Barcelona Again

We're winding down our Germany trip and preparing for the Mediterranean Cruise, back-to-back with an Atlantic crossing.

Street View of La Rambla
From above, you can see the layout of La Rambla. The center area is for pedestrian traffic while a single auto lane on either allows traffic down the street. No cross traffic is allowed on La Rambla anywhere, keeping the area predominently for pedestrians. Photo by Bonnie Fink.

We’ve completed our travels in Germany for this year. We’ve even made a trip to France to visit Disneyland Paris, and there’ll be more articles on all this shortly. But for the moment, we’re in Barcelona, Spain, waiting for our ship to come in. Literally. We’re due to board the Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas on Sunday, October 15th. We’ll make a seven day trip around the Mediterranean, then head across the Atlantic for a re-positioning cruise back to Fort Lauderdale.

We planned to spend time seeing as much of the sights in Barcelona as we could, but two factors have kept us closer to the hotel this trip. First, the city is a bit turbulent at the moment. There was a terrorist attack just over a month ago, which has everyone on edge. Second, the political scope of Spain right now—Catalonia in particular—is one of unrest.

Barcelona is part of a region in Spain called Catalonia. Many Catalonians consider themselves apart from Spain and want independence from the Spanish government. In fact, the issue has been around since before Franco took power in 1939, going all the back to Franco-Spanish War 1635. But what’s been happening lately? Well, many of the Catalonians are still wanting independence, and the politics are heating up. Recently there have been demonstrations, mostly in the city of Barcelona, with tensions rising, causing these demonstration to be almost riots, but not quite.

From what we understand, the President of Catalonia has signed a declaration of independence, but has asked the Catalan Parliament to not vote on it, just yet. Apparently there are still negotiations in play behind the scenes that we, the foreign tourists, don’t have the sophistication politically to understand. Certainly there are issues on all sides that would take a far better understanding of Spanish political life in general, and Catalonian life in particular, for us to fully embrace. For that reason, we’ve decided that an opinion by us on the subject is pretty much worthless, so we won’t render one.

Hotel Continental

For now, we’re staying close to our hotel. We’re in our favorite haunt, the Hotel Continental, on La Rambla, near the famous Caltalan Square in downtown Barcelona. We’ve been here before and even posted about it here. The hotel is still eclectic. It comprises 40 rooms, 11 of which are balconies overlooking La Rambla. So far, we’ve only been able to book interior rooms. Never a balcony. So instead of the busy street life outside our window, we get the peace and quiet of an interior court.

Around La Rambla

La Rambla 1905
La RAmbla as it appeared in 1905. By Montse liz – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23260921

We’ve ventured just around the immediate area, strolling La Rambla from the Square down a few blocks toward the ship terminals. By the way, you may see La Rambla referred to as Las Rambles because it is actually made up of several different named streets. we went with “La Rambla” because that’s what it says on the street signs. Nothing like being there to verify.

La Rambla is a famous street in the Heart of Barcelona. It’s where all the tourists go first, and then spread out to see the rest of the city. There’s an underground train running down the length of La Rambla, so it’s easy to think that the street was made as it is in recent years because of the construction of the subway. In fact, the street used to be a combination seasonal stream and full time sewer in the 14th century. In 1377, construction of new city walls began, and in 1440, the stream was diverted around the new walls. From then on, Las Rambles has been evolving as a popular street.

La Rambla Street View Today
This is how La Rambla looks today. From a distance, not much has changed. Photo by Donald Fink.

The town actually looks quiet to us, for a busy European city. We see folks from all walks of life. Certainly the Spanish are about, but the streets are full of tourists from all over too. Remember that this is a major Mediterranean port. Folks come here to catch cruise ships as well as ferries to and from nearby cities in Northern Africa. As the weekend approaches, we see more folks from outside the area, possibly from Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. It reminds us of shopping areas in San Diego, when the weekend approaches and folks come up from nearby Mexican cities to shop. It appears to be the same thing here in Barcelona. At least, that’s our view of what’s happening.

Barcelona is notorious for pickpocketing, but so is nearly every city along the Mediterranean. At least, that’s what we’ve read. We haven’t personally witnessed a single incident of any kind in this town. Of course, that might be in part because we’re in a big city, and as a result, we take precautions. Precautions in this case mostly amounts to not going places we shouldn’t go, not looking like victims, and paying attention to our surroundings.

La Rambla didn’t get our full attention on this trip, but we’ll certainly be back. Barcelona is quickly turning into a favorite town for us, partly because it’s where we tend to catch a ship for a cruise, but also in part because it’s just a fun town to visit. The weather is good and the streets are lively but still reasonably safe. What’s not to like?

Here are a few images of La Rambla from this visit:

And here are a few images we made of our favorite hotel in Barcelona, the Hotel Continental:

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