Before leaving home for a Barcelona-Casablanca-Madeira-Canary Islands-Malaga-Barcelona cruise:
We book a GREAT apartment in Barcelona, with Arturo (our host).
We buy tickets online for La Sagrada Familia and a 2-day pass for the HopOn-HopOff bus.
We also sign up, online, for some NCL Excursions. (Especially them that go easy on us old folk.)
Then I fill my Netbook with stuff like maps and nearby stuff ... and the beginnings of a diary.
Then, on my Android tablet, I stick an Audio guide, a Spanish English dictionary and a pair of socks.
Then I do a quick brush-up on my Spanish ... and we're ready to fly:
Toronto Paris Barcelona ... 12 hours (ugh!)
After arriving at Barcelona airport, the "taxi guy" gets us a taxi which takes about 30 minutes to get to our apartment near Sagrada Familia. (29 euros + 3 euros tip.)
Although we've practised our Spanish, we have a slip of paper to show the taxi driver: it has a wee map and address and he punches it into his GPS.
Our host, Arturo, had arranged for us to leave our luggage in the apartment with the gal who's cleaning
- then we sit at the wee cafe by the door to the apartment and have beer, choritzo-on-a-bun, a bowl of olives and a plate of cheese.
We're so busy enjoying our lunch that we don't notice Auturo entering the apartment to leave us some beer in the fridge. (Nice guy, eh?)
At 2:30, as we had arranged, we meet Arturo, who is now standing at the front door, and we all head up to the delightful attic apartment.
Arturo shows us about, mentions nearby restautants, grocery stores, taxi stand, etc. He's a wealth of knowledge about "his city".
After a well-earned nap, everybody goes shopping at the nice grocery store two blocks away.
(Everybody except me. I stay behind to nurse a broken leg - rest - cogitate.)
The girls fix a deeelishus evening (stir-fry) meal on the terrace and we eat to music: Jay's music on Arturo's elaborate audio system.
We spend three glorious days in Arturo's apartment then embark on our 9-day cruise.
I have a day-by-day diary with pictures, videos and comments, here:
The NCL Spirit is a lovely, ship. Small (as cruise ships go, these days), yet lots of open, uncrowded areas, quiet places to read & relax, and there were always tables available in the buffet and dining rooms when we visited.
It always amazes me how cheerful the crew is.
The "washy-washy, happy-happy" person spraying your hands with disinfectant when you enter Raffles Court, s/he is always dancing.
We wondered why Casablanca was on this itinerary. It sounds magical (shades of Humphrey Bogart!) but there's little to impress.
And (our daughter commented) Marrakesh is a garbage dump.
Barcelona is a wonderful, beautiful city and the three days we spent in Arturo's apartment were the highlight of our adventure.
Barcelona is a city built for people. There's a prison that will be moved outside the city.
The building will be rorn down and replaced by ... what?
A shopping mall? Apartment buildings? Fast food joints? NO. It'll be replaced by a park!