Sunny weather and the wild mushroom season have both contributed to a good bank holiday weekend for Catalan hotels, both on the coast and in the mountains (article in Catalan, Avui). Reports suggest that the average occupancy of hotel rooms throughout the community was 90 percent as locals took advantage of the three-day weekend to enjoy sunshine on the beach, or head to the mountains to look for wild mushrooms (bolets). Tourist organisations have said that it was the best long weekend of recent times and in some areas, such as Lleida, follows a positive August that saw occupancy rates as high as normal despite the crisis. Another popular destination was the Pyrenees’ town of Sort, where people headed to buy their Christmas lottery ticket; sort means luck in Catalan and tickets bought there have a reputation for being lucky. Each day of the weekend some 1,500 people went to get their Gordo tickets in the town.
The Catalan police force will seek restraining orders to stop habitual thieves from going to areas where they repeatedly rob people (article in Castilian, El Periodico). This is a new move to try to combat the large number of pickpockets in certain parts of the city, in the face of leglisation that doesn’t penalise petty thievery with more than a fine (that the accused often can’t pay), resulting in a common cycle of offenders who are repeatedly arrested then let off. The Mossos d’Esquadrà says they know of pickpockets who have been arrested up to 48 times but always released. However, if the police can show that a thief has been detained numerous times in, for example, the metro, they can argue that that person isn’t using the metro to go from one place to another, but to commit crime; this will then allow the judge to issue a restraining order. A similar move has already been taken in cities including León and Valencia against people who have repeatedly been caught shoplifting in El Corte Inglés department store; some are now not allowed into the shop while others cannot come within 300 metres of it.
The streets of Barcelona are increasingly covered with spat-out chewing-gum (article in Castilian, La Vanguardia). The town council estimates that every month, the amount of chicle on the ground here grows by around 20 pieces of chewing-gum per square metre, a much faster rate than that of cleaning them away. Presently, the council reckons that, each day it removes around 1,800 chewing-gums from the pavements of Ciutat Vella alone, at a cost of 16 cents each one, some six cents more than it costs to buy in the first place. This is its only specific chewing-gum cleaning operation and is done by one person at a rate of around 15 square metres an hour; other chewing-gum can be cleaned away by the normal cleaning services so long as it hasn't dried to the ground.
Also in the news: Zapatero to meet Obama at White House today (La Vanguardia); Notable drop in house sales last August (La Vanguardia); New books suggest Christopher Columbus was Catalan (Avui); Basque government attends military parade for first time (El Periodico)