Monday, September 29, 2008

Barcelona Beach



We walked down La Rambla to the port and the beach. We passed the market along the way, that we had visited yesterday.

The thing that most suprised me about Barcelona is the number of tourists. I reckon about 80% of the people on the street are tourists, no more so than at the beach. The beach scene is quite different from that in Australia. We were suprised at the number of people who go to the beach quite dressed up. You don´t see many men in shorts, unless they are swimming. There were also very few people swimming, although the water looked gorgeous. It seemed to shelve off quite steeply and there were good body surfing waves of about 1m rolling in against the haze of the deeper ocean. Perhaps there was an undertow? It was lovely and warm, I would have been tempted to swim at home in Melbourne.
There are so many cultural mixes here, we saw families where the children were running around naked up to the ages of 6 or 7, and ones where the children were dressed in `Sunday Best´complete with shoes and frill topped socks, and little muslim girls with headscarves, all enjoying the beach. Of course there were lots of beautiful young people promenading up and down, and the sunbathers had tans in all shades of gold and brown, none of them looked sprayed on. The body beautiful was displayed in every size and shape, it didn´t matter how fat you were, as long as you had a tan, you could display it in a bikini. The older set (over 70´s) were congregated in front of a building that seemed to be a sports club. They had a beach volleyball court set up and were playing vigourously. Up on the esplanade there were martial arts clubs doing displays, more beach volleyball, musicians playing jazz, latino and soul music, and rows and rows of restaurants all looking out over the blue blue sea. It´s very mediterranean, with palm trees and pink washed apartment blocks crowding up to the esplanade. The pedestrian esplanade varies from 3 to 10m wide, and breaks out into large plazas at the end of every intersecting street. On the sand itself, are set cafe-bars with timber decking and lathe roofs, so relaxed, you could easily sit there all day. In another part there are deck chairs for hire, for the serious sunbathers.
As we walked back from the beach we went along the port area again and found it alive with a carnival fun fair. Along the port area all the Sunday market traders were set up. The young african men set up goods on a blanket or sheet, with rope tied to each corner and held tight in a bunched fist. It didn´t take long to work out that they are illegal immigrants and the roped corners of their merchandise display allow for a quick lift and getaway should the migration officials come. There are some beggars in Barcelona, but not too many. They mainly congregate around the churches and along La Rambla, the famous tourist thoroughfare. Mostly people seem to find something to do, like the young illegal immigrants and the people who spray paint themselves and pose as statues.

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