Street Life Passeig de Picasso
Video by Alberto De La Rosa
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Passeig de Picasso Hivernacle home
Passeig de Picasso home
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Passeig de Picasso
There is an air of quiet majesty about Passeig de Picasso, the wide tree-lined avenue that runs from Estació de França past Parc de la Ciutadella.
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Museu de Ciències Naturals
Proudly part of the Ruta Modernista, the street boasts the glorious Domènech i Montaner designed Museu de Ciències Naturals (currently closed for renovation) and the Hivernacle building, both of which are best seen from inside the park.
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Homenatge a Picasso
The glass cube full of furniture emerging from a pool of water half way down the street is Antoni Tàpies' Homenatge a Picasso (see our article on public art for more information, Pg 14).
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Park de la Cuitadella
The street is at its busiest during the summer when families and juggling hippies flock to the park but it's at its most beautiful in the autumn when the trees change colour and the leaves crunch under foot. With little traffic and wide pavements, it's the perfect place for a Sunday stroll or a friendly game of boules with your mates (the professional-looking seniors all play round the corner at Arc de Triomf so the courts on Picasso are usually free).
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At the top end, train travellers grab a coffee or a Greek snack on Dionisos' shady terrace (Avinguda Marquès De l' Argentera, 27) while tourists rent family-sized bikes from Bikecelona (nº. 46). A bike with room for two adults and two kids will set you back 15 Euro an hour and the entrance to the park is just across the street.
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For music fans, Passeig de Picasso is all about Magic (nº. 40), an unpretentious, untouristy rock club that's been packing them in since the Seventies. Framed pictures of punk bands line the walls and not a weekend goes by without the DJ playing The Ramones and The Stooges at least once. Just beware of the dancefloor; in the words of Bon Jovi, it's slippery when wet.
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Aire de Barcelona
Next door, estate agents Engel & Völkers (nº. 40) deal in dream houses and luxury living. If that is a little out of your price range, you can always pretend to be rich for an afternoon and pay to be pampered at Aire de Barcelona's lovingly restored Arabic baths (nº. 22) 36 Euro buys you a 90-minute session in the baths and a 15-minute massage treatment. Expect to start sweating as soon as you walk in. When all that relaxing has made you hungry, head to iKibana (nº. 32) a restaurant that fuses Japanese and Brazilian flavours where you can watch a video link-up to the kitchen as you wait for your food.
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Comercial de Guarnicionería
Old Fashioned Shopping: Back when the Comercial de Guarnicionería (nº. 14) opened for business in 1910, the Born's rubbish was still being collected by horse and cart. A lot may have changed in Barcelona since then but this old-fangled shop, which smells of leather and old wood, remains the same. Behind the counter, hundreds of dark drawers house belt buckles, clasps, eyelets and curtain hooks and out the back there's a gigantic set of scales for weighing leather. For those who grew up knowing nothing but shopping malls, it's hard to imagine how they stay in business but the customers keep coming; from old ladies in search of a new rubber stop for their walking sticks to saddle makers and sailors. With a sigh, María Rosa Gonzalez adds: "We sometimes get weird fashion designers coming in too, who dress as if they're from the nineteenth century and are searching for an old buckle for a new bag."
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Jaime J Renobell
The Renobell family at Jaime J Renobell (nº. 34) are relative newcomers to the street by comparison. Their dried fruit and pulses business has only been going since 1944. Originally they traded from a stall in the Born's wholesale market but when that was closed in 1973, they moved into the street. Now customers can buy beans, spices, flour and tea by the scoop rather than the five kilo bag and there's a decent selection of foreign products: anyone in search of Ovaltine, Maggi sauce or cheap Thai curry paste take note.
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Dans le noir?
New ways of eating: Dans le Noir? (nº. 10) looks like any other restaurant from the outside. Inside it's decidedly different. "More than a restaurant: a human and sensory experience" may sound like a marketing slogan but it's true, for in Dans le Noir? you eat in complete darkness. Here, you can lick your plate clean and nobody need ever know, expect perhaps the kitchen staff. After cocktails in the brightly lit lounge you're led through a curtain by a blind guide, to a dining room so dark you can't see your hand in front of your face. You don't need to worry about not being able to read the menu: there isn't one. The host checks you're not allergic to anything and then leaves it up to the chef to rustle up something tasty. The point being, without sight, your other senses kick in. Owner Maité Sutto explains: "When you can't see, you really focus on the taste and texture of what you're eating and you have more intimate conversations with others." There's a transfer of trust too as guests have to rely on their guides to find their table and learn how to avoid knocking over their drinks. Dans le Noir? also offer blind wine tastings, an intriguing concept when you consider that 95 percent of the restaurant's 'blind' customers confuse the taste of white and red wine.
Running alongside Park Ciutadella, Passeig de Picasso has everything from public art to punk rock. Click on our slideshow to find out more.