Placa de Catalunya and La Rambla
Tourist galore! Placa Catalunya and La Rambla seem to be big favorites among the tourists who visit Barcelona. There are many stores and shopping centers, and the area is very lively. After walking around here, I can accept that Barcelona is the third most visited city in Europe, after only London and Paris.
The walk from the Placa Catalunya Metro station to La Rambla is less than 5 minutes, and you are so busy with window and people watching that you don't realize you have arrived at La Rambla. La Rambla is a tree lined pedestrian street and is definitely a sight not to be missed. In addition to the shops, there are lots of little souvenir and snack stands, and as mentioned in our scoping out Barcelona post, many of the restaurants here are open early for dinner. We were slightly overwhelmed at first at with how big the area is, there are many cobble stone side streets that are probably worth visiting, but we left those for another day. We also walked by the famous Boqueria Market, which was swarming with people. We left that for another day also. Our primary goal was to make the 1.2 km walk down La Rambla and end up at the Port of Barcelona.
At the end of La Rambla, just before reaching the port, we saw the Columbus monument, a 60 meter (197 ft) tall monument built in honor of Columbus's first journey to the Americas.
Travel Tip: For a small fee, you can take an elevator to the top of the monument for views of Barcelona from above. However, if you plan to visit the Montjuic Castle or the Sacred Heart Church on top of the Tibidabo Hill, then you should save your money, as the views from these locations are much better.
Port of Barcelona (Port Vell)
The port differentiates itself from other ports by its walkway (La Rambla de Mar) and the swing bridge. There are many benches around to just sit and enjoy the port, or you can walk over a pedestrian bridge to Maremàgnum, a shopping mall with many stores and restaurants. You will also find a movie theater, an IMAX theater, and the Barcelona Aquarium on the other side of the mall.
You can also get a good glimpse of the cable car that goes to Montjuic from the port (we plan to take a ride in that cable car in about a week, and we will tell you all about it then.)
We meant to come back home for dinner, but it was getting late and we were in an area full of restaurants. We had seen a restaurant called UDON in Placa de Catalunya on our walk, and we got really excited when we saw it again in the Maremàgnum mall. This is a "fast-food" noodle shop with sushi and noodle dishes. Our favorite dish was a sushi combination roll that included very thin noodles inside the roll instead of rice! Mmm Mmm good!
To the delight of our children, we also discovered a Dunkin Donuts (called Dunkin Coffee here) in Barcelona! Yay! They had a sign on the wall that showed the prices from when they opened the first Dunkin Donut shop in Quincy, MA. Can you believe a dozen donuts cost 69 cents?
After exploring the mall for a bit longer, we headed back home and enjoyed the views of the port at night.
Bona nit, Barcelona.