Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Barcelona: Las Ramblas and the Columbus Monument

There is one street in Barcelona which is near impossible to avoid if you visit this beautiful city. It's the street that is lined with trees on both sides, pedestrianised section in the middle and has a number of stalls and restaurants enticing you. It's also one of the biggest tourist traps in Barcelona. It is none other than Las Ramblas or La Rambla
Barcelona's most famous and charasmatic street allows you to explore and experience the "real" Barcelona in action. Yes it is geared towards tourists but half way up Las Ramblas is the famous La Boqueria market where the locals get their fresh produce, street performers vye for your attention giving the place a slight Covent Garden open market feel, and you can opt to have some tapas or sangria at one of Las Ramblas restaurants - mind you, these have been rated quite low on TripAdvisor!
At one end of its 1.2km stretch sits the Plaça de Catalunya and the other stands the Columbus Monument. It is a noisy and constantly active street with parties and general merriment lasting well into the night. We picked up our postcards on Las Ramblas amongst all their souvenir shops branding "Barcelona" on everything that is possible - we even saw Barcelona branded condoms, don't think I've seen that in London yet! 
The great thing about Las Ramblas is that there is so much competition on the street meaning all the vendors price their goods competitively whether it be the postcards, small souvenirs or to grab a bite to eat. Since I was fully aware of how terrible the restaurants are located on Las Ramblas, one of the things we did was to head to Carrefour (European equivalent to Tesco's in London) located at 113 Las Ramblas to pick up some supplies like bottled water and other groceries to serve as breakfast and nibbles throughout our stay.
Just strolling down this street is an amazement in itself. Seeing the street performers attempting to keep still to the fresh bunches of flowers being sold or just find a cafe and watch the citizens of Barcelona go about their day makes you see Barcelona like no other place. Such an incredible atmosphere.
One note of mention: Las Ramblas is infamous for pickpockets so please be cautious and take care of your belongings. Don't bring out what you do not need i.e. passports. Use the hotel's room safe if they have one, and don't carry the bulk of your money out - you'll feel better losing a few Euros compared to losing an entire wad of Euros. If you must carry valuables out, keep an eye on your bags. The last thing you want is to get pick pocketed in a foreign country!


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