Date:* 18th/19th May 2016
- Latitude: * 41deg. 21.3 mins N* Longitude: *02 deg.
10.6 mins E
- Weather: * Cool and hazy the first evening 16 c, Clear blue skies all day 21 c very light winds.
Barcelona has a very long and varied history, starting back with Romans BC , then with Moors about 1000 AD. Catalonia then unified with Aragon in 1137 and that led to trading links with Mallorca, Ibiza, Sicily and Menorca. In 1400 AD the city started to decline with the discovery of the Americas and the port of Cadiz took over as the place to be. In 1714 Felipe V then took over Spain, and Barcelona lost a war along- side the Habsburgs, the Austro Hungarian family, that war was the” Spanish war of Succession”. Following this in 1808 the French occupied the city during the Napoleonic wars. And during the Spanish civil Wars Catalonia the province was after independence and supported the Republican cause, which lost, and General Franco never forgot this and the state felt a backlash from him because of that support. To this day there is a very strong feeling of Identity for Catalonia.
For this port we have an overnight stay as well as a full day, we arrived late in the afternoon so those people who wanted to sample the city by night could. Ourselves we didn`t take that opportunity, preferring just to take the normal day.
Our start was not an early or late one, we had breakfast in the cafeteria on the top deck, it`s a good place to get a feel of your stop and the days weather. There were no issues with either, the terminal building was right alongside with good access, and we had good reports of the weather for the day. After breakfast it was back to the cabin to collect our bags for going ashore. We used a shuttle bus which runs between the ship and a point just at the bottom end of the Las Ramblas.
We had a plan for the day and that was to visit the “Palau De La Musica Catalonia”, which means The Palace of music for Catalonia, it is a world heritage site.
To reach our objective we started our walk through the city on the Ramblas. At mid- morning it was not too busy. Then it was into the narrow streets of the old quarter, where you`ll find small squares with cafes and alleyways going everywhere, not like the majority of Barcelona which is laid out on a grid system, we passed their town hall in a fine square along with some other civic buildings, some fellow passengers saw a wedding which came out of the town hall. We were soon by the cathedral, (not the Gaudi one) with lots of buildings which are associated with it around it. In one square there were some antique stalls, whilst walking the popular routes in the city you are aware of the street sellers with all sorts for sale there is always something new.
We then located our quest for the day, the “Palau” at the moment from the street it has two faces, one the “New” and one the “Old”. The new has a corner tower made out of red brick, and the brickwork is very intricate with a design of trees up its full height, plus one of its sides was plate glass, this glass facade overlooks a courtyard where you can enjoy a coffee. Going onto the “old” it is very much in the “Gaudi” mould, every square inch of front surface is covered with ornate designs. These surfaces might be pillars, arches, domes, a lot them represent the things of
nature. Both Gaudi and the architect for this building Lluis Domenech were from the same period tho they did not work together. Domenechs brief was to create a building suitable for all of the arts, and in building it he used all of those arts to create the marvellous building it is today. You`ll see stain glass, sculptures, iron work, tiles, all used to great effect. If you think the outside is good!! when you get inside it is something fantastic. Today it is regularly used for orchestral concerts, ballet, choirs, flamenco, attracting all the top artists from around the world.
For the inside of the building we took a guided tour, first we were shown a short film of how the building came about and the different stages of its construction. I think I`m right in saying it has a capacity 2,600 with seats on three different levels. While on the lower level all of the different aspects of the sculptures, tile work and the like were explained, the main jaw dropping work is the stain glass centre piece situated in the roof of the hall, at this time we also had a short recital from the massive pipe organ, very impressive. We moved then to the upper level where you got a real close look at the ceiling and its designs. Well, all good things must come to an end and our tour was a good one, but it was a great find, and to think that we had been to Barcelona for a few times now and not known about this Gem, all I can say is if you`re ever here, go see it.
Out now into the daylight and we made our way to the Placa Catalonia, and then down the ` Ramblas, stopping for an Ice cream along the way. I did say earlier that the Ramblas was not too busy, well by early afternoon things had certainly changed, now it was buzzing. Half way down the Ramblas we took a detour into the famous “ La Boqueria” market where you can get any fresh produce, it all looked fabulous.
We caught the shuttle bus back to the ship and had a very late lunch, before retiring to the deck and a sit in the sun to rest our aching feet!
So I will say goodbye for now and hope you join us for our trip to Cannes.