Sunday, August 2, 2015


Our next stop was Barcelona.  We could not tell from our nightly newsheet if there was going to be a shuttle bus from port into town.  We like to walk and explore on our own instead of signing up for tours but we went to the tour desk to ask about a shuttle.  We were told, "Oh, we don't know yet.  It won't be till the last minute and then it might be too late to sign up for a tour. We really recommend you sign up for a tour!"  We said we'd rather not, we like exploring on our own.  Shouldn't they already know if there is going to be a shuttle?  Wouldn't those things be set up way in advance?  But the tour staff insisted there was no way to know yet. So we looked at the tours, none of which were all that interesting to us. We do not like just sitting on a bus for hours!  We did find one that was an hour and a half on a bus and then dropped off to wander around town till it was time to come back to the ship. Okay, we relented, we will take that one.  "Oh, that one's not available in English. The only English tours are the longer ones on the bus."  We don't care if it's in English or not--what are our options?  "German or French."  Okay, we will take the German tour since we both know a little bit of German. Done.

We got up the next morning and found our tour group. We boarded our bus, while looking at the YES! SHUTTLE BUSES in the parking lot.  Annoying!

The tour guide actually spoke lots of languages and eventually threw in some English once he knew we were Americans.  Not much, but the important directions at least.   I realized my German was pretty pitiful and I was not following along very well at all. LOL

We did get to see some things by bus that we would not have had time to see on foot.
 We drove up into the hills and were able to look down on the city

We then visited the famous Sagrada Familia. Construction began in 1866 and still continues today!
 Antoni Gaudi, a well known Catalan architect, spent over 40 years designing the temple. After his death in 1926, the work continued (and continues) by architects who studied with him.
"Gaudí’s conception of the Sagrada Familia was based on the traditions of Gothic and Byzantine cathedrals. His intention was to express Christian belief through the architecture and the beauty of the building and communicate the message of the Evangelists. He achieved a symbiosis between form and Christian iconography, with a personal architecture generated via new but thoroughly logical structures, forms and geometries inspired by nature, with light and colour also playing a central role."  From
"The various architectural elements are imbued with hierarchically organised Christian symbolism. Thus, each of its 18 towers has a special significance. In the middle is the tower dedicated to Jesus Christ and around it are four towers representing the Gospels; the books containing the life and teachings of Jesus. The tower above the apse, crowned by a star, represents his mother the Virgin Mary, while the remaining 12 towers represent the 12 Apostles, witnesses to his words and deeds."  From
 It was an amazing sight that cannot adequately be captured in a photo.  It's so massive that you're hard pressed to get much in one shot, and even then, it's not an accurate representation of the whole.
 You can learn a whole lot more and see some great photos online at

We then walked around the park nearby and watched a bocce game and people enjoying the sunshiny day.

Back on the bus, drove around a bit more and then got dropped off for a couple of hours of wandering.

 I am going to do a separate post one day of "laundry around the world." 
 Many Catalan people want to have an independent state

Yes, we ran into some Greenpeace folks and they were excited to hear we were from Alaska!

 We had a nice lunch of many small plates

We got back to the bus before the appointed time and took our seats.  When the tour guide counted and realized he was two people short, he immediately started asking if the Americans were back.  LOL  I guess we have a bad reputation!

Barcelona was beautiful and I wish we'd had more time there.  I realized early on that cruising is not the best way to see most places.  You can get a little bit of an overview and then make a note to self that this is a locale you'd like to visit for a longer period of time. But it's just too rushed to be in a port for part of a day!

Later, I went to talk with our English speaking host, Jon, and explained the issue with the shuttle bus v. tour.  He seemed somewhat incredulous and said that the ship cannot leave passengers stranded in a port; there must be transportation available to get into town, so there would always be a shuttle if the town was not within reasonable walking distance. He basically admitted that the tour desk just wanted to sell us a tour.  Unfortunately, this did not give us a good impression of Costa.

I think this is the night we skipped dinner because we'd eaten in town so we were spared our tablemates.  :)  Or it might have been the night we ponied up the 4 Euro each and had a mediocre pizza dinner on board.  We had truly been looking forward to the Italian and/or European food we'd get on this cruise but we honestly never had anything outstanding.  Such a shame!  We were going to spring for a couple of nights of dining in the specialty restaurant but eventually decided against it, thinking it probably wasn't worthwhile.  We were determined not to be the "ugly Americans" on ship but already we were beginning to dislike this cruise line. Perhaps it was because we'd just been wowed by our Celebrity cruise, but even if we hadn't been on that one, I think we would have been disappointed in Costa.  It just seemed very lackluster all the way around. I will spare you having to read all of our complaints right now, but might sprinkle them throughout for your reading pleasure.  :)

1 comment:

Suzassippi said...

I would have skipped dinner, too. :) What a drag to be around folks who cannot enjoy anything. Love the photos and the architecture!