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Friday, July 15, 2011

Bar"th"elona...........and I thought she just lisped...

It was not till half way through the tour that I realise that this was how Barcelona was actually pronounced and not a speach impediment of our tour guide.
A little sleep in this morning as we were not to dock till 10 am.... our captain got us there a little early but unfortunately we were doing a princess tour today which we couldn’t get off the ship until they were ready....  Grrr today reminded us why we do private trips.....
We really wanted to do the Gaudi thing today so we booked the tour that takes us to Parc Guell and the La Sagrada Familia.
We finally got off the ship and into the bus but then it was slow trip through town as not only were we there on a Sunday but the was a Harley Davidson Parade.  Many of the streets were blocked off which caused a bit of a traffic jam.
Parc Guell was to be a small garden housing estate.  It was plan put together by Antonio Gaudi and his major benefactor Mr Guell ( can’t remember his first name )....... I would have to say that Gaudi was the original environmentalist..... His love of nature and conservation is represented in all his work....  He worked with straight lines to create the curves that are really representative of his work.... You could call him the spirograph  king.... He built structures that made use of rain water , he decorated with broken crockery from the factories... he was a man before his time...... there were to be 60 homes built on this estate but only 2 were finished before his untimely death when he was hit by a tram in 1926.
Unfortunately due to late arrival with princess it was really crowded which made taking pictures much more difficult with the all the crowds.... we have been spoilt with our private tours getting us to each spot before the crowds.
Next it was the La Sagrada Familia.... but this was not before the 20 minute stop at the souvenir shop just outside... the benefit of being with princess was that we walked straight in and we had no queues.
The outside of the church is not conventional and is in true Gawdy.... opps I mean Gaudi style. One side of the church represents the Nativity and the opposite facade represents the Passion and Death of Christ.  It is not until you walk inside do you appreciate it’s true beauty..... I don’t think I had any idea on how beautiful it was.... the columns are like trees that branch out at the top to hold up the roof.  The detail and the serenity of the natural and organic lines are even more beautiful than I ever imagined.
After Gaudi’s death they are still in the process of completing his project.  Just like the unanswered question of what is the Holy Grail.... Barcelona’s biggest unanswered question is “when will this beautiful church be finished?”
On the way back the streets were re opened so that meant we could drive back on the “Nice” roads... we drove past more examples of Gaudi’s work.... we asked if we could be dropped off at Las Ramblas to spend the afternoon instead of going straight back to the ship.  They dropped us off just near the Columbus Monument which is at the start of Las Ramblas if joining near the sea.
Being Sunday the shops were closed but there were markets dotted around the area.  We found ourselves a quaint restaurant along the Ramblas so we could eat and enjoy the passersby.  You would never believe that you are in another country while you sit there and wave hello to people that you know as by walked by.... Restaurants must love it if they can snag a cruise passenger and sit them up front for all to see, as many other passengers walk by and say.... “ oh if they are here it must be ok “
Garry had the best ever paella and I enjoyed a bowl full of mussels and all washed down with a beer and sangria in the biggest glasses I had ever seen.... well that us until the people next to us ordered what looked  like a keg of beer.  We had a couple of really talented street performers  perform in front of us... and course came around with the hats to collect payment after they finished.... we didn’t begrudge giving them few euros as they were very entertaining , especially the clown that was playing up to each of the pedestrians walking by....
We decided to take a walk up the Ramblas before we met up with Ros and Arnold at the restaurant that we had just had lunch.  We thought we would take a little detour and walk around the block on the smaller lanes into the gothic area...  bit hard to follow a block when the lanes are so narrow and the building so tall.... eventually we found the daylight of a main road.... but not where we thought we were so it was a big dash to get to where we had to be at 5pm.
We spend the next hour and half with Ros and Arnold downing another large sangria and sharing a tapas they had ordered.... it was sad leaving them as they were disembarking in Barcelona to spend a couple of nights then another 4 nights in Paris...  they will rejoin us in Le Havre.... but they will be missed...
Once we left them we headed back to Columbus where there is a local bus service that takes you right to the ship..... one way is 2 euro’s each but if we caught it this morning it would have only cost us 3 euros each return....a little more economical that the princess shuttle that cost you $7 each way....
Tonight there was deck party with the Beatles tribute band.... They weren’t dressed up like the night before but they were still just as good.... the deck was full and the dance floor crowded... Tonight you really noticed how many crew members actually had family on the ship.... Some just hoping on and off after a few days.

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