Friday, July 25, 2008

La Rambla, Port Vell, and Poble Espanyola--Barcelona, Spain

Hi Everyone,
Today I will finish talking about Barcelona by writing about La Rambla, Port Vell and Poble Espanyol. These are some very fascinating places in Barcelona, and were the last places we visited in that beautiful city on our walk from Parc Guell.

La Rambla is a major street, going from the Placa Catalunya (the main plaza in the center of Barcelona) all the way down to the sea, and ending at the Columbus Monument, at Port Vell. La Rambla is about 1.2 kilometers long, and is tree-lined, with a pedestrian mall in the middle. The street is lined, on both sides, with theaters, hotels and restaurants, and the pedestrian mall (in the middle) is filled with stalls that sell everything from small pets to flowers and jewelry. The day we were there, the street was pretty crowded! I've heard that this place is a bit of a pickpocket haven, but we had no trouble. Prague is also known for pickpockets, so you learn how to keep your valuables safe! Anyway, we walked down this street all the way. There were so many sights to see--from all the people to street performers! The street performers were mostly "living" statues. They were in various costumes (see pictures above) and most of the time they are completely still. But, if you talk to them, or give them money, they will move and respond to you! They were fascinating to watch! We also found many stalls along the "mall"...they were selling flowers--and small pets! The pet stalls were all pretty clean and the animals looked to be in good health. We found small animals, such as hamsters and gerebils, and birds--lots of birds! The stall keepers were selling parakeets, chickens, etc. They were also selling fish of all kinds! I enjoyed stopping to look at these stalls--I love animals! Farther down the street, near the end, we came across stalls selling jewelry and t-shirts and other things. There was a good breeze coming off the sea, so it was quiet pleasant walking, even in the midst of the crowd! Another market, St. Josep's Mercado, is just off La Rambla. It is a great place! The market is filled with everything from fruits and vegetables to meat and seafood. I think you could find most anything you wanted in this line in that market! Everything was clean and arranged in appetizing displays.

My husband and I walked all the way down La Rambla, till we got to the Columbus Monument, which is on the southern end of La Rambla, on Port Vell. This monument is dedicated to Christoper Columbus, and it is said that the monument is placed near the site (on the port) where Columbus returned after his visit to the Americas. The monument was built for the Exposicion Universal de Barceona, in 1888. It was made so that Columbus would be pointing west, toward the Americas from his perch, but in fact, he is pointing east! The Columbus Monument is very grand--please see the pictures above.

After viewing the Columbus Monument, we crossed the street and finally found ourselves at the end of La Rambla, and on the coast--viewing the Mediterranean Sea! This was my first time to see the Mediterranean (on the ground)...well, it was the port, but still the Mediterranean! Port Vell is very pretty--it reminded so much of Corpus Christi! There is a famous bridge there, Mare Magnum, which leads out over the port to the Mall of Espanyola. Here, you can find the aquarium and IMAX theater, along with shopping. This is actually a continuation of La Rambla. My husband and I didn't go across the bridge as it was very crowded, but it was inviting! Instead, we walked along the shoreline and took some pictures of the marina. It was a nice place to stop for a break from all the walking we did that day!

We walked and walked that day, so long that my feet were beginning to feel like blocks of lead! But we stopped and rested at a nice small outdoor restaurant--it was a small tapas place. They are everywhere in Barcelona. You can find everything from seafood to hamburger and fries at these places, and the prices are not too bad. The food we had was pretty good. After this, we set out, again, and this time walked toward the National Palace, on a mountain called Montjuic.

In order to get up to the palace, it was necessary to walk through a plaza-like place, called Av. Reina M Cristina. We got there, only to find a huge Harley-Davidson rally that was taking place in the plaza (see pictures above). This was really something--to be in Spain...and to find a Harley rally there! Thankfully, it seemed to be more of a rally for families, than just a biker rally. We decided to walk through the rally as that was how we were to reach our next stop! The people were all pretty regular and normal--there was lots of cerveza, of course, but there were no fights or anything going on (at least when we walked through). It was interesting--so many people and motorcycles everywhere! We felt like we were in the middle of a giant bee hive! But we got through OK, and got to the other side of the plaza...where it was possible to see the National Palace on top of the mountain. And to get to the top, all we could see were stairs and stairs and more stairs! Fortunately, there were also some escalators, otherwise I would have had a very hard time with all those stairs and numb feet! The reason for the escalators is that the Olympic Park for Barcelona is also on the top of this mountain.

Also on top of the mountain is an open-air museum, called Poble Espanyol. This is a park that was built for the Barcelona International Exhibition in 1929. It was built as a model village, and has elements of Spanish architecture that can be found all over Spain. Some 100 Spanish architectural styles are represented in this village. It was a long climb up, but it was worth all the effort when we finally did reach this place. It costs a few Euros to get in. Once inside, you can roam around at will--and see many small shops and restaurants. I've heard this place called a "tourist trap," but even so, we enjoyed seeing all the different styles of buildings--they are put together in a very harmonious way. As you wander the windy streets, you can also come up on small squares with fountains and lots of is very pretty, charming, and restful in this place!

By the time we finished touring Poble Espanyol, it was getting late--past supper time. My husband and I were hungry, so we stopped and got some simple food to take back to our hotel. It was fun shopping in the local grocery stores there! We did this from time-to-time as the prices were better than you find at the more tourist-type shops. After shopping, as we were walking back to our hotel, it began to rain! This, when Barcelona has been in the midst of a terrible drought! We were OK as we had our umbrellas...and we managed to reach the hotel before the downpour started! This was our last night in Barcelona.

We very much enjoyed our stay in Barcelona--I fell in love with the wine called Lambrusco--it was my first time to try was great! Anyway, Barcelona is a beautiful sea-side city with a wonderful mix of culture. I would highly recommend Barcelona as a place to have a great vacation and to see some of the most historical sites in Spain!

Now, I'm getting ready for another trip--this time back to the US! I'll be spending some time with my family and my dog, Pal!!! I'm really looking forward to seeing them. My husband will join me later, so our family can all be together for a few days! I'll keep blogging while I'm away...and maybe share a little bit about my home there, in the Rocky Mountains.

You all have a great day and a great weekend!

God bless,
Sherry :0)
(c) 2008 by czechoffthebeatenpath
All photos property of S. A. Vacik

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