Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Cruise Day #5, An Evening in Barcelona

Once again, the ship cleared with the local authorities almost immediately after docking and the process of disembarking was uneventful (no lines, no waits… amazing!). We started out by walking in to downtown Barcelona from the cruise terminal. The route is pedestrian friendly (with sidewalks to, over, and beyond the port’s bridge) but somewhat lengthy to the statue of Columbus at the foot of La Rambla. It’s also not especially picturesque. Given that, I’d probably recommend using either the shuttle bus (no details on this as we didn’t try it, although I believe there is a small fee) or taxis (which is cheap and plentiful in Barcelona). The advantage of the taxi is that you aren’t limited in terms of your destination and as I said they’re pretty cheap. For example, we spent 15 euros to taxi back from Sagrada Familia and this is about as far as one is likely to go in the tourist areas of Barcelona. It’s far less expensive from the cruise terminals to the Columbus statue (under 5 euros) and Placa de Catalunya (under 10 euros).

In any case, we walked to the base of La Rambla on foot and then proceeded to meander up to Placa de Catalunya, stopping along the way to enjoy the lively street scene and soak up the atmosphere. We especially enjoyed see the flower and pet (primarily bird) vendors along the route. Also, despite frequent warnings regarding pick-pockets and other miscreants, we had no problems and saw little in the way of bothersome behavior. Nonetheless, tourists are obvious and some are clearly good targets (walking along with open backpacks and purses, while taking pictures, and trying to read guidebooks/maps at the same time). So, a little caution and common sense go a long way. If you follow that, I suspect you’ll have no problems.

After reaching Placa de Catalunya, we opted to change our planner itinerary. Instead of heading into the Bari Gothic, we walked into the Eixample and set out for Sagrada Familia. This neighborhood has a very much more upscale feel than the area surrounding La Rambla. It’s also the home to numerous Modernista (Catalan Art Nouveau) buildings, including many by the renowned Antoni Gaudi. Libby and I are generally fans of all things Art Nouveau – so, we were over the moon about what we saw in Eixample. The organic, curvilinear forms are very striking. After a fair bit of walking, we reached Sagrada Familia—a striking example of Gaudi’s architectural and artistic prowess, as well as a testament to his personal faith.

After viewing the still unfinished church (they’ve only been at it since 1883), we returned to the ship via taxi and enjoyed a late dinner in the other main dining room, known as the Alizar (with d├ęcor “inspired by Rothko”). This was actually our first dinner in one of the non-specialty restaurants. Overall, it was rather good. I will note, however, that the venue itself is not nearly as attractive as the more opulent and spacious Grand Pacific Dining Room. All things being equal I’d suggest eating in the Grand Pacific, which is identical in menu but doesn’t allow patrons to wear jeans after 5 o’clock.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"All things being equal I’d suggest eating in the Grand Pacific, which is identical in menu but doesn’t allow patrons to wear jeans after 5 o’clock."

Indeed. The sight of patrons removing their denim trousers during suppertime would spoil my appetite.