Iberian Adventure – Page 04

Ramblas Ramble

On Day 5 (Our last day in Barcelona) Our group of 26 gathered after breakfast for a walk on Las Ramblas.

The Ramblas is a broad boulevard  bordered by Plane trees – American sycamores which was once a waterway through Barcelona.

The course of La Rambla was originally a sewage-filled stream-bed, usually dry but an important drain for the heavy rainwater flowing from the hills during spring and autumn.

In the year 1377, construction started on an extension of the city walls to include La Rambla. In 1440, the stream was diverted to run outside the new walls, and La Rambla gradually started turning into a street. Over the next few centuries, La Rambla became established as a centre of Barcelona city life, a long wide thoroughfare used for festivals, markets, and sports. The currently standing plane trees started to be the common tree from 1859.

 During the Spanish Civil War in 1936-39,  Barcelona came under the control of anarchists who again targeted religious buildings and personnel, as well as being damaged by artillery and air attacks on the area from pro-Franco forces.

La Rambla can be crowded, especially during the height of the tourist season. Its popularity with tourists has affected the character of the street, with a move to pavement cafes and souvenir kiosks. It has also suffered from the attention of pickpockets

On August 17, 2017 many people were struck by a van deliberately drivin on the side walk on La Rambla, in a terrorist attack, causing 13 deaths and at least 100 injuries. These floweres are a reminder that the terrorists started their rampage at this point on La Rambla.

Here’s Judy explaining what happened that day.  Our group is obviously taken back by these events!  (Note the Burger King in the background.  They were everywhere.)

You may have noticed that I have omitted names of  my fellow travelers. Eventually there were 42 of us. Too many to try to identify and that info would not mean much to my web site readers. Sorry if I’ve offended anyone!

Partway down La Rambla is this fountain.  the La Rambla drinking fountain iscalled the “Font de Canaletes” in Catalan. Folklore says that if you drink from this famous fountain on La Rambla you will fall in love with Barcelona and always return to the city.

This fuzzy long distance shot is of the Barcelona “Sex Museum”.  Apparently Marylin embodies sex to Barcelonians.

We visited the Main Market to check out the local grub.

This is an Iberian Ham shop.  These hams come from pigs fed exclusively (so they say) on acorns from Cork-Oak trees.  The ham is bolted to a stand and a carver carefully shaves off thin slices.  The ham is very tasty – like Italian Prosciutto.

There  are other shops as well. Such as this fruit stall.

And this fish market.

We left the Market and walked through narrow winding alleys into the “Old Jewish Quarter’.  There were no “Old Jews” to be seen.  All the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492 under the rule of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.

Time for another history lesson:

The Jews’ expulsion had been the pet project of the Spanish Inquisition, headed by Father Tomas de Torquemada. Torquemada believed that as long as the Jews remained in Spain, they would influence the tens of thousands of recent Jewish converts to Christianity to continue practicing Judaism.

Ferdinand and Isabella rejected Torquemada’s demand that the Jews be expelled until January 1492, when the Spanish Army defeated Muslim forces in Granada, thereby restoring the whole of Spain to Christian rule.

With their most important project, the country’s unification, accomplished, the king and queen concluded that the Jews were expendable. On March 30, they issued the expulsion decree, the order to take effect in precisely four months. The short time span was a great boon to the rest of Spain, as the Jews were forced to liquidate their homes and businesses at absurdly low prices.

The most fortunate of the expelled Jews succeeded in escaping to Turkey. Sultan Bajazet welcomed them warmly. “How can you call Ferdinand of Aragon a wise king,” he was fond of asking, “the same Ferdinand who impoverished his own land and enriched ours?”

Among the most unfortunate refugees were those who fled to neighboring Portugal. In 1496, King Manuel of Portugal concluded an agreement to marry Isabella, the daughter of Spain’s monarchs. As a condition of the marriage, the Spanish royal family insisted that Portugal expel her Jews. King Manuel agreed, although he was reluctant to lose his affluent and accomplished Jewish community.

The Spanish Jews who ended up in Turkey, North Africa, Italy, and elsewhere throughout Europe and the Arab world, were known as Sephardim — Sefarad being the Hebrew name for Spain. After the expulsion, the Sephardim imposed an informal ban forbidding Jews from ever again living in Spain.  Of the dozens of expulsions directed against Jews throughout their history, the one from Spain remains the most infamous.

Enough history for now.

This is Saint Felipe Street.  I kind of liked the name, but it has some historical interest as well.   During the Spanish Civil War Barcelona was bombed by the Fascists and the damage was left here as a memorial.

During the civil war the convent was used as a home for evacuated children. On the 30th of January 1938 a bomb dropped by Franco’s air force exploded directly in front of the church killing 30 of the children who were sheltering inside. Shortly afterwards, while people were trying to rescue survivors, a second bomb exploded in the square bringing the death toll to 42.

The School of Saint Felip Neri  uses the square as a playground.

Our next stop was the cathedral of Barcelona.  There were lots of tourists there including this photographer.  ‘Nuff said?

This is the Cathedral.

Lunch today was at the Barcelona Music Hall (on GCT).

The fellow on the right told me a neat hotel travel trick: Wash your skivvies, etc. in the evening and roll them tightly in a towel. Put the rolled up towel on the floor and stand on it pressing down hard.  Unroll it and re-roll the other way. repeating the pressing.  Unroll and hang up the nearly dry stuff.  It will be dry enough to wear the next morning.  It works.  Thanks Bill!

After the Cathedral, we went for lunch at the Music Hall. Here are some more of our tour people.  Note my walking stick and red cap. I needed both on this trip…

This was our last view of Barcelona from a roof top.  Tomorrow we go to Madrid to meet the rest of our tour group (Those folks who did not take the extra cost “Pre-Trip” extension.

One final picture of Judy Reeve, She was our Barcelona leader, our teacher,  the glue that held us together and our mother hen. She could solve all our problems and get us into all the attractions first.   She also had a great sense of humor. Thanks a million Judy!!

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