Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Even after a Gaudí day on our first day in Barcelona, there was still so much to do and see. It seemed overwhelming looking at the map, so instead of intensive scheduling we just headed south from our hotel towards Plaça de Catalunya with the thought to see what we could see. A hub that divides old and new Barcelona, four famous boulevards radiate out from the plaza; la Rambla, Passeig de Gràcia, Rambla de Catalunya and Avinguda Portal de l’Angel. We had spent some time on Passeig de Gràcia the previous day, as La Pedrera and Casa Batlló are both located on this boulevard, and so after a stop to harass the pigeons and bask in the sunshine we headed down Avinguda Portal de l’Angel. Named after the angel that crowned the gate in the medieval wall that once encircled the old town, it is today a pedestrian-only street that leads to the Cathedral.

On Plaça de Catalunya

A 14th century Gothic construction, supposedly the Catedral was where the Native Americans Christopher Columbus brought to Spain were baptized. Weekly Catalan sardana dances occur in front of the cathedral, and the geese run the show in the cloisters.

The Catedral, note: Roberts is not the one in the Michael Jackson jacket

We cut across to la Rambla to find la Boquería, a produce market bursting with fragrant fresh fruit, strung up legs of ham, olive selections I couldn’t believe, fruit juice stands, little one-counter cafés, curtains of colorful peppers, spices with unpronounceable names, baskets of eggs all sizes and colors, fish and lobsters and crabs galore. More strawberries in our stomachs and fresh fruit juice in hand, we emerged back out onto la Rambla to find Plaça Reial.

A booth in la Boquería

Neoclassical buildings surround the square which is lined with cafés and outdoor seating. We found a spot for lunch and watched the show; it seemed the street artists/panhandlers had some sort of unwritten schedule; they rotated around the plaza, completed their act and then asked for money at all the nearby tables, but they rotated clockwise around the plaza stopping at almost identical locations. While we were seated an acrobatic group, an accordionist, a juggler (on stairs) and perhaps a few others performed, keeping Lauris well entertained.

All smiles in Plaça Reial

La Rambla is something else. One block with flower stands, one with newsstands, one with live animals, interspersed with tourist shops, tapas joints and benches, there is a never-ending parade of characters passing by. Keep your children close and your wallets closer (as advised everywhere in Barcelona), enjoy a coffee or a beer, ignore the continuous din from the men selling noisemakers, and stroll on south to the seafront.

La Rambla

Within Port Vell is a shopping center, aquarium, IMAX cinema, and a shopping center. We walked out past the Columbus monument (where Ferdinand and Isabel welcomed Columbus home after his first trip to America) onto La Rambla del Mar, a wooden pedestrian bridge linking the mall and other attractions, and enjoyed the people-watching. Once back on dry land we headed into the La Ribera district.

I travel light...

The centerpiece of La Ribera is Santa Maria del Mar, a Catalan Gothic church that took only 55 years to build. To the south is the monument to the September 11, 1714 massacre of Catalans by the Bourbon king: an eternal flame burns at the site of the mass burial.

Santa Maria del Mar

We still had some energy left, and so we headed northeast to the 70 acre Parc de la Ciutadella. Built by Philip V to control Barcelona, the citadel was demolished in 1868 and replaced by gardens. It hosted the 1888 World Fair and today is home to the Barcelona zoo and Parliament of Catalonia. I fell in love with the waterfall; designed by Josep Fontserè, it has a touch of Gaudí who was a student at the time.

Parc de la Ciutadella

We thoroughly enjoyed the various playgrounds, took a ride on the giant stone mammoth, and spent a relaxing couple of hours wandering the numerous pathways.

See, I told you there was a mammoth!

Our route home took us back out to la Rambla and through Plaça de Catalunya, which in the setting sun took on a completely different hue. And for dinner, what else than tapas at a tiny little corner restaurant? Twelve little dishes capped off with a dessert that left us feeling sated and happy, wishing for another week to explore the city further! However, after a trip to Parc Güell the next morning it was the start of our journey home, with a stop in coastal Séte…

MJK on La Rambla

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad I discovered your blog, you have a great way of summarising historical info in an entertaining way as well as taking great photos. Well done and bon continuation.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...