Saturday, April 4, 2009

Neighborhoods - Poble Sec

Stretching from Plaza Espanya to the Port, with Avinguda Parallel on one side and Montjuic mountain on the other, Poble Sec (Dry Town) is one of Barcelona's smaller and, in all honesty, least attractive neighborhoods.  Still, while it may lack in the beauty department, it more than makes up for it with a lively nightlife, great restaurants and the largest park in Barcelona.

Originally a shanty town that rested outside the city's walls, it grew into an industrial area at the beginning of the twentieth century, and is now a diverse and multicultural neighborhood, which is both walking distance (30 mins) to the city-center and the beach.

Start your day at Plaza Espanya and ride the escalator up to the impressive buildings that house the National Catalan Museum of Art in addition to roving art  and cultural exhibitions, before taking the time to explore the mountain and its many gardens.  If you've never been to Spain, definitely check out Poble Espanyol to get a taste of this rich and diverse country, and if you're an art aficionado there's the Joan Miro Museum.  The further you walk up the gradual but windy slope, the better the view of Barcelona, with the best coming  from the castle that sits ominously on its top.

Coming down will bring you to the tight, narrow, busy streets, and gray buildings of Poble Sec.  Hungry after all that walking?  There's a Kebab on every corner for if you're running low on funds and have a strong stomach, a local Spanish bar every two doors with tapas, menus and sandwiches for a mid-price meal, and one of Barcelona's better Italian restaurants if you feel like a bit of luxury. After, if you're there in the summer, sit outside at on of the hundred of terraces that line the sidewalks and small squares, relax and people-watch.  One of the better streets is Calle Blai with its crazy French Poodle and hip local bars, restaurants and Vermut spots.

At the bottom of Avinguda Parallel is Barcelona's theatre district and El Molino, which was known as Barcelona's "Tiny Moulin Rouge" during the early part of the twentieth century before closing its doors and falling into disrepair by the mid-ninties.  In a win for cultural heritage, there are plans of re-opening it soon. Just remember - You're in Spain, so the shows aren't in English even if their titles are. Still, there are plenty of great bars like la Tinta Roja to grab a drink and recap the day, and after there's the Apollo night club for a little dancing.

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