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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.

Sagrada Familia

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.




  • mmpalepale

    Hop On Hop Off tours are the best way to get highlights of the city when you’re short on time. I make sure to do one everywhere I visit. Nice post. 🙂

    • OurSweetAdventures

      I agree when you have a lot of time and go at the right time of the day/week. We spent 2 of the 4 hours on the bus stuck in traffic. And thank you.

      • mmpalepale

        Ooooooh, I totally forgot about that traffic part. You win some and lose some, I guess. ?

        • OurSweetAdventures

          Haha yes. When we did the hop-on hop-off in Amsterdam it was great cause we were in the canals. No traffic. Adam did the hop-on hop-off here in D.C. and said it was not nearly as bad as Barcelona.

  • Pete

    I love Barcelona. Been twice, aim to go back again. And again. One of the aims of my life is to see that already impressive cathedral complete.

    The architecture, the food, the atmosphere. A delightful, quirky, delicious city. Thanks for the quick tour!

    • OurSweetAdventures

      We too want to visit again. We know there is sooooo much more to see! Thank you for reading and your kind words.

  • Roads and Pages

    I am familiar with the church. We have a movie in our country where the film took place in Barcelona and Sagrada familia was featured. I wish I could be an actress to in my own country so I could visit Barcelona easily. Haha! Anyway, I love your blog. It is so inspirational. 🙂

    • OurSweetAdventures

      What is the name of the movie? If I could pick any other career it would be Hollywood. I love the movies. Thank you so much for your kind words that means a lot to us!

  • Anna Sherchand

    When I was in Barcelona, I did Sagrada Familia and other amazing places but guessed missed out on Magic Fountain of Montjuic. Thanks for sharing as I have some thing to go back to. loved this post 🙂

    • OurSweetAdventures

      Thank you so much! It seems we both need to go back for opposite reasons 🙂

  • bherron80

    Barcelona is a gorgeous city-but I definitely also avoid the busy times of year, the busiest times of day (in trafficky touristy areas) and wouldn’t do a Hop on Hop off there. It’s nice you had enough time to do other things!

    • OurSweetAdventures

      Yeah we were not a fan of the hop on hop off either, but when you are 2 of 14 people you have to go with the flow 🙂 We always try to make the most of our time! Especially when we travel. We are glad we were able to see the things we did in such a few hours.

  • I do what I want to

    There is so much to do and see in Barcelona, 24h is not enough. So sorry that the traffic made the hop-on hop-ofd ride not the greatest experiece, but that happens in big cities. Hope next time you have more time to explore!

    • OurSweetAdventures

      My goodness we may have been ported for 24 hours, but we really only went sightseeing for maybe 10 hours. We will make sure to have more time explore next time 🙂

  • youngandundecided

    Barcelona is one of those obvious place I thought I would have been to by now. It seems everyone I know has been multiple times but somehow I always missed it. I will need to probably go it alone and treat myself to a wee solo trip 🙂

    • OurSweetAdventures

      That sounds lovely. We will go back because like you, we have heard soon many great things about Barcelona and 10 hours was not nearly enough.

  • Adrenaline Romance

    The Cathedral of Barcelona and the Familia Sagrada is absolutely wonderful! The architecture is just amazing. Our churches here in the Philippines share a vaguely similar architectural style. Not surprising at all because we were once a colony of Spain hundreds of years ago.

    For us, it would be an honor to visit the country of our colonizers.

    • OurSweetAdventures

      That is awesome! I (Christina), am actually half filipino and have always wanted to visit the Philippines. I always thought the beaches were the highlight of the Philippines, but it sounds like the cathedrals are too! We hope you get to visit Spain one day.

  • Wow Barcelona looks so lovely! When we were there last we only had one dya 🙁 and it was quite rainy and cold.

  • Wanderlust Vegans

    This reminds me of our trip to Barcelona as we took the hop on hop off bus as well. I don’t think that the traffic was too bad when we were on it fortunately. The Sagrada Familia is pretty epic in person. I don’t think that we made it to the Magic Fountain of Montjuic but it looks really cool. Great to hear you had a good time. I think if we go back we will probably use the metro as well.

    • OurSweetAdventures

      Glad to hear your hop on hop off experience was better than ours. Sagrada Familia is top on our list next time we go. We will most likely use the metro for long distances too. Walking in a city is always enjoyable if its no more than 20-30 minutes 🙂

  • abcdefghizzy

    The Sagrada Familia is my favorite cathedral of all time. There is something truly surreal about the architecture, Gaudi really outdid himself. And you were rolling with a crew of 14? Holy moly that must’ve been so much fun! Stressful but that kind of worthwhile stress It looks like you had an amazing time!

    • OurSweetAdventures

      Haha yes 14, 13 adults and one kid. It was a lot of fun! We definitely want to revisit and go inside the Sagrada Familia next time.

  • Beautiful photos! I was so bummed when I was in Barcelona that I got sick and wasn’t able to see the fountain show. Thanks for sharing it, it’s like I didn’t miss it!

    • OurSweetAdventures

      Aww bummer. I am so sorry to hear that. I am glad I was able to share the fountain show with you!

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