This post touches on two of my favorite things about Barcelona. I love that design is incorporated into every aspect of the city, and I am also enchanted by all of the old, abandoned, leftover buildings that can be found around the city. There is a distinctive mix of old and new.
I took a bike ride from the apartment to the Rambla of Poblenou, to a great new coffee shop, called Papas and the Mamas, which opened in November. I was introduced to the cafe/restaurant through my friend, who had planned to host her daughter’s birthday party there. The cafe is light, airy, and new, serves organic food, and has free wifi (which is the most important part, of course!). During the day, it is a quiet place to relax, but in the evenings it becomes a lively place full of parents and their children, as the location was designed with children in mind.
Poblenou (Pueblo Nuevo in Spanish, or “New Town” in English [real clever!]) is a district of Barcelona that has only started to be redeveloped in the past 20 years, starting when the Vila Olimpica was redone for the ’92 Olympics. (You can look at plans here.) It is an up and coming part of the city, filled with young people, artists, and the like. It is located near the beach, and the streets are wide allowing easy bike access. There are still factories and other brick industrial buildings, but if you move a block or two in one direction or another, you will encounter new residential developments. Here is the most fascinating mix of old and new in Barcelona.
The beginning of my bike ride was through a section of old apartment complexes and empty lots.
This is the frontage of some old houses, which have now been destroyed. The windows and doors have been bricked up, and are now used as a wall to enclose the empty land behind it.
A few blocks later, there is a burnt-out building. I had been told that it had caught fire and that some homeless people who had been living there died. However, upon further research, we could not find the relevant news, although we did read about other fatal fires in the area. It is not unusual to find people squatting in empty buildings in this part of the city. But it is here that the balance is even, and neither the new residents nor the squatters are most prevalent element. Poble Nou is still in a state of flux.
A block away from this building, is the start of a fantastic park next to Avinguda Diagonal, the main road that runs across the city diagonally (oddly enough). From here, you can see the shell of a new building near the Rambla.
In the photo above, the bushes that you see are walls of various parks. I’ll cover that in the next post.