Where La Ramblas spills into the port is one of the most exciting vistas in the Mediterranean. Here lies the old Port Vell now resurrected as a chi-chi harbour bristling with yachts and sailing ships. Ferries from the Balearics glide in and cable cars whisk tourists up to the heights of Montjuic. But most visitors enjoy the gentrification which allows them to enjoy the sea of sails in the marina and its clean pavement and modernist sculpture.
The Port Vell starts where La Ramblas ends and the Barri Gotic touches the seashore to create Rambla del Mar. Around the monument de Colom a small market is set up and the cream coloured baroque of the Reial Drassanes could be seen. But most of the crowds follow the continuation of La Rambla across the shiny high-tech bridge to the Port Vell. In its centre is a new shopping centre/entertainment complex called the Maremagnum. Surrounded by sailing ships this is most welcome and the view on the far side of the old wharves and still water was in contrast with the bustle of Rambla del Mar. The indoor shopping centre contained restaurants, FC Barcelona shops and tapas bars and contains CINE, IMAX (which was good) and the impressive L''Aquarium. On its far side is the Moll D''Espanya walkway (taking you past an 19th century submarine) which leads to more marinas and yachts. You can walk all the way to Barcelonetta and its fish restaurants from here.
But the highlight for me was L''Aquarium. Rather expensive at 1400 pesetas - this was a wonderful couple of hours and a very high-tech aquarium. You enter through a tropical forest into rooms shrouded in darkness. I couldn''t help but notice the natural behaviour of the inhabitants. Not surprising as their habitats were painstakingly recreated. Catching my eye were small fish eating starfish, anemones, lionfish and a tank full of squiggly octopi. But the best part was a gargantuan tank full of mullet, moray eels, tarpon, saucer fish (silver, big and as flat as a pancake) and a number of huge bull sharks. The tank was so big that a moving walkway carried you through a perspex tunnel and you could watch the bristling teeth of a bull shark as it swam above you. Now what shall I have for dinner tonight....fish?