Touring Barcelona: Las Ramblas, The Castle and lots of Food
August 30, 2008
Day 2 in Barcelona was pretty much a page from the Frommer's guide on 3 perfect days in Barcelona.  We got somewhat of a late start but headed up the the Place de Catalunya to walk the length of the Ramblas.  This is definitely a touristy part of town, with lots of street vendors and street performers doing a variety of uninteresting things: "Hey, a painted guy with a whistle!" "That guy is bouncing a soccer ball!" "Look, a lady painted purple." Anyway, the street is pretty and very pedestrian friendly.

At the Place de Catalunya

We made a few side ventures to some of the smaller, out of the way squares and streets all over the Gothic Neighborhood, Barri Gotic.  Some of these alleys and warrens are among the oldest in Europe.  It would be easy to get claustrophobic in some of these narrow streets with no sun.

One of the wider streets in the Barri Gotic

A fun stop was the Boqueria, the largest food market in Europe.  Many of the food stalls were closed for vacations, but we saw quite a bit of amazing food, displayed in a really creative way.  Of course, everywhere you turn you'll find jamon and tapas.  I'm including this jamon picture for John McDermott. 


Mmm...dried food stuff...

We continued down the Ramblas to the statue honoring Christopher Columbus, a true Spanish hero.  Like much of history has also done, birds have shit all over his statue. 

Christopher Columbus, pointing the way

We decided to visit the Mountain-top castle, Castell de Montjuic.  You have a number of options to get there.  We opted for taking a sky-tram to the top, and boarded what must be the oldest, least-maintained high altitude transport in Europe.  After a harrowing ride up a windowless elevator the size of a phonebooth, we joined about 20 others crammed in a creaking, swaying gondola for the rest of the ride up.  Once we got there, we still had to hike about another mile and a half or so to reach the summit.  The views were amazing, and the cokes and sandwiches were also quite welcome.  The way back, we took the brand-new tram which is essentially a skilift which connected to the subway: faster, cheaper and presumably safer.

The view from the gondola

The Sagrada Familia from the Gondola

Atop the castle with all my camera stuff

Too small for Jessica?

Attacked by a crazy person

We finally got back to the hotel around 6:00 and headed straight to the pool, where we both fell asleep.  That night for dinner we met up with Nicole, Julie, Lauren and Kerri for dinner at Barcelona's highest rated paella restaurant.  I had the veal (not a fan of prawns), but everyone agreed the paella was the best they'd ever had.  Jetlag took its toll so it was an early evening, though we did stop by the huge casino next to our hotel.  We left quickly; there's no Wheel of Fortune.

That's a lot of paella