|The Farmacia Bouyat where we purchased the contact lens solution. The pharmacist spoke no English, but pointed to a water bottle and my eyes made our request easy for her to understand. The two bottle pack cost roughly US $8, very reasonable.|
Barcelona, a historic city steeped in rich history is cacophony of one massive architecturally interesting building after another.
Since we’ll be returning to Barcelona for 24 hours after this four day second leg of this back-to-back cruise, we thought if we took the time to see at least one major historical attraction, we’d have more time when we return.
|The outdoor café where we surprisingly found a table for two, ordering a drink while enjoying people watching. This simple activity fulfilled a fantasy of mine to experience such an outdoor café in Europe.|
Our choice for the day’s trip included two cab rides, one delightful stop for drinks at an outdoor café on the boulevard near the Sagrada Familia and the purchase of my contact lens solution for a total cost of $100.
When we exited the ship we purchased Euros $136 with US $200. When we returned to the ship, we had spent half. Had we gone on an excursion, part of the time would have been spent at a shopping area for which we have no interest. The excursions ranged from $140 per couple to as much as $5500 per couple.
|Tom looks up at the Sagrada Familia as we sat in the outdoor café.|
Much to our surprise, we’ve decided on an excursion today to see Marseilles France. As we sit in our favorite booth at the Garden Café, as I write this now, we are overlooking the alps of Marseilles, a sight to behold. Tomorrow, we’ll share the photos of our group exploration, a first for us now on our 6th cruise since January 3, 2013. The cost of this excursion is $150 per couple including a 21% tax.
As it turns out there is a 21% VAT (valued added) tax on just about everything in the European Union, including alcohol, goods and services. It’s a tough pill to swallow. Unfortunately, I hadn’t budgeted for these taxes (live and learn). Thus, we’ll be tightening our belts too compensate.
|The drive along the streets to Sagrada Familia.|
So, off we went after a 20 minute cab drive through the traffic congested streets of Barcelona, horns blaring, cop whistles blowing as they shouted at drivers and pedestrians walking willy-nilly with little regard for their surroundings. Life in big cities everywhere has a distinct similarity.
|Gaudi, the architect responsible for the design and building of Sagrada Familia and many historical buildings throughout the city of Barcelona.|
Our hope had been to enter the church, over 100 years in the making. Unfortunately, it was not open to individual tourists. Apparently, group bookings with two hour lines has superseded the opportunity for anyone else to enter. Had we signed up for a pricey excursion, we’d have been waiting in one of those “around the block” lines.
Alas, we weren’t disappointed, instead enjoying the exterior views from a number of vantage points in the general area, especially when seated at the outdoor café. The people watching was equally entertaining.
|Its massive size made photo taking tricky, so enjoy these various shots.|
|More than 100 years in the making.|
In the afternoon, we returned to the ship as we experienced the stressful security incident with the knife, as outlined in the post of yesterday.
|The intricate details are breathtaking.|
|Notice the varying coloration.|
|It’s no wonder that it is taking so many years to build this intricate monstrosity.|
As the Norwegian Epic has “reloaded” with a new batch of passengers while in Barcelona, we find at least 75% of the passengers are European, many not English speaking.
|We gasped observing the many aspects of this amazing structure.|
|Cranes were in place for many years at the towering structure is built.|
|The local buildings left us in awe as we drove through the city.|
Since last night at dinner, we’ve met two lovely couples from the UK. The conversation has been enriching as they share their varied experiences of world travel, as we soak up every morsel of their suggestions.
|The Arch or Arc de Triomphe (not unlike the structure of the similar name in France)|
|A fountain shot we got while driving in the cab.|
|Tourist buses were everywhere packed to the rafters with tourists.|
We’ll be back tomorrow with photos of our visit to Marseilles, France. Please stop by.