Barcelona, Spain – Strolling La Rambla and La Boqueria

Schedule some time to stroll down La Rambla on your next trip to Barcelona. Be sure to stop at the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria (la Boqueria) market

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la Boqueria
If you visit la Boqueria at mid-morning, you will see an abundance of fresh seafood. If you visit hungry, take advantage of the ready-to-eat food available. Carry your snack to the paved area behind the market and grab a cement seat. You can nosh and people watch here, especially in the evenings.
Dates and chocolate
Dates and chocolate
 
I kept returning to La Boqueria  for a snack or a quick dinner. Should I have a freshly made sweet crepe, a savory crepe, or a piece of chocolate? Wandering through the market, I found myself thinking about how I will prepare that fish fillet over there, or which spices to use when I roast the piece of meat in the next aisle, or nibbling on that hunk of cheese…
Jarmon
Jarmon
 
I made a vow to come back to Barcelona with a friend(s), rent a self-catering apartment, and shop the market daily. My small meals will have to suffice until then. 
 
Besides fresh produce, mushrooms, and meats, vendors sell many varieties of candy, desserts, breads, crepes made while you wait, empanadas, wines, and fish. Lots of fish. 

 

Pollo
Pollo
Funghi
Funghi
La Rambla
Running from the  Plaça de Catalunya to the Christopher Columbus statue,  La Rambla is an ancient street with outdoor stands and cafes to accommodate the tourist crowd. But if you look around you, you will see intriguing architecture and signage. Be sure to mind your belongings.
Holiday greeting
La Rambla dragon
La Rambla store front

To get to La Rambla on the metro, take Line L3 to Placa de Catalunya station. People watch at Placa de Catalunya and then make your way to La Rambla.

Black Sales
I arrived in Barcelona on Thanksgiving day 2015. Coming out of the metro at Plac de Catalunya, the first thing that caught my eye was the sign for the “Black Day” sale. They were having Black Friday sales in Spain! I later learned this trend began a few years earlier. I wish I had gotten a photo of one of the signs but I didn’t think about it.
Placa de Catalunya

Tangine in Tangier

I spent most of my time in Tangier, staying in the kashbah while in Morocco.  The kashbah  is the fortified upper part of the old city overlooking the port. For first rate service, and a plentiful breakfast on a rooftop terrace, stay at La Maison Blanche. (http://www.lamaisonblanchetanger.com/)

My top-floor room had a window overlooking other rooftops. What struck me most while looking at the other rooftops was the contrasts. Some roofs are quite inviting while others have practical purposes – hanging clothes and storage.

kashbah rooftops
Kashbah rooftops
Kashbah rooftops
Kashbah rooftops

Two ferry companies service the Tarifa, Spain – Tangier route. The 40-minute crossing was smooth and uneventful. An officer stamps passports during the trip. All I needed to do when I landed in Tangier was have my luggage scanned.

In many ways, staying in the Tangier kashbah is like a stay in a European town. Instead of church bells in the morning, the call to prayer echoes through the air several times a day. Instead of a vegetable vendor calling “Frutta fresca” and “Vendura fresche”, a fish merchant pushes a cart laden with fish every morning. His call is the Arabic equivalent of “fresh fish,  get your fresh fish here”.

Two of the three nights I ate dinner in the  kasbah. The first night, I dined on food from the El Morocco Club. The club was packed so a server delivered dinner to my hotel. I enjoyed every bite of my meal. El Morocco serves French Moroccan cuisine and liquor.

The second night, I ate in a small restaurant which appeared to be the first floor of someone’s home.  The chef/owner arrived in Tangier years ago. Her chicken tangine is wonderful and includes vegetables I have never seen before.

On my last full day in Tangier, my guide took me to Assilah. We drove along the coast.  The beaches on the route are deserted with some  pockets of development.  My guide explained that Morocco doesn’t have a beach culture. Many owners of beach estates are from other countries. Stops along the way included Cape Spartel lighthouse and the  Cave of Hercules.

An estate outside of Tangier
Cape Spartel lighthouse – where the Atlantic and the Mediterranean meet
Cave of Hercules
It is said Hercules rested in this cave after he separated Europe from Africa.
Moroccan beach
Wildlife

The streets of the Assilah were almost empty that December Saturday.

Assilah – Low tide
Interesting corner in Assilah

Every year, Assilah hosts an international mural competition.   Many of the murals are colorful.

Mural at Assilah

I found the Mujaheddin  Graveyard very interesting. Each family has a tile pattern, like the Scottish clans have their tartans.

Mujaheddin Graveyard with tiled grave markers

Looking back on this trip, there were times when my lack of local language skills made me uneasy. When I got over my discomfort and relaxed a bit, I enjoyed the trip. In reality, my greatest discomfort occurred on my return to Europe. Security was very tight due to a recent incident. The ferry passengers stood single file waiting to see passport control.  Armed guards scrutinized the people in line. Sadly, security is necessary all over the world.

I would like to visit Morocco again…ride a camel  into the desert and sleep in a Berber tent…see Marrakesh, Casa Blanca and Chefchaouen…