We arrived a couple of days before the start of our cruse in Barcelona – Tom & Betty from Florida, and Jim & Phil from the UK. Not my first visit here, but it is one of my favourite cities in the world. The weather was great and we wandered around town, taking in the sites and enjoying the Rambla. There is nothing to say they had that terrible attack a year or so ago. Perhaps a few more police wandering around. It is crowded and fun, with the mimes and the people selling their wares. Little cafes and bars, and of course the wonderful fresh market just off the Rambla with it’s myriad of sweets, fruit, veggies, fish & meat. It also has one of the best wine stores ever.
We got to our favourite Tapas bar – Tres Hermanos, a short walk from the Jazz Hotel which is a great place to stay. The Jazz has a good location, lovely breakfast and the rooms are very gracious. The rates are pretty reasonable and it is a short walk to the Rambla, Plaça de Catalunya with El Corte Inglés, and many places worth seeing. We also had a delicious meal at Petit Camitè. A restaurant specializing in Catalan cuisine and is Michelin recommended. I even found a Tim Horton’s just around the corner from the hotel!!
Barcelona is not Barcelona without a visit to Sagrada Familia to see how far along they are to completion of Gaudi’s beautiful cathedral. They are expecting to finish in 2026 – one hundred years after Gaudi’s death. Every time I visit, there is something new that has been completed. Inside never fails to amaze me with the colours created by the stained glass windows, changing with the time of day, and the columns reminiscent of trees and nature – one of Gaudi’s favourite themes.
Once on board, our first stop was Alicante where we just wandered around town and bought wine to have on board in our cabins.
Next on our itinerary, we stopped in Malaga. Phil & Jim had a lunch arranged with old friends here, so Betty, Tom and I went off the the Automobile Museum. I wasn’t sure what to expect, Tom wanted to see this, but we were all pleasantly surprises at what we found.
The Museo Automovilístico de Malaga is very clever. Most guys want to go and look at old cars, but the women not so much. So what they did was combine cars and haute couture fashion, matching the fashion and hats of the era, to the cars. Beautiful clothes and even more beautiful cars. Really worth a visit.
From Malaga we were supposed to have two stops in The Canary Islands. However, a huge storm in the Atlantic changed our route for us and we turned left out of the Mediterranean and headed south. Fast. I must compliment our captain and Oceania for keeping us out of that storm. If you saw the news reports for The Canaries you will know that there was a lot of damage due to high winds and waves. As it was, we experienced some heavy weather but not like it might have been. So now we have eight sea days before we get to San Juan, Puerto Rico. I love sea days, so it was a lovely relaxing time, playing Mahjong and Hand & Foot and just relaxing.
Above, cabin parties – still alive and well and lots of fun!!!
San Juan, the old town, was not hit as hard by the hurricane last year as other parts of the island. But you can see evidence here and there of damage from the winds. It is still a lovely old town with interesting buildings and churches. We stopped for a nostalgic visit at the El Convento Hotel, a favourite of mine and Don’s. And just wandered around town. If you bring up the hurricane subject there is certainly some resentment, or maybe hurt is a better word, for the way they were treated after the hurricane. Apparently there are still parts of the island without electricity, but things are slowly getting back to normal in the outer areas.
Another idyllic sea day and then we are in the Bahamas with a beach and a snorkel day. And then it was time to disembark and head our separate ways. It was lovely to spend time with my old friends Tom & Betty and Jim & Phil. Jim has written another excellent book called “In My Sight” – James Williamson. It is available on line on Amazon, or Amazon UK, and it is a good read, a well written story of a young man who is gay and is a sniper during the last world war. Great Christmas gift perhaps. Speaking of which, getting back to Toronto I will be full swing into Christmas and shopping and all the nice things that happen at this wonderful time of the year. And of course the cold & snow!! Maybe it is time to start looking at a much warmer location. That old travel bug! Once it bites you, I don’t think there is anything that can drive it out of your system!
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to all.
This year’s Christmas theme – Father Christmas