Friday, July 13, 2012

Barcelona Day 2 -- Las Ramblas and Busy Barceloneta

In front of Las Ramblas.

  Onto day two in Barcelona!

  What had originally appealed to me about Barcelona was the fact that such a big, lively city can also located right on the shores of the Mediterranean. To me, this combination made Barcelona the perfect vacation spot.

  You have the historic sights of Gaudi Park, Las Ramblas, Montjuïc, while also being minutes away from relaxing on beautiful sandy beaches.

  And even though Linda and I had just spent four days on the incomparable beaches of Sardegna, both of us desperately wanted one last afternoon relaxing on the beach. We thought a Saturday in May would be perfect.

Tree-lined Passeig de Gràcia.
  But before we hit Barceloneta for the afternoon, Linda and I had a few sights we wanted to see first. We jumped on the metro, and headed in the direction of Passeig de Gràcia and Las Ramblas.

  We walked the entire length of Passeig de Gràcia (we affectionately nicknamed it P.G. to avoid and embarrassing pronunciation disasters). You could find a lot of high-end shopping, and more architecture by Antoni Gaudi along the tree-lined boulevard.

  Passeig de Gràcia is also considered the most expensive street in Barcelona. Since I'm one that can never pass-up the swoosh, one stop we had to make was at Nike Barcelona when we strolled by it.

  Passeig de Gràcia eventually runs into Plaça de Catalunya, the square where old Barcelona, and the newer city converge. From Plaça de Catalunya, Las Ramblas begins. The kilometer-long avenue might be Barcelona's most well-known attraction.

  We walked from Plaça de Catalunya towards the harbor, stopped in at a Starbucks, and then continued people-watching and perusing through the kiosks as we made our way through the pedestrian mall.

The entrance of La Boqueria.
  There's a large public market called La Boqueria where we stopped to find some food to take with us to Barceloneta. The market has a long standing history in Barcelona, as it originally dates all the way back to the 1200s.

  Beautiful fruit and vegetable stands, flower shops, and makeshift-restaurants run throughout the jam-packed covered market.

  We were enjoying exploring the maze that was the market, until we came across the meat stand and encountered the lamb head with its eyes peering right at us. That was our cue to take our fresh fruit, and head towards the beach.

  If the Alghero beaches were relaxing and peaceful, Barceloneta was the polar opposite. I have never been on a beach so jam-packed and busy. We tried to find a spot that was off the beaten path, but that proved to be impossible.

Busy Barceloneta.
  Eventually, we settled on a spot smack in the middle of all the action -- since there really was no spot OFF the beaten path. We tried to relax, but the constant hassling from vendors trying to sell cold drinks, scarves, hats, and anything else imaginable, made relaxing a little difficult.

  Linda and I both were quickly annoyed, but we made-do, and tried to enjoy the sunshine and the water.

  That was an interesting beach to sit on for the afternoon. Saw a couple things I didn't care to see, such as both men and women turning Barceloneta into a nude beach. Yikes!

Linda in the water.
  Needless to say, we didn't last too long on Barceloneta, and set back out onto Las Ramblas. I found some pretty jewelry made by a local woman, that I bought for myself and brought a pair of earrings home for my mom as well.

  Evening came, and it was time for dinner! Once again, tapas and sangria were on tap. Linda and I enjoyed the neighborhood we had eaten at the night before, so we head back down to Barri Gòtic to find another restaurant to try out. We wanted to find a place to sit outside, but unfortunately everywhere we went the patios were full.

Got some gelato!
  We settled on semi-hole-in-the-wall, that had a wide variety of things on the menu. I had a traditional Spanish Tortilla and, after days of tapas, sandwiches, pizza, and pasta, a much-needed salad. The sangria, as could be expected, was awesome!

  Linda was determined to taste the Spanish beer, but was having difficulty finding the list on the the menu. She asked our waitress, 'donde esta el beer?' as I died laughing at our attempt to speak a little Spanish.

  We wandered in and out of the streets, looking for a second cafe/bar to stop in, but weren't having much luck finding one that caught our eye. I must have been having a particularly tall night that night, because the constant comments from strangers quickly got on my nerves.

  As we continued walking, ice cream was starting to appeal to me. And since we couldn't find a cafe that enticed us, we settled on some gelato -- never a bad way to end a night!

  Day two in Barcelona was a little wacky, but we saw some fun sights on Las Ramblas, and some unfortunately unforgettable things in Barceloneta. But wacky makes for memorable, which is exactly what you want vacations to be!

A short Barceloneta video -- so you can see the madness. And more pictures below!

Gaudi architecture along Passeig de Gràcia.
Plaça de Catalunya
Linda along Las Ramblas.

Inside the market.
Barcelona Harbor.
Sitting on Barceloneta.
Streets of Barri Gòtic neighborhood.
Barcelona at night.


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