Posted April 14th, 2007, 12:24 PM
... We plan to arrive 4 days early and would like suggestions on how to spend the time.
here's my notes from our day in BCN in 2004...
We took a Princess bus tour in Barcelona – the Highlights tour – that drove to the top of Montjuic hill for a panoramic view of the city and a look at the Olympic fields from 1992. It was amazing to see the swimming pool, which was perched on the side of the hill and overlooked all of Barcelona. It must have been breathtaking for the swimmers to dive from that location!
After descending Montjuic, we passed Gaudi’s La Pedrera house (also called Casa Mila) whose exterior had metal balconies and a curing roofline. Then we passed Gaudi’s other modernistic building – the Casa Batllo with its interesting rooftop and ceramic walls. Then, after a 30-minute bathroom/shopping break right across the street from the cathedral, we toured the La Sagrada Familia.
This is a huge cathedral started in 1883 by a gentleman named Gaudi, which is STILL not finished more than a century later. This cathedral is so big that you need a wide-angle lens… and to be a block or more away to capture everything on one photograph! The outside is of a nature of which we’ve never seen before with a façade of Jesus’ birth and early life on one side and the Passion and Death of Christ on another. That is, within the wall of the side of the building are these statues depicting the life of Christ. The façade of Jesus’ birth is sculpted in realism while the façade of his death is sculpted in abstract modernism.
There are going to be 12 bell towers (one for each Apostle) in all; 8 are finished. At the top of some spires are bundles of fruit – which reminded me of Carmen Miranda’s headdress. Currently, the vaults of the main nave are finished, and work now commences on the transepts and apse. They said the cathedral should be completely finished by 2025 (or earlier). When it’s finished, at least a block of now-occupied buildings will need to be demolished to make way for the lawn!
Below the cathedral is a museum, which shows the past, present and future of the cathedral through scale models, photographs, and such. Personally, I thought the entire church was quirky! But, if nothing else it was easy to identify a Gaudi piece of work!
After our tour of the cathedral, we drove through the Barceloneta fishing village on our way back to the ship. Some passengers got off the bus at the Columbus Monument located at the foot of Las Ramblas promenade but we made our way back to the ship for lunch as it was pretty hot again today (high 80s and humid) and we were ready for another dose of air conditioning. We thought it was interesting that Columbus’ monument points toward Italy and our cruise ship’s berth (not the New World).
We went back to Las Ramblas around 3pm for about an hour. We strolled down the grand boulevard and watched the vendors and street performers entertain the crowd. The street performers were dressed in bizarre costumes and activated when a pedestrian put a coin in the box in front of their “stand.” There were performers dressed as a flamenco dancer, a man in a black and gold suit wearing wings and reading a newspaper, and even a man spray-painted in white with a white derby hat and white business suit – sitting on a porcelain white toilet with his pants down around his ankles and white coffee mug on his platform! To say the least, it was a sight to behold! Along the way, there were plenty of sidewalk cafes where folks were drinking beer and eating tapas. While we were in town, Princess had a special program with flamenco dancers onboard to entertain those already back on board the ship.
What we missed – the Gaudi museum at the top of Casa Mila, the clock at the Academy of Medicine, the Cathedral of Barcelona (Santa Eulalia), the Spanish Village (Poble Espanyol), Gothic Quarter, Queen Isabella’s palace, the Museum Picasso building, Parc Guell with Gaudi’s works, seeing the unique La Boqueria market (St. Joseph’s Market), eating tapas and a dinner and show at Tablao Cordobes. (There was a hop-on, hop-off bus in town but we felt we didn’t need it after the Princess half-day tour.)
My impressions of Barcelona – it was very interesting and there are enough sites left for me to want to return to see the rest. I was concerned about pickpockets on Las Ramblas but when we were there, the boulevard wasn’t really crowded so [I thought] it was easier to keep an eye out for pickpockets.
not taking vacations but collecting experiences - usavvy2