View of part of the outside of the Cathedral in Barcelona
Hello from Barcelona. This marks the midpoint of our cruise. It is the day our first cruise officially ended and the day our second cruise officially began. It seems like the first two weeks really have zipped by quickly, but that just reminds us to enjoy every moment of these coming days. This is also the day our new friends Jim and Bonnie left the ship and returned to Florida – we hope they have a good but uneventful flight back home.
So what did we do today that was so great? We got up and got a breakfast in the horizon court. There were a bunch of people carrying some of their luggage and having their last Princess breakfast before leaving the ship. We ate a sensible breakfast and then went to the Princess Theater because we had scheduled an excursion for today.
We left the ship a little after 9:00 and found that it was both chilly and wet. There was a steady light rain which persisted most of the time until we returned to the ship. Drat! It was less enjoyable than if we had sunshine and warm weather but we made
Closer view of part of the outside of Cathedral
the best we could of the situation. Our guide (named Loli) said that they needed some rain in Barcelona because it has been quite dry here – we think she was just rubbing salt into the wound. We were driven around town and Loli told us about a lot of landmarks. Somehow it seemed that the majority of these sights were on the right-hand side of the bus and we were sitting on the left, but it probably really was even. However each side had rain-streaked windows and David was not able to take a decent picture of anything from the bus.
We drove past the Tower of Christopher Columbus (erected in 1882) and our guide pointed out that Columbus is pointing to the east (not the west). He thought he was blazing a trail to India (which is to the east on the map), so that’s why the statue points away from America. She also explained that he returned from his trip in 1493 by sailing to Barcelona because that is where Queen Isabella was living (not Madrid).
We drove to the top of Mont Juic which has a scenic outlook
Figures on the outside
over the whole of Barcelona. Unfortunately it was raining so much that we bought 2 umbrellas when we got off the bus, just to try to keep kind of dry. That also had a very negative affect on both our viewing and on the pictures. Our guide pointed out some landmarks but it was pretty much a missed opportunity. She did say the Barcelona has a population of 1.6 million people in the city and a total of 4 million in the local area.
Back on the bus we drove around town a saw the red brick Arc de Triomf (not nearly as fancy as in Paris, but very nice anyway). We drove past the Olympic Stadium which we built for the 1992 Olympics. It can seat 60,000 people and is used still for a variety of special events. We drove past the location where Picasso lived from age 14 to 24 (remember him from Malaga). The National Museum was pointed out to us and then we drove past their massive Convention Center. There was a long line of people lined up in many orderly rows which snaked back and forth. Once we got around the corner
Other figures outside the Cathedral
there were many more coils of this snake waiting in the rain under umbrellas as they all were waiting to get into something called Comic Com. Janet is pretty sure that if this were in St Louis then Elizabeth and Mike would have been in the line too, but it was pretty surprising to us to see so many people waiting to look at comic books (is that what really happens in there?). Next we drove past the old Bull Ring, but which has been converted into a massive multi-level shopping center. We drove on past a house designed by Gaudi (there were long lines of people to get inside here too – at 23 euros each). We drove past some of their very expensive shopping areas along the Paseo de Gracia.
We eventually arrived at the awesome La Sagrada Familia Basilica. Back in 2010 we and the Sieberts had been able to view the church from the outside but did not have time to go inside. Today’s tour was focused on the inside. We started a quick souvenir/restroom stop while the guide bought our tickets, and then gave us some explanation of the outside. They have
Inside view of the Cathedral
continued to work on it since we were here 6 years ago and the “progress” is very apparent. Our guide distributed miniature ear-buds and radio receivers (this was how she could talk to everyone while inside) and took us inside. It had been difficult enough to follow her around because she said to look for her holding up her umbrella – but there were LOTS of umbrellas. Once we were inside she had to take down her umbrella. David was not able to use the free ear-buds but he had brought his own (which fit him) and he could hear fine.
She said it has only been in the last 4 years that they have installed the large number of stained glass windows. There was so much to be told about the interior including the pillars, the sculptures, and then meaning of each window. She pointed out the massive choir loft that is nearly to the top of the church. The pillars are reflective of massive trees with massive trunks that taper toward the top with something like branches and leaves supporting the ceiling. The pillars are all a little off true vertical to ensure stability, but
Some of the Stained Glass Windows in Cathedral
we needed to have it pointed out before we saw that. Of course there were all sorts of spiritual significances to everything in the cathedral. It was really incredible and unfortunately we are recounting only a small fraction of what we were told.
Gaudi died in 1926 by being run over by a tram when he was 76 years old. His apprentices did not have a copy of his final drawings but they did have models of what he envisioned. They reverse engineered the drawing by taking apart the models and are still endeavoring to complete the work. It comes down to a question of money as far as being able to add on each piece of the puzzle since it was consecrated by the Pope they cannot charge fees to go to church so they get around that by calling the ticket fee as a contribution to the building fund. The work began in 1882 and the stated goal is to complete the project in 2026 which is the 100 year anniversary of Gaudi’s death. But along the way the different styles are quite apparent such as one area where it reflects a cubist style. There
Other Stained Glass windows inside the Cathedral - note the choir loft
is a model outside which depicts what the finished product is supposed to look like, but at this point they are only about 60% complete with all the spires. We were told that when the project is finally finished, all the surrounding buildings (mostly souvenir stores) will be torn down and turned into a park to make the whole area quieter and more picturesque.
Editorial comment: it appears to us that the views of the exterior are more shrouded and hidden by construction materials than back in 2010. Now we can look forward to seeing it sometime in the future to see how much more is done.
After we left the church we followed our guide briskly down the wet sidewalks heading for our bus. She was concerned that the bus could only park for 5 minutes and just about left some people behind before David was able to stop her. Anyway, we got back on the bus after an astounding visit. This was unquestionably the highlight of our Barcelona tour, regardless of what the weather
Over the Alter in Cathedral
might have been the rest of the day.
We drove through more of Barcelona before heading back to the ship. We drove through where the Olympic Village had been built but it is now an extensive series of housing apartments. We were told that by ordinance, no building can be more than 172 meters high, which is the height of the highest spire of the cathedral. We went past the modernist house of “La Pedrera” which has undulating, smooth stone walls and elaborate iron balconies. We went past Gaudi's Casa Batllo, known locally as the House of Bones because of its apparent skeletal quality.
As we got back to the port, Loli pointed out there are 4 ships in port today. Our guide explained that the port is so large that it can accommodate up to 12 cruise ships. We can only imagine how crazy that would have made traffic downtown. It seemed pretty busy to us as it was. We entered into the terminal and threaded our way past all the newly arriving
Another view inside the Cathedral
3000 passengers and took the “fast path” back on the ship. Unfortunately it is now cluttered with all these people who are completely lost. We went up to the Horizon Bistro for a late lunch (a little before 2:00).
In our cabin we had received our excursion tickets for the next portion of the cruise. Tomorrow we go back to Cartagena and have booked a strenuous tour. That just does not seem feasible, so David went down to the Excursion Desk and turned in those tickets. Instead he signed up for a different excursion and Janet plans to stay on the ship tomorrow – but that’s part of tomorrow’s blog. We also had to get our cruise cards updated with a new sticker to allow us to get our free drinks for another 7 days (we will have to do it once again for the final leg of our trip).
While all the new people had to go to the life boat drill, we stayed in
Janet at one of the bronze doors of the Cathedral
our cabin and rested. Since the dinner hour has been pushed back to 6:00, it allows us time to go to Club-6 for some canapés and cocktails as a benefit of being Platinum status. We could not do this on the first cruise because it overlapped with our dinner. Anyway, this afternoon we had cheese & cracks with steak tartar. Janet had a margarita and David had a Manhattan. At dinner we had wine and after dinner Janet had Irish Cream and David had Amaretto. Oh yes, we had food too. We both had melon balls as an appetizer, Janet had Caesar Salad and David had Pina Colada cold soup, and we both had the Prime Rib dinner. For dessert Janet had sorbet and David had flourless chocolate cake. Once again we had a delicious dinner and enjoyed sharing experiences with Joyce and Jerry concerning out excursions in Barcelona. We look forward to comparing notes the rest of the trip.
After dinner we went back to the cabin to watch a movie (Tomorrowland). We’ve seen the “kickoff show” in the Princess Theater and
Outside in the Cubist area of the figures
can probably benefit from a quiet evening in the cabin. Our cabin steward (Manuel) told us this evening that the occupants of two of his cabins did not come on board today – maybe tomorrow. So that wraps up our experience in Barcelona. Thanks for listening to our story.
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