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  • Writer's pictureRuth Mcbride

The mind of a genius….

Day 126/138 2022/2023 Viking Neptune World Cruise. Barcelona, Spain.

We totally missed our sail in this morning to Barcelona. I think we knew we didn’t need to get up early, so we didn’t!

Barcelona this morning! The weather was perfect at 21C for a glorious day in Spain.

We had agreed to meet Gene and Margaret in the Atrium on Deck 1 for a walking tour of Barcelona. I had done the research on what we needed to see in the short time we had in Barcelona, so we met up with them and headed out through the World Trade Centre Cruise Terminal S.

We were heading for the first Metro station we could walk to, and then buying a day pass for the Metro, so that we could easily get around Barcelona without dealing with traffic, buses or a lollipop!

Its a good thing we all like to walk because we were in for a day of walking today. The monument in the background is the ‘Columbus Monument’. At 60 metres or 197 feet tall, the monument is located at the lower end of ‘La Rambla‘ and was constructed for the Exposition Universal de Barcelona in 1888 in honour of Columbus’ first voyage to the Americas. Columbus reported to Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand V of Barcelona after his first trip to the new continent. The statue shows Columbus pointing towards the New World with his right hand while holding a scroll in the left.

Christopher Columbus monument Barcelona, Spain.

We easily found the Drassanes Metro station just past the Christopher Columbus monument. While we wanted day passes, they only sold 11 ride passes, so we purchased 4-11 ride passes and headed into the Barcelona Metro.

On the Green line from Drassanes metro station to our first stop of the day.

I was definitely not posing for this photo! In the Barcelona Metro.

After a quick 3 stop trip, we were at our destination!

Richard has never been to the Sagrada Familia before, so while the Sagrada was closed today for a private function (and I did check online to see if I could get tickets and nothing was available for the entire day), at least Richard could finally see the outside of the Sagrada. I visited the Sagrada 6 years ago when I was in Barcelona on business. One of my clients was holding a Global Financial Services conference an hour outside of Barcelona and I took the opportunity when we flew in, to grab the metro from our hotel, before we headed outside of Barcelona, to see the Sagrada on a private guided tour. It was so beautiful inside the Sagrada and I have told Richard about it so many times, so I was really hoping he could see it too. Another time. I think Barcelona is a ‘must come back’ city.

The Nativity Facade at the front entrance of the Sagrada which Gaudi actually completed.

Another section of the Glory Facade.

A steeple of the Passion Facade decorated with the word ‘Sanctus’.

The Glory Facade represents Christ’s eternal glory and features scenes of Christ‘s rise to heaven and eternal bliss. The fruits represent symbolically the fruit of good deeds. The fruits are: loquats, cherries, plums, peaches and pears.

The Passion Facade of the Sagrada which was added in 2018. The Passion Facade is simple, austere and plain and is carved with straight lines to resemble the bones of a skeleton. The facade is dedicated to the Passion of Christ and the suffering of Jesus during his crucifixion and the facade was invented to portray the sins of man.

On March 19, 1882 construction of the Sagrada Familia began under architect Francisco de Paula del Villar. When Villar resigned in 1883, Antoni Gaudi took over as chief architect, transforming the project with his architectural and engineering style, combining Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. Gaudi devoted the remainder of his life to this project and he is buried in the church’s crypt. Gaudi had the mind of a genius using simple construction principles to construct his works. Gaudi used natural forms inspired by nature like curves, spirals and waves in his designs, and used innovative materials like concrete, stained glass, ironworks and ceramics. Gaudi was a pioneer in the use of structural analysis and experimentation, putting his ideas through testing on models and samples before finalizing them. At the time of his death in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete. The construction relied on private donations to continue with construction. It is anticipated that the building would be completed by 2026, which is 100 years after Gaudi’s death, but the Covid 19 pandemic has delayed the project. The project design is being completed based on reconstructed version of plans that were burned in a fire, as well as on modern adaptations.

The sections in brown still need to be completed on the Sagrada and visitor entrance fees cover the annual construction budget of 25 million euros. Guard’s original design called for a total of 18 spires, representing the Twelve Apostles, the Virgin Mary, the four Evangelists, and the tallest spire to represent Jesus Christ.

I was inside the Sagrada in February 2017 and I was able to find these photos of the inside of the Sagrada to remember how beautiful and interesting the architecture was.

The inside of the Sagrada has so many things going on, that it is hard to know where to look. The columns inside the church spread out like trees. The stained glass windows let light in from the outside to brighten the building and are truly functional and not just pretty to look at. (My photos are from before I was interested in photography).

Twenty million people a year come to visit the Sagrada, and we counted for four of those twenty million people today!

Our next stop on our self guided tour of Barcelona was to see another Gaudi work. We got back on the subway for three stops and exited at Passeig de Gracia, where we walked for a few blocks to come to ‘Casa Batllo‘, formerly known as the “House of Bones”.

Casa Batllo re-designed by Antoni Gaudi in 1904.

Much of the facade of the home is made of broken ceramic tiles. The roof is arched and was likened to the back of a dragon or dinosaur. Some people have nicknamed Casa Batllo ‘the house of yawns’ as the structure looks like the balcony’s are all yawning.

After seeing Casa Batllo, we decided to find La Rambla and walk down the tree lined pedestrian street to find a spot to have tapas for lunch.

In the Placa CATALUNYA in Barcelona there were many sculptures and statues. ’La Deesa’ is marble sculpture of a female figure by artist Josep Clara.

Looking at the sculptures.

There were quite a few metro lines that all came together at Placa Catalonya and so did the transfer points for the Hop on Hop Off Bus. The lineups for the ‘hoho’ bus were ridiculous today. Thank goodness we did not decide to do this option in Barcelona. We could see 4 other cruise ships in the harbour today, so that could have been contributing to the crowds lining up for the ’HoHo’ buses. The stores in Barcelona are closed on Sundays except for touristy stores which we found out by walking down La Rambla.

’Wisdom‘ by Miquel Olse from 1928

I had read that there was a great sheet music store at 97 La Rambla called ‘Casa Beethoven’, but I did not think it would be open today.

As luck would have it, the music shop was open!

What a music store! I play piano and trombone, so I was interested in seeing if I could find some interesting sheet music for the piano. I ended up buying two books with some great sheet music in it, to keep me busy on the piano when I return home to Canada. I was very happy the store was open today!

We knew we wanted tapas, and we didn’t know where we wanted tapas, but we turned down and alley way, walked for a few blocks and came upon this great area called ‘Rambla del Raval’. The area was not touristy and we could tell that people were living above this street, because we could see laundry hanging off the balcony’s.

Botero’s CAT. Located in Rambla del Raval where we decided to have a non touristy tapas lunch today. It is assumed if you touch the cat in a certain spot and make a wish, it will be granted.

Fragua Grill didn’t look too busy when we stopped for our tapas lunch, but we were trendsetters, because the place quickly filled up as we had our lunch.

Oh what to eat? There were so many good things on the tapas menu!

Waiting for lunch.


Everything was so tasty and fresh. We really enjoyed our little out of the way tapas meal and for all of our lunch Including the tip, the cost was 54 euros. We saw lots of other tapas spots on La Rambla, but their prices were almost double what we paid today for our tapas.

As we had been walking down La Rambla, we had seen a spot that had very interesting gelato ice cream cones. After our lunch we walked back to La Rambla to see if we could find the special gelato ice cream store.

Chimney roll cones and waffle roll cones. Oh my!

Margaret had the warm waffle cone and Gene had the warm chimney cone! I am not sure where they had the room for those desserts, but they were able to finish them off!

Sweet Gaufre gelato! We shared a Dulce La Leche and Pistachio cup of gelato.

La Rambla on a Sunday afternoon was very busy with families and tourists out for a Sunday stroll. There was a small artisan market set up at the bottom of La Rambla selling hand crafted leather goods and silver jewellery by different artists.

A golden angel and a mime about to get set up to entertain the crowds and seek donations on La Rambla, on Sunday afternoon.

We had walked almost 17,000 steps today and it was time to walk back down to the bottom of La Rambla and turn right at the Christopher Columbus statue that we had seen earlier in the day and approach the World Trade Centre Cruise Terminal. Our back on board time was 5pm and it was about 4:10pm, when we finally got back on board. A long day of walking in Barcelona enjoying the short time we had there.

Barcelona is definitely a city to spend some time in. We didn’t see very much today, but we saw as much as we could, with the time we had, making sure we did have the traditional Spanish tapas, some wine and gelato! What a great day.

As we were leaving Barcelona at 6pm, the rain started to fall. Rain had been scheduled for earlier in the day, so we were really happy that the rain held off for our walking tour of Barcelona. We have had excellent weather on our World Cruise. The last heavy rains we had were in French Polynesia and the rains today were not impacting our itinerary in any way shape or form.

Tomorrow we are in Murcia, Cartagena, Spain for a very short 5 hours and we have another walking tour planned. I hope our feet will hold up for another long day of walking!

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May 01, 2023

Too bad Richard didn't get to see the inside of the Sagrada Familia - the sun streaming thru the stained glass is breath-taking.


Allan Yoshimura
Allan Yoshimura
May 01, 2023

Such a short time in Barcelona. Too bad, but you made the most of it. Hard to believe the Sagrada Familia closes for private functions. Next time...

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