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|Frank Bernheisel: The View From Here|
Just Outside Washington
FRANK BERNHEISEL & Kathy Cavanaugh
HOMAGE TO CATALONIA: DAY FOUR
Because we were checking out of the OD Barcelona hotel, we had to have our bags outside our room before breakfast so they could be loaded on our bus. After breakfast we got on the bus and were off for some sightseeing. Our first stop was Plaça de Catalunya where we began a guided tour of La Rambla.
The Plaça shows the two things that are ubiquitous in Barcelona: motor scooters and construction cranes.The Plaça is Barcelona's most central area and a favorite meeting place for locals and visitors and connects the Eixample and the old town. There are six sculptural groups around the plaza: representing the four Catalan capital cities, wisdom and labor. In the center of the picture is the monument by Josep Maria Subirachs for Francesc Macià’, president of the Catalan Government during the Second Spanish Republic (1932-1933).
The drinking fountain, the Font de Canaletes, has magical properties; folklore says that if you drink from this famous fountain at the top of La Rambla, you will fall in love with Barcelona and always return to the city.
We proceeded along Barcelona's most famous promenade while our guide pointed out its variety of shops, churches, theaters, and the various architectural styles. La Rambla extends from the city center, almost a mile, to the Christopher Columbus Monument at Port Vell. It can be crowded, and its popularity with tourists has affected the character of the street, resulting in more pavement cafes and souvenir kiosks.
And then there are the pickpockets, which our guide kept warning us about: "keep your backpack in front of you/" Many tourists come to La Rambla for the shopping experience and to enjoy La Boqueria (market), which was our destination. We were given free time to explore La Boqueria at leisure and meet again at the appointed time.
After our free time to wander in and wonder at the market, we assembled in front of LaBoqueria, met our guide, and retraced our steps on La Ramble back to Plaça de Catalunya.
The pavement of La Ramble consists of cobble stones and tiles set in a wave patterns, which can confuse the eye. We all got a chuckle from the Erotic Museum, third floor above the flower stall, right picture. We re-boarded our bus and were off to continue our city tour.
We headed to the Plaça d'Espanya, which is one of the city's largest squares, on the way to the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, one of Catalonia's finest museums. We traveled along Carrer de la Creu Coberta and passed Las Arenas de Barcelona.
The arena was built in 1900 and was one of the most celebrated bullrings in Spain. After decades of bullfighting glory and other uses, including headquarters for the Republican Army during the Spanish Civil War and hosting other sports events, the last bullfight took place in 1977. The arena was abandoned in the early 1990s and was reopened in 2011 as a shopping mall. The last bullfight in Catalonia took place in September 2011 and has been banned in the autonomous region since then.
We passed by the Venetian Towers, which were built for the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition. They are on either side of Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina, the grand avenue leading up to the Palau Nacional on Montjuïc, which houses the National Art Museum of Catalonia, our destination. As we traveled, our guide pointed out the many exhibit pavilions built by the countries attending the Exposition, including the U.S. It occurred to me later that we did not see the famous German pavilion, which was designed by Mies van der Rohe and contained the original Barcelona Chair.
TO BE CONTINUED...
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