La Rambla and Port Vell
Awaking to a beautifully sunny day with a light wind, we decided to take the metro into Placa de Catalunya and take a walk down La Rambla. La Rambla is the cities most famous street, a long promenade, bustling with people and busy shops and stalls as well as live mime sculptures and the city Opera house. The street leads from the main square in Placa de catalunya down to the beautiful Port Vell. As we walk down La Rambla, taking in all the sites, it is clear to see what a metropolitan city Barcelona is. There is such a rich mix of people and cultures and La Rambla is the place where people come together, whether it is for shopping in one of the many stores or famous Boqueira market, sharing a meal or simply passing through. One of the highlights of La Rambla is the many live mime sculptures who appear in a variety of costumes and disguises. Some of them are very inventive and even scary, tempting you to put money down so they can surprise you with their act!
Barcelona is known for its wide selection of markets, selling local produce such as fruit/veg, cheeses, herbs and spices and meat delicacies such as sheep’s head! La Boqueira is the well known market on La Rambla and a walk around here is a worthwhile experience, sampling all has to offer. The market seems so lively and colourful, bustling with local people shopping for their evening meal.
On La Rambla, I began to notice the architecture of Barcelona. Tall modernist style buildings with great detail in the stonework as well as areas of mosaic. Most of the buildings have been made into apartments for people to live in, with small balconies that reminded me of Paris or Verona.
At the bottom of La Rambla is the magnificent Port Vell, which stretches as far as La Barcelonetta, the fisherman’s quarter and further to Port Olympic which was built in 1992 for the Olympic Games. This is the relaxing area of Barcelona, where you can walk along the promenade and take in the sea air, or simply sit and watch the world go by. There is also the impressive wave shaped footbridge which allows you to cross over the water and rotates to let boats in and out of the marina below.
As we crossed, I looked out on perfect views of the city and mountains beyond. The world trade centre is also visible from the port, its boat shaped building very distinctive. At the other side of the bridge, there is a shopping centre, cafes, marine aquarium and IMAX cinema.
In the evening we returned to La Rambla to one of the many restaurants for dinner. The atmosphere seems even more electric at night-time, with many more stalls open, selling gifts and souvenirs, bars and restaurants bustling with people and the old buildings lit up by old-fashioned street lights. And although the live mime sculptures had gone, they were replaced my others displaying their talents such as an artist who created beautiful almost myth-like paintings of small figures against the night sky, with a few cans of spray paint, a lighter and some bottle lids.
The restaurants are quite traditional, serving tapas, pasta, pizza and paella. The tables were set up outside on the street, lit by low lighting and candles and patio heaters kept off the chill in the air. As we ate, sampling Spanish tapas such as meatballs, bread, meats and fish, and sipping Sangria, the setting felt very relaxing. I felt as though the city life did slow down after all, that once the sun has gone down, and the working day is over, this is what the people of Barcelona did to unwind. It is about spending time with family and friends and living for the moment, forgetting about the stresses of the day.
A man appeared with an armful of red roses and offered one to us. I will admit, that in such high spirits, and a little drunk from the Sangria, I accepted and gave small change. How often do you get the chance to carry a rose across Barcelona city? It was a nice sight on waking the following morning!