Upon arrival we took a nice walk to La Rambla, La Boqueria and the Gothic area. The group was able to get a feel for Barcelona and take some of the iconic pictures in the area, including the Barcelona Gothic Cathedral. We had a light lunch in the Placa Reial at a restaurant called Cerveceria Colon. At this point we went back to the hotel to rest up a little before going out to dinner. We ate at a restaurant by the Marketplace across the street from the Gothic Cathedral. This was a great restaurant with good prices.
After a full night’s sleep to get over our jet lag, we headed out the next morning to La Boqueria. Everyone got to see all the fresh food offerings where over hundreds of vendors try to offer their specialties to the thousands of people who roam through this market place every day. From there we walked to La Sagrada Familia where we met Mar, our TBL (Tours By Locals) guide. She gave us a talk from outside this spectacular architectural feat discussing the origin of the building and letting us know it is expected to be completed in 2026 which will mark the 100-year anniversary of Antoni Gaudi who is considered the father of this project. Although Gaudi did not do the original design, he did do a thorough redesign of the church when he took it over. When he died of an unfortunate accident where he was run over by a streetcar, his assistants have continued to follow the original plans that he created. After completing our tour, the group headed out for dinner at a restaurant near the hotel that had been recommended to us by the staff at the hotel. We had another superb meal in Barcelona.
The next morning our tour guide, Mar, picked us up in a bus and we headed out to Montserrat. This is a nearby mountain range that has a monastery built high up in the mountains. There are many hiking trails around to enjoy the fresh air and spectacular views in the area. In the early afternoon you can go into the basilica and listen to the boys’ choir perform a few songs. These boys are educated in the monastery and live there until they graduate. A few of us took a walk to a St. Micheal's cross and others took the funicular up one of the mountains to see some of the great views. After spending a couple of days in Barcelona, it was nice to see some of the other things that you can do in the area. When we got back to the city, we headed over to Palau Guell to see one of Gaudi’s designs. This was a magnificent house built for a very rich man (Eusebi Guell). It was this building that allowed Gaudi to become known as one of the truly great architects of his time. His knowledge of building materials and nature allowed him to create buildings that are still marveled at 100 years later. His style is certainly unique and not everyone appreciates his creativity. After our visit we went to El Cangrejo Loco located at Olympic Pier on the waterfront for dinner. We had eaten there before but we wanted to take our group there specifically to try the paella which is a specialty of the area. We had a great last meal in Barcelona and were now ready to head out on our 9-night cruise.
Sharon and Greg