Pre-Cruise Barcelona

Stained glass panels inside the Familia.

After a seven and a half hour flight, we arrived in Barcelona at 9am.  We had prearranged transportation from Royal Caribbean and were chauffeured to the Hotel Regina in Barcelona arriving by 11am.  After checking into Room 320 we contacted Hotel Staff to show us how to turn on the lights.  We are in Spain after all and didn’t realize that the room key needed to be inserted into a slot at the door to enable the lights.

Quickly getting settled, we had a 1:15pm reservation at Basilica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família.  We traveled by Barcelona Metro which was a mere five minute walk from the Hotel Regina.  For 28 Euro we were able to purchase two travel cards that gave us unlimited access to the Metro for the length of our stay.  This ended up coming in quite handy as we utilized the metro several times.

The metro ride was just a few stops and soon we arrived at la Sagrada Familia.  The Familia was spectacular and seemed to consume the entirety of the landscape.  We had just enough time for a quick bite before heading into the entrance gate.  Our pre-purchased tickets were quite handy once we saw the long lines but unfortunately were missing the QR code which delayed us slightly.

Inside the Familia, like the outside, was simply amazing!  It was like there was a rainbow of stained glass light everywhere.  We viewed the Basilica first and the museum below afterwards.  The whole process took about one hour.  At 2:30pm we had a reservation to go to the top of the Tower on the Nativity facade.  There again a problem the QR code put us in timeout for a bit until a supervisor was able to clear the issue.  We rode a very small but quick elevator to the top and then navigated several smalls spiraling staircases.  Eventually this path led to a small bridge between two towers that offered amazing views of Barcelona below.  After snapping many photographs we headed down another set of narrow stairs that first spiraled to the right and then spiraled to the left (as if it was unwinding us).  We found a balcony or two on the way down for even more amazing views.  On reaching the bottom we were a bit dizzy from all the spiraling about so we rested in front of the Basilica for about half an hour.  After our break we headed to the Metro and our next appointment at the Green Line stop known as Liceu.

We arrived at Liceu without much incident but quickly got turned around after leaving the station.  This accidentally put us at the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria the largest outdoor market in Barcelona.  I had read about this place before but it was much larger in person than one might imagine.  We wondered around a bit then asked some directions to Placa Reial which was our real destination.

At Placa Reial the Runner Bean Tour operators were easy to find.  They were standing in the middle of the square with a large green umbrella overhead.  We had booked the Old City Walking Tour beforehand, but many folks showed up with no reservations and nobody seemed to be turned away.  We were divided into three groups due to the large number of people.  Our tour guide Marc took us through the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona where we saw remnants of the Ancient Roman City, the Medieval Jewish Quarter, Catalan Gothic churches and some charming old squares.  The tour was quite extensive and lasted a full two and a half hours.  We covered a lot of ground with our group of twelve people.

After departing from our group we stopped by a pastry shop in Old Town and indulged in some sugary desserts to help ward off our sleepiness.  We returned by Metro to our hotel and quickly called it a night.