I had the good luck and good foresight to visit Barcelona during La Mercè. The mood was festive, and every corner of the city seemed to be swept up in the celebration. I wanted to visit Barceloneta Beach and dip my feet in the warm autumn waters of the Mediterranean, and to get there faster, I took a shortcut through the Barceloneta neighbourhood. The shortcut was fortuitous, since I soon encountered the subject of my favourite photo from Barcelona, and one of my all-time favourite travel photos.
La Barceloneta is densely-built, with short, compact buildings, and streets that are wide enough for a single vehicle. It’s also a neighbourhood in transition, with the working class families who have lived there for decades being squeezed out by rising housing costs, due in part to the growth in renting apartments for holiday accommodations. There were more than a few signs, in several languages, telling tourists to go stay somewhere else and let families keep their homes.
Turning on to Carrer del Pescadors – the fishermen’s street – I had the wind knocked out of me by a carpet of colour, in the form of brightly-coloured plastic butterflies.
Wandering in this part of the city gives you a perspective on Barcelona life that is so different, it needs to be explored to be appreciated. The narrow streets are plentiful, but the neighbourhood is generally poorly represented on most tourist maps. No matter, just follow the streets until you hit the sea.