Monday, August 14, 2017

Barcelona........I left my heart in Catalonia May 1 - 8, 2017

Hardly ever been to a place that won me over like Barcelona.  Just hearing that word warms my heart.  A busy city, but interestingly it isn't a fast city.  Lots of diversity, all types of interesting people and it seems everyone just goes about their business.

One surprise was amazing bakery on every block and, of course, that had an impact on winning my heart.  Until you taste one of their chocolate croissants, or churros and chocolate, well you are just missing out.

This is what I would call the "City of Architecture".  Gaudi is evident all over the city, along with many other famous architects.  I fell in love with all things Gaudi.

A great city to walk in and there is an architectural treat in every block.  If you can't find interesting things here your eyes must be closed.  I can't even express how I love this place.  I want to return to Spain, maybe even rent a car and see more, more and more.  We saw a lot of the outside, so on my return I want to concentrate on seeing the inside of buildings, museums, churches.  Seven days was not near enough and hopefully I'll have time to go back and see lots more.

Picture time.............. (again, mostly overcast days so detail is lost).

We arrived on May 1st, May Day/Labor Day. We had to wait for our apartment and sat and had coffee (for 2 hours) and all of a sudden we were right at the intersection where the labor parade was starting. Interesting seeing all the people, flags and surprising to us to see Communist flags, hundreds of them. There is also the faction in this area of Spain that wants to be independent Catalonia. So many groups were represented and it was just fun to be in the middle of the action.

It is not a parade without these giant puppets.

Barcelona Cathedral
Constructed 13th - 15th centuries

Beautiful art work.

So adorable.

Motor scooters by the thousands.

Poor guy, I think some folks from the parade yesterday poured red paint on him. See paint can on his head. The next day there was a screen all around him, and then the next day the had him all cleaned up. Pretty quick action.

Window display, flower made out of bottles, 
vase is a bottle and filler is shredded paper.

An essential part of my life, churros. Very big in Barcelona. They like to serve it with rich, dark chocolate to dip it is.   I prefer mine just with sugar.   Hard to make them understand you don't want chocolate, but just coffee with it.  I could eat this every day.

  Erik, our guide for the Walking Tour.  Great way to
learn about the core of the city and history.

Saint George (Sant Jordi) slaying the dragon.  You will
find this all over Barcelona., statutes, buildings.  He is
the patron saint of Catalonia.

Musicians all over the city and it was nice to hear
the Spanish guitars echoing off the courtyard.

 Picasso, he lived in Barcelona for many years and 

Again, St. Jordi and the dragon.

The flag of Spain, but with the white star it represents
someone who wants to separate from Spain and be an 
independent Catalonia.  You see these flags everywhere.  I 
think there is a great desire by many to become separate.

Not for the weak of heart.  Really packs a wallop.

Blackberry liquor from the Azores.

Gondola ride over city.

New Blog location

I have started posting my blogs on Facebook, just a little easier to mess with.  So if you'd like to read any the link is:

I did Barcelona here and in new spot, great city so it can have two blogs, LOL

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Atlantic Crossing - 15 days at sea

This was a first, as our longest cruise had been to the Panama Canal, and I've got to say that 15 days is too long for me.  I can only play trivia, attend nightly shows and eat so much only for so long.

Food to me on the Royal Caribbean is not good, but I managed to gain weight I'm sure.  Had snails one night for appetizer.  A few stand out meals, but the rest was below par, especially their desserts and pastry.  Next cruise will be on Norwegian and they know how to cook.

It was fun that we had some Meetup friends who made the trip nice.....kudos to Christopher who kept the party going and again is charming, fun and someone I'd cruise with any day.  Made new friends and it was an interesting time

A huge advantage to this type of travel is that when you arrive in Europe you are adjusted to the time change as every few days you move your clock forward and we had to do this 6 times.

Ports:  San Juan, Puerto Rico, Ponta Delgado, Azores, Malaga and Ibiza, Spain.  All ports were wonderful, although of course way too short.  Loved Ibiza.

So I'll just add some photos here and hope that you enjoy them.  I won't go into detail.  Our weather on the islands and in Spain was for the most part overcast, so my photos are bright.  Day 15 we landed in Barcelona and we were very ready for "terra firma."

 4/17/17 - Off on the Royal Caribbean, Brillance of the Seas

Welcome aboard champagne

So glad to be on our way

Good bye Tampa

Let's get this party started
Christ and John, first drink of the day.

Towel critter, always enjoy these

 Couple of days at sea and arrive in San Juan. 
Took a nice Old/New San Juan Tour.
Cemetery right next to the ocean.

Old Fort that protected the city.

Excellent views from the fort.

When in Puerto Rico..... drink their beer.

After Puerto Rico, it is 6 days on the ship (a long time) until we arrive in the Azores.  Ponta Delgado was so green and beautiful.  We took a tour to see the volcanic lakes, one blue and one green, but it was very overcast and both lakes looked the same.  Fun to see the countryside though.

Wine and cheese tasting here

 They had probably 15 workers on this street project,
all hand laying of street


End our cold, overcast day in Ponta Delgada with a shot
of Absinthe -- guaranteed to warm your soul.

Now we have a few more days on the ship.  I'm asking myself how much trivia can I play.............

Table mates, from part of Meet Up group Cruiseaholics.
It was nice to make new friends.

3 course meals every night.  One can
get a little spoiled.

Entertainment every night.  We didn't go to every show, but
the ones we saw were pretty good and varied.

Always fun to return to the room at night and see
which animal the room steward created.

Chris was our room party organizer and host.

Chris, John and Donna, Meet Up friends.
Sometimes it is nice to just get away to a
quieter place and talk.

Stained glass in the Casino.

This little guy made us laugh.

We arrived In Malaga, Spain.  So glad to get on land again.  Took a free walking tour with Donna and John went on Hop on Hop off.

Good morning, Malaga

 It was an overcast and partially rainy day.

 First stop, pastries.

Donna noticed this place, we cracked up.  A little
way from Route 66, must appeal to American tourists.

Artsy trash can.

Our walking tour group

Plaza de la Constitucion
Center of the city with an amazing history

Wet street

Our ship, Brilliance of the Seas, in the harbor.

The jacaranda trees were in bloom.  We had one of these
trees in our yard in Long Beach.  Beautiful, but messy.

Pablo Picasso.  He was born in Malaga.

 This masted schooner offers cruises.  Wonderful to
see these ships still in operation.  What a beauty.

And as I've seen in so much of Europe a ferris wheel.
Saw one in Paris last year, Barcelona and here in Bergen
Norway.  I wonder how many others I will find.

Of course not enough time in charming Malaga.  A great city.  I hope I can return to Spain with a car and tour around and see so much more.  It is a wonderful country.

Last stop before getting to Barcelona, party centeral for the young of Europe, Ibiza.  We loved this little city.  Very picturesque and charming.  We even got to enjoy blue sky which was a nice change.

Seems like every city we visited had hills, some steeper than others. Had some good exercise here and a few rest stops to get up to the top to "old town" - Dalt Vila.  Well worth the climb.  Lovely views from the top and great architecture.

Top wall has cannons pointing out to protect the city.

Magnificent harbor and marina area.

A little breezy.

  Getting to the top was quite an ordeal but worth it for the views.
Founded 654 BC

Some celebration (could have been a wedding) and 
these nice ladies let me take their picture.

Pizza and Limoncello, perfect lunch.

 Statute paying homage to the hippy days that
began the popularity of Ibiza.  The hippies "discovered it".

Sad to leave Ibiza, interesting with so
much history.  Fun place to visit. 

Fun experience, saw some new and interesting places.  Now get me off this ship and onto land.............Barcelona here we come!!!!!!

Please excuse quality of photos.  I just didn't want to drag around my good camera for 6 weeks or worry about the bad guys....and most of the time it was drizzling, overcast.