Monday, July 23, 2007

Barceloneta Park (El Parque de la Barceloneta / El Parc de la Barceloneta)


The little sea front Barceloneta Park marks the transition from the old neighborhood of Barceloneta to a new one called Villa Olimpíca. It's a relatively new park located on a site that used to be home to Barcelona's gas company. In fact, a lovely old building that was once part of the complex still sits there, looking somewhat forlorn and abandoned on the park's western side. Towards the park's northeastern end there is a structure dating from 1905: a stone water tower designed by architect Josep Domenech i Estapa. On the eastern side stands a wrought iron circular stage, where musical events are often held.
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The park is laid out along three large areas: the first one extends from its city side at C/ Doctor Aiguader to its sea side at Paseo Maritimo; the second, begins with a direct access point from within the neighborhood of Barceloneta, near the old gas company building, that leads to large curved slopes of greenery with walkways running along them; the third area consists of an enclosed soccer field with an elevated street-wide ramp that was intended to be a foot bridge to Ciutadella Park. Instead, it just ends in mid-air!
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But the view from there is wonderful -- the soccer field and the whole of the park to the south; the medical complex to the east; Ciutadella Park to the north, with Mount Tibidabo in the background; and the gleaming glass high-rise that is the new gas company buliding to the west. The top of this ramp is a nice point to watch the sunset behind Mount Tibidabo, as I did earlier this evening.
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Oddly enough, Barceloneta Park is hardly ever crowded, no matter how packed the beach and the Paseo Maritimo directly in front of it seem to be. Therefore, most of the people who make use of the park are local residents. Aside from enjoying a picnic on the grass or a snooze on a bench, visitors can also have a coffee or drink at the nice little chiringuito with a sea view that is operated by the city's Parks and Gardens Department. If you like a little more activity, like most parks in Barcelona, this one has a children's play-ground, a few outdoor ping-pong tables, a basketball hoop, pitches to play a bowling-ball type game called "petanca" in Spanish and "botxe" in Catalan, as well as a doggy play-ground -- a fenced in area where dogs can run free.
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Other interesting aspects of the park include its unusual mix of pine and mimosa trees, the abundance of wild parakeets that make the park their home and the statue of Simon Bolivar looking like he's ready to head out to the sea. This last was a gift from the government of Venezuela and was unveiled by Spain's King Juan Carlos at the park's 1996 inauguration.
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Well, that's a bit about Barceloneta Park, a nice spot to have a little rest away from the crowd.
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I hope you get to enjoy it someday.
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Chao amig@s,
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Carloz

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