Saturday, January 13, 2018

Atlantic Adventurer Cruise: Day 16, Barcelona, Spain Day 1

Sunday, November 5, 2017 
Day 16, Barcelona, Spain


Today is the first of two days we will spend in Barcelona.  Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain (Madrid is the largest) with a population of 1.6 million, and if you include the entire metropolitan area the total goes up to 5.4 million.  Barcelona is the regional capital of the autonomous state of Catalonia. If you’ve been following the news you know there has been a great deal of political upheaval in the area as Catalonia voted for its independence from Spain.  The Spanish federal government has moved aggressively to quash the movement, which has led to demonstrations from both sides of the issue.  There was some question as to whether this port might be cancelled if they deemed it not safe, but things have calmed down and here we are.

We arrived right on time at 10:00, which allowed us to sleep in a bit which was good as we have scheduled two ship tours today.  The Captain opened up the bow of the ship for us to view our arrival so I went up there to take some pictures.  Including our ship, there were five ships in port today including a huge Norwegian Cruise Line ship so the docks are going to be very active today.

We were one of five ships in Barcelona today.
The captain opened up the bow of the ship for our arrival.
Our first tour today was called Gaudi’s Barcelona.  Antoni Gaudi was a famous architect who came from the Catalonia and lived form 1852 to 1926.  His work is very distinctive and full of curves and detail with most of it being in the Barcelona area.  His most famous work is the Sagrada Familia Cathedral, which we saw on our tour today.

Our tour started at 10:30 and we were on the bus and on the road right on time.  Here are our first views of Barcelona from the bus.

We drove through the city and made our first stop to look at several residences that Gaudi had designed.  The bus had to let us off quite a ways away so we had a long walk through the city to see the designs.  The walk itself was interesting as this was our first closeup look at Barcelona.  I’ll let the pictures below show you what I mean.

After viewing both of the residences, we walked a bit further and met the bus for the trip to our next stop, the world famous Sagrada Familia Cathedral which was started in 1882 and is still under construction today.  Even though Gaudi died in 1926, they are still following his design today.  They are expecting it to be finished in 2026 and as you can see from the pictures, cranes are still a big part of the view.

The bus dropped us quite a ways from the cathedral and we a had another long walk to get there, but it was well worth it.  We could see the spires even as far away as the ship, but it was still a shock to see just how big it is when you get close to it.  The outside contains so much detail, it is hard to take in.  It is a huge tourist attraction so there were large crowds around.  When it was our turn to go inside, we were issued a headset so we could hear our guide as we walked around.  This is truly an amazing piece of architecture and once again I will just let the pictures do the talking.

After finishing our tour of the Sagrada Familia Cathedral we had another walk back to the bus for the trip back to the port.  The drive back was through another part of town so we got to see more of Barcelona.  We were back to the ship around 1:30 and after grabbing a quick lunch we rested our tired feet and legs for a while as our next tour left at 5:00.

Our next tour was called an “Evening Tapas Tour in Barcelona”, but it turned out to be so much more than tapas.  Our tour started right on time at 5:00 and even though we were on a large bus, there were only ten of us which was very nice.  Our first stop was a hill above the city, which gave us a great view as the sun went down.  There were some wonderful views, but the best was yet to come.

Great views of the city.

The Barcelona Bull Ring through the bus window.
Next we drove to a spot near the large square at the end of La Rambla and started a walking tour of the Gothic Quarter, which is the heart of the old city of Barcelona.  We wound our way through a maze of very narrow streets viewing many old buildings and churches dating back to the Roman era.  There were many shops, restaurants and pubs with people out and about enjoying the evening.  There were also street musicians and most of them were very good.  This all led to a festive atmosphere and we began to see why people like Barcelona so much, it is a very vibrant city.

We enter the Gothic Quarter.

There were quite a few street musicians entertaining us as we walked.

We actually thought this was a statue until he moved and surprised us.


We spent a couple of hours walking through this maze of streets until it was time to board the bus again and head to our tapas tasting.  As most everyone knows, tapas are small plate appetizers that are typically shared.  It originally started out as food given out with your drinks in pubs, but has now morphed into a meal on its own.

The bus dropped us off near the waterfront and we walked along a beach area until we came to the restaurant where we would be served our tapas.  It was a little disappointing as we were given a plate with only three small items on it.  It was served with a glass of wine, but it really wasn’t much.

Our group waiting for our tapas.

Our guide for the evening.
After our tapas, we continued our walk along the waterfront with our guide continuing to tell us about the area and life in Barcelona in general.  We finally reached a marina area that didn’t exist until the 1992 Olympics. We boarded the bus there for our return to the ship.  Evidently the 1992 Olympics was a transformational event for Barcelona.  Our guide said the city was dirty with much of its infrastructure crumbling until the resurgence created by the Olympics.

The moon shines through the clouds at the end of a wonderful evening.
We were back to the ship by 9:00, tired but happy.  This excursion would have been a disappointment if it was only for the tapas, but it turned out to be really good.  The walk through the Gothic Quarter was so fun and enlightening, it made this excursion well worth it for just that alone.  And even though the tapas fell a little short, it was nice to sit outside on a nice evening next to the beach on the waterfront.

Today was a great day.  The weather was near perfect with blue skies and mild temperatures and Barcelona is a wonderful city.  We were warned over and over again that Barcelona had the worst pickpockets and petty theft in Europe so we were a little concerned, but we never felt threatened.  We did take precautions and were vigilant, but our initial concerns were unfounded.  Val and I estimated we walked between five and six miles today so we are very tired.  Tomorrow, for our second day in Barcelona, we plan to go out on our own so we can leave whenever we want and get a good night’s sleep tonight.

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