Monday, December 03, 2007

Barcelona Part 1

This is the Hotel Lobby, Hotel Grand Central on Via Layetana 30 or Via Laietana 30. Located in the centre of the city, next to Barcelona’s cathedral, with spectacular views of the entire Gothic district and the ancient city walls.
The Dollar was worth not much in Europe, but we were able to have a great time on a budget. We arrived to Barcelona from Frankfurt and got our 5 Day Barcelona Card. The Barcelona City Card features free travel on public transport and over 100 discounts and free offers at museums, cultural venues, entertainment, leisure attractions, evening venues, shops and restaurants. You can choose from 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 day passes! Every card comes with a FREE guidebook with helpful information on the establishments associated with the card, as well as a city map. We got it at the Airport at the Turism Office. It was the best deal in town.
Our Vacation Started by coming out of the Airport and taking the bus at the RENFE Train Station. We were left at the Sants Station where we took the underground to our Hotel . We had to change lines at Plaça Catalunya and take the Yellow Line as they know it and stop at Jaume I. This station was about a 2 minute walk from the hotel. It is about half a block from the statue that you see below. There is a museum,cathedral and towers, and there is also a wall that was built by the Romans during the 4th Century B.C.. Now that is the oldest building that I have ever seen and or touched in person.
Michael is standing besides the Count of Barcelona Ramon Berenguer III. This Gentleman, Ramon Berenguer III the Great was the count of Barcelona, Girona, and Osona from 1082 (jointly with Berenguer Ramon II and solely from 1097), Besalú from 1111, Cerdanya from 1117, and Provence, in the Holy Roman Empire, from 1112, all until his death in Barcelona in 1131. As Ramon Berenguer I, he was Count of Provence from 1112 in right of his wife. Born in 1082 in Rodez, he was the son of Ramon Berenguer II. He succeeded his father to co-rule with his uncle Berenguer Ramon II. He became the sole ruler in 1097, when Berenguer Ramon II was forced into exile.
During his rule Catalan interests were extended on both sides of the Pyrenees. By marriage or vassalage he incorporated into his realm almost all of the Catalan counties (except those of Urgell and Peralada). He inherited the counties of Besalú (1111) and Cerdanya (1117) and in between married Douce, heiress of Provence (1112). His dominions then stretched as far east as Nice.
Once you leave the Statue of Berenguer we embarked in a walking tour through the Barri Gotic of Barcelona. I felt like I was walking back in time and experiencing history as I was bombarded by so many views of the gothic times, the streets, the buildings and the feeling of being part of life. The Barri Gòtic ('Gothic Quarter' in Catalan; Castilian: Barrio Gótico) is the centre of the old city of Barcelona. Many of the buildings date from Medieval times, some from as far back as the Roman settlement of Barcelona. Remains of the squared Roman Wall can be seen around Tapineria and Sots-Tinent Navarro to the north, Avinguda de la Catedral and Plaça Nova to the west and Carrer de la Palla to the south. The Barri Gòtic retains a labyrinthine street plan, with many small streets opening out into squares. Most of the quarter is closed to regular traffic although open to service vehicles and taxis. There are little plaças or plazas everywhere you look.

We continued our tour through the small streets, a left at Plaça del Angel or Portal del Angel, toward La Boqueria. The Mercat de la Boqueria, or simply La Boqueria, is a large public market, with an entrance from La Rambla in Barcelona, Catalonia, not far from the Liceu, Barcelona's opera house. The market has a very diverse selection of goods.

We came here more than once and had the opportunity to have a great vegetarian Lunch for not much money. We also got some fruit , chocolate, toffee almonds,dry salami, ham and Mahon Cheese and home made bread. This will be part of our meals and snacks that will help us save our money for our great or not so great lunches and dinners. You have to see the market if you come to Barcelona. On weekends there are some other markets around where you can buy preserves and nougat from local artisans. For Americans the food is expensive, imagine that at one time we had fried chicken and potatoes for 2 for the bargain price of $50.00 and it was not in a gourmet Restaurant. lol!

The first mention of the Boqueria market of Barcelona dates to 1217 when tables were installed near the old door of the city to sell meat. From December 1470, a market selling pigs occurred at this site. At this time, the Market had the name Mercat Bornet or was (until 1794) simply known as Mercat de la Palla (Straw Market). At the beginning, the market was not enclosed and did not have an official statute, it was regarded as a simple extension of the market of Plaça Nova which then extended to the Plaça del Pi.

Officially, La Rambla is a series of shorter streets, each differently named, hence the plural forms Las Ramblas (Spanish and Les Rambles (Catalan). From the Plaça de Catalunya toward the harbor, the street is successively the Rambla de Canaletes, the Rambla dels Estudis, the Rambla de Sant Josep, the Rambla dels Caputxins, and the Rambla de Santa Monica. Construction of the Maremàgnum in the early 1990s resulted in a continuation of La Rambla on a wooden walkway into the harbor, the Rambla de Mar.

When walking down La Rambla one can visit its many small shops or enjoy watching the various performances (actors, mimes and people that look like statues, that will pose with you or move for a Euro or Two etc.). There are also several vendors trying to sell paper figures they claim are capable of dancing and there are plenty to see. Cafes and restaurants on La Rambla often charge steep prices.

From the Ramblas you can Walk toward Plaça Catalunya, which is a large square in central Barcelona that is generally considered to be both its city centre and the place where the old city (see Barri Gòtic and Raval, in Ciutat Vella) and the 19th century-built Eixample meet.
Some of the city's most important streets and avenues meet in Plaça Catalunya: Passeig de Gràcia, Rambla de Catalunya, La Rambla or Portal de l'Àngel, in addition to Ronda de Sant Pere, Carrer de Vergara or Carrer de Pelai. It has an area of about 50,000 square metres. It is especially known for its fountains and statues, its proximity to some of Barcelona's most popular attractions, and for the impressive flocks of pigeons that gather in the centre. There are various underground trains and metros that meet here and the Aerobus to go to the Airport. It is also where we took the metro back to the Hotel Station of Jaume I. This is Plaça Catalunya station Metro underground station.

From there we went toward the Jaume I which is a station in the Barcelona Metro network, located under Via Laietana,( and a block from our hotel) and important avenue in Ciutat Vella, right between Plaça de Ramon Berenguer el Gran and Plaça d'Emili Vilanova. It can be accessed from Plaça de l'Àngel and Carrer d'Argenteria, on the other side of Via Laietana.
It currently serves Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona-operated L4, but was originally designed in 1926 as one of the stations of the first L3 service, a section of which became L4. The other L3 stations (Correos and Banco) located in Via Laietana are all closed nowadays.
Its two platforms, unusually for a downtown Barcelona metro station, are both located on the same level, with a wall between them dividing the station in two parts. They are each 94 m. long. Barcelona is a great city to walk and has one of the best Public Transportation Systems I have seen in my life, there are trains every 2.5 to 3.5 minutes all the time ( I think). I loved the fact that there was no part of the city I could not reach by Public Transportation. This is the part one of our Barcelona Tour I hope you enjoy the tour for this time and thanks for stopping by, there is more to come soon!


Krystal said...

Looks like you guys had a ton of fun... and 50 dollars for that food! Sheesh... too bad I'm poor... :)

Anonymous said...

Wow! Thanks for the tour - what great pix & commentary. :)

BEESTLYproducts said...

wow. barcelona looks fab!

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