Today after a bunch of little errands (money, newspaper, juice, coffee, stamps) we did another of the Frommer’s Walks, this time around the La Ribera district. Off to the side of the Barri Gòtic and supposedly in the middle of a chic gentrification, we found it a somewhat seedier and quieter version of this neighborhood. There is a nice market for fresh fish and meat (and more salt cod than you could imagine), quite a few boutiques, and a hair less touristy (perhaps.) Some funkier restaurants and a beautiful 14thcentury Catalan Gothic church by the name of Santa Maria del Mar. Built by the merchant class and originally serving this community of traders and sailors, it is quite beautiful in its simplicity. Barcelona was once the premier port in Spain as well as the seat of power for Los Reyes Catolicos- in fact this is where Columbus returned to, following his first voyage to America. But when the business shifted down to Sevilla and ultimately Cadiz, both Atlantic ports, Barcelona’s importance to Spain’s worldwide colonial ambitions faded, and off went the monarchs to sunnier climes. I wanted to see the narrowest street in Barcelona, Carrer de les Mosques, but it was not only gated but not very interesting. Far less so than the equivalent tiny streets in Sevilla.
Walking home we stopped briefly at Museu de la Xocolata to take in the smells and check out the gift shop that only sells artisan chocolates. What could be better than a museum gift shop that only sells chocolate? We also stopped at a tiny family bakery for a couple of slices of chocolate-orange cake, sort of a flowerless tort with a thick slab of milk chocolate for frosting. Crossing the square in front of the cathedral I grabbed a few more photos for my “Pictures of People Using Selfie-Sticks” collection and then after a fast stop at La Boqueria Market for oranges, blueberries and bananas, it was back home for lunch.

Below are a bunch of random shots taken all over the city. We’re always on the lookout for “What We See” candidates, everywhere we go. The tourism business creates lots of strange stuff along with the just plain different aesthetics of the oddball European culture. From cleverly designed window displays to advertising art to manikins to very expensive Lladró collectibles, some of this stuff makes you just stop and ask, “What?”

(click to enlarge)