Home
>
Archived
>
Cruise Diary: Beautiful Barcelona

Cruise Diary: Beautiful Barcelona

Days 100-101, April 15-16:

“Que bonita es Barcelona, tierra del Mediterraneo …” How beautiful Barcelona is, land of the Mediterranean… So goes an old Spanish song. And the truth is that Barcelona is a beauty – you may remember it from the panoramic views televised during the 1992 Olympics when it served as the host city for the Games. To make the most of our two-day stay in Barcelona, the capital of Spain’s Catalonia region, during our 112-day Grand World Voyage on the Amsterdam, Humberto, Duffy (our bear that went around the world) and I took a room at the five-star Hotel Majestic & Spa Barcelona, in the heart of this fabulous walking metropolis.

Me and Duffy on the 10th floor terrace of Majestic Hotel & Spa Barcelona, with views of Barcelona including the Sagrada Familia.

Me and Duffy on the 10th floor terrace of Majestic Hotel & Spa Barcelona, with views of Barcelona including the Sagrada Familia.

By the pool on 10th floor terrace of Majestic Hotel & Spa Barcelona.

By the pool on the 10th floor terrace of the Majestic Hotel & Spa Barcelona.

We used the hotel as a comfortable base, something we often do to maximize our sightseeing when we have two days in a city. This way we can enjoy dinner ashore and sample the nightlife. In Barcelona, “tapas” or appetizers such as delicious local ham, olives, small potato omelets, local cheeses, calamari and more, perhaps washed down with “sangria” or a glass of the excellent Spanish red and white wines, are de rigueur during the cocktail hour in restaurants, bars and cafés.

And nobody leaves without taking in a flamenco show or live guitar music at various establishments. From the Majestic, we could go for walks to such points of interest as Las Ramblas, one of Europe’s finest and most colorful pedestrian streets, nine blocks from the hotel. Las Ramblas, a broad boulevard made up of several streets, has mimes and other street entertainment and is chock-full of cafés serving “paella” (a yellow rice, seafood and chicken dish) and other area specialties, and shops and kiosks selling flowers, bird houses, books, periodicals, magnets with flamenco dancers and other souvenirs. Kiosks also sell local candies and nougat as well as delicious artisanal gelatos. Tip: As in any major city, it is important to guard your belongings against pickpockets, particularly in touristy areas like Las Ramblas. Humberto and I were so advised onboard the Amsterdam, on a taxi into the city, and again at the Majestic.

Las Ramblas.

Las Ramblas.

Artisan gelato shop on Las Ramblas.

Artisan gelato shop on Las Ramblas.

Clerks at candy and nougat store on Las Ramblas ready their merchandise.

Clerks at candy and nougat store on Las Ramblas ready their merchandise.

Handcrafted birdhouse shop on Las Ramblas.

Handcrafted birdhouse shop on Las Ramblas.

At the hotel, we enjoyed the breakfast buffet offering many chances to sample local favorites including chocolate brioches, and churros and porras (the latter two, fried pastries) “People like to stay up all night and then come in and have churros, porras or brioches with coffee,” our waiter at the Majestic told us. “It is a very popular thing to do in Barcelona, particularly on Sunday morning.”

Chocolate brioche at breakfast buffet at Majestic Hotel & Spa Barcelona.

Chocolate brioche was offered at the breakfast buffet at the Majestic Hotel & Spa Barcelona.

We could also walk from the Majestic to the Gothic Quarter with its imposing 13th century cathedral and the Picasso Museum, with an interesting collection of works by Pablo Piccasso, one of the 20th century’s top artists and co-creator of Cubism. We could also stroll to several of Antoni Gaudi’s buildings. Gaudi is a world famous Modernistic architect closely associated with Barcelona as his body of work is here. Born in 1852, Gaudi was an attentive observer of nature where he found his inspiration. His style incorporates curved walls and roofs, parabolic arches, twisted columns and spiral chimneys into highly symbolic structures, often creating shapes and forms inspired in animal bones, trees and plants, and frequently utilizing recycled broken bits of ceramics, pottery and glass.

The Majestic, on the picturesque street Passeig de Gracia, is two blocks from Gaudi’s Casa Batllo (dating from 1904-06, and themed to St. George and the dragon, with a distinctive dragon on its roof) and Casa Mila (also known as La Pedrera), with a series of stone “curtain” walls, calcareous on the exterior, painted on the outside and dating from 1906-12. To supplement our walks we could ride the hop-on-and-hop-off Bus Turistic to such landmarks as Parc Guell, with Gaudi’s works, and the Sagrada Familia (Holy Family) Basilica, a monumental church that, although still unfinished, has become a symbol of Barcelona. Gaudi worked on it from 1883 until his death in 1926. When it is finished, the basilica, consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010, will have 18 spires.

“You will never see anything like it,” our travel guide, Barbara, said. And indeed it is so – almost startling in scope, with beautiful stained glass, and with a “forest” of sculptured trees in its interior, something you seldom see within a church. We also visited the elegant square Placa de Catalunya with its lovely fountains, the Columbus Monument near the sea with a statue of the discoverer pointing towards the Americas, and Montjuic, with its castle. Great views of Barcelona are obtained from Montjuic, and closer to our home in the city, also from the 10th floor terrace of the Majestic Hotel – that had us each time admiring its beauty.

Overall view of Gaudi’s Casa Batllo showing the dragon on top.

Overall view of Gaudi’s Casa Batllo showing the dragon on top.

More detailed view of Gaudi’s Casa Batllo.

More detailed view of Gaudi’s Casa Batllo.


Freelance travel writer Georgina Cruz and her husband Humberto are currently sailing on Amsterdam’s 112-day Grand World Voyage and will be sending in cruise diaries throughout their time on board. She has logged 174 voyages to all seven continents and visited more than 100 countries.

Comments

Join the Discussion

Leave A Comment

Related Articles

  • Post: Introducing the New ‘Refer-a-Friend’ Cruise Program
    Published On: Dec 21, 2022|Categories: Archived|
  • Post: Rotterdam Rescues Refugees Off the Coast of Florida
    Published On: Nov 10, 2022|Categories: Archived|
  • Post: Westerdam Returns to Australia’s Iconic Sydney
    Published On: Nov 07, 2022|Categories: Archived|