Again we arrived to beautiful weather in the mid 70's and no clouds in the sky. A cool breeze from the ocean seemed to keep the heat in the comfortable range for walking around the city. And Barcelona is a great walking city that is predominately level with mountains on the outskirts of the city. Today pants and a windbreaker for Harriet and a touring vest for me were sufficient for the both of us
. A touring vest looks remarkably like a fishing vest full of little pockets that can carry a variety of items from cameras and their accessories, to maps, to a hand cleaner bottle, and many other items that alleviated the need for Harriet to carry a purse. The day started around 8:00 AM, as the boat docked on the side of the harbor and we were ready to leave the ship and head into town. A city bus was available at the front of the terminal which was half of the price of the Princess Shuttle. Both would take us to the same starting point in town. So we took the city bus into town and we were let off in front of the Columbus Column at the head of the harbor. This is a tall column commemorating Columbus and his voyage of discovery of the New World. Yes, although Columbus was Italian, he was sailing under the flag of Spain on his famous voyages to the New World. The column has a series of large bronze plaques surrounding its base depicting the various scenes of Columbus's voyage. And directly behind the statue, leading into the heart of the city was La Rambla. This is a combination of two small streets divided by a large center pedestrian walkway that leads into the city. Today was a special day in Barcelona as it was Sant Jordi Day (or better known in English speaking countries of Europe as Saint George's Day). Sant Jordi's Day is a very special day according to the amount of people that had turned out to celebrate the holiday. There were crowds equal to a Labor Day or Independence Day Celebration in the United States
. It seemed that all of the residents of Barcelona and several large cruise ships had joined in the celebration going on in the city. As the day wore on, we found that on this special day, the Ladies are given a rose and the Gentlemen are given a book. And roses and books were everywhere. You could buy red roses, blue roses, white roses and even a multicolored rose in which every pedal was a different color. We were told that this was a special bred rose, although we didn't inspect one closely. So during our tour through the day there was the festive atmosphere of a great holiday accompanied by crowds of people out to enjoy this great day. The La Rambla was full of people stopping to talk or shop at the multitude of little swap meet like kiosks that lined the edge of the walking area. Along the way the building contained those chic fashion shops that are the heart's delight of many women. We walked up this street to the entrance of the Gothic Quarter.
The Gothic Quarter of Barcelona is the older part of Barcelona that was originally a Roman City and later the medieval city of Catalonia. Catalonia was a wealthy merchant and shipping region that was autonomous and had its own language even after the area was incorporated into Spain. For a brief period during the Franco Regime it was a banned language that was not revived until 1975. King Juan Carlos spoke in Catalan in his opening remarks for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics
. It is an area of town built from the time of the Roman Empire up thru the Medieval Ages of Europe. This meant small walkways and little plazas with large structures dominating the small openings. We walked in past numerous little clothing boutiques along a section of the old Roman Wall and into the plaza for the Cathedral of St. Eulalia. The cathedral was a typical gothic cathedral with it tall spires and flying buttresses. The area was alive with people enjoying this special day of St. Jordi. We walked thru with cameras in our hand and a sense of history in our minds. Many small shops lined the walls of the streets that were only for walking. The small open plazas had musicians and other street entertainers performing for the crowds. It was a festival atmosphere with people walking around enjoying the festivities. We passed a small ice cream store that temped Harriet for a time as she looked into the display of cold storage units at large blocks of various flavors of ice cream and sherbet. It was easy to distinguish the flavors of the dairy products as each had a piece of whole fruit on top describing the flavor. The walk thru the Gothic Quarter was longer than we had planned by looking at a map, because at every side street a view of something not to be missed was shown. We continued on thru the quarter trying not to miss any of the treasures that the areas offered to the eyes of the tourists.
As we left the Gothic Quarter, the city changed to a more modern but not modernistic look
. The streets opened up into large boulevards and some with large pedestrian walkways in the center of the street. It was one such street that we encountered the Arc de Triomf, which was equal in size to the Arc de Triumph in Paris, France. The pedestrian walk added to the beauty of the Arc.
The Arc de Triomf was a land mark on our walk to the La Sagrada Familia Cathedral. This is an enormous cathedral even in Europe, where large Cathedrals are common. Not an old cathedral as its construction was started in 1883 and it is still in the final stages of construction. It is an enormous modern cathedral built on the theme of old medieval cathedrals. The church was designed and was being built by the world famous Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. He started the cathedral's construction and continued until he was killed beside the cathedral by a tram in 1926. It is now nearing completion and when fully completed will rival any cathedral in the world regardless of when it was constructed. This was a site that needed to be studied for a period of time to take in all of the little nuisances that make it such a great cathedral. Gaudi's work is evident in many areas of the city, but to us, the cathedral was his crowning achievement as an architect. His style is unique to all others; he created a look that helps make Barcelona a unique city.
It had been a long walk up to the cathedral and we were at the farthest point of our walk of the city. We were ready for our walk back thru the city and eventually thru the harbor to our ship. As we return we can see the Tore AGBAR building at the end of one large boulevard. It is a Glass Bullet like building that stands out amidst the cityscape of Barcelona, the city that has the old, the new and the very special Barcelonan style.
Back we walked to the La Rambla, the life center of the city. Along these few miles were modern chic shops of fashion, cafes, tourist shops, and food markets. It seemed that all of the residents of Barcelona were under the age of thirty and walking down the La Rambla with the women carrying single roses and the men small books. Thru this throng of humanity, we forged our way thru the few remaining miles of the city to the Columbus Column where we would catch the Port Bus back to the White Lady. Even though it was getting late, the temperature stayed in the comfortable range of the mid 70's. Once again the White Lady's luck had kept the best of days for our visit to the wonderful city of Barcelona.
Today we had walked over eight miles thru the wonder of Barcelona
. It was a long walk that we enjoyed tremendously. But we must state that this walk is not recommended for the inexperience traveler. It is best left to professional travelers.
But our adventure was not yet completed as we had a Spanish Folkloric show on the ship after diner. We will have a full sea day to rest up before our next port. We will sail south on the Spanish Coast to the Rock of Gibraltar.
********************************Where is Harriet? Hunt
Today she is on the La Rambla as we began our walk into the City of Barcelona. It is still early in the day, so the street is not as crowded as it was laterLinda on April 24, 2009 Well again I see two possibilities, both in bright jackets. I will go with the middle of the picture to the right of center. I think she is walking towards the camera between the person in red and the lady in dark tank top you can see the bright jacket and top that Harriet is wearing. Linda
Today the port was Barcelona, Spain. It is a beautiful city that sits on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Although a European City with old ties back as far as the Roman Empire, Barcelona has a look of its own. It has the traditional Medieval Cathedrals but it has the modernistic La Sagrada Familia Cathedral that is as awe inspiring as any on the medieval cathedrals. It has the narrow winding streets of shops and people in the old Gothic Quarter and the large open areas with large boulevards full of traffic. Like some cities around the world, Barcelona has a look that is exclusively Barcelona.