Thursday, October 8, 2015

#1522 2 weeks in Barcelona day 2: La Rambla, churros and giants

A cold has been building in my body for a couple of days and today it went ahead and took over my world. I had to stay home from work because no one should be subjected to the germs that I am carrying right now. I've been dozing off and on most of the day. I did shower and I've been up for several consecutive hours now. I just sorted all of my vacation photos into files by date; that was fun. Now I'm ready to write about our second day in Barcelona. Want to come along? Vamos!

Tuesday Sept 15, 2015
After a good night's sleep, we planned to spend the day wandering around the downtown area, notably on La Rambla and through part of the Gothic Quarter without going to the cathedral.  We took the metro from the Tibidabo stop near our apartment all the way to the end, Placa Catalunya. (This is the Catalan name for the square; the "c" is soft and should have a little tail.) This may sound strange, but I like the way the metro smells. As you walk down the steps, the scent is warm and a little metallic. It hasn't changed for me in all the years that I missed it.

Anyway, when you get off the metro at Placa Catalunya, you are right at the beginning of La Rambla.
La Rambla
La Rambla is a broad pedestrian walkway through an old part of the city. It starts at Placa Catalunya and basically ends at the Columbus statue.

Mom with the Columbus statue in the background

At the beginning of La Ramba is the Font de Canaletes. It's said that if you drink from the fountain, you will return to Barcelona, so of course, we all took a sip.

Mom taking a sip from the Font de Canaletes

Our first destination was to have churros and hot chocolate from a granja that my mom remembered. Somehow, among all the tiny streets and little shops, she found the place she was looking for.

typical street in the Gothic Quarter

chocolate con nata y churros at La Pallaresa
It wasn't really breakfast time, it was probably around 11 am, but there were still churros to be had. They weren't very fresh, certainly not warm, but you dip them in the hot chocolate and it's a good treat. The chocolate is extremely rich and thick; it's not a sipping cocoa like we have here in the States. The nata (whipped cream) is unsweetened, so you put some sugar on it and let your taste buds do a happy dance!

After breakfast, we wandered around the little streets until we came to Placa Reial. I've always liked Placa Reial because of the fountain and the palm trees.

Lizzie and Mom in Placa Reial
After a little more wandering, we returned to Placa Reial to have a light tapas lunch at a restaurant Mom had read about called Ocana. (I don't have the Spanish keyboard, so I can't make the n with the ~ over it, but the restaurant's name is pronounced Ocanya.) The waiter was nice, but the food wasn't great.

Back out to La Rambla and into La Boqueria.

La Boqueria is an incredible market with everything from fresh fruit to fresh fish to fresh meat to places to get a bit to eat. It was full of people and hard to get any cool photos, but I paused to get a shot of this fish stand:

fish market in La Boqueria
This is only one small fish stand. We passed way more than a dozen just like this. There are also that many stands selling bread, other selling ham, others selling cheese and eggs, others selling different cuts of meats and sausages. The smells in there jumble all together and it's pretty intoxicating. My mom said that my grandmother would come all the way from her home in the Tibidabo area once a week to shop at La Boqueria.  Too many people for me, though, so after we'd walked through it, we found our way out.

We were catching our breath and having a drink of water in front of a large former mansion. Mom was telling us some history about the place when I looked inside and saw the giants!

the giants!

the giant eagle (kinda looks like a chicken)

the dragoness - female because she has boobs

more giants
There is quite a long history of parading giants in Spain dating back to the 1300s. These giants are a traditional part of the Festa de San Merce that happens on September 24. The giants parade through the streets on 9/24, but on this day, they were on display in this building. I think they are really awesome.

We continued roaming around down some other streets. Eventually we found our way to a restaurant called Els4Gats. This place was significant to me because Picasso and Gaudi used to hang out here in the early 1800s. Picasso painted what would become the cover of the menu at that time. The bar is said to be the original and the place is like a little art gallery. I felt happy and comfortable there. The beer came in a real mug!

the doorway of 4 Gats

a canya at Els 4Gats
We spent many hours in La Rambla area and we decided to go home. That night, we had a dinner at a neighborhood restaurant called El Pescadito.  We thought we made a reservation for 8pm, but when we got there, we learned that the kitchen didn't even open until 8:30. We found a table on the terrace, right on Carrer Balmes, had a drink and waited for the kitchen to open. The meal was just so-so for me, but Lizzie enjoyed her paella. Mom had fish and that needed some type of sauce. We finished our meal around 10:30 and walked home, tired from our full, long, fun day in the city.

Check back on Saturday when I will take you back into the Gothic Quarter for a look at the beautiful cathedral and dinner with my cousin.

1 comment:

Kteach said...

Love to read your blog and relive the experiences :)