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Cruise Dairy: Barcelona, Spain

Five-Star Mariners Jan and Dick Yetke set sail on Prinsendam’s 64-day Grand Mediterranean Voyage in March, and we’ll catch up as quickly as possible. Enjoy the journey with Jan and Dick!

We arrived in Barcelona for a 2-day stay right on time at 8 a.m. this morning. We love Barcelona! There are many things to see and do in Barcelona. We have taken tours and last year we rode the Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus, which does a great job.

IMG_6375_resize bridge we rode across from pier to city

The city is the home of the Picasso Museum, an extensive collection of Miro’s colorful modernist work, and, of course, there are Gaudi’s architectural wonders.

IMG_6357_resize interesting sculpture

IMG_6356_resize Jan standing under sculpture

IMG_6353_resize Dick standing under sculpture along path

IMG_6303_resize beach and W hotel in background

Las Ramblas is one of Europe’s most famous promenades. During summer, artisans sell wares from small booths. Las Ramblas is not a single avenue, but several that connect as though they were one. The tall column at the foot of the promenade is dedicated to Christopher Columbus.

IMG_6281_resize Christopher Columbus statue

IMG_6279_resize crowded Las Ramblas

Landmark Catedral de la Sagrada Familia (Holy Family Cathedral) is Gaudi’s most visible work. The architect did not intend it to be a church, but (typical of the artist) it became an obsession he worked on almost exclusively for the last eight years of his life. His design combines stone, iron and ceramics in irreverent fashion. Begun in 1882, the landmark was far from finished when he died in 1926. It still isn’t complete, but it is the pride of Barcelona.

This first day we had things to do on board the ship, so we just stayed on board. In the evening, we went to dinner in town with two other couples that are friends of ours, Dee and Wells Wescott and Ros and Gary Bricknell. We went to a restaurant called Los Caracoles, which is about two blocks just off Las Ramblas. This was recommended by Barbara Haenni on Amsterdam World Cruises. We had a wonderful dinner —delicious!

Dinner with Wescott and Bricknell_resize

After dinner we walked a block or two down Las Ramblas and then took a cab back to the ship. They had a Catalan Rumba local folkloric show that evening on board but we didn’t get back from dinner in time to see it.

Now, day 2 was a biking day. Last year we biked from the ship, over the bridge, down the main road to the harbor and the Christopher Columbus tower. It is about 2 miles from the ship to there. We decided to skip Las Ramblas this year since it was very crowded with people and we did it last year. So, we headed down the path along the harbor and followed it around until eventually we got out to the beaches. This area along the waterfront was beautiful! The weather was beautiful, beaches full of people, lots of folks walking along the path, and many, many bike riders.

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IMG_6275_resize bridge we are riding across from port to city

First thing we saw was the filming of a Spanish movie. Barcelona is a very bike-friendly city! We saw bike tour groups and just groups of friends who rented bikes and were out for the afternoon. We even saw a bachelorette party going by. It went on forever and we just kept riding. Eventually we got out to where the water venues were and Olympic village for the summer Olympics. There was a beautiful whale sculpture. We saw the yacht club, lots of sailing yachts, and lots of restaurants.

IMG_6309_resize beautiful whale sculpture

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Anyway, we were having a wonderful time so kept going as far as we could until we had to turn around to get back to the ship prior to the onboard time. Once we found out how beautiful the biking was here — last year we didn’t get to continue out along the waterfront since it had started to rain — we wished we had left the ship early in the morning so we had more time. Anyway, what a great day and bike ride we had in beautiful spring weather! Biked a total of 9.5 miles!

Some info: with a language, culture and tradition unique to this region of Spain, Barcelona is one of the most vibrant cities in Europe. A bilingual city of Catalan and Spanish, Barcelona has produced such great artists as Picasso, Miro, Dali and Casals. Founded by the Phoenicians, the area has had to contend with its strategic port location. In fact, the city was heavily fortified well into the 18th century and did not expand past its medieval fortifications until the last century.

Flamenco is a Southern Spanish art. It exists in three forms: Cante, the song; Baile, the dance, and Guitarra, guitar playing. Although many of the details of the development of Flamenco are lost in history, it is almost certain that it originated in Andalusia from the eight to the 15th centuries, when Spain was under Arab domination. The Arab music and musical instruments were modified and adapted by Christians and Jews and later by gypsies becoming a musical style on its own. The word Flamenco, which applies to the song, the dance and the guitar, did not come into use until the 18th century. Much of what we know before this time comes from stories that have been passed down through families … much the same as the Flamenco itself.

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