Med Cruise: Day 7 – Barcelona

The real impetus for going on this cruise was Barcelona. I’d never visited it before, but we found it impossible to find any cheap flights for a weekend trip. So when the itinerary of this cruise included the city, I was delighted.

It was a 9 o’clock docking, so we had a bit of a lie-in, and I managed to get a freshly made omelette for breakfast which was really good.  We were ashore by 10, and very quickly decided to take the open-topped hop-on-hop-off bus option.  I’ve always said this is the best way to get a feel for a new city, and it meant we could see lots of it without having to do too much walking.  In addition, the girl on the ticket desk was undoubtedly one of the best in customer relations I’d ever seen: the guy in front of us was determined he wasn’t going to pay the 24 euro ticket price –  he knew where he was going, and what bus to take, so did she have a map of the ordinary bus routes?  She found out where he wanted to go (Parc Guell) suggested that going by bus might take an hour and anyway Barcelona’s bus routes were really complicated, so why didn’t he take the Metro – nearest stop was just over there behind Columbus.

We set off, passing the Olympic village, before heading uphill.  The leaflet given out with the ticket price is very informative, and it only took me a short time to devise a Gaudi-themed stop-off plan. First stop was at La Pedrada, with its curvaceous balconies and ornate ironwork balconies.  We enjoyed an iced coffee while admiring that such architecture was almost 100 years old.

Next was the second most popular stop on the route – La Sagrada Familia.  Still unfinished, the level of detail on this cornucopia of stonework, rising above a haze of jacaranda trees,  is astonishing.  There’s about a 3 hour queue for tourists not as part of a tour group – if you really want to see inside, go as part of an organised tour, as they have separate entrances.  We did note that the shore excursion offered by the cruise ship did NOT include entrance to the cathedral, and also involved a 15 minute walk from the coach park, whereas our bus stopped right outside.

Back on the bus, we were aiming for Parc Guell, but the helpful information given over the headphones pointed out that it was a 10 minute walk up a steep hill, so we decided to leave that for a return visit some day when we are both in full health.  The bus tour continued past a Gaudi gatehouse, complete with dragon patterned gate, and then to what was the most popular stop – Barca football stadium.  We didnt get off.  Instead, we alighted at the top of La Rambla and pottered our way down.  I’d been warned so much about the dangers of pickpockets in this area that I didn’t have my phone with me, and only very little money.  We decided to eat inside, rather than on one of the pavement cafes, and shared a couple of starters at 111, part of Le Meridien hotel.  We continued our stroll enjoying ice-creams (Crema Cataluna for me), waved up to Columbus, and were back on board at 3.30.

The last night on board is tricky:  you need to pack clever in order to have your suitcase outside the cabin by midnight, and have left out anything you will need the next day, bearing in mind the hand luggage restrictions on liquids.  Some cruises have a formal night on the last evening – what a palaver that must be, trying to pack away your dinner jacket before going to bed!  And my quiz-buddies were successful in the X-factor competition (she was singing I Dreamed a Dream, he won with To Dream the Impossible Dream….too much dreams there shurely…) but what do you do with a bottle of champagne at 11 pm the night before leaving?  And where do you put your dirty laundry (this may explain the thong we found under our bed the day we arrived).

Cruise Tip Of The Day:  Take small bottles of shampoo etc that you can just leave behind.  Charity shops often sell gift sets of potions and lotions, and I took with me an almost finished bottle of cologne that I didn’t want to cart home with me.

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