Friday night we had Tapas at Sellers Tapas restaurant, 2 blks from hotel, per recommendation of the staff. Very good. Then we crashed. Had breakfast in the hotel on Sat. as the first morning I had horrible jet lag, and it was so convenient. Took the Hop On, Hop Off ("HoHo") tourist bus and rode all over town, seeing many beautiful parks, landmarks, Gaudi buildings, etc. Stopped at Park Guell.. a must see. Hotels will give you a coupon for a discount on this bus. When the weather is nice, sit up top in the open air on the bus, it's great!
Sat. Eve we celebrated my 60th birthday with dinner at Ristorante Salamanca near the Port-- an excellent recommendation from our taxi driver. They brought a platter of LIVE seafood when we sat down to show us how fresh it was! The place was charming and wonderful—supposedly it is mostly locals who eat here. Had the best salad ever: pickled asparagus, lettuce, tomatoes, jamon, olives, lemon, tossed with olive oil and sherry vinegar. Our seafood platters of langostinos, prawns, shrimp, clams, mussels were superb. The staff served us some homemade Liquer in honor of my birthday. Sunday we went to the Picasso museum, shopped in the Gothic quarter, saw the cathedral, etc. No time to ride the Funicular or hundreds of other activities we wished to do—that is the beauty of a cruise though. You get a "taste" of many places. Those you like, you know you will want to return to (Barcelona, definitely!!)
We took cabs in Barcelona and had all polite, wonderful drivers. Esp. with my gimpy knees (I move slowly) did not want to risk all the crime of the Metro or city buses. Cabs were reasonable, drivers helpful and great. Funny though, all of them had USA-80's rock music on their radios!
If we ever return to Barcelona, we'll stay far away from Las Ramblas—it is super crowded, super noisy, full of thieves, pickpockets, street performers (some of whom entertain & distract you so their pals can rob you), flower stalls, cafes, and cheap souvenir stands. We would like a hotel in the Gothic district near the Cathedral- those are cheaper and nicer!
We started with tour of Tuscan countryside--Beautiful! Fields of chianti grapes, and every hill with a mideval fort or castle. Then the Tower of Pisa, the Duomo, Pont D’vecchio, the Academia (“David” statue, gorgeous!); Florence food market, shops, town wall, etc. and many other things. Thanks, RomeinLimo and Fabrizzio—we loved you, your tour was AWESOME!
Vinnie took us to an very nice restaurant for lunch, then to Vatican museum and St. Peters. Vinnie had already gotton us tickets (no waiting in line!!) and had arranged a superb guide for us to do the Vatican. Spent 4 hours touring the Vatican museum, the Sistene Chapel and St. Peters basillica and square. Awesome! Our guide was super and it was fabulous experience! Vinnie also had “influence” and knew where bathrooms were all over the city and where the best Gelato was. Great guide.
The towns we saw were awesome. Very romantic, beautiful. Bus stopped for lunch at a cliffside cafe outside Positano. Very good lunch, all the Proseco or wine you wanted, Italian chicken, wonderful canneloni, and awesome views once again. Stopped in Positano for one hour, then in Amalfi for 1-1/2 hours, that was my favorite. Very romantic, scenic, great shops and town square.
Yes, this cruise only gave me a “taste” of Italy—but WOW! Now I know that I definitely want to go back. I am so in love with Italy- the food, the wine, the people, the history, the beauty!..I am truly grateful for this wonderful cruise which gave me the chance to sample 4 different European countries, and have a fantastic travel adventure of a lifetime!