A Walking Exploration of Barcelona, Spain!
Trip Start Oct 21, 2009
52Trip End Jan 12, 2010
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On Wednesday, we slept in a little and grabbed breakfast at a nearby panaderia (no free hotel breakfast here – although the free Wi-Fi makes up for the no free breakfast!). We hopped on Metro and took it to Passeig de Gracia, a major downtown thoroughfare. From Passeig, we walked to the central Plaza de Catalunya and onward toward La Rambla – from where I have vivid memories of my last trip here, and the place I really wanted to show Murray.
If you've never been to Barcelona, La Rambla is Barcelona’s most famous street and probably the hub of its greatest day and nighttime activities. Flanked by narrow traffic lanes, the middle of La Rambla is a broad, pedestrian boulevard, crowded with café tables, buskers, pavement artists, mines and living statutes, news and gift kiosks, lottery ticket booths, flower stalls, and even pet shop stands
Murray and I had a lot of fun watching the living statutes and other street performers, and looking through all the cages of animals at the pet shop stands (bunnies, chinchillas, hamsters, and birds galore!). La Rambla was as diverse and alive and interesting as I remembered it!
Partway down La Rambla, we stopped at Mercat St. Josep La Boqueria (or Mercat de la Boqueria) – a huge and bustling covered food market containing stands with meat, fish, fruits & veggies, chocolates, eggs, olives, and numerous cafés and little restaurants. Some of the meat (and fish – especially for me, the anti-fish/seafood person) stands were particularly gruesome, but the fruit and chocolate displays were so variegated and colorful! I enjoyed a freshly-squeezed orange/strawberry juice for the bargain price of one Euro, while Murray grabbed his usual café con leche.
After the market, and another deviation off of La Rambla to Plaza Reial for another food stop-over, we continued our long walk down La Rambla to the Plaza de Portal de la Pau (where I posed with a lion statute) and the Mirador de Colombia (or, in Murray’s words, "dead guy on a stick"). From de la Pau, we walked onto Port Vell (or Port de Barcelona), and saw bread being thrown into the water at hungry fish, ships docked at the marina, and cable cars moving overhead.
We took the long walk around Port Vell and the waterfront, then stopped for lunch and our first taste (this visit) of Spanish paella
From the waterfront area, we continued our walk into the Cuitat Vella (or old city), exploring the narrow back streets, shops, plazas, and cafes. We stopped to look around the Roman Wall and Defense Towers, the two best surviving stretches of Barcelona’s Roman walls (the Wall of Barcino from the 4th century, from when the Romans rebuilt their walls after the first attacks by Germanic tribes from the north; and the Royal Chapel of Santa Agata and Royal Palace ruins, from the 14th centuries).
From Cuitat Vella, we walked on to Barri Gotic, or Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, east of La Rambla. Again, this area is a classic medieval warren of narrow, winding streets, quaint little plazas, and wonderful structures from the city’s golden age. Reaching the Plaza de La Catedral, we stopped to look at La Catedral itself, Barcelona’s most magnificent Gothic structure – and, from what I understand, Gaudi’s first church.
[Note on Gaudi: so far, Murray has not been at all impressed with his style of architecture, and definitely it’s not for everyone. While we have walked by La Sagrada Familia numerous times because it is so close to our Guesthouse, we have not yet toured the inside
After La Catedral, we found a little creperia inside of Barri Gotic, and I enjoyed a crepe with Nutella and fresh bananas (oh, yumm-o), and then we jumped on the Metro back to our Guesthouse. [Another note: while Murray “tested” my crepe, he didn’t eat much of it, instead ordering another café con leche for himself. How I married a non-sweet-tooth I will never know… hahaha.] By that time, it was nearly 5pm, and we had been walking the city for almost eight hours. I was pooped! I took a nap at the Guesthouse while Murray spent another few hours exploring our neighborhood (and grabbing a few beers somewhere, I’m sure). For dinner, we found a local hole-in-the-wall (nothing special), and went back to our Guesthouse afterward and watched a movie on my iPod (hey, after all that walking, it was all we could do to keep our eyes open!).
It was a wonderful first full day in Spain! We continue to have a lot of fun with these travels. More soon!