Barcelona: Our First Port of Call
It is suggested to arrive to your cruise port a day before the departure to leave room for any bad situations, i.e. late flights and cancellations. With that being said the cruise ship even offered a free night in your cabin the night before departure to help their guests arrive accordingly. Adam and I were coming by train from Amsterdam, a 17 hour overnight train ride, and were meeting my family who were all flying in from different cities in the United States. Everyone was coming in at different times, give or take an hour or two difference. Once we were all checked in we had our first meal on the cruise while we all planned how we wanted to spend our short visit in Barcelona. Did I mention my family count was 14 people? You could understand that solidifying a plan with 14 suggestions would not be easy, especially in a vast city as Barcelona where there is so much to see and do. However, in the end we all came into an agreement to take the shuttle into the city and catch a Hop-on Hop-off bus.
Hop-On Hop-Off Bus
There are a couple of different companies that offer the Hop-on Hop-off experience; differences are minuscule so choose what best fits your preferences. I do not know how my family feels, but for us we did not enjoy this experience as much as we enjoyed our Amsterdam canal Hop-on Hop-off bus (read about it here). We think it is because we “hopped” on during a busy time of the day. We spent most of our time in Barcelona on this bus rather than actually sightseeing due to traffic. If we had to do it again we would have much rather walked or taken the metro since we felt confident in using the metro system after our time in Paris.
We did drive by some magnificent yachts, I think we all yearned to be able to own one of them. At one point we had also driven by some interesting structures and fountains.
Eventually the family decided on “hopping” off the bus to finally set our feet on the ground and do some really exploring. After we wandered the streets, we came across the beautiful Cathedral of Barcelona.
Cathedral of Barcelona ( Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia)
When everyone thinks of Barcelona their thoughts of what they want to immediately see is the Sagrada Familia. We admit, it was in our thoughts too, but we are thankful to have come across the Cathedral of Barcelona because it was exquisite. This gothic cathedral’s architecture was magnificent inside and out. Inside were high ceilings with archways leading to the chapel. The cathedral brought in natural light and only a few chandeliers hung were dimly lit.
The cathedral also had a peaceful courtyard where we spent most of our time because of its beauty and the geese that surrounded it. The geese all seemed to be at peace playing in the fountain or waddling around the courtyard. We all sat on some steps as a family watching the geese play and enjoying the calmness of our surroundings.
Since most of the family had just arrived into Europe, a lot were tired and headed back to the cruise ship. Only a few of us wanted to do some more sightseeing so that left Adam, Maria, Bill and myself. What did we all want to see? The Sagrada Familia of course. We took the Hop-on Hop-off bus slowly to get to our grand destination and it was all well worth it. Though we did not go inside, (which to be honest I cannot remember why we did not, possibly time constraints), just seeing the outside of the famous basilica was amazing to see in person. I am not exagerating when I say that the Sagrada Familia is ginormous! No matter how far back we stood we never seemed to be able to capture the basilica in its entirety. It is truly what it stands for – glorious! Since we had less than 24 hours in Barcelona, we of course will be coming back and will definitely go inside the Sagrada Familia.
Magic Fountain of Montjuic
We did a little of everything in terms of transportation to find our way across the city to see the Magic Fountain of Montjuic – we walked, took the Hop-on Hop-off bus and even the metro. The Magic Fountain of Montjuic were on the top of my list to see in Barcelona and I was happy I convinced some of my companions to join me on my adventure. We knew we were getting close to the fountains because you cannot miss the Castle of Montjuic sitting on top of the hill. As we walked closer we could start to see the magic fountain dancing in the light. Eventually we were so close we felt the water from the fountain brush our cheeks.
We arrived at the Magic Fountain of Montjuic an hour before the night time show – that is when the Magic Fountain lights up in luminous colors and dances in sync to the music. Even with an hour before the show started it was so crowded already. There were people sitting on the steps and all around the fountain waiting for the show to start. Since we were missing our first cruise dinner, we grabbed a snack at a nearby food stand. I opted for churros because I couldn’t visit Spain without enjoying some authentic churros. Even from a food stand they were delicious!
About five minutes after we finally settled into a good spot to watch the show we got asked to scoot back from some dance entertainers. I will admit these guys had a lot of character and charisma and made the time pass by faster. They were a pretty talented bunch of guys and smart to set up where they knew what time hundreds of tourists would be gathered. The only disappoint was that it took them 20 minutes just to set up their stage, but their act lasted barely 5 minutes.
At last, it was 9:30 pm and the show was finally beginning! Every second was well worth the wait because the Magic Fountain of Montjuic was beyond spectacular! Since we lived in Las Vegas for two years and one of our first dates was at the Bellagio Fountains you would think we wouldn’t be impressed with any other fountains, but we were. The Magic Fountain of Montjuic was so colorful and powerful that it literally brought life into the fountain.
The music choices were mostly popular songs known worldwide, but on occasion there would be some authentic Spanish songs. We lost count of how many songs we stood and watched, it never got old. Every song had new colors and new formations to enjoy. This video includes the Magic Fountain of Montjuic dancing to the song “Young Folks” by Peter Bjorn and John, coincidentally one of my favorite songs.
If you find yourself in Barcelona I would highly recommend you add this to the top of your list.
We Will Be Back
So as you can see, we barely scratched the surface of everything Barcelona has to offer. It is a shame that time goes by too quickly because there is so much to see in this world we live in. Adam and I hope to make it back to Barcelona soon and spend more time in this beautiful city.