Shopping in the Big City - Shopping, Strolling
It is a matter of course that one can do some good shopping in a big city. Barcelona is a real shopping paradise for those who like to browse in shops. There is a huge number of little shops and boutiques, but big department stores and shops are hard to find. Also the technique and electronic freaks will rather not get their money's worth. Apropos money: those who go on shopping tour without a bulging wallet and/or without a credit card, will not have so much fun with shopping, as the prices are steep in Barcelona.
Those who think they can find some bargains in Barcelona are completely wrong. The prices have a level of a big city, as it is known of all big german cities. And many things are even significantly more expensive than at home. But shopping in Barcelona is also good fun without coming back home with shopping bags, as it is a big pleasure to go through the oldtown alleyways or to watch in the market hall the activities of the merchants and the local people.
The famous promenade La Rambla
Those who talk about shopping in Barcelona mean in the first instance the famous shopping mile La Rambla, that extents from the harbour up to the Plaša de Catalunya. The Rambla is located outside the actual core of the oldtown of Barcelona; it was arranged on a dry riverbed and not made to the prime boulevard of the city until th 19th century.
Today, the Rambla is the touristic centre of the city; here, every tourist walks along at least once. The Rambla is not a big shopping mile , as there are no big shops on the street. Therefore, there are countless hotels and restaurants. From an internet-café up to a souvenir shop there is everything what the tourist needs. The local people buy flowers at the numerous flower stands or birds at one of the numerous folding kiosks that accommodate some numerous small bird cages.
As a tourist, one normally walks on the middle pedestrian crosswalk. There, one street clown after the other is waiting for a little donation; numerous street musicians bring some life into the street; numerous pickpockets straight look for their victims. At the left and at the right of the pedestrian crosswalk, there is a wild traffic and the hooters never seem to stop. The waiters ably balance some tablets filled to the rim through the street traffic in order to serve their guests at the pedestrian area.
One can spend a lot of time at the Rambla; there is much to see (specially people) and to hear. But one thing is certainly not done at the Rambla: shopping, except some postcards.
Shopping in the small Alleyways of the Oldtown
By walking through the gorgeous streets of Barcelona as the Rambla, the Gran Via, the Passeig de Gràcia or the Rambla de Catalunya, one is permanently surrounded by traffic and noise. But in the oldtown, Barcelona offers a huge shopping paradise that is nearly completely car-free, that is very rare to find in an oldtown. Many alleyways of the oldtown are so narrow that a car would not get through them.
As the alleyways are very labyrinthine and short, one better loafs aimlessly through the alleyways until the legs cannot do it any more. Then it is time to go into one of the numerous bars or snack bars to have a little rest. There are no big shops in the Barri Gòtic (oldtown district); therefore, there are numerous small shops and boutiques; What is specially numerous are the small craftwork enterprises, where some nice crockeries and glassware are sold. Of course, there are also some cheesy costume jewellery that partly makes one shaking the head.
There is one mistake that should not be done during the shopping tour in the oldtown: to choose something in a shop and postpone the purchase to later on. As the most difficult thing during the shopping in the Barri Gòtic is to find a shop again where one has already been. But during the shopping in the oldtown one should not only look what is available in the shops beacuse then one might miss numerous buildings and bridges that unite the street sides.
The biggest Department Store of the City El Corte Inglés
By comparing both cities of approximately the same size as Munich and Barcelona, the huge quantity of small shops and boutiques in Barcelona is outstanding. But big department stores as they are in file in Munich do not exist in Barcelona. To be exactly, there is one real department store in Barcelona that is El Corte Inglés, and there are three of them.
The are two of those department stores in the touristic district: at the Plaša de Catalunya, there is a 9-floored building. By walking from there into southern direction to the catherdral, at the right side of the pedestrian road, Portal de l'Angel, there is a second department store that is a little smaller. Small but nice, as the front of this house is well worth seeing!
One should in any case visit the Corte Inglés at the Plaša de Catalunya. No matter if one looks at the local products in the supermrket, clothes or tble ware, it is a pleasure to loaf through the floors of the Corte Inglés. In the 8th floor there are only bargains, a whole floor of them! The highest floor with numerous panorama restaurants is, of course, a highlight (see also the side View Points) The Corte Inglés in the pedestrian road Portal de l'Angel is, to the contrary, less spectacular. Here, one finds books, CDs or sports goods.
Shopping Centres and Galleries
Barcelona does not offer many big department stores. What about then with shopping centres, shopping malls and galleries? In this concern, the Catalan capital can spoil its visitors with numerous highlights. For example, there is the Maremagnum at the Port Vell. From outside, the shopping mall looks like a huge palace, in the interior, the shopping centre glistens and sparkles, so that it realy makes one to want to do some shopping and consuming.
apropos consuming: while in the lower floor, one finds one fast-food restaurant after the next,
at the upper floor, there are numerous locals from all over the world. As a walk on the moles is in any case a part of the standard program of a city tour, one should in no case not miss visiting the Maremagnum.
Right at the upper end of the Plaša de Catalunya, there is the triangle El Triangle. In this gallery, one finds three big shops, from which two are most probably already known from other cities, for example Paris: There is the famous cosmetic shop Sephora, where there is, from the bath pearl up to perfume, everything available for men and women. Then there is fnac, thus CDs, books, DVDs etc. Thus, El Triangle is something like a French corner in Barcelona.
Amidst the oldtown there is - it is hard to believe - the gallery Malda; Not far from the Rambla, there is the Plaša del Pi, where one can hace a coffee or a snack in one of the bars right beside the church. Here, one can access into the roofed Galeries Malda, where there are some exquisite and expensive shops; Everything appears to be very posh and exclusive; the prices are respectively...
Traditional Shops of Small Items in Barcelona
Those who have some time and are interested in old customs and machinations will find some very special shopping delicacies in Barcelona. For example, the old grocery Can Gisbert, close to the subway station Jaume I. The shop was opened in the middle of the 19th century and is still today very traditionally furnished. There is a little choice of licors, baked nuts,
tabak or dried fruits. The old oven is well worth seeing in which apricots and plums are dried. It can be also seen by walking around the corner.
During a walk through the Rambla, one normally oversees a little beauty of the city, the historical bakery Pastelería Escribà. In principle, it is a very normal and tiny bakery but it has a front that is well worth seeing. The front has been arranged in the art nouveau and thanks to its curved shapes and mosaic it is wonderful to look at it.
Markets in Barcelona
A market does not mean in Barcelona that once a week some stands are arranged on any street, but there are market halls in which there is a market over the whole week. The most beautiful and worth seeing market is the Mercat La Boqueria at the Rambla. From the outside, the beautifully adorned building already invites to visit the market. In the interior, there is a lot of action. Here, the housewifes of Barcelona do buy fresh vegetables, fish and many more things. But here not only simple people do buy, but also some good cooks of the city do buy here the food.
It is a big pleasure to look at the nicely arranged food. One would preferably do a big shopping here; it is only a pitty that one cannot cook... the fish stands are specially attractive, where one can see live and in real size what one has eaten during the previous evening.
A market that is not nay more a market is the Mercat des Born. This big market hall is going to be rebuild to a library, but it is still well worth seeing from the outside. The Mercat del Born is located in the oldtown district, a little eastern to the church Santa Maria del Mar.
Big shopping streets in the Eixample
While one finds numerous small shops in the oldtown that partly only sell some rummage and kitsch, in the gorgeous boulevards of the Eixample, one will find the posh and good shops of the city. Here, one finds the international top-brands concerning clothes, equipment or perfumes.
Shopping in the Eixample takes time, but it is very pleasant. Also if one is surrounded by the traffic noise, loafing through the shopping streets is good fun, as on one hand, there is some shade under the trees and on the other hand there are numerous restaurants und tapas bars inviting to have a little snack in between.
Those who take the time for a shopping tour in the Eixample, should in any case pace the following streets up and down: Passeig de Gràcia, Rambla de Catalunya, Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, Diagonal. Here, one experiences a completely different city of Barcelona as one does in the oldtown district or at the Rambla. One comes across to many business people and entrepreneurs, as here, one also finds one bank next to the other.
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Copyright: Patrick Wagner, www.tourist-guide.biz