Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Footloose in Barcelona – 2... La Rambla
I was staying in a lovely hotel – the Gran Hotel Havana – in the center of Barcelona. It is a refurbished, heritage building dating from the 1880’s and the service was a nice mix of “business class” efficiency and laid back luxury. It was bang in the middle of all the touristy hotspots – the most famous of the Gaudi buildings, the “Las Ramblas” Street and the Gothic Quarter.
So, the first morning I had a big, slow breakfast and went gallivanting.
At this point let me state for the record that I had Beer wherever and whenever it pleased me. So, I shall not be specifically mentioning all the Beers that I had. What you, as my virtual companion on this ramble, could do is just imagine a cold, invigorating Beer at any point in the narrative where you feel that a Beer would have been welcome and then, imagine quaffing it at your own pace. Better still, dash outside right now and get a couple of Cold Ones, come running back and sit back, relax and continue...
Bueno! Great! Vamos!! Let’s go!!!
La Rambla is a tree lined avenue with a wide platform or walkway running down the middle. This ancient street with a precisely documented history dating from the middle-ages has enough heritage to keep a suitably inclined tourist occupied for several days.
But what captivates and usually blinds the average visitor from all this history is the stunning array of street performers dotting the entire length of the central platform.
From an Amazonian Fruit Case...
to Enchanting Twin Angels...
to The Hollow Man...
via Che Guevara...
and a WWII Japanese Soldier,
these street performers – either solo or in duos - recreate brilliantly detailed themes.
The custom is for the tourist/traveler to drop a few coins into the cup in front of whoever catches his or her fancy and then have the photo/s taken by someone. If, perchance, you should try to take photos without paying your due, you would most likely get a middle finger or a pair of ugly, glinting eyes flashed at you.
I guess that these "performers" are seriously busy and marginally impoverished “workers” making a chancy living.
I’m also guessing that there are “dues” to be paid daily. Mafia? Police? Collective? Frig, I dunno! But for sure, it ain’t for free - the space, the permission, the protection et al!!
Till you get there yourself, take a look at this excellent, “official” Barcelona tourism website.
I wish Indian city administrations or private parties with a stake in the travel industry, like luxury hotel chains, would do half as much for all the beautiful, fascinating places in our country!