You want to check out the Gothic Quarter and hey, why not start from Las Ramblas, you tell yourself.. Good point, but this is also the busiest tourist hub in the city so you can expect overpriced food, peddlers for paintings, sketches and the occasional souvenir trinket shop.
It’s not for nothing I chose to live in a hostel on the famous Las Ramblas esplanade. This long street is lined with restaurants, artists, and the exciting Gothic Quarter is right next to the long street.
To my great surprise I was met by a grand marina at the bottom of the street (yes it does slope a bit) where huge (I mean HUGE) sailing ships were moored. Now, I might have been too early to go on a cruise since I arrived in middle of January but the sight was nevertheless awesome!
Food by Las Ramblas
About the restaurants lining Las Ramblas. Let me share a memory of a late dinner. My hostel didn’t answer the doorbell one evening when I came back from hours of strawling. What to do, what to do, besides starting to Whatsapp with people back home? Well, my stomach was growling and I had spotted a restaurant that looked inviting, and it was just next to the hostel. So after having spent some fifteen minutes ringing the frigging doorbell to the hostel, I strawled over to the restaurant, said my polite “Hola” and choose a table. It was kind of empty, but hey, I thought to myself, it’s January and not many tourists are around!
Well inside, I picked up the menu, flipped through the pages and saw an impressive salad with feta cheese, olives, cucumber, eggs, tomatoes, onion and whatnot. That’s a winner, I decided and a few minutes later I was served the following: Some coleslaw, one (!) egg, a few slices of cucumber and a half tomato.
I did try my meagre Spanish (really Italian, but hey, it’s the same language family) with the waitress who shrugged her shoulders. I finished my “meal” and was off within minutes, 8 euros shorter.
Ahhh, you say, that was one incident. Well. I tried a tapas restaurant on the actual Las Ramblas and was served Chorizo and meatballs that were soggy. So lesson learned, I started having my meals in the Gothic Quarter and beyond, where I was much more pleasantly surprised.
Don’t eat the food on the Las Ramblas, just don’t. It’s overpriced and after having tried two tapas places and numerous ordinary restaurants along the 1.2 kilometer long esplanade, I can only conclude that I was much happier with checking out the restaurants deep in the Gothic Quarter, which you can get to by walking into any alley on the eastern side of Las Ramblas.
This is a place to revisit during spring and summer. I was passed by some happy rollerblading folks, but they were wearing thick clothes this time of year. Still I recommend that you walk along just to admire the impressive number of sailing boats and yachts moored here. The waters around Barcelona are obviously a popular boating destination during the summer months.
The Wax Museum
For me the wax museum is by far the most entertaining place on Las Ramblas. Tucked away on a square it is filled from floor to roof (literally, look up as you are walking around!) with wax dolls that are to resemble famous historical people, as well as fictious characters from books and films. Every room holds a surprise and I spent several hours in there, just enjoying the details and the built scenes. This is a place to take your loved one or your family for a few laughs!
With the proximity to the marina, you can easily drop in to the wax museum after an early breakfast and use the cool experience as a fun way of waking up (have a coffee before you go in though, there is no café in there, unfortunately). After the wax museum, the marina is a stone throw away. This is where you observe sailing boats that are many, many levels above the sailing dinghies one might remember from a young age. The marina presents a forest of masts and there are some massively beautiful ships here. The beach walk next to the marina is also suitable for inline skating, as noticed when walking there and having to swerve for speed crazies swooshing past on their inline skates. The marina offers a good balance to the hectic Las Ramblas with all the tourists and Spaniards alike, strutting up and down. Check out the marina for a taste of marine life. And with this it’s nos veremos de nuevo!