22 October 2014

Barcelona Day Two was spent in and around the Old Town

On my first day in Barcelona I had walked around the edges of the Old Town a little and had only walked through it at the end of the day to get back to my hotel. I was saving the Old Town for my second day.

I started off by walking back down Les Rambles again. This time at a more gentle pace and with more intent on exploration than on walking, a change in priorities from the previous day.

About half-way down I went in to the market, Mercado de La Boqueria, lurking to the west of the boulevard. I like markets and have been in to many in many places. There is something special about the combination of their shape, colour and activity that I find so compelling.

There were other cute buildings along the way and I rather liked this one.

Also nearby was the opera house which had a lovely upmarket cafe on a lower level. The ideal spot for a touch of elevenses.

Where the road met the sea was the magnificent neo-classical Port of Barcelona building. It was not quite as statuesque as its cousin the Liver Building but it made up for this in ornamentation.

Also there was the monument to Columbus. This looked like Nelson's Column but a shade taller. Column's do not photograph well (even diagonally) so I've not included a picture of it. Besides, you know what a column looks like.

Following the harbour north-east again, as I had the day before, I came across Barcelona-Estacio de França. I like stations even more than I like markets and this one was somewhat special thanks to its curved and double-arched roof.

The modern trains were a marked contrast to the period charm of the waiting area where I had a light lunch, with beer, in a large hall with a tall roof. The last time I ate somewhere like that was in Prague in the much-loved Deminka.

From there I headed into the Old Town where I found something new and also very old. Mercat del Born had been the site of a market that fell in to disrepair and had then been restored together with the old street patterns in the area which put the market back at the heart the area.

The new market house looked just like a market house should.

The very old stuff was inside.

In rebuilding the area they had discovered the remains of old buildings and these were now preserved inside the new market house. Around the sides were boards explaining the site and the history of the area. Several incarnations of Barcelona ago this had been a very important part of the town where battles had been fought.

From there I wandered through the heart of the Old Town which, being old, had many small windy lanes to follow, which I did just to see where they led. This is how I like to explore, treating each junction as a new opportunity and only deciding once i get there which route to take.

There was a grand heart to the Old Town that I had not been expecting, mostly because I had been ignoring the map. Here some of the streets were wide enough to swing lamps between and these led to grand squares surrounded by grand buildings such as government offices.

Wandering to the edges of the Old Town again (it is not that big so I kept bumping in to the edges) I chanced upon the extraordinary and elegant Palau de la Música Catalana. This is exactly what I wander around cities looking for.

And just around the corner there was another one. This looks as though it ought to be a school or something (there was a school in there somewhere) but the street views suggests that it was, at that time, a series of small shops. The purpose aside, the building's appeal is obvious with the sweeping roof line, strong arches and the falling decorations.

There were several other interesting buildings in that area too, including a modern one that looked as if it was covered in eye-balls.

You can tell by the low light that this was towards the end of the day and it had been another good one with lots more walking and plenty of unexpected discoveries.

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