Postcard from... Barcelona


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The Independent Online

For years, the lines of florists stalls and their brightly coloured bunches of flowers have given La Rambla, one of Barcelona’s most-appealing  tourist attractions, a perpetually festive air. But there are fears that they may soon disappear.

Last week La Vanguardia newspaper reported that  13 Rambla florists received €750 (£464) fines for selling cheap souvenirs alongside their flowers. The big black trays, on which sit a selection of fridge magnets in the shape of paellas, bulls and so on that are sold at a euro apiece, have now disappeared – only to be replaced by  home-made esquelas [death notices] proclaiming the imminent financial collapse of the florists’ businesses.

Local owners complain that while Barcelona residents no longer visit La Rambla to buy flowers, the tourists only have eyes for souvenirs – which could explain why the esquelas as well as a pro-fridge magnet petition on the stalls are printed in English, Catalan and Spanish.

La Rambla is not the only Spanish city where florists feel under threat.

In Granada’s Paseo de Bib-Rambla square, where for decades locals would go to buy flowers, just one stall of the original seven which helped to make the square a beautiful tourist attraction remains.

However, in Granada nobody is blaming the town hall’s bylaws though.

The one-remaining stall’s owners, whose family have been running it since the 1940s, point the finger squarely at illegal street flower sellers – and at the modern-day Spain’s bugbear: the recession.

As owner Pepi Perez told the local newspaper Ideal recently, “Rather than flowers, people are holding onto their money to buy food.”