While I do my best to share blog posts that are a reasonable length, I am putting up a disclaimer regarding the one you are about to read: THIS IS A LONG POST! Hope you enjoy joining me on our recent tour through SPAIN!
On Wednesday, July 1st, we enjoyed a full day at sea on our ship, as well as our only “formal night” for dinner. As you can see, we opted for our gentlemen to be comfortable in no neckties and open collars!
One of our favorite places to meet before dinner was the Lawn area on the back of the boat. The real, soft, green grass was beautiful and we enjoyed many moments here. The two pairs of newlyweds enjoy comfy chairs on the Lawn area of the ship.
At 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, July 2, 2015 our ship docked on the Spanish Island of Palma de Mallorca with plans to stay anchored for a full two days. On this first day in Spain, we took advantage of the SpaClub Port Pricing discount scheduling massages for all. Afterwards, four of us ventured off the ship to check out our new spot. Donny, Jess, Walker and I found a good place to enjoy a cappuccino. Yum! On our second port day on the beautiful island of Palma de Mallorca, we decided to join a bike tour with James. Though is was definitely a hot day for three + hours of biking, we all enjoyed learning about the island’s history as we followed James and explored the area. [pullquote]To have courage for whatever comes in life-everything lies in that.” Saint Teresa of Avila, a prominent Spanish mystic, Roman Catholic Saint (1515-1582)[/pullquote]
The main memories we will carry with us of Palma de Mallorca is how this Balearic city is a backdrop of towering cathedrals, ancient castles, and a magnificent harbor with endless rows of boats and yachts.
Getting our larger pieces of luggage into the hallway outside our cabins by 11 p.m. was quite a feat, but we did it, and we were all looking with great anticipation for our disembarkment the following day. On Saturday, the 4th of July, 2015, our great big ship, the Equinox dropped the six of us off in Barcelona, Spain. As our driver met us just off the ship, looking at all of our luggage, our guide, Ona quipped, “Are you moving to Spain?” We laughed and Leah admitted she was an overpacker. Ona encouraged her by reminding us that Spain was very small compared to the U.S., and that with life, Leah would become more of a minimalist. There was much to see in the short time we would be in Barcelona, so we got moving once everything was loaded in the car. As we rode along, Ona began to share with us all about her beloved city. Barcelona occupies 1.7 million in this very compact, seaside city. The three main parts of the city are: inside the city walls, the modern city and the other parts. The original city walls, built in the 1300’s, were dismantled to build the modern city.
We were all surprised (including our driver and our guide, Ona) that the start of our Barcelona tour found crowds gaping up to the top of a very tall building. Stretching our own necks from inside the SUV, we soon made a shocking discovery: a naked man was taking selfies up atop this building! The traffic stopped as everyone waited to see if he would be “rescued”. Thankfully, he was, and we went on our way, laughing and laughing. What a funny way to start our first visit ever to this great city!
Our first stop was the SI JOSEP LA BOQUERIA Market, and this market truly had everything imaginable available…fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats of every kind! Even COW tongue as pictured below! I don’t even want to know how one would prepare that for consumption! Wish I could ask Julia Child! There were some of the biggest tomatoes, strawberries, and whole fish for purchase. This was an amazing and busy place!
Ona soon left us for lunch at a sidewalk cafe.
At lunch is where I met three gals from America, from St. Louis in fact, Walker and Jessica’s current hometown. It was fun meeting and chatting with Brunetta, Lisa, and Misty, who were sitting at the table right next to us enjoying their Spanish lunches.
After lunch, it was time for our appointment to visit the famous church in Barcelona.
The Sagrada Familia is Barcelona’s most famous symbol and certainly one of its most impressive sights. The church is such a massive size, so it is often referred to as a “cathedral”, but without a bishop’s seat. Pope Benedict XVI. inaugurated the Sagrada Familia on November 7, 2010. The church building was then raised to a basilica.
The construction for this church in the district Eixample began in 1882, and is supposed to be finished in 2026. From 1883 the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí took over the leadership of the works until his death in 1926, when he was stuck by a tram, carried to the hospital, and mistaken as a beggar. The building is significantly influenced by Gaudi. We were all enthralled by the bright-colored windows and the details in this amazing structure. We especially enjoyed seeing all of the many biblical stories we found hidden there.
With the expected completion in 2026, the construction is financed solely from donations and ticket money. Currently, 8 out of 12 about 100 meters tall bell towers are completed. The higher towers of the facade of the glory and the central dome with a height of over 170 meters will be built. Currently, part of the cloister and the apse are getting built.
We also had the chance to see where the 1992 Olympics were held, just four years before the Olympics came to our beloved, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. In addition, on our busy and full day in Barcelona, we saw the Museu Picasso, the Sacrista De La Catedral, the S.E. Catedral, and an old Jewish Synogogue.
Originating in the 6th century, the Ancient Synagogue in the Serafad neighborhood is believed to be an old synagogue located in the center of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. This was one of the smallest and most fascinating places we visited with two rooms and many, many interesting artifacts. A nice trip in Jewish History, it has been described as one of the oldest synagogues in Europe. After many centuries of use for other purposes, the building re-opened as a synagogue and museum in 2002. No congregation prays regularly at the Sinagoga Major, but it is used for festive occasions.
The Picasso Museum is a key reference for understanding the formative years of Pablo Picasso. The genius of the young artist is revealed through the 4,251 works that make up the permanent collection. Furthermore, the Picasso museum, opened in 1963, also reveals his deep relationship with Barcelona: an intimate, solid relationship that was shaped in his adolescence and youth, and continued until his death.The Picasso museum is very rich in regard to work from the formative years in the life of the artist; it is practically exhaustive up to the Blue Period. The Museum also houses an important representation of works from 1917, and the series Las Meninas (1957) as well as a comprehensive print collection. We thoroughly enjoyed our tour through this art museum![pullquote]
Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not.”
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)[/pullquote]
We ended our tour of this magnificent city with a drive up a mountain for an aerial view of the fabulous city of Barcelona, Spain.
Our last evening in Europe, we walked to a quaint, local restaurant and enjoyed a delightful Spanish dinner there. Scott especially enjoyed his choice of King Crab! Our waiter brought a live crab to the table for Scott to “approve” before it was prepared in the kitchen. After dinner, we headed back to our hotel, Hotel Murmuri Barcelona to prepare for our long flight home the following morning. The family humored me one more time by donning these stars and stripes caps in the hotel, because it was, after all, THE FOURTH OF JULY!
I want a faith that’s so alive it can be seen. I want a hope that cannot hide even when I am weak. I want a love that speaks the truth of what I believe.”
Building 429 “Set A Fire”[/pullquote]
The six of us will carry countless memories with us as we go forward in our life journey. One of my most treasured memories will be this: as we shared dinner on the ship, we joined hands and took turns saying grace before we started our meal. On one particular night, a waiter came up to our table after our blessing and told us he had rarely, if ever seen passengers on the ship stop and pray before their meal. He went on to tell us that he led a small group Bible Study on the ship with his fellow staff members. That was a priceless moment for us all.
This memory I have shared above makes me want to also share the lyrics and video in which I found the quote: “I want a faith that’s so alive…” so click here to watch: SET A FIRE!
Now closing the books on our European Adventure, I will share in my next post entitled Peace Of Thread, about a small early birthday gift Leah gave to me this past weekend.