Mediterranean Trip - Genoa, Italy to Barcelona, Spain
Posted May 06 2009 1:32pm
12/6/07 Thursday Genoa
Genoa is lovely from the ship, and familiar. This is the birthplace of Cristoforo Colo'n (Christopher Columbus.) However, we've been here before, and the day is chilly, so we decide just to take some photos from the deck, and use the day to relax. I spend some time writing this up, then go for a swim. Richard is getting better, but still needs rest. I love having the pool to myself, and we both take a long nap. At dinner, Mark & Linda tell us about their day tromping all over the lovely city of Genoa.
12/7/07 Friday Cannes Bon Jour! Richard is beginning to feel much better, but the day is cold & dreary, and Cannes, famed beach town that it is, doesn't look inviting, so again we stay onboard. Ominous signs show up on Lido deck, where all the staff are wearing gloves, and we're no longer allowed to serve ourselves at the buffet.
We recognize this as the "sick ship" protocol, and in the late morning, the captain announces that the Novo virus has been brought onboard by arriving passengers. This is not like the simple cold Richard & I have, but a serious intestinal bug. so, even though the ship has had hand sanitizer dispensers everywhere, he strongly urges us to use them frequently. He says, any passenger who develops diarrhea or vomiting should call 911 on the ship phone, and there will be no charge for medical services. He doesn't mention, however, that anyone who is suspected of having the virus will be confined to cabin.
Things go on more or less normally, if a bit subdued. Tonight Richard actually feels well enough to go dancing, so we dance before dinner. Our outstanding waiter, Laura, is working doubly hard because all her tables are full, and we aren't allowed even to pass a bread basket --- everything must be served. After dinner, the seas begin to get rough -- the captain warns us about high winds --- and we go to the casino to play the penny slots. I actually win $10.00 on a $2.50 investment. Yay!
12/8/07 Saturday Barcelona Buenas Dias! After a very rough night, when the ship leaped and lurched, ringing like a gong when the waves slam into the hull, and waking us up. We've been on many small ships that were tossed about, but this is the first time a huge ship like this has bounced this much. By about 5:30 AM, the winds subside. The captain later tells us the winds were 80 Knots, over 100 miles an hour. Apparently winds from the north met the famous Spanish Mistral, and cooked up a perfect storm.
When we wake up a little late after the rough night, the day is crisp and sunny, about 57degrees, and we both feel fine, so we meet Mark and Linda at a late breakfast and decide to take the shuttle into Barcelona, to Columbus (Colo'n) circle, with its tall statue of the great explorer.
Once off the shuttle, we find a true flea market -- used goods -- and soon lose Mark & Linda in the crowd. Richard and I decide to take the "Barcelona Bus Turi'stic" -- the hop on, hop off bus. These busses are in most European cities, (we took one in Rome, I missed one in Firenze) For 19E each, we get a two hour ride on the top of a double-decker bus, with a great narration of the sites on head phones, our choice from seven languages. The English narrator has a fine British accent.
We tour beautiful Barcelona, past Port Vell (old port) The Olympic Park, into the historic Barri Go'tic (Gothic quarter) with its massive old stone buildings,
and the stunning La Ribera (Medieval quarter) with ornate carving and statues. We love the glassed-in balconies.
The Placa d'Espanya (Spanish Plaza) has a magnificent memorial fountain by Josep Maria Jujul, and the Placa de Catalunya, where Las Ramblas, the famous miles-long promenade through Barcelona, begins. From our great vantage point atop the double-decker bus, we get unobstructed views of dramatic sculpted buildings by Antoni Gaudi, including the Casa Batllo', and "La pediera" (the stone quarry)
This is such a breathtaking city -- the tour ends with a sweep of Mont Juic (Jewish Mountain), giving us a bird's-eye view of the city and port, where no fewer than six huge cruise ships are in the harbor, including our Star Princess.
On the top, we pause at the majestic Palau Nacional (National Palace)
which tops Mont Juic's peak and lush gardens, then descend past the cable car terminal and the Joan Miro museum, a white marble memorial, back to the World Trade Center. Once off the bus, we catch the shuttle back to the ship. Onboard again, we learn from the passengers that the city was very crowded, due to the holy day if Immaculate Conception and all the ships. The captain announces that the number of new cases of the virus is declining, but we'll keep to the CDC sanitation measures we've been using. He also says the wind is gone, and he expects a calm sea tonight. This is our first formal night, so we dress and go to the Captain's Cocktail party, dinner and the big production show, looking forward to a calm sail to our next port.