Barcelona, Day Two / Cruise Day One
Today we are up at 7:00am, outside the weather looks like rain. We enjoy a breakfast in the Renaissance Hotel dining room of eggs, broiled tomato, mushrooms and fruit. The coffee is rich and strong but served just like on our overnight flight, in very small cups. I find myself wondering if they have an American sized coffee cup somewhere in the kitchen.
Our goal is to explore the city via a sightseeing bus tour, rain or shine–fingers crossed for shine. The day starts out cool compared to yesterday’s sunshine and heat. I’m chilly sitting on the top of the open air tour bus. Soon enough it begins to rain, which falls in huge droplets, and we get wet very quickly. Plop, plop, plop on our heads.
Our first stop is the Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, a large Roman Catholic Church designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926). Gaudí is one of Spain’s most celebrated architects. He became part of the Modernista (Catalonian for Modernism) movement which was reaching its peak in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Modernism celebrated an organic style inspired by natural forms.
We had hoped to enter the Basílica, but quickly found the line for entry was wrapped all the way around the building, and then some…even in the rain! With our limited time today, we opted to huddle under a tree and wait to get back on the tour bus.
Construction on the Basílica began in 1882 and is still underway today! The church did not open to the public until November of 2010. My “little” brother told me that it was under construction when he visited Spain on his high school class trip many years ago. Construction of the Basílica relies on private donations, and was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939).
Here Comes the Sun
By midday the sunshine appears through the clouds. Our bus takes us past the former School of Fine Arts where Picasso came to study. We also see the The Fundació Joan Miró, Centre d’Estudis d’Art Contemporani, a museum of modern art honoring Joan Miró. So many places we could stop and spend hours, but we are getting a quick overview of the city. We board the cruise ship late this afternoon and have to be back to the hotel by 2:00pm. I explain to the kids that this cruise will give them a sampling of places they might choose to return to and explore in depth one day. Something for everyone.
One of my favorite Barcelona street sculptures is by American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein at the Moll de la Fusta, the north eastern part of the harbor area. El Cap de Barcelona or “The Head of Barcelona” was created by Lichtenstein for the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. I just loved the crazy shapes and color if it, which really stood out against some of the ancient Catalan architecture and the statue of Columbus, nice juxtaposition.
Wow, That’s Old
We got our first taste of just how OLD Europe is as we listened to the tour bus guide take us through the Barri Gótic, or Gothic Corridor, the oldest part of the city. The kids’ heads were spinning at some of the facts and figures and the age of the architecture. The side streets are narrow and cobbled, making it impossible for anything but small cars to pass. There are so many beautiful sights to see in this city, you’d have to stay a week or more to truly explore it all.
Catedral de la Santa Cruz y Santa Eulalia or the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia was, for me, the most amazing structure in the Gothic Corridor. This Cathedral is the seat of the Arch Bishop of Barcelona and was constructed from the 13th to the 15th century, with much of the major work being completed in the 14th century. The cathedral is dedicated to Eulalia of Barcelona, co-patron saint of Barcelona, a young virgin who suffered martyrdom during Roman times in the city.
After our overview of the city, we return to the Renaissance to collect our bags, squeeze into multiple taxis (14 is a big group for sticking together) and head to the port. Our ship is the Regal Princess, a Royal-class ship that was constructed in the summer of 2012 and launched in early 2013, her maiden Mediterranean voyage was early this year. She’s HUGE 141,000 tons and currently the world’s 11th largest passenger ship. There was plenty of room for the kids to roam and avoid the adults at all costs. There was no cell signal, so the cousins were connected with each other and disconnected from the world. Well, at least while they were on the ship, we quickly learned that just about every restaurant in Europe offers free WiFi!
Tomorrow morning at 7:00am we will head out for a day in Aix-en-Provence, France–home of artist Paul Cézanne.
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