We arrived in Barcelona on Sunday afternoon after an eight-hour flight from Calgary to Amsterdam, and a two-hour hop from Amsterdam to Barcelona. With the eight-hour time difference, that left us feeling we had missed a a night’s sleep (which in fact we had) but after napping for a couple of hours in our “stateroom,” a 220-square-foot cabin that feels a bit cramped but does provide ample storage space for clothes and other luggage items, we were ready to explore the ship, enjoy a fine dinner in one of its four restaurants, listen to the resident guitarist playing light classical music, and clap along to the lively rhythms of a traditional ensemble of Catalonian musicians, singers and dancers. Zelda even got up to dance with them. Watch for her special guest appearance at 1 min. 46 secs into the video. Click on the “X” of arrows between “HD” and “vimeo” to expand it to full screen.
On Monday morning, after breakfast, we had a three-hour tour of Barcelona by bus and on foot. We passed by the house where Picasso lived as a teenager, and caught glimpses of some of the eccentricly designed buildings by architect Antoni Gaudi, a genius and a madman who is said to have shaped the soul of Barcelona.
It was impressive to see how the city has benefitted from hosting the 1992 Summer Olympics. What used to be a rundown dock lands area with dilapidated warehouses and factories was turned into a port for the sailing events of the Games and is now a popular recreational area for boating and swimming, with artificial beaches and a marina for walkers and cyclists.
During the walking part of the tour we stopped into Barcelona’s Cathedral de la Seu (pictured above), which was a work in progress for several centuries. First built in stages between the 13th and 15th centuries, it was worked on again in the 1890s and 1900s, and is now a bit of a mishmash architecturally. But it does have a certain Gothic charm because the front of the building is never in sunlight.
The tour whetted our appetite for more, as I’m sure many of the shore excursions will do over the course of this cruise. A day and a half in Barcelona hardly gives you enough time to appreciate the range of Gaudi’s architecture or get a sense how the young Picasso developed as an artistic genius. We will be back, we hope.
The people we have met so far are mostly American, and veteran cruisers. A couple from San Diego told us they plan to move to Canada if Trump becomes president. I responded that if we could take in 25,000 Syrian refugees, we would probably have room for a few Americans.