Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
September 23, 2015
Copyright © 2016 Douglas Landback
There is not a tremendous amount of backstory behind this shot from Barcelona.
It’s simply a moment in time, captured while standing in the center of Plaça Reial, a square in the Barri Gòtic – the Gothic Quarter. The plaza is just off La Rambla, the famous tree-lined pedestrian mall that stretches almost a mile, from Plaça de Catalunya in the city center to the towering Christopher Columbus Monument at Port Vell…where my ship was docked.
Plaça Reial. That’s Catalan. In Spanish, Plaza Real. And in English, “Royal Plaza.”
After Spanish, Catalan is the second most common language you’re hear in the city. It is almost universally understood by Barcelonians. And roughly three-quarters of the folks can speak it and read it. But only half can write it.
If you’ve been to Barcelona, you have likely tripped over Plaça Reial, like I did. And fell in love. The plaza was designed by Francesc Daniel Molina i Casamajó in the 19th century.
It features several restaurants, cafes, and the city’s most legendary nightclubs, including Sidecar, Jamboree and Karma. It is also known for its many outdoor festivals and concerts. On New Year’s Eve, it’s Barcelona’s Times Square.
Barcelona is a wonderful city, easily the nicest in Spain that I visited. The architecture is marvelous. The people are gracious. There is art in just about everything you can see and hear. Especially the narrow, twisting streets and tree-lined boulevards and plazas.
This a very comfortable place to be. However, I arrived there feeling very uneasy and suspicious.
My son Alex and his buddy, Graham, traveled Europe several years ago after they graduated from UF. Backpacks and hostels. Pretty much the stereotypical “college kids abroad.” Unfortunately, they were robbed in Barcelona…which unleashed epic drama and anguish (especially for the states-side parents.)
Understandably, Barcelona is not one of Alex’s favorite places. And his experience was a cautionary tale that kept me ever-vigilant for pickpockets and criminals everywhere I traveled. But, at the end of the day, my only regret in Barcelona was I only had a few hours to explore this amazing place.