Thursday, November 17, 2016

Welcome to the neighborhood...

So, there's some part of me, a psychological or personality quirk, that makes me want to clearly organize my posts on here... in other words to write one post on The Raval (our neighborhood), another one on Sculpture in BCN, another one on Motorcycles of BCN. But frankly, this is a recipe for not getting anything written, because The Perfect Blog Post about sculptures is never quite done, never quite ready to put to the digital page.

So, screw it. I'm going to just let it be more stream of consciousness, guided by the pictures mostly.


This was more or less the first family picture we took upon arriving, over a month ago now. We were all still jet-lagged, and you can see it in our eyes. Behind us are several legs of Jamon Iberico, or the ham legs that are so popular here. The sliced ham is pretty expensive, and we did a bit of math, figuring that each leg of "the good stuff" can easily be worth over €1000, sometimes more!  Kodiak and I like it.


So I said I'd get back to talking about the Boqueria, the large market just outside our window. Here is a picture of one aisle, on a normal day. There are many parts of the market where it's difficult to walk at a normal pace because of the intense foot traffic, and it's not even the tourist season! This place is super popular with tourists AND locals. I did a bit of measuring on Google satellite view, and the market itself covers about 1.4 acres. It's big. You can get pretty much any food you want here, except for milk and yogurt, strangely.


Yep, pretty much anything you want. Kodiak is mesmerized by the display of rabbits and ducks and pheasant.


The central part of the market is where all the fish are sold. This whole area is really like a class in aquatic natural science and anatomy. Kodiak and I geek out sometimes down there, figuring out what's what. The selection is amazing, fresh, and a few minutes from our front door.


And, in a little preview of more sculpture posts to come... The Raval Cat, by Botero. The Raval Cat is a prominent feature of the Rambla de Raval, a large pedestrian promenade in the heart of the Raval. The Raval has long been a rough and tumble part of Barcelona, complete with street walking prostitutes and drug dealers and homeless. The southwestern part of it still has that feel, a bit like San Francisco's Tenderloin district. So far, that's the only part of town where I've seen police actually doing police work on the streets. But the northeastern part, where we live, is definitely getting cleaned up and safe for tourists. And from what I've heard, the entire Raval is a heck of a lot cleaner and safer than it used to be, not even so long ago.
In Barcelona, a "Rambla" is a wide avenue in which the car traffic moves along the sides, and the middle is a large swath for pedestrians. The Rambla de Cataluña, or simply "Las Ramblas", are the most famous and are extremely popular with tourists. During a short walk on Las Ramblas, one can hear ten different languages being spoken.
As I mentioned, the Raval has a history of being a bit seedy, and so in 1995 the City of Barcelona decided to tear down a bunch of buildings, many of them considered unsafe, in one of the worse parts of El Raval to clear the way for the Rambla. It's the newest Rambla in the city, and seemingly much loved by the neighborhood. And it has a really big bronze cat in the middle of it.


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