Monday, June 23, 2014

Barcelona, Day 6: La Rambla

Some travel blogs or guidebooks say La Rambla is Barcelona's Champs-Élysées. Far from it. Whoever says that either tries to sell this place to you or has no observation skill. The only similarity between those two is that La Rambla also has two rows of dense trees.

Champs-Élysées has upscale shops, global chains and luxury brands. La Rambla only has a hand full of chains with beat-up storefronts. Champs-Élysées is very clean and has no graffiti. La Rambla is a mess, dirty ground and lots graffiti. Champs-Élysées has all these posh buildings. La Rambla has all these rundown buildings. Champs-Élysées is very very wide, both sidewalks and roads for cars are very wide. La Rambla has two narrow lanes for cars, two really narrow sidewalks, and one big sidewalk in the middle.

Actually, Passeig de Gràcia is more like Barcelona's Champs-Élysées. The sidewalks are wider than La Rambla. Passeig de Gràcia has similar retails Champs-Élysées has - global chains and luxury brands. Oh, It also got trees, two lines of trees, just not as lush as the two rows of horse-chestnut trees on Champs-Élysées.

Cosplay - a street performer dresses up as a character
On a sunny day, La Rambla seems to be OK. It is packed with curious tourists. All you see are people, trees and some street performers. You won't pay attention to how rundown the buildings are and the graffiti.

At night, when tourists are gone, all the shady characters come out to play. They hustle you to sell something. Most of them want you to go to their clubs. Gee! I don't know what their bosses are thinking and where the clubs are. Apparently, the bosses believe these guys who look like small-time drug dealers can really make you want to go to their clubs. In North America, they usually hire attractive girls or friendly fun guys to promote nightclubs. You have to look cool to be a club promoter, all right? If you look like a pushy drug dealer, my imagination just runs wild - I just picture you rob us blind in the alley while leading us to your "club". Maybe I watched too many movies. I really can't help it.

La Rambla is more like Hollywood Blvd instead of Champs-Élysées. After dark, La Rambla looks depressing and dirty, graffiti everywhere. It is seedy. Besides, it's already established the restaurants on La Rambla are usually more expensive than the ones outside La Rambla. La Rambla is really just a tourist trap. Just think of all these guidebooks lure naive tourists in, that's not very nice.

If you do go to La Rambla during day time, watch out for pickpockets. It is notorious for thieving. When we were on La Rambla, JJ was busying taking pictures. So I had to watch out for him. I stood behind him and kept looking around to see if anyone got too close to his camera bag. And I guarded my handbag with my life.

Barcelona is very safe to travel. There's police presence and cameras everywhere. You just need to watch out for pickpockets. Basically, when you travel to any tourist mecca in Europe, your pockets are useless. We never put anything in our pockets during our trip. Carry a bag that's not easy to open. Wear your bag in the front, and always put your hand on the zipper (opening) when it gets very crowded. Keep your belongings safe, you will have a nice trip.

La Boqureria, Barcelona's public market
Christopher Columbus Monument is at the south end of La Rambla.
The lion at the bottom of the Columbus monument
Conclusion - La Rambla, bad. Keep an eye on your wallet while you are dreadful La Rambla. The end.

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