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Thursday morning I had a short flight from Madrid to Barcelona.

Below is a picture of Barcelona's coast line just before landing.

All of the images below are thumbnails and can be clicked on for a larger image.

Barcelona's Mediterranean Coast

The video below is 12 minutes long of my flight to Barcelona.

My hotel, the NH Calderon, was located just north of the La Rambla.

The video below is 4 minutes long of my accommodations in Barcelona.

After getting settled at the hotel I took a nice long walk.
Across the street from my hotel is Plaša de Catalunya, a large square considered the center of the city.
Barcelona's NH Calderon Hotel Plaša de Catalunya Rainbow over Plaša de Catalunya

On the other side of Plaša de Catalunya is the start of the La Rambla.
La Rambla is a 1.2 kilometer long tree-lined pedestrian mall popular with tourists.
Numerous street performers can be found along the La Rambla.
La Rambla La Rambla Mime La Rambla Mime

The La Rambla ends at the Christopher Columbus Monument and Port Vell.
I walked along the harbor. Took a little rest under the monument
and then walked back up the La Rambla to my hotel.
Christopher Columbus Monument Downtown Barcelona Port Vell

Hello everyone,

My day started with breakfast at my hotel in Madrid. Next it was off to the airport for my 11:35 flight to Barcelona. The picture below was taken from the airplane just before landing. The body of water is the Mediterranean Sea.

My stay here in Barcelona was all arranged through Princess Cruises. It's a 2-day hotel package prior to my cruise on Saturday. They provided my transportation to the hotel. They were surprised to see me. They had all my flight information wrong and thought I was six hours late. I'm lucky I was able to find their rep at the airport. My hotel is located at the north end of the La Rambla. After getting settled I began my walk down the La Rambla. The La Rambla is the only part of the city that I was able to see when I was here back in 2008. Below are some fountains at the north end of the La Rambla across the street from my hotel.

The La Rambla is a street in central Barcelona, popular with both tourists and locals. It's a tree-lined pedestrian mall, it stretches for 1.2 kilometers between the center of the city and the Christopher Columbus Monument at the port on the Med. It's always packed with people.

The La Rambla is also famous for the many mimes that perform along the street.

The picture below was taken from the southern end of the La Rambla looking back north.

On the other side from where the picture above was taken is the Christopher Columbus Monument. If you look close you can see a rainbow on the left.

The picture below is the Mediterranean Sea. My ship will sail from very near this place on Saturday.

I rested my weary feet here for a while and then walked back up the La Rambla back to my hotel.

There were a few drops of rain as I got close to my hotel. Below is a rainbow over those fountains at the north end of the La Rambla.

I will be spending all day tomorrow exploring the rest of Barcelona.

Until tomorrow,

Click on email photos for the large full-size photograph.


Friday I took a tour of the city. Our first stop was in the Gothic Quarter.
Despite several changes undergone in the 19th and early 20th century, many of the buildings
date from Medieval times, some from as far back as the Roman settlement of Barcelona.
Some remains of the squared Roman Wall can still be seen.
The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, also known as Barcelona Cathedral,
is the Gothic cathedral and seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona. The cathedral was constructed from
the 13th to 15th centuries. The cloister encloses the Well of the Geese.
St. James Square has been an important part of Barcelona since Roman times.
On one side of the square is the Palace of the Generalitat (which houses the government of
the autonomous community of Catalonia), and on the other side the Ajuntament (city hall).
Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia Palace of the Generalitat of Catalonia Barcelona City Hall

After leaving the Gothic Quarter I rode the Montju´c Cable Car to the top of Montju´c Hill.
During the ride there is a spectacular panoramic view of Barcelona.
Narrow streets of Barcelona's Gothic Quarter Montjuic Mountain Cable Car Montjuic Mountain Cable Car

At the top of the hill is the Castle of Montju´c. The fortress largely dates from the 17th century.
The eastern side of Montju´c is almost a sheer cliff, giving it a commanding view over the city's harbour.
Castell de Montju´c Castell de Montju´c Barcelona's Cruise Ship Terminal from Montjuic

Our next stop was the Spanish Village (tourist trap). This mini-Spain was built from real
houses and buildings each of them being a replica of an existing house or building in Spain.
I had a couple hour break for lunch before continuing the tour in the afternoon.
Our first stop in the afternoon was La Sagrada Familia.
The BasÝlica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada FamÝlia, is a large Roman Catholic church
designed by Catalan architect Antoni GaudÝ (1852ľ1926). The anticipated completion
date of the minor basilica is 2026, the centenary of GaudÝ's death.
Pretty grounds on Montjuic Mountain Barcelona's Spanish Village La Sagrada Familia

Our next stop was GaudÝ's Park GŘell, a garden complex with architectural elements situated on the
hill of El Carmel in the GrÓcia district of Barcelona. Lower left is the GaudÝ House-Museum.
It was the residence of Antoni GaudÝ for almost 20 years.
In the middle picture below are the two buildings at the entrance of the park.
The focal point of the park is the main terrace, surrounded by a long bench in the form of a sea serpent.
The curves of the serpent bench form a number of enclaves, creating a more social atmosphere.
Gaudi's House in Park GŘell Park GŘell Entrance Serpentine Bench at Park GŘell

After leaving Park GŘell we passed the Arc de Triomf, an arch in the manner of a memorial or triumphal arch.
It was built as the main access gate for the 1888 Barcelona World Fair by architect Josep Vilaseca i Casanovas.
Our last stop was Santa Maria del Mar (built between 1329 and 1383),
an imposing church in the Ribera district of Barcelona.
Barcelona's Arc de Triomf Cathedral Sta Maria del Mar

The video below is 59 minutes long of my two days in Barcelona.

Hello everyone,

I hope you didn't have trouble opening this email. There is a lot of pictures in it, I had a very busy day. As usual it started with breakfast at my hotel, the NH Calderon. Princess usually picks the best hotels in town, but they let me down on this one. It has a great location very near the La Rambla, but that is the only good thing I can say about it. The staff is rude and unattentive. The lobby is small and always packed with screaming people. The room is drab and outdated. I had one bar of soap the size of a peanut. Don't stay here if you come to Barcelona. Below is a picture of the hotel.

The morning started with a walk through the narrow medieval streets of the Gothic Quarter.

The first stop in the Gothic Quarter was the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, otherwise known as the Barcelona Cathedral. Bad sun position and hard to get far enough away from it to take a picture. But I tried below.

I walked through the cathedral, those pictures came out a little dark. The next stop was Saint James Square. This is the administrative heart of both the city and surrounding Catalonia. This is because the Palace of the Generalitat of Catalonia (pictured below) and the City Hall (second picture below) are located here across from one another.

The next stop was beautiful Montjuic Mountain. Here I road the cable car up to the castle with spectacular views of Barcelona on the way.

Castell de Montju´c, is at the top of the mountain.

The park surrounding the castle is beautiful as well.

Also from the park, I got a nice view of the cruise ship terminal that I will be sailing out of late tomorrow afternoon. I sailed through this port in 2008 on the Sea Princess. It can hold a dozen cruise ships. On a busy day over 30,000 cruisers invade the city. Tomorrow I will set sail on the brand new Royal Princess, which was launched just two months ago.

Next I visited the Spanish Village. This Mini-Spain was built from real houses and buildings each of them being a replica of an existing house or building from a certain city or region of Spain.

I took a couple hour break in the middle of the afternoon and ate my lunch sitting on the La Rambla watching the people go by. Vacation is hard work, there were more things that had to be seen before the sun set. My next stop was La Sagrada Familia (Holy Family) Cathedral, Gaudi's unfinished masterpiece and Barcelona's most famous landmark.

You see the cranes in the picture. They are completing the cathedral to Gaudi's original plan. Due to be completed in 2026. My next stop was Gaudi's bizarre Park Guell, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Below is the house where Gaudi lived for twenty years, which is located in the park.

Park GŘell is a garden complex with architectural elements situated on the hill of El Carmel. It was built in the years 1900 to 1914.

Next there was a quick drive-by at Barcelona's Arc de Triomf.

My last stop of the day was the Cathedral Sta Maria del Mar, the only completed Gothic church in Catalonia.

I was able to accomplish a lot today. My feet aren't any better, but I didn't come all this way to sit in my hotel, so I just deal with the pain and rest when I can. I will be sailing the Mediterranean for the next 12 days. So I probably won't be able to send this many pictures for a while. The Internet connection on the ship is usually quite slow, unless this new ship has improved the connection. I write again tomorrow night after I set sail.

Click on email photos for the large full-size photograph.


Friday afternoon I boarded the brand new Royal Princess for my 12-day Mediterranean cruise.
Below is the route for the cruise.

Below is me walking into the Barcelona Cruise Ship Terminal to board the new Royal Princess.
Lower right is a picture of my premium deluxe balcony stateroom.
Barcelona's Cruise Ship Terminal My Stateroom on the Royal Princess

The Royal Princess was christened two months earlier by Princess Kate.
It is a magnificent ship. Below are some pictures as we sailed away from Barcelona.
The Royal Princess Barcelona from the Royal Princess Sailing away from Barcelona, Spain

The video below is 11 minutes long of my sail away on the Royal Princess.

Hello folks,

My nephew isn't the only family member at sea as of a couple hours ago. I am now sailing the Mediterranean on the Royal Princess. I'm thinking my accommodations might be a slight bit more luxurious than his though. My day started with breakfast at the hotel and then Princess transferred us to the ship at 10:30. Then at 11:30 I was one of the first few passengers allowed to board the ship. General boarding didn't begin until 1:00. Below is a picture as I arrived at the port.

Like I said before it is a brand new ship, it has that new car/ship smell. It is really a spectacular ship. Princess Kate christened the ship back in Southampton shortly before she had her baby. And my favorite captain is at the helm again. This is the third time that I have sailed with him. Below is a picture of my stateroom.

Pictured below is my huge balcony. I am all the way to the back of the ship with a great wake view on deck 15.

The picture below is for Billie. I took it just for her! Not the greatest picture, it's kind of dark.

The picture below is from the same place on deck 18. But a better picture of this beautiful ship.

The picture below is taken from the top of the skywalk on deck 16 looking toward the bow of the ship and the city of Barcelona.

Since we didn't sail away until 7:00 this evening, I could have taken the shuttle back in to town but I decided to take it easy today and just explore this beautiful ship. It's a very active cruise. We are in ports 10 of the 12 days so I will be kept very busy. The first port is tomorrow, Toulon, France. That will be country #2 of a total of 14 countries that I will visit before returning home. Below is a picture taken from my balcony shortly after we sailed away from Barcelona.

Just returned from the welcome show in the theater. It's now time for bed. It's an early call in Toulon tomorrow.

Click on email photos for the large full-size photograph.

The Royal Princess made her Inaugural Cruise on June 16, 2013, less than two months before my cruise. She is the largest ship in the Princess fleet. Her twin sisters, Regal Princess and Majestic Princess would follow in 2014 and 2017 respectively. She was christened by Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, on June 13, 2013 in Southampton. Below are some photos from the inaugural festivities.
Sailing for Southampton from the shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy.
Inaugural crew photo op.
Arriving in Southampton.
Docking in Southampton.
Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, christens ship.
Princess Kate with Captain Tony Draper.
You can watch the christening in the video below.

Click on the arrow above to continue to my next stop, TOULON, FRANCE!

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