My previous blogs of Barcelona have highlighted the works of innovative Spanish-born architect Antoni Gaudi, the Segrada Familia Basicilia, Casa Mila, Casa Batllo, as well as the Barcelona concert hall (not Gaudi). Now I’ll simply take you around Barcelona for some of the interesting sites and discoveries.
Barcelona is certainly a world-class city in my opinion. While not on par with Rome when it comes to stumbling upon some world famous architecture around the next corner, still a wonderful city.
First, Barcelona does not have square city blocks. Rather, each corner of the square is cut off, effectively making them octagonal. So when you come to the end of a block and wish to cross the street, you have to walk down ‘around the corner’ 75 feet of so to the cross walk painted at a more narrow spot in the road, a point where the two cut off corners end and what would be a regular square begins again. The street in more narrow here. Once across the street, you have to then walk back the 75 feet or so and carry on your way. This adds a great deal of extra mileage to your walk. Every block walked in Barcelona adds hundreds of feet vs. a square city block. What is gained is a place for trash bins, additional parking, additional outside dining and no blind corners to walk around. In the Google screen print below you can see the location of the cross walks.
Eking Out a Living in Barcelona
In small towns across America I’m often impressed with people’s ability to eke out a living. Some will repair radiators while others fix lawnmowers. People with limited means will do the same in a big city. So this entrepreneur only needs a bucket of soapy water, two sticks and some string and he is in business making bubbles for the entertainment of all. If your kids stop and play, you owe him some money, if you stop and take some photos you owe a Euro or so. He creates a beautiful and fun sight in contrast with the drab walls, while all are entertained for a while.
No, I did not go to this museum. As we were walking down the crowded pedestrian walkway in front of this very hard working lady, I do not think the topic of actually visiting even came up…..
Barcelona’s Farmer’s Market and Small Shops
There is one particularly well-known market place in Barcelona, St Josep La Boqueria. Here you will find octopus, squid, goat heads, all fruits and vegetables, and legs and legs of Iberian ham hanging. We had a meal around the perimeter after trying many snacks and watched the action. It is a crowded combination of locals and gawking tourists. Obviously, the typical tourist would not buy one of these fish or an entire fresh octopus…. but I would sure like to!
All Stores are Specialty Stores
In the old section of town, you will find no large stores, everyone specializes in small shops. While one can find a large US style department store in the newer sections of town, small is the rule here in the neighborhoods. Of course one can find a chocolatiers in the USA like See’s Candies (owned by Berkshire Hathaway) or Godiva, all large chains. These Barcelona stores are about the size of a small living room or large bedroom. Here everyone specializes and they are, as they say, mom and pop stores. Just handmade chocolates made in front of you, just slippers (no shoes) and of course just toy ducks.
Street Performers in Barcelona
The talent level of street musicians has always impressed me in Europe. I specifically remember several great musicians in York, England and this band in Barcelona.
Just turn the corner through a churchyard heading home and one is greeted with these wonderful singers. My rule is if they make you smile, you own them a Euro. I was relieved of numerous Euros on this afternoon’s walk….
Time to head back home, down one of the many narrow alleys in Barcelona. What a great town to visit!