Thursday, December 10, 2015

Barcelona, Spain – November 14, 2015

We wake to the terrible news about the tragedy in Paris.  

Just yesterday we were in France, but in Toulon, quite a distance away.  We sailed late afternoon and we were at sea when the attacks happened.  My thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected.

Bernie heads up get food while I get ready and then I head up and eat while he gets ready.  The news about the attacks is heard all over the ship.  And of course needing to reassure family and friends that we are all okay.

We dock early in Barcelona.  The port area is huge but very new and attractive.

Here we have a few options for getting to the main square at the base of the Ramblas.  I check with the tourist information booth right at the pier.  Note I did not find free wifi in the port building but that may of just been me.  But there were many options for free wifi in town.

First there is the Princess Shuttle at $10 US per person for unlimited travel, charged to your onboard account.  Second you can walk but it is a distance, up over a bridge then walk along the water.  I would guess it would be about 45 minutes. 

And lastly the option we took was the port's shuttle bus that is part of their transit system called the T3.  You pick it up right outside the port building.  In fact the Princess shuttle is on your right and this bus is on your left and drops you off right at the roundabout, whereas Princess’ drops you off a bit further from the roundabout.  Cost is 2E one way or 3E round trip.  The bus leaves regularly and we left soon after we got on the bus.

hop on hop off bus right at the monument

We arrive right at the base of the Ramblas at the Columbus Monument.  We pull our Rick Steves’ guide and do the Ramblas walk, but backwards from the bottom to the top.  A little more difficult but it is early and we are up for the challenge.

The Columbus Monument is a 200 Foot column commemorating Christopher Columbus’ stop in Barcelona after his first trip to the Americas.  But here it is the base of the Ramblas and the water is on one side and the drop off spot for our shuttle.

Off to one side of the Ramblas is the Placa Reial and as we enter we hear parrots and when we look up into the numerous palm trees surround the square we see tons of small green parrots building nests above.

Gaudi’s first public works are the two helmeted lampposts.  Pretty interesting.

La Boqueria is the lively market hall that is very busy because it is a Saturday.  Not only are tourist checking out the market many locals are enjoying it too.  The colors and sounds and oh the smells in some areas make it a fun stop. 

We try to stop at Pinotxo to see Juan but he is obviously popular and we keep moving. 

There are fresh juice bars everywhere and for an amazingly cheap price 1.50 E we each enjoy one.  We wander around some more and buy some nuts but boy if I was staying here for a bit I would be buying up some seafood and meat and cooking up a storm. 

You can also pick up some wine too – a one stop shopping experience.

We stop for a quick coffee and to people watch for a bit and then we are back on the Ramblas after a quick stop at the Bethlem Church.  Note they are enforcing the dress code.

Again off the Ramblas we stop to see the Roman Necropolis and see the old Roman city tombs that were outside the walled.  Again we are amazed at how the area is preserved.

The tour ends at the Fountain of Canaletes and the Placa de Catalunya.  A major square surrounded by very busy streets.  

The hop on hop off bus stops here – but the lines are very long here, but I heard later that they were on top of it and when one bus filled another pulled right up.

We still have energy so we decide to continue on to the  Barri Gotic Walk Rick has and cross the square and walk down the Portal de L’Angel which is a pedestrian only street with very modern shops on either side.  Many shoppers with hands full of bags are out.  I am really not interested in shopping in any store I can get at home so we quickly move to the first stop.

The Church of Santa Anna is a little hidden gem and the courtyard surprises us.  We chat with two locals that are hanging out in the courtyard. 

Next stop is the Four Cats a restaurant/bar that was famous for being the bohemian-artist hangout where Picasso nursed drinks with friends.  It feels very French and definitely bohemian.  This place even published their own artsy magazine for a while. 

Right across from the Four Cats is a cute store and in here I buy a lovely blouse for a very reasonable price.

Placa Nova is a large square with two bold Roman Towers that once guarded the entrance gate of this once Roman city of Barcino. 

The Tourist Information building and also The Catalan College of Architect, has Picasso designed images that line each side of the building. 

We see the awe inspiring Cathedral of Barcelona which dates from the 14th century.  The façade is a virtual catalog of Gothic motifs with a roof line of prickly spires.  The façade is typical Gothic.  We head inside and note again there is someone at the door ensuring we are dressed appropriately and not on your phone.  Pictures are not allowed.  Also note they close for lunch too and we just make it in in time.

We stroll along the route of narrow streets with strong imposing building all around us.  Lots of history in this area and then we enter into cute courtyards where rays of sun penetrate thru. 

Note in the sun we are hot, in the narrow streets where the sun can’t get thru we are cold, so wear layers.

I especially love the apartments above where people show their loyalty to Catalunya by hanging out the flag of Catalynya and not Spain’s flag.

We continue the walk seeing more sites but we are now fading and at the end we know we have earned a well deserved lunch stop.

We enter a small tapas bar and order a local beer for Bernie and a glass of Sangria for me.  We are sitting at the tapas bar and we just point to the items we are interested in.  We also order a few things from the tapas menu.  Everything was very good and in all it filled us enough and gave us a nice meal at a reasonable price, but be warned those plates can add up.  Also there is also a sales tax added to the bill here. 

Note even once on board we were charged a tax from Spain when buying drinks at the bars on board – similar to some other ports, including Florida.

After a nice lunch we are reenergized but time is running out.  We meander slowly back to the Columbus monument but walk back up Las Ramblas a bit to just people watch.

Now I will say that pickpockets is an issue here – very similar to many of the cities we have visited here.  Although we had no issues it is key to keep your valuables in a safe spot.  Carry a PacSafe bag or similar item that makes it more difficult to be pick pocketed.  We did come across a couple who were dealing with the police after being pick pocketed. 

One thing I forgot to mention, this is another port that we were asked to take our passports ashore with us, and we did.  However we were never asked to show them.
We catch the T3 bus back to the ship and we are back on board around 3:30. 

Sail away was delayed due to a medical emergency of someone needing to be disembarked.  And then because we missed our time we then had to wait for a break in the marine traffic so we could head out, which ended up being quite late, well after sunset.  But we have a few sea days to make up the time.

Tonight we dine in the dining room at a nice table for two.  Later dining is not an issue at all this sailing as most people want to eat early.

1 comment:

  1. It's hard to have any complaints about this place. It's easy to get a drink since they actually keep enough bartenders working at once, and you'll almost always find a place to sit. I love the vibe, the area, the people at event space Chicago and the food at this place.