Beach / Activities, Barcelona
Lots of people come to Barcelona, city by the sea, and expect to find great beaches to relax on between touring the city's cultural and historical sites. Then they find out they were sadly mistaken. It's not that the Mediterranean isn't beautiful, but those who go to one of Barcelona's many public beaches should be aware that they will have their rest and relaxation frequently interrupted by either (1) the paranoia that comes from the massive amount of, sometimes dangerous, trash on the beaches (although the Ajuntament has launched several campaigns to clean up the beaches); and (2) the near incessant hawking of Chinese women who offer massages and Indian men selling beer, water and snacks.
Much more pleasant is a stroll down the boardwalk, which overlooks the beach and as very much hassle-free. I suggest starting just south of Vila Olímpica subway stop (Línia Groga - Yellow Line) and walking all the way along till you get to the end of the Ciutat Vella and the Rambles. The stroll takes the better part of an hour and lets you appreciate the gradual change in urban landscape from the glass structures Vila Olímpica to the crowded streets of Barceloneta to the historic grandeur of Ciutat Vella.
Equipment: You can get pretty much anything you want at the stores in Barceloneta, so nothing more than a good pair of shoes, sunscreen and, if you so choose, rollerblades.
I've put this as beach activities because, strictly speaking, Fundació Claror's Poliesportiu Marítim does have private access to a beach and a place for members to keep their clothes and belongings while they enjoy the sun and sand. Nevertheless, this is so much more than just a locker room for the beach! I spent lots of time at Poliesportiu Marítim when I lived in Barcelona, partly because I was fanatical about making it to the pool, but also because the facilities were incredible. Inside the gym, there is a small weights and cardio room (small compared to North American style gyms) as well as a few multipurpose rooms where they do spinning classes and aerobics. The real gem, however, is the pool section. There is a laps pool of about 25 m length, plus a shorter salt water pool, a children's pool, a very warm pool, a cold pool (18C), plus a pool with a countercurrent (only for walking, not swimming) and one with various jets and showers for massage. Oh, yes, and a jacuzzi and dry and wet saunas (separate for men and women). There are also full locker facilities with washrooms and showers.
True, this is probably not what one would expect to visit when staying in Barcelona, but it is quite a nice facility, and if you're *** about missing your workout times (especially with all that you'll be eating in Barcelona), a place to work off the calories in a bit of luxury.
Equipment: Swimmers have to have proper swimsuits, sandals (flipflops) and bathing caps. Everyone (even the bald) must wear a bathing cap. For the beach, you should bring whatever you need, as buying it at the gym is not cheap.
Barcelona's Council trumpets its new beaches, 'built' in the period since the 1992 Olympic Games in the city. Certainly, no one misses the wharves and industrial wasteland the beaches replace.
On the other hand, tourists should realise that the city's beaches are far from being idyllic Mediterranean strands, despite the carefully framed camera shots in the brochures. Anyone who has seen pristine beaches in Turkey, the Caribbean and elsewhere is going to be bitterly disappointed. Barcelona's beaches compare poorly even by Costa Brava resort standards.
Despite generally reasonable water and sand quality, showers and other facilities, the beaches suffer from regular storm damage, and bad episodes of pollution. Litter and petty crime are also problems.
Things are unlikely to get better - the Spanish Ministry of Works is refusing to foot the bill for more beach replacement.
Today's El Periodico newspaper (p.43) carries a grisly article. Two human hands and a womb were found in a plastic bag on Barceloneta beach. Forensic experts say that whoever was responsible had considerable anatomical knowledge. Could it be that Jack the Ripper has tired of foggy London and has shifted operations to Barcelona?
Forget it, I have watched people trying to body and board surf in Barcelona. It's a dead duck - there simply aren't the right kind of waves (and most of the time, the Med. is as calm as a millpond). This holds true even in major storms, when sand vanishes from Barcelona's artificial beaches faster than you can say 'Jack Robinson', revealing underlying industrial detrius (pulverised concrete, coke, etc.) in the process.
Forget this too unless you are interested in prospecting for heavy metals and other reminders of the city's grim industrial past. Go to Roses instead - there is great diving around the Illes Medes [Medes Islands] (forthcoming tip).
Curiously enough, there is a longish undersea 'hill' 1 km long and some 20 metres high just off the city shore at Sant Adria. It has a thriving population of worms. Unfortunately, the explanation for this curious geographic feature lies in the sediments discharged by the nearby sewage farm - yet another reason to forget diving here.
Two and half hours from Barcelona, you can go kayaking in teh Ebre river. There's severals trips. I know one of three hours (favorable running) in which you go deep inside of the mediterranean forest. Really great sight, of the landsecape and the villages close to the river. There's another that take place in the full moon nigths of the August really great. If you like kayaking, no doubt. The people of "Natura i Aventura" in Sant Carles de la Ràpita are very friendly and respecting the nature.
Barcelona has several long stretches of level ground around the rim of the harbour quays, so these make fantastic skating patches for me. Here's me wheeling past two beautifully crafted statues by the quay. Notice also the unique round art objects that dot around many sceneic spots in Barcelona.
We are a group of friends that love scuba diving, we want to have fun.
If you are in Barcelona or Gerona and you want to dive with us you can check our web page or write me an e-mail. We try to organize travels and activities each week and courses if you want to learn.
If you have some questions we will try to help you.
There are people over the world.
Sushi the fish ;)
If you are in barcelona you don't even have to leave the city to go swimming. Down by the old port there is a nice-ish and extremely long sandy beach where you can go swimming and windsurfing. Someone told me that some beaches are frequented by gays, and other are reserved for nude bathing and sunbathing - so you're better ask someone which beach to go to. Sidenote: at the end of october (2002) there were still people swimming
Equipment: swimsuit(optional), sunscreen and towel. There are, in some places, changing cabins