August 22, 2015
We’ve fallen in love with Barceloneta! It’s an old neighborhood of Barcelona, right next to Port Vell where Serafina is moored. It was established in the 1700s, after the conquest of Barcelona by the Bourbon/Hapsburg empire. The Bourbons felt the need for a huge fort, and destroyed a substantial section of the old city of Barcelona to make room for it. They did not feel loved by the Catalans, whose language they had outlawed (much the same as Franco did a couple hundred years later – but it didn’t work in either case).
Anyway, all those people whose homes had been destroyed had to go somewhere, and that’s when Barceloneta was established. It has its own flag, blue and yellow, that hangs from many of the balconies in the area. There’s also clearly a lot of pro-Catalan independence sentiment, evidenced by the many Catalan flags modified with a white star in a blue triangle – to show support for an independent Catalunya.
It’s a densely-packed part of the city, reminding me a little of the old Lower East Side in New York. It’s relatively little impacted by tourism, compared to the rest of Barcelona, but there is clearly sensitivity on the subject. Near one entrance to the neighborhood there’s a sign posted, imploring tourists not to rent space in Barceloneta for vacation homes, since it would drive the housing prices beyond the means of the regular residents. We hope that works…
The area was heavily bombed by the Italians and the German Condor Division during the Spanish Civil War, and a map of the area showing bomb impacts is prominently posted near the entrance to the thriving public market. The market itself is a treat, with cheeses and hams, fish and shellfish, fresh meat and olives, fruit and vegetables, and no gift shops.
It’s a wonderful area to walk around, with bars and restaurants, bakeries and hardware stores, wine shops and leafy, shaded plazas. Very unlike the incredibly crowded Rambla, which is so packed with huge herds of tourists that it’s hard to find a place to stand.
We catch a flight to Germany tomorrow, leaving the boat for our longest absence since departing Seattle a year ago. Birgit will visit family and friends, and attend a wedding in Berlin. I’ll just be gone just a week – hoping to secure residence in the EU so that I don’t have to be out of the EU for 90 out of every 180 days, as would otherwise be the case.