Monday, October 5, 2015

Barcelona, Spain: Las Ramblas

My flight arrived early one Thursday morning at the Barcelona airport, and I easily caught the aerobus (10 euros round trip) to Placa de Catalunya, in the city center,  Placa de Catalunya occupies an area of about 50,000 square metres. It is especially known for its fountains and statues, and its proximity to some of Barcelona's most popular attractions.

Las Ramblas
Once I had my bearings, I made my way down the famous mall-like roadway, Las Ramblas, towards the rental office where I'd planned to meet my brother and his wife. A tree-lined pedestrian sidewalk, Las Ramblas stretches for 1.2 kilometres (0.75 mi) connecting Placa de Catalunya with the Christopher Columbus monument by the harbor. The plane trees offer grace and elegance, and a buffer from the nearby buildings.

A former umbrella shop
Some sights along the way included the famous La Bouqueria Market, crowded to capacity with tourists, flower vendors, gelaterie, and grown men making noises like birds as they hawked whistles hidden in their mouths. The original market was started in 1217 near the city gate, but was moved to La Rambla and opened in 1840.

La Bouqueria market

Flower vendors decorate the street.
Notice the wavy tiles underfoot. Ramla means "stream" in Arabic, and this area was once a dried up river bed, from a river that once flowed from the hills to the sea. The tiles serve to honor the memory of that river.

One way to get customers: dress up like Marilyn Monroe and blow kisses from a terrace!

Further down Las Ramblas, I came across the Placa Reial, a quiet oasis down a side street, filled with palm trees and outdoor cafes. It is the home of Gaudi's first creations, shown below. Placa Reial was a lovely place to hang out and enjoy the ambience of Barcelona. I went there several times during my stay.

A Gaudi-designed lampost in Placa Reial: one of his first public works.

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