Barcelona, Spain: Las Ramblas and Plaça de Catalunya

As our last afternoon in Barcelona quickly approached, we strolled through Las Ramblas. Las Ramblas is a long street in central Barcelona known for its shops, restaurants, bars, and various kiosks that sell flowers, souvenirs, and handmade art.

Las Ramblas is near el Barrio Gótico and in between Plaça de Catalunya and el Mirador de Colom, which was discussed in a previous post. The street is constantly crowded, as tourists know this is the place to be. We walked to the end of Las Ramblas on one side, which brought us to Plaça de Catalunya.

Plaça de Catalunya is said to be the city center of Barcelona, and it is where all of the city and tourist busses come to make their pick ups of those anxiously waiting to get around the city. The center is surrounded by shopping centers, hotels, financial institutions, and beautiful fountains and sculptures.

As we walked back to Las Ramblas, we came across the Font de Canaletes (Canaletes Fountain). It is said that if you drink the water from this fountain (which gives this area of Las Ramblas the name of Las Ramblas de Canaletes), you will return to Barcelona. The inscription in Catalan (the most spoken language in the city) states translated to: “If you drink water from the Font de Canaletes you will always be in love with Barcelona. And however far away you go. You will always return.”

I drank from this water nearly three-and-a-half years ago, and apparently it worked because I was back! So naturally, I drank from it again this time, and here’s hoping I’ll be back in Barcelona one day soon. (Here’s also hoping I come across a fountain that allows those who drink from it to access cheaper plane tickets).

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Las Ramblas, Font de Canaletes, and Plaça de Catalunya

 

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Barcelona, Spain: Port Olímpic

Upon leaving Barcelona’s Olympic Stadium, Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys, my sister and I boarded the hop-on/hop-off bus and made our way to Port Olímpic. Before arriving, we passed the Mirador de Colom at the lower end of La Rambla.

This statue of Christopher Columbus (which is said to be the largest in the world) was built in time for the Universal Exposition of Barcelona in 1888, which payed tribute to Columbus’s first trip to the Americas. Seeing as he reported back to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in Barcelona after the trip, it is fitting for the statue to be placed here.

The statue has Columbus pointed with his right hand to the New World, as he holds a scroll in his left hand. However, instead of pointing west, Columbus is actually pointing southeast, which is the direction of his home in Genoa.

As we the bus tour continued, we passed “Gambrinus,” a thirty-two foot lobster, which inspired the mascot for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. We also passed “The Head,” which is a 50 foot sculpture, also designed in time for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

We then drove past La Vila Olímpica del Poblenou by Port Olímpic, which was a residential area the Olympic Village where the olympians stayed during the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. The area has since been turned into apartment complexes alongside the port (which are much more expensive now than when they were first built for the olympics).

Days 18-21 in Spain: Barcelona!!

This past weekend was one of the best yet while in Spain because I finally got a chance to go to Barcelona. Yes, Barcelona; the place we all dream about visiting (or at least I always have). It all started out on Thursday night when I took the Ave from Madrid, Spain’s fast train which got me there in a little over three hours, and arrived at my hostel at midnight. I went to sleep, but the next day was jam-packed with awesome sightseeing. My friends and I started off at Plaza de Cataluñya, which is Barcelona’s main plaza, housing various monuments, and incredible fountains. We then proceeded to walk through La Rambla, Europe’s biggest market with over three hundred stalls containing flowers, foods, souvenirs, art, jewelry, and anything else you can imagine. It was like a tourist’s dream come true! After making our way through the crowds on the street and taking in all that the market had to offer, we found a side market called, “Mercat St. Josep,” also known as “Mercat de la Boqueria” which had all the food and drink essentials possible! (Keep in mind that here in Barcelona, people speak a different dialect of Spanish called Catalan. This is why is why the market, for example is called “Mercat” and not “Mercado”). This side market was amazing! They had the freshest fruits and vegetables I have seen in a while, and all of the colors throughout the market were truly breathtaking. Not to mention, you could also purchase fish and/or meat here to prepare at home, or ones that are already prepared for you.

If you couldn’t already guess, as we neared the end of the market, my conscience was telling me to not blow my money here, and as difficult as it was to obey, I held off on purchases here. We continued on to the Barrio Gotico, Barcelona’s oldest quarter. There were many side streets, restaurants, and entertainment and  the architecture here was impeccable! (You can tell I get excited talking about my adventures when I use strong adjectives and exclamation marks). We came across a really great cathedral in the area, but unfortunately weren’t able to go in since not everyone in my group was dressed appropriately. However, that didn’t stop us from enjoying this old quarter, and we even decided to treat ourselves by having Melindros y Chocolate, a typical dessert in Barcelona, at an old, quaint pastelería (bakery). Once we refueled with baked goods, we continued to walk on until we came across Antoni Gaudi’s Casa Batllló, a house designed for a middle class family in the late eighteen hundreds, and with its unique structure, you can tell that it’s definitely different than any other building in the neighborhood. After passing this attraction, we made our way over to the Sagrada Familia, an extremely famous cathedral which was also designed by Gaudi. The details of the building, both inside and out were beyond what one can imagine, and I truly cannot even begin to explain how remarkable the architecture was. We then went underground to a smaller church where Gaudi is buried, and gained a ton of appreciation for his work. The night concluded with going out to a local club, so you can put the pieces together on your own with regards to how that went.

On Saturday morning, my friends and I ate at a small cafe shop on La Rambla, where we got to watch passersby and enjoy the surrounding scenery. When we finished, we walked up a mountain by the pier and took cable cars across to a building which allowed us to view all of Barcelona. As I’m sure you can guess, the view was incredible, and it almost made me not fear having to ride back to the mountain in the cable cars again. When we finally finished with the scenery part of the trip, we hopped on the metro and went to the other side of town where we took a tour of the Estadio Camp Nou, the stadium where Barcelona’s soccer team, Barcelona FC plays. The stadium was bigger than anything I have ever seen before, and there was even a museum inside which informed us of the team’s history and housed the countless trophies they won in the past! By the time we finished with the stadium tour, it was time to head back to our apartment which we rented out and get ready for the night ahead of us. The evening began with a 30 minute Flamenco show at Los Tarantos, a local bar and theatre. The show was by far one of the best dances I have seen thus far, and it made me fall in love with Flamenco dancing. Unfortunately, my camera died by the time the show started, but I am now able to say that I saw a flamenco show and it was better than anything I could have imagined!

After being thoroughly entertained, my friends and I grabbed dinner at a local restaurant and headed to the Dow Jones Bar afterwards. This stock market-themed bar has a big screen for all of the costumers to watch, with a set list of shots and drinks and prices next to each one. Every few seconds, the prices of the drinks change (like the stock market) according to which drinks are being purchased at that moment. Each hour, there is a stock market crash, and all of the drink prices are lowered significantly, and this is the time that everyone runs to the bar to place their order before the prices go up again. This unique and fun bar brought drinking and learning to a whole new level, and with that, my trip concluded the following morning. Before leaving, I made sure to drink plenty of water from the Fountain of Canaletas because it is rumored that those who drink from the fountain will return to the city, so we’ll see what happens! Needless to say, I had such a great time in Barcelona, and can only hope that my next adventure is as fun as this one!