The bottom of La Rambla was our starting point for the day as we set out to explore the old town area of Barcelona. This tree lined street was actually once a river, with a 13th century city wall following it. At the bottom of La Rambla is a monument to Columbus overlooking the street and sea. Just off La Rambla, is one of the first works of the famous architect Antoni Gaudi, Palau Güell. The spire-like chimneys are the only hint of colour that can be seen from the street. For some fresh fruit, fish or meat be sure to stop at Boqueria food market. The market originated from the 13th century and today is one of the top markets in the world! If you have the time you can even sign up for a cooking class there.
After that, we began to wander through the Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter), the oldest part of the city chosen by the Romans. The Barcelona Cathedral stands on the old foundation of a Roman temple. The interior is beautiful and can be accessed anytime before noon for free, however make sure you’re covered up! We saw many women attempt to enter the church in shorts or thin straps on dresses but were required to wrap a scarf around their waist and shoulders before entering. Men wearing sleeveless shirts were also turned back. Don’t worry though, a man and woman were selling scarves out front from €0.50.
From the Gothic Quarter we worked our way to Parc de la Ciutadella and Arc del Triomf, the main gateway to the 1888 International Exhibition. In the gardens is an incredible ornamental cascade designed by Joseph Fontsere and a young Antoni Gaudi. There is also a boating lake and although we never saw any, parrots living in the palm trees.