A visit to Barcelona, Spain Map
This was the final Port for the Norwegian Cruise Lines Epic repositioning cruise from Port Canaveral, FL to Barcelona with various stops along the way.
We had decided to spend some additional time here after the cruise, for several reasons, ie; I had been here repeatedly while in the Navy and was interested in seeing how the city had evolved. Celeste had not previously been here, so both of us were looking forward to doing some exploration of the city.
The Norwegian Epic arrived
in Barcelona harbor very early at approximately 5:00AM. Our game plan was to wait until the last
possible minute to disembark and let the crowds diminish. We had a hotel room reserved at the
Alexandra Hilton Hotel, so there was no need to hurry. However, even though Norwegian had originally
indicated that we could depart the ship as late as 11AM, the "Freestyle Daily" ship's bulletin made it
clear that everyone had to disembark no later than 8AM - so our "remain flexible" rule was utilized.
I had visited Barcelona numerous times while in the Navy, and Celeste had never been there. However, in the years since I had last been here, the city had grown considerably and in fact the harbor had been extensively expanded since my Navy days. The port area where my ship used to tie up had been converted to a marina (and other facilities) named Port Vell .
Alexandra Hilton Hotel
We had made plans to remain in Barcelona for several days, and had selected the Alexandra Hilton Hotel on Carrer de Mallorca as
our place to stay. The hotel is just a few meters away from Rambla de Catalunya, which turns into La Rambla as you
get nearer to the harbor. The hotel is also less than one kilometer away from the La Sagrada Familia, which was on
our "must see" list. Very nicely situated hotel, very modern, quiet & comfortable - the staff there are very polite and
helpful & speak excellent english.
NOTE: The Rambla de Catalunya is a wide boulevard with a large island in the center of the road, which has a number of of nice sidewalk cafes & pubs.
NOTE: Images are the property of Hilton Hotels
Image # 1 (left side) gives you some idea of the size of the Barcelona Harbor, it is comprised of; an industrial/commercial (freighter/cargo ships) area, a large area devoted to Cruise Ships, and a marina area for smaller vessels.
Barcelona cruise port is currently ranked the largest Mediterranean cruise port with turnaround operations (roundtrip itineraries) and the World's 4th busiest port.
The building in the lower center of image # 1 (left side) is the Barcelona World Trade Center, shown in
image # 2 (right side).
NOTE: Images are the property of Cruise Mapper
Our first destination (after dropping off our luggage at the hotel) was the Sagrada Familia. The Familia is located 2.1 kilometers north-east of our hotel, and we could walk there all the way on the Carrer de Mallorca.
The Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família ("Expiatory Church of the Holy Family") is a large unfinished Roman
Catholic church in Barcelona. Designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926), his work on the building
is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In November 2010, Pope Benedict XVI consecrated the church and proclaimed
it a minor basilica.
NOTE: Click here to watch a video we made of this church and area.
The building had a "street fair" kind of thing going on near the entrance, where groups of people were forming "human pyramids", throwing people into the air and catching them, vendors were selling souvenirs, etc. Our goal was to purchase tickets and go inside the building - but watching these groups perform was entertaining!
The Sagrada Familia is one of the world's largest Church buildings: from the entrance to the apse it is 90 metres, the five naves are limited by a 60 metre long and 45 meters wide transept. The four side naves are 7.5 metres wide each, the main nave is 15 metres - exactly twice as wide. The vault of the main nave is 45 metres high, and the side aisles are 30 metres high.
The interior columns are inclined and utilize "tree like branches". The weight is routed directly over the pillars in the ground - all this without bearing facade or exterior buttresses. The result of this ingenious solution is spectacular: the pillars and arches supported by them transform the interior of the temple into a stone forest of palm trees, lots of light streaming in through large windows and the vault.
Our hotel was a very short distance from the Rambla de la Catalunya; a wide boulevard with an area in the center for pedestrians and various sidewalk vendors such as small restaurants. We had walked by some of these restaurants during our hike around the city, and decided to have dinner at one of them on our first evening.
Our morning's first adventure was a walk to the Casa Batlló, tt was designed by Antoni Gaudí (the architect of the Basílica de la Sagrada Família & the mosaics of Park Güell), and is considered one of his masterpieces. A remodel of a previously built house, it was redesigned in 1904 by Gaudí and has been refurbished several times after that. Gaudí's assistants Domènec Sugrañes i Gras, Josep Canaleta and Joan Rubió also contributed to the renovation project. The local name for the building is Casa dels ossos (House of Bones), as it has a visceral, skeletal organic quality.
Our hotel was just a few meters from the Rambla de Catalunya, which as you walk towards the harbor, eventually turns into La Rambla the famous shopping district. The street name change takes place at the Plaça de Catalunya, and then La Rambla continues all the way to the Mirador de Colom which is adjacent to the Harbor.
The tree-lined central promenade of La Rambla is crowded during the day and until late in the night. Its origins as a watercourse are reflected in the paving design, which appears to ripple like water. Along the promenade's length are kiosks that sell newspapers and souvenirs, other kiosks selling flowers, street traders, performers, and pavement cafes and bars. Several notable sights are also located within the promenade, including a mosaic by Joan Miró and the Font de Canaletes, a fountain and popular meeting point.
Along the Rambla are historic buildings as the Palace of the Virreina and the Liceu Theatre
(Liceo in Spanish), in which operas and ballets are staged. The La Boqueria market opens off
the Rambla and is one of the city's foremost tourist landmarks, housing a very diverse selection
Click here to read a good Wiki Article about this famous area.
After walking south through La Rambla we arrived at the harbor, and decided to take one of those double decker bus tours around the city - this would allow us to see a great deal more of Barcelona than by foot and we could leave the bus tour at Montjuic Castello.
Montjuïc Castle is an old military fortress, with roots dating back from 1640, built on top of Montjuïc hill, high above the Harbor of Barcelona. It currently serves as a Barcelona municipal facility. The eastern side of the castle sits on a cliff providing amazing views of the Barcelona Harbor, which gave the fortress a commanding view of ships arriving.
The castle is surrounded by the Jardins de Joan Brossa, a beautiful large park which you can traverse by a cable car (Teleferic de Montjuïc) or by foot. We choose to ride the gondola, as we wanted to maximize our time in the castle.
The name "Montjuic" comes from Latin for "Jewish Mountain", and there was originally a Jewish cemetary in this area.
We saw dogs everywhere we went in Barcelona, sometimes in groups, most often singly. There
was even a dog park next to the Sagrada Familia. Obviously people in Barcelona are fond of
dogs, and because we are too, we decided to show these images!
Because we continually saw dogs everywhere we went, we took the time to look up the statistics. The top six "dog population" countries in Europe are; Germany, United Kingdom, Poland, Italy, France and Spain. Which was a surprise to us as we had never seen quite so many dogs in any of those countries. Click here to go to the statistics page to read more.
- The Norwegian Epic Trans-Atlantic Cruise Overview & Guide This is a large ship; 1,081 feet long, 155,873 gross tons in weight, and 133 feet wide. We cover the ship from end to end in our overview page, click here to read more.
- Ponta Delgada Portugal: 3,198 miles from Port Canaveral. It is located on São Miguel Island, the largest and most populous in the archipelago. 137,856 (2012) island population and 62.1 kilometers in length by 15.8 kilometers in width. Click here to view our Ponta Delgada page.
- Funchal Madeira Portugal: 599 miles from Ponta Delgada. Population of 267,785. The island is 35 miles long and 13 miles wide and has 99 miles of coastline, but the shore is all rock and cliffs. It's a mountainous island; the highest peak is 1862 meters/6,100 feet high. Madeira is all mountains, no beaches. Click here to view our Funchal Madeira page.
- Cadiz & Seville Spain: 659 miles from Madeira. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Western Europe, with archaeological remains dating to 3100 years and was founded by the Phoenicians. Click here to view our Cadiz/Seville page.
- Malaga Spain: 141.5 miles from Cadiz. With a population of 571,026 in 2018, it is the second-most populous city of Andalusia and the sixth-largest in Spain. The southernmost large city in Europe, it lies on the Costa del Sol (Coast of the Sun) of the Mediterranean. Click here to view our Malaga page.
- Cartagena Spain: 199 miles from Malaga. With a population of 213,943 inhabitants, being the Region’s second-largest municipality and Spain’s sixth-largest non-Province-capital city. Click here to view our Cartagena page.
- Palma de Mallorca Spain: 334 miles from Cartagena. The capital and largest city of the autonomous community of the Balearic Islands in Spain. Population of 409,661. Click here to view our Mallorca page.
- Barcelona Spain: 153 miles from Palma. It is the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of Catalonia, as well as the second most populous municipality of Spain. With a population of 1.6 million within city limits. Click here to view our Barcelona page.
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