Tuesday, May 10, 2016



Spanish architecture

We were up and going by 7am in preparation for disembarkation.  We had breakfast at Raffles and then had to spend some time trying to straighten out some issues with our on-board account, which were definitely not resolved to our satisfaction.  We have been on many cruises and discovered that Norwegian does a few things very differently than the rest of the industry and it cost us some extra money and some frustration.  After that, we went back to our cabin to collect our luggage and took advantage of the walk-off disembarkation where you could leave by the gangway, with your luggage, whenever you chose to do so.

We disembarked around 9am and located the bus that would take us to the metro stop near the Columbus monument.  The bus fare was €2 per person.  Once at the metro, we bought three T-10 transportation passes from the automated vending machine for €9,95 per ticket.   The T-10 passes give you ten metro or bus trips per ticket and allows you to share those trips with others in your group.  There is the ability to switch from one mode of transport to the other within a certain period of time but there are details that you need to inform yourself on so you know all of the restrictions before you buy. Check out  http://www.tmb.cat/en/preguntes-frequents/-/categoria/BITLLETS-ABONAMENTS-DE-TRANSPORT for more details.
We caught the metro to Sants Train Station and found the luggage lockers where we could store our luggage for the day.  We rented a large locker for €5,20 which stored three smaller suitcases and a couple of backpacks as well as a couple of other lockers that fit the rest of the luggage.  

Our Dad was having issues with his knees and did not want to do much walking so we got him settled in a quieter area of the station and then the rest of us headed back downstairs to catch the metro to the Diagonal stop, near La Pedrera.  La Pedrera is a building designed by Antoni Gaudi and is a very unique sight to see.  We did not want to pay the €16,50pp entrance fee but paid €3pp to access the exhibition in the gallery on the second floor that we accessed through the atrium of the building, which is a work of art unto itself!  We really enjoyed the exhibition and found out all about Gaudi’s influences and saw many of his other creations.

The atrium
Next we decided to walk to La Sagrada Familia, the famous ornate church designed by Gaudi.  It took about 15-20 minutes of leisurely walking to get to the lovely park near to the church.  It really was the craziest church I had ever seen.  At first it just looked like something that came out of someone’s crazy dream but the more we looked at the details, the more it grew on us.  Construction of the church began in 1882 and is still ongoing to this day.  Cranes are an ever present sight around the tall spires of the church.  Word is that they plan to be finished within five years in time for some particular anniversary but time will tell if this happens.  We did not go inside the church proper but did climb up the inside of one of the spires and crossed over and descended from another.

It was Fiesta Nacional de Espana, a national holiday, so the streets were quite full of people with their faces painted yellow and red and waving flags.  We heard that there was a big football (ie: soccer) game going on as well.

We caught the metro back to the train station to pick up Dad and then took the metro to Plaza Catalunya (a central hub in Barcelona) with a goal to find a place to eat.  My sister and our friend went to a tapas restaurant while Mom, Dad, Dave and I kept looking for a restaurant that served something that was within the restrictions of Dave’s diet.  It was almost mid-afternoon and we found a small restaurant on a side street off Las Ramblas (main boulevard) and got refueled, as we were all quite hungry by that time.

The Metro
After lunch, we wandered down Las Ramblas and got some sorbet for dessert at Amorino Gelato el Naturale.  They made artisanal gelato and sorbet and the flavors were bold and refreshing, as it was a warm day.  We savored our tasty treats as we strolled down the boulevard taking in all of the people and goings on.  We walked until we came to a metro stop near to the end of Las Ramblas and caught the metro back to the train station to pick up our luggage.

Delicious gelato treats

Strolling along Las Ramblas

La Boqueria Market

Gorgeous architecture
We needed to take the train to El Prat airport, instead of the metro.  We waited about a half hour for the train and it took another 20-25 minutes to get to the airport where we then began a long saga of trying to catch the hotel shuttle to Frontair Congress Aeropuerto.  Suffice it to say that it took several phone calls and close to an hour before the shuttle arrived and then it only had space for two of our six people and they would not agree to come right back to get the other four, so they had to pay for a cab to the hotel (€40).

The hotel itself was basic and clean but on the worn side.  The front desk staff were rather surly and unfriendly, but mercifully efficient.  Eventually, we got checked into our rooms which were a great deal at €69 each.  The hotel was very conveniently located next to a shopping plaza that also included a very large grocery store where we had fun exploring all of the foreign foods and picking up the makings of a picnic supper along with some snacks for our flight the following day.  I would recommend the hotel based on the price and convenience but with full knowledge that the free airport shuttle may not be a real selling feature.  We were able to book spots on an early shuttle to the airport the next morning and had no issues with that trip.  

Thus ended our incredible Mediterranean adventure!  We were already talking about a return trip to Europe before we were even finished this trip.  The cruise allowed us to experience five countries and ten different stops which gave us a small taste of each place so we could determine which places we wanted to return to someday.  I hope you have enjoyed your virtual trip along with us and that you have gained some knowledge so if you are travelling to these same spots, you will not feel so unprepared for what you will encounter.  Bon voyage!!