Mediterranean Cruise 2012






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Monte Carlo

Livorno (Florence)

Civitavecchia (Rome)




Day at Sea 1

Piraeus (Athens)

Day at Sea 2



Barcelona, SPAIN

Monday, 12 March: Incredible city.

We arrived at the hotel about 2:30 in the afternoon. The hotel is a former Ritz-Carlton, built in the early 1900's. The renovation and the refurbishment is a sight to see. Our room was at the end of a hallway and was basically a suite with long entrance hallway with a bath on each side of the hallway. One side had a double vanity and large walk in shower, the other had a single vanity and toilet. Lots of room for two people to get ready. The room had a king size bed, sofa and sitting area, and large windows that opened for fresh air. We also had plenty of room to "park" the suitcases.

After cleaning up a bit we met up with TJ and Amy for a drink in the bar of the hotel and then headed out to a tapas bar a few blocks away for dinner. Ciudad Condal is on the Gran Via and while it is highly recommended to tourists, most of the customers in that evening were local clientele. Our server was excellent and recommended a sampler plate so we could all try several items. Spanish beer and tapas! Great first dinner.

After dinner we explored the area some and enjoyed wine and dessert at an Argentine wine bar near the hotel called Patagonia. We had a superb Spanish wine and equally superb chocolate desserts. We were all ready for a good night's sleep.

Gang's here
Ciudad Condal
Carey, Amy, and TJ meet up on the staircase
Ciudad Condal - Great Tapas!
Thinking Bull sculpture
Lighted fountain - colors change
Panorama view of the fountains in the plaza
Great Spanish wine! - Hope we can find it in TX


Tuesday, 13 March:

After a wonderful breakfast in the hotel, we headed out on a short excursion in the city. Unfortunately I got us headed north, when we should have gone south! Oh well I recovered as map reader and guide later in the trip. We met back up at the hotel at 2, got our luggage and waited for Jose, our driver the day before, to come drive us to the cruise terminal. Loaded down he took us the short drive to the terminal.

The boarding process with Silversea was easy and efficient. Porters took our bags curbside, we checked in with the staff and headed up the gangway to the ship. Another quick process of turning over our passports, quick photo, glass of champagne, and we were being escorted to our cabin. Randy did good! Our cabin was a fantastic "temporary home". Large, comfortable, plenty of storage, walk-in closet, incredible bathroom in marble, and a large verandah. We were hardly in our room when the staff brought up our luggage. Within an hour we were all put away and settled in for the next two weeks. Time for a drink on the pool deck!

Breakfast buffet in the El Palace
Map to nearby sites
El Palace info and our photo of the hotel
Silver Wind
Silver Wind - Docked in Barcelona
The door to our cabin - 804
Sitting area
Sleeping area
Vanity near the bed
Marble bathroom
Walk-in closet
Our verandah
Anniversary Roses - Randy never forgets!
Espresso Machine in the room! Great feature.
Pool Bar
Pool Bar - Garreth was great!
Pool Deck
Show Lounge
Port Postcard
Panorama Lounge
Postcard of Barcelona port. Arrow shows where the Silver Wind was docked


Since the ship overnighted in Barcelona we enjoyed our first dinner in the Restaurant, a little dancing and after dinner drinks, then on to bed to get ready for our first tour.

Wednesday, 14 March:

Our tour departed in the morning and headed through the city up to the hills overlooking town. This is where Gaudi built Guell Park. The park was originally part of a commercially unsuccessful housing site, the idea of Count Eusebi Güell, whom the park was named after. Only two houses were ever built in the park, neither by Gaudi. However, he did buy and live in one of the homes from 1906-1926. The main focus of Gaudi's work is no straight lines. Every element is of a curve shape, ellipse, drops of sand, etc. Very imaginative and highly visual.

Gaudi's Home
Guell Park - bridge
Gaudi's house
Overlooking the entrance
"Market square" built on pillars
Walkway under the square
View of the square and area beneath
Roof is covered in mosaics and sea elements
CKRK Guell Park
Up close of medallion
Carey and Randy at Guell Park
CK bench
RK Lizard
Carey sitting on bench
Randy and the Lizard
Entrance steps
Tiles lining walls of the steps
Building at entrance - now a guard house
Building now used as a shop
Guell Park Postcard
Guell Park Postcard
Guell Park Postcard
Guell Park Postcard

Our next stop is the world famous La Sagrada Familia. I must say the Sagrada Familia is truly an awe-inspiring church. Gaudi's vision will be complete in 2025-2028 and will have 18 towers: 12 dedicated to the apostles, 4 to the evangelists, one to Jesus and another to Mary.

Arriving at Sagrada Familia is incredible. The size and scope of the church can not be accurately reflected in a picture or even on TV. On our tour we only explored the outside, but you can visit the inside which appears to be as amazing as the exterior. The interior was completed in 2010 and dedicated by the Pope. We did pick up a couple of postcards of the interior and would definately want to visit inside if we ever returned.

Construction began in 1882. When you see the scope you understand why it has been under construction for so long. The intricate details of the design must take months and years to create each element. Our guide told us that there have been periods of limited funding so construction slowed, but right now they have funds and actually hope to complete it earlier than recent projections of 2030 and beyond. While we were there we could see the tradesmen working and scaffolding surrounds numerous areas of the exterior. The structure has what appear to be hundreds of sculptures - all depicting different scenes fromthe life of Christ. Gaudi was an extremely religious man and the works display the intensity of his devout belief.

There is so much to see when you explore Sagrada Familia and I know we missed much. You would need a whole day to just look closely at all the details and elements of the design. Here's a link to the official website to learn more: Sagrada Familia website

Sagrada Familia
Sagrada Familia
First view of Sagrada Familia
Fruit sculptures atop the pillars
Sagrada Familia
Sagrada Familia
Detail sculptures
Ongoing work
Sagrada Familia
Sagrada Familia
Tree with doves for peace
Detail of the exterior surfaces looks like wet sand when you make sand castles and drip the sand
Sagrada Familia
Sagrada Familia
This facade has smoother textures and rough cut appearance
Closer view
Sagrada Familia
Sagrada Familia Postcard
Scene of the Crucifixion
Postcard of the interior
Sagrada Familia Postcard
Sagrada Familia Interior
Postcard of the current state of construction with a view of the "final" state in about 2025
Postcard of the interior


Our last stop on the tour was Casa Batlló. Gaudi renovated the exterior and interior of this home creating another work of living art. What was also very interesting is that he addressed light, cooling, and flow in very creative and operational ways. The use of wood, stained glass, and tile throughout the home is very unique and modern in feel. The exterior has "skulls" over every window which you don't realize at first glance, but clearly see upon closer scrutiny. The chimneys for the fireplaces are covered in tiles, even on the roof. Light is brought in from the top through shafts covered by windows on the roof. The center has a vertical shaft covered in blue tiles that brings air in and throughout the home. The home is a perfect compilation of Gaudi's architectural skills and his artistic vision.

Casa Batllo
Casa Batllo
Casa Batlló
Closer view of the "skull caps"
Casa Batllo
Casa Batllo
Decorative vases
Skylights on first floor bring light from roof
Casa Batllo
Casa Batllo
Detail woodwork and stained glass doorway
Casa Batllo
Casa Batllo
Light fixture set in swirled ceiling
Airshaft with windows and vents to rooms
Casa Batllo
Casa Batllo
Another view in the central shaft
Model of Casa Batlló
Casa Batllo
Casa Batllo
Windows facing out to the front of the home
View looking at to the roof terrace
Casa Batllo
Casa Batllo
Light well on the roof
Casa Batllo
Casa Batllo
Details on the roof look like a dragon
Amy, Randy, TJ, Carey on the roof of Casa Batlló

After we finished out "Gaudi tour" we returned to the ship and prepared to sail! We settled on the pool deck with some afternoon refreshments and were scheduled to depart port at 4 pm. Unfortunately we were delayed due to checking the lifeboats and clearing safety. Then.. a fog bank rolled in that was so thick we could not even see the water below us as we looked off the verandah. We had dinner and went to the bar waiting for the ship to leave port and head to Marseilles for our first real port adventure. Sometime in the middle of the night, while we were sleeping, we left port. Randy thinks it was about 1 or 2 in the morning. The end result was we did not arrive into Marseilles until noon.

Chronicle 13 March 2012
Chronicle 14 March 2012
Postcard of the ceiling in the Music Palace
Torre Abrago - We saw this from a distance driving through town to Guell Park. Of course it was not all lit up!
Watercolors 1
Watercolors 2
Watercolors of Gaudi's Sagrada Familia and Casa Batllo
Watercolors of Gaudi's Guell Park
Casa Batllo
Fog Bank
Casa Batlló flyer - inside
Fog bank - so thick we could barely see the water. As the evening progressed the fog became thicker




Postings before the Trip:

We arrive in Barcelona on 12 March 2012. We depart San Antonio on Sunday 11 March and fly to Dallas. In Dallas we transfer to British Airways and fly to London arriving Monday morning, then fly to Barcelona with a scheduled arrival at 12:25pm Barcelona time. We are very excited about the flight as we upgraded to first class for the overseas flight. First class in a 747 - wow!

We do not board the ship until Tuesday afternoon so we booked our first night at the Hotel Palace on Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes. This allows us an extra day in Barcelona before we board. The ship will overnight in Barcelona,so we have two days to explore Barcelona.


El Palace Hotel, Barcelona Spain

El Palace Hotel Lobby

El Palace Hotel Lobby

Tuesday 13 March 2012 we board the Silver Wind and overnight in Barcelona


From Wikipedia - "Barcelona is the capital and the most populous city of Catalonia and the second largest city in Spain, after Madrid, with a population of 1,621,537 within its administrative limits on a land area of 101.4 km2 (39 sq mi). The urban area of Barcelona extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of between 4,200,000 and 4,500,000 on an area of 803 km2 (310 sq mi), being the sixth-most populous urban area in the European Union after Paris, London, Ruhr area, Madrid and Milan. About five million people live in the Barcelona metropolitan area. It is also Europe's largest metropolis on the Mediterranean coast.

Barcelona is today one of the world's leading tourist, economic, trade fair/exhibitions and cultural-sports centres, and its influences in commerce, education, entertainment, media, fashion, science, and the arts all contribute to its status as one of the world's major global cities. Indeed, it is a major economic centre and a growing financial centre (Diagonal Mar area and Gran Via); one of Europe's principal Mediterranean ports, can be found here as well as Barcelona international airport, which handles about 30 million passengers per year. It also boasts an extensive motorway network and is a hub of high-speed rail, particularly that which will link France with Spain. Barcelona is the 16th-most-visited city in the world and 4th most visited in Europe after Paris, London, and Rome, with several million tourists every year.

Founded as a Roman city, Barcelona became the capital of the Counts of Barcelona. After merging with the Kingdom of Aragon, it became one of the most important cities of the Crown of Aragon. Besieged several times during its history, Barcelona is today an important cultural centre and a major tourist destination and has a rich cultural heritage. Particularly renowned are architectural works of Antoni Gaudí and Lluís Domènech i Montaner that have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The city is well known in recent times for the 1992 Summer Olympics. The headquarters of the Union for the Mediterranean is located in Barcelona."


Update 22 January 2012: Since we board the Silver Wind on Tuesday and remain in port overnight, we scheduled a shore excursion through the ship for the second day. We will explore Las Ramblas and other areas not in the excursion Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning.

From the Silversea Website Tour List -

"Gaudi's Barcelona

14 Mar 2012 | 4.5 Hours | Morning

Discover the whimsical art of the city's most famous architect, Antonio Gaudí, during this scenic, half-day sightseeing tour of Barcelona.

Depart the pier for the drive through the centre of Barcelona, and towards the northern part of the city. Here, Gaudí planned his ambitious project of a 'Garden City' that would revolutionise city planning.

Güell Park

This Gaudí project is a must-see during any visit to Barcelona. Named after the man who initially provided the funding, Güell Park presents Gaudí's vision of urban development. When Señor Güell ran out of funds, this venture came to an abrupt end. Today, Güell Park retains the same look as when it was abandoned. After a guided visit, your tour continues on with a visit to the Church of the Holy Family, or 'La Sagrada Familia'.

La Sagrada Familia

This monumental but unfinished church is Gaudí's most famous masterpiece. Its towering spires are Barcelona's most prominent landmark. Many of the steeples Gaudí envisioned have not yet been built, and much of the structure is still exposed to the heavens. Take a walk around this unfinished church for photos before continuing your drive through the Eixample District.

Eixample District Tour

The Eixample District is home to some of Barcelona's most stunning examples of Modernist architecture, especially along the elegant Paseo de Gracia. Important buildings such as the Pedrera House, the Batllo House and the Ametller House line this impressive thoroughfare.

Casa Batlló

Next, a visit is made to Casa Batlló. Originally a residence of a wealthy industrialist, Gaudí completely renovated the building between 1904 and 1906, and its façade is unsurpassed in the entire city. There are no corners; even the walls are rounded and the tile roof depicts the back of a dragon. Your guided walking tour of this Gaudí masterpiece includes the impressive main floor and rooftop, which features whimsical chimneys and offers spectacular views over the city.

Following your visit, re-board your coach for the return drive to the pier."





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