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April 4th 2022
Published: April 5th 2022
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Monday, April 4, 2022


Well, neither of us got much in the way of sleep. Someone tossed and turned the entire night. It seems whenever we have to get up to travel or wake to an alarm someone is alarm clock challenged. It happens. No big deal, until we both start to fade later in the day.

It was a very active morning replete with the hustle and bustle of getting passengers off the ship and moving us to our new stateroom. We just moved down the hall and it took mere minutes. The “team” was ON IT. Once our new room was sanitized, we were able to move in. It was all done by 8:30.

So we still have a little time before Barcelona is fully awake – so we made sure to unpack and get everything in order, so as to limit frustration and confusion. But I was CERTAIN I packed the extra toothpaste. Darned if I can find it. Guess I DIDN’T!! Oh well.

We’ve been to Barcelona so many times – because we love it so. This time we had a plan. First, gotta find a shirt Christopher fell in love with while in Malaga (Massimo Dutti has stores here in Barcelona). Then there is an amazing bakery near our favorite hotel (the OhLa Gothic Quarter). Then Christopher needs to find a special cleanser for his face. He LOVES the brand Glad Skin, which is quite gentle for his ultra-sensitive skin (eczema, etc). Then we need to find our favorite Pimenton (paprika), and hopefully some dried chilies so we cam make our favorite Pati Jinich recipes. Oh, and we need to pick up some cash. That’s all we need to do today.

We thought we’d walk from the port to Las Ramblas…. but that idea was quickly scuttled when we realized how far out we were from our goal. So, we hired a taxi and got under way. First stop, Las Ramblas.

This early in the morning, there was almost no one on the pedestrian mall. We had our run of the place. We chose not to wear our masks and had a nice walk almost to ourselves. We found a bank and got some cash. Now, let’s find a Massimo Dutti. There are three within walking distance of Las Ramblas. Three chances to locate the shirt. We went to all three of the MD stores, never found the shirt or anything else he wanted. Strike one.

On our way to the OhLa, we passed the Avenida Palace Hotel (first place we stayed with the “gang” in 2011). I’m sad to report it is closed. I still remember those eggs from breakfast. OK. We’ve found the OhLa – now let’s find the bakery. OK…. the bakery is either closed, moved or we forgot where it was….or all of the above. No, we never found it. Strike two.

We’ve been in and out of most pharmacies in Spain (in the cities we’ve visited) with no luck in finding any store which carries Glad Skin products. Christopher found it online and thinks that’s the only place to get it – lucky for us, it’s a European company. So, we went to the Corte Ingles store at the top of the Rambla went to their basement and found an enormous selection of skin care products of every type. No Glad Skin, but he DID find, with the help of two wonderful salespeople – one to translate – just what he needed from another manufacturer. Perhaps a home run?

Now, off to the Bocqueria, which if you’ve never been is a MUST. It is one of the finest “mercados” in Spain if not Europe. We love the place. We were looking for a few things paprika and dried chiles. The place is packed. I.MEAN.PACKED. Masks are definitely ON. We were dodging and weaving our way through the throngs of people: students, tourists, locals, and more tourists. We located our favorite “stall” but they didn’t have the brand we love. So, we dodged and weaved some more up one aisle and down the other, when we spotted “our” brand. It truly is the BEST. We bought 2 sweet and 2 spicy, just to be certain. The tins are much larger than we have in the US, so it might last us a while. The dried chilies, not ground into powder wasn’t as easy to find. I started looking up, and BINGO. A stall close to the front had a variety of dried chiles and we took one, and sometimes two of each. Shopping now complete, loaded up with our parcels we hopped into a cab and headed back to Terminal B at the port.

We unloaded everything in our room and went on deck to soak for a bit in the hot tub. It was rather cold on deck. I had a sweater, and blanket over me. We went into the hot tub for one “round” of bubbles, then ran for the warmth of the towel, blanket, and sweaters we had with us. So cold, so we went back to the room and read.

Prior to dinner, we went to the Casino Bar for a cocktail. Now, we’ve been on for a few weeks. We’ve looked at the offerings at all the bars – and been somewhat disappointed (probably supply chain issues?) and we’ve not spotted any bourbons we like. And there it is, plain as day, right in the middle of the shelf, a brand we like…which for the LIFE of me I can’t recall. This is what happens with lack of sleep. ANYWAY…we ordered a Manhattan and were pleasantly pleased with the result. Not Rye, but an acceptable alternative.

Dinner tonight was the GDR. We weren’t terribly hungry and have noticed that our clothing has shrunk (don’t you just HATE when that happens?). So, dinner tonight is going to be on the light side. I asked if it’s possible to get the side dish of pasta as a main course. Absolutely. I started with the shrimp and cocktail sauce, Christopher had the Jamon and artichokes and we each ordered the pasta as our main. The Spaghetti bolognaise was quite good. I think we shocked our waiter. HE wanted to bring us more. No thank you – we’ve had enough and are sated. He DID talk us into dessert though. SO we each ordered a scoop of the Mango Ginger Sorbet. Perfect palate cleanser and just enough sweet to satisfy.

No Belissimo Quartet tonight, so back to the room where we can remove our masks and be comfortable in our robes. Another wonderful day is done.

Tomorrow Alicante (round 2 for us)


5th April 2022

Avenida, gone?
I’ve stayed at the Palace twice, and hope it’s closure is for a pandemic refresh. I love the location, and the Obama Bar and tapas place (that you recommended!) on the corner. I also love the historic market, and can’t wait to go back! Want to eat there next time… Sorry Alicante was a bust. You guys sure have had some WEATHER. I guess it’s just because Spring. On the other hand, I am not looking forward to the heat and humidity of July on my Panama Canal cruise… Stay optimistic!!
6th April 2022

I am of the feeling it is taking advantage of the pandemic and sprucing itself up for a grand reopening.

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