Friday, April 9, 2010

2 days in Barcelona...

Thursday, April 8, 2010 – BARCELONA 1st day of 2
We had 25 passengers with us, all on time, for a 9:00 departure from the pier. We had a great day – even with cool-ish weather. The two guides for our 25 passengers were very easy to understand and very knowledgeable. We had a city tour showing the marina and Olympic area, the Gaudi-designed buildings with wavy fronts and then stopped at La Sagrada Familia church. The church was begun by Antonio Gaudi and in the late 1800s and is still not finished! Gaudi was an architect ahead of his time, using recycled material long before it was a popular idea. His designs combine stone, iron and ceramics in a rather commanding and certainly irreverent fashion.

Born in 1852, his career got the boost it needed when he met Count Eusebio Guell, the heir to a textiles fortune, who would become his benefactor for over 30 years. Gaudi built homes with wavy fronts and roofs that look like icing is dripping down a cake.

La Sagrada Familia cathedral, the unfinished church by Gaudi, is Barcelona’s most unforgettable landmark. It is a magical mid-city massif of needles and peaks left by eons of wind erosion and fungal exuberance. It is still under construction and there is now talk of completion with plans to finish it by 2026, which would be the 100th year anniversary of Gaudi’s death. To be completed are the towers, the main façade and the covered apse.

We drove over to the Cathedral, which was built between 1298 and 1450. Its highlights are the beautifully carved choir stalls, Santa Eulalia’s tomb in the crypt and the battle-marked crucifix from Don Juan’s galley in the Lepanto Chapel and the cloisters.

We were in the Gothic Quarter with narrow cobblestone streets so we wandered around the curvy streets, eventually ending up at The Ramblas, the walking street to the port. There are vendors and cafes scattered along the cobblestone route and many buskers -- musicians and actors in very colorful costumes “begging” as they perform.

Had a fabulous tapas lunch at “Lonja de Tapas” with at least 12 courses! Salad, olives, smoked salmon, shrimp, calamari, cod, scallops, asparagus, vegetables…and we finished with a brownie, cookie and chocolate ice cream on top! Plus all the beer and wine you want. Ensemble does a GREAT job on their Ensemble Experiences.

Back to the ship and collapsed. But not for long…off we went on the free shuttle bus provided by Holland America and we found a hotel to use our computer and Skype for phone calls. What a deal. But it takes time!!! And a good battery! Both of which are not available….!!
So back to the ship for dinner and then back to the hotel to work again after the battery had charged again and back to the ship for the flamenco dancing. I want to tell you it was great – a school of dancers came to perform – but I would not know. The bus was stopped dead in traffic due to trucks loading cargo onto a ferry boat. UGGH. So we missed the show – we entered the theatre just as they opened the doors for people to exit.

They cleaned the carpet in our stateroom! First time we had been informed that this goes on. And they did the annual fitness test of the ship so they forced it to “list” to prove the balance. All during our sleeping hours of midnight to 5AM and we felt no motion whatsoever…but they did not tell us if we passed the test or not!!

“Life is a promise; fulfill it.” - Mother Teresa

Friday, April 9, 2010 – BARCELONA – 2nd day – Yeah!!
What a fabulous day!! Great weather. Perfect spring day with blue skies, cool yet warm with a nice sun shining of your back….great day. Back to the hotel to work until the computer died again and then up the Rambla to look around at the Boqueria market. So many varieties of fresh meats, fishes, vegetables…loved it. I love markets. You get such a feel for the local culture – their local eating and dining habits.

Back to the ship – took a nap on the deck for a ½ hour and then we sailed. And we don’t toot the horn when we leave! I miss that from the Queen Victoria. Had wonderful views of Barcelona basking in the sun as we sailed out of the dock. There were five other ships in today so the roads were much more congested.

Dinner, computer, celloist, computer, computer, phone calls….BED.

“Whatever you do, do it with your entire being. Put your heart and soul into it.” - J Kleykamp