Via Gran Via!
Going on Foot. Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, or simply Gran Via as the locals call it, is one of Barcelona’s major thoroughfares. This avenue ran perpendicular to our street and went all the way up to the Old Town. On our first day, we decided to make our way to the Ramblas on foot, via the Gran Via.
Typical of all avenues in the city, I noticed, consisted of a main 2-way drag, flanked by elevated tree-lined pedestrian walkways, and then 1-way single vehicular lanes at the shoulders. What’s great about this is that pedestrians and bikers don’t have to share lanes with cars! How genius is that! No need to wear a helmet around here folks. If the roads in Seattle were more like this, I would probably be more inclined to give up my car!
Another great thing about this city is that they have set up bike rental stations open for use by all residents (other parts of Europe have this too). This allows residents to commute in an environmentally friendly way. Bicing is the name of Barcelona’s community bicycle program currently consisting of more that 400 stations and 3000 bicycles. It employs an RFID reader, and to rent a bike one simply has to swipe their membership card, which automatically unlocks a bike, ride it off to their destination, and then drop it off at another bike station in that area. Tell me that is not brilliant.
Buildings and Monuments. Some of the buildings we saw en route to the old town were the Plaza d’Espanya, the Parc de Joan Miro and the Les Arenas bullring. Plaza d’Espanya is one of the major squares in Barcelona that sits at the foot of Parc de Monjuic and is the junction of several major thoroughfares. The square was built to host the Universal Exposition in 1929. Les Arenas was formerly a bullring and is now being turned into an entertainment complex with cinemas, restaurants, and a rock and roll museum (much like the EMP perhaps?). Parc de Joan Miro which is located right next to it used to be the slaughter house for the bullring.