Mark and I both woke up with ever so slight hangovers. I, we both said, are too old for this.
We met Andrew and Erika in the lobby at about 9:25 and set off for La Sagrada Familia. The bus left pretty quickly and we were at the square across from the church by 10:00. We went to Starbucks and got a light breakfast and got to the church by 10:20. After we got in (walking by all of the people who were waiting in line for most likely 1½ hours), Mark got in line to get our audio tour headsets. While we were waiting for him, Andrew said that he’d read about a stations of the cross on one side of the church and then said, “I’m not really sure what that is.” I started explaining what I know about it and this young man started listening in. He said, “Are you a guide because I am totally crashing this.” I said, “No but we’re crazy Christian people. But we’re not Catholic so I only know so much.” He said, “Well I’m Jewish so you know more than me.” We did the “where are you from” thing and it turns out he was from Connecticut. Really. What part? West Hartford. I said, “My husband is from West Hartford. Where did you go to high school?” He said, “Hall High.” I said, “That’s where my husband went to high school.” He said, “And we finally meet in Barcelona.” After Mark got the headsets, we told him about our encounter and pretty soon the young man came over to him and said, “Go Warriors.” Funny!
La Sagrada Familia is one of the most stunning churches any of us have ever seen. Mark almost immediately decided it was his favorite cathedral (though, technically, it’s not a cathedral because there is no bishop presiding there. Instead it is a minor basilica.) Gotti was completely inspired by nature and created columns that hold up the nave ceiling that look like tree trunks complete with knots and branches and then the ceiling of the nave looks like stars. The most breathtaking aspect, I thought, was the stained glass windows which gave a jeweled effect. There are three facades of the church and we got to see two of them—the nativity and the passion. The Nativity was done mostly by Gotti before he died and is very flowing and ornate with trumpets and angels and concrete that looks like dripping sand. The passion, in comparison, is very stark and modern with sharp lines and angular faces. There is much confusion and hurt in the stone eyes of the figures on the Passion Façade. The scene of Peter after he had denied Jesus 3 times was particularly haunting. We spent about an hour and 15 minutes at the church and could have spent that much time again. Easy.
We took the metro back to the hotel. Mark and I stopped at the department store with the grocery store to get some vino for the ship (allowed to bring on two bottles per stateroom. Andrew and Erika don’t drink wine. Guess how many bottles we bought?) and then headed back to the hotel to collect luggage and make our way to the port. Andrew and Erika already had a taxi so we passed off “their” two bottles and then collected our luggage and got our own taxi.
The trip to the port was uneventful (except for the closed road which raised the taxi driver’s blood pressure but not ours. It was 12:30 and we had to be on board by 3:45.) Checking in for the cruise was efficient and easy and by 1:30, we had our sea cards and were heading up to our cabin.
We are sailing on the Celebrity Equinox, a beautiful ship that has about 2000 passengers on board. Julie read that there are 2000 passengers and 950-crew so that gives you an idea. Our room is lovely—is on the starboard side, has a balcony, a good-sized bathroom, a bed and a couch. All you need, especially the balcony. We joined the rest of the family on the 14th
deck at the Ocean Sky café, the all-you-can-eat buffet cafeteria on the ship. Okay, insert here—a word about the ship. It is really lovely, all done in rich golds, browns, coppers, rusts. No neon—yay! Tami was saying that Selah’s dance school had done a dance cruise through Carnival and everywhere was NEON! She walked into the Celebrity Equinox and thought, “Yay! No neon!!” No kidding!
Everyone was at lunch except for Jack, Brian and Wil (who had gone downstairs to the hamburger bar to grab burgers) and Andrew and Erika. Erika had apparently gotten upset because she has made it clear, a cruise vacation was never her idea of paradise. I remember when we had first met her, we asked her if she had ever cruised and she said, “Never have, never want to.” It has to do with those microbiology classes she took in college and the training she has had as a lab tech since then. Too many germy things can live in cruise ships and the whole idea of it makes her nervous. The whole realization that she was here kind of overwhelmed her and she and Andrew went back to their cabin for a few moments of solitude. Those in the Ocean Sky Café were in fine spirits and enjoyed lunch. We returned to our cabin, unpacked a bit and took a nap. Lovely!
We went back up onto deck 12 for sail away—with margarita and beer in hand—and then we both went to the spa. I was in bad need of a pedicure and treated myself to a manicure as well. Mark really needed a haircut. Okay, now, this is the guy who still goes on base and gets his $12 haircut every 10 days or so. This haircut on the ship was $35. Since I was getting my manicure at the time, I was able to watch him enjoy this luxury haircut that included two shampoos, careful trimming and a warm towel or two. He said later, “That was the best haircut ever! I tipped the guy $6!” My manicure and pedicure were a success (seriously, I had Roman feet. Yuck!) and we returned to the cabin pampered and coiffed.
Dinner was at 8:45 (first time they could arrange two tables of eight next to each other) and again, everyone was in good spirits. No one made a big deal about Erika’s earlier tears and we all just set off together on a good foot. Dinner menus on cruise ships are pretty incredible and this one was no less than most. Tonight I had shrimp Louis for an appetizer, skipped the salad/soup course and had grilled glazed salmon for dinner. Mark had tuna tartare, a salad, and Jamaican Jerk chicken for his dinner choices. Everything was delicious! We ordered a bottle of white wine (we prepaid for 7 bottles of wine) which was also quite good. I skipped dessert but Mark had something nummy. Can’t remember what. (Maybe too much wine?)
Today was Katie’s 20th
birthday so they brought a cake and we all sang and then they cut it into 16 pieces. She declared it was the best birthday ever. How can it not be, start in Barcelona, end at sea? Sounds good to me!
We went to the magician show (Jack is a magician and he was very keen to see this. After the show we asked him, “What do you think?” He said, “I’ve seen better.” Funny!) and at the end of the show, were told, “Don’t forget you need tender tickets to get on board the tenders in the morning!” Crap! We didn’t know that! So Michael, Tami, Andrew, Erika, Mark and I went to guest relations to find out about tender tickets. We could pick them up in the morning outside the theater starting at 8:15. Michael said he’d go but then remembered he had a spinning class at 8 so Tami said she’d go and then remembered she had a pilates class at 8:30 so Andrew and Erika said they’d go. Settled.
Off to bed because tomorrow is a busy day of touring around the French Riviera countryside.
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