Awestruck on La Rambla and Beyond: Barcelona, Spain.

Barcelona, Spain is like Vancouver, British Columbia  –millions of tourists pour into each city every year.  After four days, we still had not exhausted its rich treasure chest of sights and experiences.  Inevitably visitors end up crossing or on its main pedestrian street, La Rambla.

Near the foot of La Rambla by the port. Barcelona, Spain 2016. Photo by J.Chong

It was my first time in Spain whereas for Jack, it was his fourth time.  We arrived just a few days before  Catalan’s national holiday.  La Rambla was the first street I strolled about in Barcelona.

Only 1 lane on each side of pedestrian boulevard. La Rambla. Barcelona, Spain 2016. Photo by J.Chong

La Rambla only has one lane of cars are allowed on either side of a very wide pedestrian boulevard.  It is one of several long street spines which cuts diagonally across downtown Barcelona through different architectural layers  of the city’s long, proud history and neighbourhoods.

Restored medieval section of Barcelona –a few blocks from La Rambla. Barcelona 2016. Photo by J.Chong
Within medieval quarters. Barcelona 2016. Photo by J.Chong
Gothic Quarter –medieval architecture. Barcelona 2016. Photo by J.Chong

Like most tourists and locals who work downtown, you often end up on or crossing the Rambla  enroute to your destination.  The pedestrian thoroughfare has mini-plazas with street vendors, buskers with shops and services.  It is always milling with people all the time during the day, any day and into the evening.  There is a subway stop or two along the Rambla, as well as major transit bus stops at intersections.

Breakfast room with mermaid decor. Espana Hotel, where we stayed, 1 block away from La Rambla. Biult in 1904 with still some art nouveau touches. Barcelona 2016. Photo by J.Chong
Hotel’s charter establishing it in 1904. Barcelona 2016.

Part of Barcelona’s identity is tied to the  La Rambla.  It is not like the Champs des L’Elysses in Paris, where still a large part is devoted to fast car lanes. Instead, imagine taking a downtown major street for Yonge St. in Toronto (which actually extends 20 km. north into the suburbs from Lake Ontario), or Robson St. for several kilometres in Vancouver and make all of it car-free to allow  streams  of people to overtake the pavement.

Floral art mural inspired Joan Miro, a world famous Barcelonan painter. La Rambla, Barcelona 2016. Photo by J.Chong
Bikes parked in quietest of corners. Barcelona 2016. Photo by J.Chong

La Rambla might be annoying to folks who hate crowds and tourism, but such key streets in a major city, are part of daily economic and human dynamic.  There were many different visual sensations of art, architecture, history, food and social interaction.   Our hotel was 1 block away from La Ramblas.  Daily we wandered into the Rambla not just to see layers of

Vendor offering variety of eggs. Boqueria Market, Barcelona 2016. Photo by J.Chong
Ducks and cockles from the sea. Boqueria Market, Barcelona 2016. Photo by J.Chong

history, but to literally get to other places just a few blocks away –Boqueria Market, major cathedrals of medieval vintage, other historic plazas with fantastic cafes and restaurants where red wine and coffee was ubiquitous.

Cathedral de Barcelona 2016. Photo by J.Chong. Dates back to 14th century.
16th century choir stalls with each seat emblazoned with crest for members of the Order of the Golden Fleece. Cathedral de Barcelona 2016. Photo by J.Chong
Cross with Christ seemed to weightlessly fly upward with the angels. Cathedral de Barcelona 2016. Photo by J.Chong

Barcelona city as part of the Catalan province, has seen violence over centuries and struggle for independence from Spain.   The Rambla was one of the featured areas in 2017, where there were local protests for Catalan independence  –later quashed.

Marionnettes in souvenier-art shop near La Rambla. Barcelona 2016. Photo by J.Chong

So let me give you a flavour of what we saw during our brief sojourn in Barcelona, on the Ramblas and near by.  We gave up on cycling in this area because there was so much to see and absorb slowly on foot the vitality of history, culture and people. Our bikes were left in our hotel room.

Statue of Christopher Columbus, Spanish explorer and conquistador of the New World. Near the port. Barcelona 2016. Photo by J.Chong
At foot of Christopher Columbus statue. King Ferdinand V on the left and Queen Isabella, ruling monarchy during Spain’s colonization. Near Port. Barcelona 2016. Photo by J.Chong. Decorative ribbons are in celebration of upcoming national holiday.
Church ceremony while walking by. Barcelona 2016. Photo by J.Chong

So we went  merged even for a short time, into the life, craziness and passion of Barcelona.

Various plazas just off La Rambla. Barcelona, 2016. Photo by J.Chong
Ceramic tile art embedded in public water fountain. Barcelona 2016. Photo by J.Chong
Centuries old gold gilded etched liturgical paintings often were behind iron heavy gates inside historic cathedrals for security. I poked my camera through the bars for unobstructed photo. Cathedral de Barcelona, 2016. Photo by J.Chong
Historic courtyards and lanes near La Rambla. Barcelona, Spain 2016. Photo by J.Chong
By cathedral steps. Barcelona 2016. Photo by J.Chong
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20 Comments Add yours

  1. Peter Klopp says:

    Thank you for giving us the grand tour of Barcelona! There is much to see in this historical city. I like the way you made reference to Vancouver. Happy Easter!

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    1. Jean says:

      Well, it’s true Vancouver gets as many tourists as Barcelona. Glad you enjoyed the virtual tour. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s so beautiful! I love the idea of a pedestrian lane that goes on and on, Jean! ♡
    Diana xo

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    1. Jean says:

      It’s long enough to go down to the port of Barcelona where there are some Olympic Games infrastructure, in addition to the Columbus statute. Great to see you Diana.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good to be seen Jean! Slowly coming back fro my break. Losing dad, I dropped a lot of stuff that seemed unimportant in comparison. 💗

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        1. Jean says:

          Sometimes slivers of ache never go away completely. It’s like life is shot with rain and snow ..in sunshine. A local told me a long time ago, Calgary experienced a hr. or so of snow, rain, thunder and lightning all simultaneously.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Oooh, I like the looks of that Cathedral—now I need to go!

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    1. Jean says:

      🙂 You will love Barcelona. There are several cathedrals of significance. I haven’t even mention Spanish liturgical art in the National Museum of Catalonian Art. Interesting since I’m not familiar with Spanish artistic imagery of Christianity. In the medieval art, Virgin Mary appears in navy blue or black robe with touches..of pink/rose.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Mabel Kwong says:

    Spain certainly has a lot of architecture to behold, and it sounds like the best way to see La Rambla was on foot, just like you did. That pedestrian area sounds like it showcases the heart of the city with food, art and people all round. I would have been stopping all the time to take it all in, just like how you took all these photos. Interesting to see a whole feathered duck is sold just like that through the windows.

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    1. Jean says:

      The feathered duck type is not eaten here in Canada which is what I found interesting. The mallard duck is very common in Canada in our rivers and lakes.

      Absolutely La Rambla pulses with activity and tourists. Recently Barcelona authorities are looking at ways to ensure their city areas are still liveable without stopping the visitors from coming to city.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Mabel Kwong says:

        And that looked like a mallard duck in the window. Sometimes too many people in a certain location makes it hard to enjoy…then again, sometimes the more people, the more is gives a buzz to a certain place.

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  5. Marta says:

    Love the pictures! Glad you had a good time.
    It seems many locals who live in the centre are quite fed up with tourism. Not with tourists themselves, of course (well only with the ones that get very drunk, go outside naked, piss on the street or arrange parties in the a.m.), but the fact that it is more and more difficult to find an apartment to rent for a decent price because they were all turned into airbnbs, normal shops and supermarkets are turned into tourist crap shops, etc. So basically what already happened in Venice some years ago. It is a very complicated problem…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Actually same AirBnB problem is creeping in various parts of Vancouver (and Toronto) where the hotels decry competition etc. and condo owners don’t want transient traffic wearing down their lobbies, etc. The loss of local feel for stores with goods for living, instead of souveniers would be headache for those living nearby. I did read of the Barcelona municipality working on some regulations… hope something better is in place without driving a lot of tourism dollars away for the economy.

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  6. Sue Slaght says:

    How wonderful to be in Spain! We did a cycling trip in the Picos de Europa quite a few years ago. It is a big regret of mine that we did not go to Barcelona at that time. You have captured so much of this vibrant city. I do hope we have the chance to return one day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Barcelona is very dynamic and a lot of stuff to see. It’s worth a stop for at least 2 days or more. That’s my only exposure to Spain so far.

      Like

  7. Lani says:

    How magical and wonderful. Spain…one day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      One day you’ll get to Europe..after you get bored with Asia. 😀

      Like

  8. I especially liked the statue of Columbus and how he was pointing and saying: “Canada? It’s back that way– and I sure hope your bikes have paddle wheels!!” Some of your best photos ever, Jean. Great post, thanks for sharing!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Funny 🙂 We were on flying bikes over the ocean.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Sartenada says:

    How lovely post. We love Barcelona and haven there twice. Have You ever been in Samba Carnival? If not, look at my newest post. My daughter participated in it also.

    Have a wonderful day!

    Liked by 1 person

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