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Published: June 26th 2017
Breakfast at the OK Coral. We were not scheduled to dock at Barcelona until midday so what would be more perfect than a leisurely breakfast? Unfortunately at precisely 09:30am, the exact time we entered the Pago Pago buffet, the other 3000 or so guests had decided to take breakfast at 09:25. Barcelona is also an embarkation port. This was the end of the road for most of the Spanish guests. The way they were piling the food on their plates, you would think that it was the end of days!!!
Spanish is the dominant nationality on board with approximately 800 guests. This is followed by 700 French; 600 German; surprisingly only 300 Italian and then the Brits with 200 representatives. There are a number of minor nationalities such as Portuguese, Scandinavian, Hungarian and Russian on board. The ship is not full by any means…it just feels that way during breakfast!! Laura, the hospitality manager, provided this information to me. She rang our cabin to ensure everything was OK as she has had instruction from their London Office to 'take care' of us. Laura is Italian. I hope she is not from Sicily as when a Sicilian is asked to ‘take
care' of someone, it usually has a completely different meaning!!!
Forget Sangria and bullfighting, this is Catalunya. A part of Spain that has it's own language, culture and long history. Barcelona is the capital of Catalunya and one of Europe's most stylish capitals at the forefront of cutting edge design.
A shuttle bus was provided to take passengers in to the town. This came at a charge of 8 euros. We tend to walk most places although since our experience in Helsinki 2 years ago we are wearier. Having been to Helsinki several times before, I knew exactly where the cruise ships dock. It was in the centre of the Finish Capital. For this reason we didn't book the shuttle and decided to walk. Unbeknown to me, Helsinki had built a new cruise terminal in the meantime, several miles from the centre. We googled Barcelona cruise terminal and decided from the information provided, it would be worth paying the shuttle fare. Just as well having seen the bridge one must navigate to reach the city centre.
The bus travelled all of ½ mile. It took about 3 minutes. Across the bridge then a few hundred yards down
Sagrada familia, Barcelona
This is the cathedral we should have been at!! Spotted from the roof of the cathedral we were actually at!!
the coast road, bus stopped, doors opened and everyone piled out.
Bugger!!! I'd forgotten the map. There is nothing worse than roaming a strange town without a guide or a map. We decided to follow most of the other tourists. The plan was to head to the ‘Sagrida Familia' the Gaudi inspired Gothic cathedral.
A short walk along the promenade toward the Port Olympic, we came across a giant sculpture of a lobster. Not too sure if this was Gaudi or Picasso inspired. I wonder if the authorities checked out other work by this particular artist before letting him loose with a hammer and chisel!! I doubt that the sculpture is actually finished. It looks as if he has carved out the main shape then couldn't be arsed to smooth out the straight edges.!! The only people who would probably give this up and coming artist a job would be the management at Lego!!!
We found the main shopping area in Barcelona – La Rambla. We decided to walk up a street parallel to La Rambla in search of the Gaudi church (as it is known). We passed many maps and signposts but none seemed to point
to the direction of Sagrida Familia. After about 20 minutes, just as we were about to give up and cut through to La Rambla, Roisin spotted a few gothic spires peering over the rooftops. Eureka!!
I don't remember paying 6 euros to get in but we'd made it. They seem to have completed most of the inside since we were last here. . Most of the side chapels had icons, statues and gold gilded alters. No tower is complete without a visit to the top. I found an elevator that offered trips where you could experience a dizzying view of Barcelona among the gargoyles. Roisin stayed on Terra firma. Just as well because once on the roof, you had to navigate several flights of stairs held together with rickety scaffolding. I looked out across the spires to see……better spires!!!! WHAT?? We weren't at the Sagrida Familia at all. I could see the characteristic gothic spires looking back at me. Almost mocking the fact I was stood on the roof of an impostor! I thought that things looked a little ‘too finished' downstairs. I just thought the building trade had picked up since we were last here!!!
to Roisin her first words were ‘Guess what??!'
as she pointed to a sign that clearly stated ‘Catedral de La Seu'.
We wandered around the cloisters where you could sponsor a brick! I'm not too sure how this worked. Would you get a letter every quarter to tell you how your brick is doing??! How it is interacting with other bricks and little foibles or characteristics that make your brick stand out from the others!!!
Time was pushing on so we decided not to visit the Sagrida Familia. Another interesting site in Barcelona is the Parc Guell. This is another Gaudi inspired theme. It is the most emblematic of all Barcelona's parks and is lifted straight out of a fairy tale. The entrance has ice-cream rooftops and swirling windows. The design of the building and pathways is, in all, a surreal experience. This is a surreal experience we would have to miss, as it is a bus or metro ride away then a travelator to the entrance. However, having visited both the Sagrida Familia and the Parc Guell in 2005, I managed to sneak a few of these photos in to the photo album for this blog entry!!!
Cutting through one of the small alleys adjacent to the cathedral we entered on to La Rambla where we planned on ‘running the gauntlet!! Heading back down in the direction of the port, we strolled through the fusion of flower stalls and artists offering everything from cartoon caricatures to vibrantly coloured gaudiesque pictorials of the city. It was sort of a Dobby's garden centre meets Tony Hart's vision-on gallery!!
I was surprised to see a stall selling the sombreros and stuffed donkeys. I thought that these we both a myth and that no-one this side of 1970's Benidorm bought (or sold) this stuff. There must be a market for it. Perhaps it is so naff it has become kitsch. I'll pass however and if I start yearning for either item, there is always Ebay!!!
The shuttle was already waiting to take us back to the ship. Despite being a short walk away, we'd already paid for the return trip so boarded without further ado.
On returning to the quay where the ship was tied up, we headed half way over the bridge and took one last look across the bay of Barcelona. Less than 200 yards away,
below on the rock were 2 'beautiful'
people fishing for their supper. They both looked like they'd stepped out of a Joop commercial or Vogue shoot. It just goes to show that you can fish for your supper AND
look good at the same time!!!
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