La Rambla—One Street That Deserves a Whole Day

The wavy, almost watery, textured lines in the pavement evoke images of what the road used to be—a waterway from the city walls to the Mediterranean Sea
The wavy, almost watery, textured lines in the pavement evoke images of what the road used to be—a waterway from the city walls to the Mediterranean Sea

There aren’t many roads as special as La Rambla in Barcelona, Spain. You might have been on some that have special designations, or there’s some historical significance, or they seem to have some magic about them. La Rambla really doesn’t have any of that going for it; yet it’s worthy of an entire day of your visit to the capital of this Catalonian people. Take a stroll with me, and you’ll see what I mean.

Technically a series of five connected streets, it’s considered to be just one street because there are no crossing streets. You might hear it referred to as Las Ramblas (for the five sections), but the singular is just fine. The main part of La Rambla is the rather wide tree-lined pedestrian walkway, with narrow driving lanes separating the walkway from the restaurants, shops, hotels, and other businesses. Rambla in Spanish means dry riverbed, and this is where the water ran from outside the city walls down to the Mediterranean Sea. Not a very glamorous beginning, was it?

Legend has it that one drink from the black and gold ornate Fountain of Canaletes ensures that one day you’ll return to Barcelona
Legend has it that one drink from the black and gold ornate Fountain of Canaletes ensures that one day you’ll return to Barcelona

Starting at the Plaça de Catalunya, which is where the non-stop bus from the international airport deposits you, look for the widest street that branches off this huge pedestrian-friendly square. Ignore the Hard Rock Café that you see off to your left, watch out for the whizzing cars that don’t care that you’re a friendly tourist, and make your way across the street to being your journey down La Rambla. The wavy pattern in the walkway that you’re admiring is designed to evoke the feeling of the water that used to flow down this area a long time ago. Speaking of water, just a short way down La Rambla is the Fountain of Canaletes, and legend has it that drinking from this fountain ensures that you will someday return to Barcelona. Thirsty? Give it a try, then get ready to book your return trip.

Yes, those are birds you hear as you continue your journey. The menagerie of birds, turtles, fish, and other small animals on the left side is where children would bring their parents and then beg them to buy a pet. Since those living in apartments couldn’t have dogs or cats, these animals were the perfect pets; they were small, they were easy to care for, and they didn’t make much noise. If you go by at night, you’ll hear the plaintive chirps of the birds who really would like a new home.

This Roman Necropolis is over 2,000 years old, and it was uncovered as workers were preparing to build the foundation for a new set of apartments
This Roman Necropolis is over 2,000 years old, and it was uncovered as workers were preparing to build the foundation for a new set of apartments

As you continue down on the left side, go through the hotel passageway at #122 and set your sights on some 2,000 year old Roman ruins. These graves and other markings were uncovered as contractors were digging to lay the foundation for some new buildings. The ruins might have been completely destroyed except for the noble act of some local residents who notified the authorities. You can look at them from above, or pay a small fee and enter the grounds and the museum; they’re worth the time and the money.

Once you enter the spacious La Boquería marketplace, you’ll fall in the love with the delicious sights and smells, giving you one more reason to return to Barcelona

Returning to La Rambla, continue downhill and go past the red metro stop on the right until you see the wide walkway that is filled with people going in both directions. As you enter La Boquería market, you just might discover that you’re hungry, and there are plenty of stalls in here to quench your appetite and your thirst. If you’re staying in town for a few days, this is a great place to buy olives, vegetables, cheeses, fruits, and fresh meats. You can find any flavor of smoothie that suits your taste. Caution: don’t come in here if you’re hungry and you’re in a hurry!

A cold glass of refreshing beer while sitting at an outside café along La Rambla is the perfect way to relax and reflect on the beauty of this marvelous city
A cold glass of refreshing beer while sitting at an outside café along La Rambla is the perfect way to relax and reflect on the beauty of this marvelous city

If you don’t find the right refreshment for you in La Boquiería, you can always stop at any one of the outside cafés along La Rambla and have a refreshing beer or Sangría, a favorite drink made with red wine. If the waiter asks you if you want yours “grandé,” be careful because he doesn’t mean just “big”; he means “very big.”

Continuing your walk, as you pass the flower stalls, be sure to look down for an original piece of art by the famous Spanish artist Joan Miró. The mosaic is of an anchor, which is a strong reminder of Barcelona’s linkage to the sea. Once you reach this point, you are essentially halfway down La Rambla. Fortunately, the rest of it continues downhill.

The colorful helmeted lampposts in Plaça Reial are functional and they’re Antoni Gaudí’s first public works”
The colorful helmeted lampposts in Plaça Reial are functional and they’re Antoni Gaudí’s first public works”

A few steps past the Liceu metro stop (your stop if you were going to the opera), you’ll find the entrance to neoclassical square Plaça Reial. Here is another marvelous place to take a short rest. There are taverns and bars, souvenir shops, palm trees, herbs, and — drumroll please — Antoni Gaudí’s first public works, two helmeted lampposts.

As you head back out of the square, go straight across La Rambla for the street Nou de La Rambla. Situated at # 3 is Palau Güell, the stately mansion built by Gaudí for a very wealthy family. If you have time, pay the small entrance fee and tour the inside and be totally amazed. One of the hidden gems of this palatial estate is the collection of whimsically decorated smokestacks that are accessible on the roof.

Returning to La Rambla, turn right and you’re near the end. You’re also getting close to Barcelona’s Chinatown, but don’t be surprised when you see nothing Chinese about the area. The Columbus Monument that marks the official end of La Rambla, and the Maritime Museum on the right side of La Rambla are worth checking out, however.

Now that you’re at the bottom of La Rambla, you can see why you wanted to start your journey at the top. And since you already took a sip of the water from the Fountain of Canaletes, you’ll be returning to Barcelona one day, and then you can do the walk in reverse order!


Happy Travels!
Stuart



Stuart Gustafson is America’s International Travel Expert® who speaks on cruise ships, writes novels, sends out an infrequent newsletter (almost every month!), is an avid TripAdvisor reviewer, and loves everything about travel. Visit his website at www.stuartgustafson.com. You can also connect with him and other travelers on his International Travel Expert page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/International-Travel-Expert-147321228683651/


All information and images copyright © 2016 by Stuart Gustafson Productions, LLC. America’s International Travel Expert is a U.S. Registered Trademark of Stuart Gustafson Productions, LLC.




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A Crazy Travel Schedule

I head out on Friday for my first cruise of 2016 — that is shocking to some people who know me and how I love to travel. But this summer was dedicated to working in the yards as we are doing a lot of re-landscaping. I built new redwood planter boxes for the back yard, adding artistic flair to them along the way, and the front yards are being done with flower “islands” and buffalo grass (think wild prairies). With other cruises (and other travels) already lined up for 2017, I thought I would write out my schedule as it is for now. If you’re going to be in any of these places at the same time, let’s get together!


    2016:

  • 2 Sep Seattle-Tacoma Airport; En route to Vancouver
  • 2 Sep Vancouver, B.C., Canada; Boarding the Celebrity MILLENNIUM for a cruise across the Pacific
  • 7 Sep Dutch Harbor, Alaska; Full day in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 14 Sep Otaru, Japan; Full day in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 15 Sep Hakodate, Japan; Full day in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 17 Sep Tokyo, Japan; Full day in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 18 Sep Tokyo (Yokohama), Japan; depart cruise and fly home
  • 5 Oct to 20 Oct San Jose del Cabo, BCS, MEXICO; 2 weeks along Playa Azul in Los Cabos. Relaxing at Bel Air Vacation Club — available for interviews, articles, etc.
  • 8 Nov Las Vegas, NV; on way to San Diego
  • 9 Nov to 16 Nov Oceanside, California; Staying at WorldMark Oceanside while attending a beautiful wedding
  • 23 Dec to 30 Dec McCall, Idaho; Christmas time at WorldMark McCall
    2017:

  • 29 Jan to 12 Feb Cabo San Lucas, BCS, Mexico; We’ll be staying at Playa Grande Resort or Grand Solmar Resort (or both)
  • 23 Feb to 25 Feb Singapore; Visiting prior to joining cruise ship
  • 25 Feb to 26 Feb Singapore; Two days in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 1 Mar to 2 Mar Bangkok, Thailand; Two days in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 4 Mar Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Full day in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 6 Mar Danang, Vietnam; Full day in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 7 Mar Halong Bay, Vietnam; Two days in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 7 Mar to 8 Mar Hanoi, Vietnam; Two days in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 10 Mar to 11 Mar Hong Kong, China; Two days in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 11 Mar Hong Kong, China; Turnaround day for cruises on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 13 Mar 13 Mar Keelung, Taiwan; Full day in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 15 Mar Nagasaki, Japan; Full day in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 16 Mar Busan, South Korea; Full day in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 17 Mar Jeju Island, South Korea; Full day in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 18 Mar Incheon, South Korea; Full day in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 20 Mar to 22 Mar Beijing, China; Three days in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 20 Mar to 22 Tianjin, China; Three days in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 25 Mar Shanghai, China; Turnaround day for cruises on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 28 Mar to 30 Mar Tianjin, China; Three days in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 28 Mar to 30 Mar Beijing, China; Three days in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 1 Apr Incheon, South Korea; Full day in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 2 Apr Jeju Island, South Korea; Full day in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 3 Apr Nagasaki, Japan; Full day in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 5 Apr Keelung, Taiwan; Full day in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 7 Apr to 8 Apr Hong Kong, China; Two days in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 8 Apr to 9 Apr Hong Kong, China; Two days in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 11 Apr to 12 Apr Taipei, Taiwan; Two days in port (Keelung) while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 13 Apr Okinawa, Japan; Full day in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 15 Apr Shanghai, China; Full day in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 17 Apr Nagasaki, Japan; Full day in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 19 Apr to 20 Apr Kobe, Japan; Two days in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 21 Apr Mt. Fuji, Japan; Full day in port (Shimizu) while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 22 Apr Tokyo, Japan; End of cruise (Yokohama) on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 7 Jul to 8 Jul Providence, RI; preparing for “Great American Waterways” cruise on Blount Small Ship Adventures
  • 10 Jul Kingston, NY; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 11 Jul Troy, NY; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 12 Jul Amsterdam, NY; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 13 Jul Sylvan Beach, NY; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 14 Jul Oswego, NY; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 15 Jul Rochester, NY; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 16 Jul Buffalo, NY; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 18 Jul Cleveland, OH; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 19 Jul Wyandotte, MI; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 21 Jul Mackinac Island, MI; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 22 Jul Manitowoc, WI; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 23 Jul Chicago, IL; Ending of “Great American Waterways” cruise on Blount
  • 23 Jul to 25 Jul Chicago, IL; between Blount cruises; taking in some art and other scenery
  • 26 Jul Manitowoc, WI; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 27 Jul Mackinac Island, MI; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 29 Jul Wyandotte, MI; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 30 Jul Cleveland, OH; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 31 Jul Erie, PA; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 1 Aug Buffalo, NY; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 2 Aug Rochester, NY; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 3 Aug Oswego, NY; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 4 Aug Sylvan Beach, NY; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 5 Aug Amsterdam, NY; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 6 Aug Troy, NY; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 7 Aug Kingston, NY; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 9 Aug Warren, RI; end of Blount cruise
  • 25 Aug to 28 Aug Venice, Italy; Before heading out on cruise on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 30 Aug Katakolon, Greece; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 31 Aug Santorini, Greece; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION on what would have been Mom’s 100th birthday!
  • 1 Sep to 2 Sep Athens, Greece; Two days in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 3 Sep Mykonos, Greece; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 5 Sep Corfu, Greece; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 7 Sep Venice, Italy; Turnaround day for cruises on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 8 Sep Ravenna, Italy; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 9 Sep to 10 Sep Dubrovnik, Croatia; Two days in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 11 Sep Kotor, Montenegro; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 13 Sep Catania, Sicily, Italy; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 15 Sep Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 16 Sep Ibiza, Spain; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 17 Sep Valencia, Spain; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 18 Sep Barcelona, Spain; Turnaround day for cruises on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 19 Sep Sete, France; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 20 Sep Toulon, France; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 21 Sep Villefranche, France; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION; perhaps a day trip to Monte Carlo!
  • 22 Sep Civitavecchia, Italy; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 23 Sep Naples, Italy; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 25 Sep to 26 Sep Valletta, Malta; Two days in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION; hoping to visit friend while there
  • 28 Sep Venice, Italy; Turnaround day for cruises on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 29 Sep Ravenna, Italy; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 30 Sep to 1 Oct Dubrovnik, Croatia; Two days in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 2 Oct Kotor, Montenegro; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 4 Oct Catania, Sicily, Italy; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 6 Oct Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 7 Oct Ibiza, Spain; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 8 Oct Valencia, Spain;Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 9 Oct to 13 Oct Barcelona, Spain; End of cruises; celebrate anniversary 43; explore the city, more Gaudi art to see; stroll La Rambla one more time!

Stuart Gustafson is America’s International Travel Expert® who speaks on cruise ships, writes novels, sends out a monthly newsletter (almost every month!), and loves everything about travel. Visit his website at www.stuartgustafson.com. You can also connect with him and other travelers on his International Travel Expert page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/International-Travel-Expert-147321228683651/


All information and images copyright © 2016 by Stuart Gustafson Productions, LLC. America’s International Travel Expert is a U.S. Registered Trademark of Stuart Gustafson Productions, LLC.




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