Barcelona: Transatlantic Cruise Part One

Fall 2016, I took a transatlantic turnaround cruise with three fellow writers. We ended the cruise in Hogwarts, Florida. We started the cruise by spending two days in Barcelona. This post talks about the first leg of the travel which included good eats, the Basilica, and a theft on the Metro.

Thursday, Oct 27 2016 / lots of getting-there details.  Our airport shuttle picked us up at 3:00am. Our flight wasn’t till 8:30 AM, and we landed at the airport at 4:30 AM. We had Dunkin’ Donuts coffee while we waited, me with a healthy pumpkin donut too. I dashed back for a Caprese sandwich to eat on the plane. It was a five hour flight and the only food was for purchase. Flight left after a 30 minute document delay.

We had a very short layover in New York, and the American Airlines flight to Barcelona went without a hitch. Plane not too crowded, eight hour flight, and great flight attendants. I saw two movies.

img_3335Friday, October 28: Landed at 7:00am. Passport control was easy: languages in Spanish, English, and Catalan. Easy pickup of luggage even with an only 30 minutes at JFK to transfer baggage.

N arrived here yesterday. We’ll board the ship on Sunday.

We’re booked for two nights at a Best Western in an industrial area. They picked us up at the airport and let us check into our rooms early. It’s 9:30am. The decor is industrial chic. Love the bathroom, shower is separated from the rest of the bathroom by glass. Rain shower head. Best part?  The bus to downtown is right next to the hotel and only cost us two euro 15 pence and 20 minutes to get to the Christopher Columbus statue. We passed the harbor where the cruise ships dock on the way.

img_3336K and I walked Las Ramblas, built in 1853, and passed many live painted statues and open air tapas eateries featuring massive cocktails. Lovely architecture that reminded me of New Orleans. Nearly noon, we wanted lunch.  After walking through the famous food hall, seeing many of the places featured on I’ll Have what Phil is Having, we stopped at another open air place. I’m in heaven as we see loads of seafood everywhere. We had black rice paella, calamari, and a lovely salad. So fresh and the best I’ve ever tasted. $46 for two. Stopped at a large chocolate stand for dessert and I had two truffles.

I love meeting natives and tourists in Barcelona. Hotel staff is wonderful with directions as are the bus drivers and people on the street. Met Rod, a business traveler from Chicago, on the way to Las Ramblas and a lovely couple from British Columbia on the way back to the hotel. They said I could live with them.

Saturday, October 29: K and I met for breakfast. Lots of carne in the hotel buffet breakfast: different sausages and cured meats. Breads were served with puréed tomato, like a non-spicy salsa. A few pastries and large croissants and small raised donuts. A cheese platter with a minimalist fruit platter that included sweet melon and pomegranate seeds. Best of all: a cappuccino machine.

Gaudi side of Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona

Gaudi side of Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona

We took the bus to Las Ramblas and then the Metro to Sagrada Familia cathedral. An incredible sight surrounded by gawking crowds. We met N on the modern side. Gaudí designed this side of the cathedral as shown in the photo to the left.

Entrance tickets were booked till Monday night so we couldn’t see inside. From here, we took the metro intending to check out Park Güell also designed by Antoni Gaudí. The park has amazing stone structures, colourful ceramic tiles and the house were Gaudí lived. You can easily spend half a day on a visit to this park. Or so the guidebook says. Chances are we wouldn’t get access to it either.

The excursion became moot as, after we changed trains in the metro, K realized his wallet had been stolen by a pickpocket. K reported it to Metro authorities, who directed us to the closest police station. After consideration, we returned to Las Ramblas and had lunch at Minos. Mine was cold shredded cod on tomatoes and baked, sliced fingerling potatoes. We went from there to a lovely chocolatier for churros and a cup of chocolate for dipping. Then we caught the bus for the hotel, where K was given good advice: report the theft to the police station at the airport as they are better equipped to deal with English speakers. The hotel also offered their shuttle service to take him there and back with no charge.

K is cancelling credit cards and ordering a new driver’s license as we speak. We’ve also developed a preliminary plan for the rest of the trip without his cards. It’s a blessing that he still has his passport, and that he had paper copies of his cards at the hotel.

As N said, what was lost, can be replaced. In reality, the worst is a temporary hassle, nothing that should taint the rest of his vacation.

Plans can change without warning, but the bad is mixed with good.

Sunday, October 30 / Cruise Day One: low 70sF
Interrupted sleep as I made several checks during the night to ensure all devices addressed the Barcelona time change.

I rose early to accompany K to the airport police station to file a report of his pickpocket incident. The policewoman who took our report said she’d also been robbed on the metro. The hotel kindly took us there in their shuttle and retrieved us also. We were at the station approximately an hour.

img_3337We went to Las Ramblas hoping to have squid on eggs but, alas, the food hall, St Josep La Boqueria, isn’t open Sundays. As the Barcelona marathon surged up the street as we arrived, we traveled under the street via a metro tunnel to bypass them.

We returned to the hotel for checkout and caught a taxi to the NCL Epic dock. Although crowded, it was perhaps the quickest check-in I’ve experienced with them. They processed 9000 passengers in approximately three hours. I’m getting the hang of unpacking in the studios, pleased that everything was neatly put away in thirty minutes. We had a late buffet lunch and an early sushi dinner with a cappuccino somewhere between. The ship sailed at 5:00pm.

In bed before 9:30.

Trip report respectfully submitted by, Michelle K

About mlknowlden

In 2011, I left engineering to write full-time. Between the years 1992 and 2011, I’ve published 14 stories with Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine that have featured the hypochondriac detective Micky Cardex and two stories that did not. The 1998 story “No, Thank You, John” was nominated for a Shamus award. Many of these stories have been included in anthologies and translated in multiple languages. With Neal Shusterman, I’ve also published a science fiction story for the More Amazing Stories anthology (Tor) published in 1998 and co-authored with Neal Shusterman an X-Files Young Adult novel (DARK MATTER) for HarperCollins in 1999 under the name Easton Royce. For Simon & Schuster in July 2012, we published an e-novella UNSTRUNG in Neal's UNWIND world. I have graduate degrees in English and Electrical Engineering.
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2 Responses to Barcelona: Transatlantic Cruise Part One

  1. Derryl Jones says:

    I want to be you when I grow up!

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