I guess we used most of our time there on that hunt 🙂
We did however manage to walk around some and found the Santa Maria del Mar. Another old Gothic church.
When we got back to Calella we had some time off before dinner and our last concert in the beer tent. I feel this one went a lot better than the first one. We had a better selection of tunes and we used microphones so I guess the sound travelled further.
Since this was the last night in Calella and we were to leave quite early the next day I took it easy on the beer and didn’t regret it.
On Monday it was time to go back home, out bus left from Calella around 9 and we were at the airport about 1.5 hours later.
Getting checked in at the airport in Barcelona was a pain in the ass. In Oslo we just did a self check in using a self service check in. And the just dropped of our luggage. Of course the instruments were special luggage and had to be handed in at another drop point, but we had no problems.
In Barcelona however it wasn’t that easy. There was only one check in counter. Or there was three, but one was only for business class, and the other was waiting for passengers to Copenhagen on an earlier flight. And of course the guys who was to check us in wasn’t sure what to do with us and all those bags and cases.
But eventually we got through and the rest was plain sailing. And this time my Trombone came to Gardermoen in one piece and with no damage.
Not everyone was that lucky however, one of the French horns got a nasty ding in the bell.