Around 100,000 people welcomed Pope Benedict XVI on his visit to Barcelona, a fraction of those that welcomed John Paul II in 1982 (read article in Castilian here, El Pais). It is being said that the reception received by Pope Benedict XVI was only luke warm and a disappointment to not only the archdiocese but to the hospitality sector as well. The administrations and Ayuntamiento had invested €1.7 million in the event but only an estimated 100,000 people came out to watch the Pope as he proceeded towards the Sagrada Familía. The Ayuntamiento and the Vatican are putting the figure as high as 250,000. The economic impact of the visit had been estimated by the Ayuntamiento to be as high as €30 million with bars, restaurants in Barcelona benefiting from the crowds of people but their was disappointment here too. Nationalist fever had been sparked by the planned use of Catalan by the Pope and many had called for him to wear the Senyera, the Catalan flag, but along the route but the national rojigualdas flag seemed to be a more frequent sight. A further 10,000 faithful visitors who did not fit within the Sagrada Familía watched the ceremony from the nearby Plaza Monumental, where they filled 10,000 of the 14,000 seats available. Traffic throughout the area will not resume normality until this morning.
The council is to spend €30,000 in replacing broken tiles and renew damaged pavement in the Eixample (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). Ramon Nicolau, the councilor for the area has said that they are to launch a project to "plug holes" in the pavements and replace broken tiles with municipal sources saying that work will start on this in around 10 to 15 days and end after Christmas. Technicians have already made the first visual inspection to check the problem areas and the first phase of the project will involve the extraction of broken or loose tiles and note the ones missing and then replacing them with new. The second stage, which won't start until after the holidays to limit nuisance for business owners in the area over the busy shopping period. The second phase will involve the replacement of the damaged pavement, where it is most damaged thanks to tree roots, cigarette buts and chewing gum.
Half of the Ferrocarriles train service will not circulate due to a rush hour strike (read article in Castilian here La Vanguardia). Railway workers on the Ferrocarriles have called for a strike for Monday and next Wednesday (November 10th) to take place during the peak travel hours of the day, namely between 7 and 9am and between 6 and 8pm. During these four hours, only half the usual services will run, although sources from the ACN agency say that they can't guarantee these services either. During the rest of the day, services should run as normal. The strike is over proposed wage cuts but unions have said that they need to be assured in writing that in the future they will be refunded five percent of the wages being cut now due to the crisis. According to a Efe spokesperson, a picket of workers stopped two trains at 7.30am this morning in the Barcelona station of Rubí. Sources have explained that the trains travelling to and from Terrasa are not stopping at Rubí station but are travelling an alternative route in order to avoid the picket. The wage cut was approved in June for all public service employees including the Ferrocarriles de la Generalitat even though not all of its employees are civil servants. On Wednesday, there will be another partial strike to be carried out in the rush hour periods.