A Travellerspoint blog

November 2013

New Orleans

Day 71
The ship sent out a schedule for disembarking, ranging in time from 6AM to 930AM. We were scheduled at 830A which was civilized. We went up for breakfast and sat with some people from USA, ex England. Today we are hearing a lot of people saying they did not like the ship for various reasons. Having nothing to compare it to we thought it was great, for the most part. Nothing is perfect, especially for 16 days, but we're happy overall. Some people expect a lot for their $50 a day I guess.

Our turn came but we were instructed to wait in the lounge as there was too much congestion at customs. We were finally able to line up around 9 and it was like the lines at Disneyland. They snaked around and you weren't really sure how long the line was.

It was long.

We stood, shuffling slowly ahead for over an hour and a half.

Finally got to customs which took two seconds and then a cab to our hotel. We booked " The Inn on St. Peter " which was in the French Quarter and a block off Bourbon St. A very charming small heritage hotel that we fell in love with. Our second floor room was beautifully furnished and recently renovated.

We explored Bourbon St. and up to the Main Street of Canal. I have already used 3 memory cards for my camera and on the look out for a new one,which I found.

New Orleans is very busy with a convention of Ophthalmologists from all over the world as well as a big football game, New Orleans against San Francisco. New Orleans is very passionate about their football and the streets were teaming with fans wearing jerseys, shirts and "Saint" apparel. It was now noon and the drinking and partying has already long started.

After a rest in the room Doug decided to go to the game, which started at 3PM, but he went a bit later to get a ticket for less, which he did. He really enjoyed the game and The Saints had a big come back late in the game and won. The crowd went wild.

I decided to go check out a shopping mall about 1/2 hour away by cab. I found the prices rather high but did manage to find a couple of pieces of clothing that wanted to come home with me,

When it was time to leave the mall you had to line up to wait for a cab. There were lots of people waiting, and no cabs because the game also just got out.

I loudly asked if anyone in the line was also going to the French quarter and wanted to share a cab. I just got blank stares like I was nuts.

There was a gorgeous woman around 30 something in front of me who finally said we could share. She was an ophthalmologist from Brazil and we had a great conversation.

After waiting an hour we finally caught a cab back and then Doug and I went down to Bourbon St. to have dinner. We ate on a terrace overlooking the street, and although the food was mediocre the view and entertainment was fantastic.

People were partying, dancing and generally having a great time. Drinking is allowed on the streets and strongly encouraged here. This area is actually very seedy, the underbelly of Louisiana I think.

Lots of strip clubs, Larry Flint " barely legal" bars on every block, three for one drinks, huge novelty glasses with slushy bar drinks and lots of loud music. From where we were sitting we could hear four different songs all blaring. There is not a lot of jazz in this area, mostly country rock and rock.

A lot of people are wearing the mardi gras beads, masks and feather boas. It was such great fun to watch it all from our vantage point above the street. It looked like it was going to go on for a long time into the night

They block the street off every night so it is a no vehicle zone.
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Day 72
Walking down Bourbon St at 9AM looked like a ghost town. This part of town does not rise early. Street cleaners erase all evidence of the previous night to start it all fresh again later this evening.

Today we wandered around the French quarter and then took a small bus tour which we really enjoyed. Our driver had a great sense of humor and full of wonderful and insightful information about New Orleans and the state of Louisiana.

We toured one of the areas that was devastated by Katrina and learned a lot about what it was like for people who lived there, and what it is like today as well.

From there we went to a cemetery. The dead are buried in above ground crypts. George, or guide, explains that the water table is so high here that if you bury someone in the ground ,"Grandmas going to be popping up outta her coffin the first big rain"

A bunch of families will all be buried in one crypt, going back many generations.

We toured the levies, a beautiful park, and an area of town with gorgeous wooden heritage houses.
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Day 73
After wandering for a while we decided on either a plantation tour or a swamp tour. We decided on the latter. A van picked up 23 passengers from various parts of the city which seemed to take forever but we finally reached the Bayou River at 2PM. We chose an air boat tour that held 12 passengers and our pilot, Bebop, was a very cute young man with a great sense of humor.

Our tour took us through a few arms of the swamp looking for alligator and swamp creatures. I am not sure however if they ever see any animals as this boat is so incredibly loud, we need to wear ear protection. I would think that they would scare everything within 10 miles away.

The boat goes quite fast when he opens it up, but it did get cold. It was called a " swamp tour" and not an alligator tour, but he did have a baby alligator on board which he showed us, and let us hold. They do rescues for the area and he has 5 babies at his house. When they are old enough they release the females into the swamp but the males will go to zoos. He gave us lots of interesting information about the animals, vegetation and history of the area.

Back in the French quarter we had an early dinner and then back to the room to pack. Bourbon St was just starting to wake up.
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Day 74
Going home today. I am now in Dallas waiting for our flight to Vancouver to leave. We were taxiing out when they noticed a nail in the wheel and we are delayed over an hour to fix it. Not sure if we will make our connection to Nanaimo but it is all out of our control at this point.

Southern hospitality was very apparent in New Orleans, people were so wonderful. Overall, however, I find that everywhere we have traveled in the world people are so kind and helpful.

We had such an amazing trip, learned so much about each of the areas that we visited and loved it all.

We are home now for six weeks for Christmas and really looking forward to reconnecting with our family and friends.

On January 2nd we are off again to South America.

Stay posted and thanks for following along with us for this half of our trip.

P.S. Well the stars aligned and we made our harbor air flight with one minute to spare, literally. We flew over the islands to Nanaimo on a cold but beautiful day with not a cloud in the sky.

Like Dorothy said " there is no place like home".

Posted by debbep 19:27 Comments (2)

Transatlantic Cruise

Barcelona to New Orleans

We arrived at the cruise ship terminal close to noon and the line up was very short. We ran into Greg,who sings in the choir at home with Doug, and Greg's three friends in the line up. We knew they were coming on this cruise but did not expect to run into them so soon. Doug, Heather and her sister Sally are from Red Deer and we all seem to get along really well.

A buffet lunch was waiting for us and it was so wonderful to see a salad bar and different menu choices, (ask me how I feel in16 days from now though.)

The ship is huge and we spend a bit of time exploring the upper deck. Hundreds of lounge chairs surround the small pool and above is a large screen where they show movies (outside) and during the day they have scenes of snorkelling the reefs. Loud music is played during the day from the rock and roll era of the 70s 80s and 90s.

The floor above has a serenity pool with a water fall and it is also surrounded by many lounge chairs. This is an adult only area although there are only a dozen or so children on this ship anyhow. There are double hammocks and double lounge chairs.

We also find a sports area with walking/running track, ping pong, billiards, basketball, huge water slides and a rope challenge course.
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At 2PM we are able to get into our room and find that is is larger than most of the hotel rooms we have had. We booked a cabin on the lowest passenger deck in the middle of the ship as I am prone to seasickness and this area has the least movement. Our ocean view cabin is bright, furnished in blue and yellow and we are very happy here.

After a rest for a couple of hours we made our way upstairs for dinner in one of the many dining rooms. I am happy to see a few choices for vegetarians on the menu.

Our 16 day repositioning cruise came in at $700 each, so with tip it works out to $55 a day. This includes meals, room and entertainment. It's cheaper than staying at home.

Day 56. Our ship arrived in Mallorca, Las Palmas islands. Sally, Greg, Doug and Heather joined Doug and I on a hop on hop off tour of Mallorca today. We hopped off at two stops, one at the castle on top of the hill and the other the church and palace in town.
It is a very beautiful city and we enjoyed our short time here.

Later in the evening we had a wonderful dinner and then watched a comedy show which was pretty funny

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Some of the street entertainment we have seen.

Day 57. Sea day. I joined a boot camp up in the gym and today was the first day. The gym is very modern and it felt great to work out again.
This afternoon was spent watching a live musical show with Beatle tunes, swimming and sun bathing by the pool, and talking to the many staff on board who are from all over the world.

The average age of the passengers on this ship is probably 60. There are many well travelled people aboard who love to share their stories, wether you want to hear them or not. Some folks are on their 60th cruise. It appears that for quite a few it is a contest as to who has been on the most cruises. There are some very interesting people aboard but like any large group of people, there are some that we would rather not spend time with.
There is one older couple, we will call them Jim and Millie, I can't remember their real names. We sat beside them at lunch and asked if they had done many other cruises. Well the flood gates opened and he told us about every place he had ever been, as though he was the only one who had ever been there. Millie didn't say a word, Doug said he saw her nodding off a few times as I am sure she has heard these stories a million times.
After 40 minutes or so of this one sided conversation I stood up to leave. He started talking about another destination that he had been to. I put on my backpack. He kept talking. I slowly backed away. He kept talking.
I finally said, "well, gotta go now". And we left.
He did not even ask us where we were from, the basic question on a cruises ship. Greg and crew said they met them as well and had the same experience.

People like Joe and Millie, and there are a number of them, must love cruising because they have a new audience every day.

Day 58. Malaga was our port of call today and once again we did the hop on hop off bus to tour the city. Another beautiful Spanish city with wonderful beaches and interesting buildings.

This evening we did another comedy show, and then up to the pool deck to watch a movie under the stars.
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Day 59. Sea day. Boot camp again followed by pool time, sun time, lunch and then another Beatles sing along. I look around and see all of these old people swaying to the music and singing along. How can these old people be Beatle fans? It is hard to comprehend that they are probably the same age as us. Perceptions.

After a wonderful siesta and a great dinner we watched another comedy show and then went to the piano bar to listen to a young man play piano and sing some of Elton John's and other songs.

Day 60. A short port day in the Canary Islands, Las Palmas. Because we only had four hours we opted to do the ships shore excursion which was a tour of the island. The passengers were lined up and slowly boarded the many buses waiting in port. The roads to the top of the lookout to see the crater from the volcano were very narrow and winding. When two buses or cars meet it would be quite a nail biter. The tour meant sitting on the bus 90% of the time, so not my cup of tea but Doug and others really liked it.
I think that there are beaches and prettier areas in the Canary islands but the area we saw was very dry and hilly. They have not had rain for a long time and it shows. There are many different types of cactus and bougainvillaea, some grapes and potatoes growing.
This evening we went to another comedy show after dinner

Day 61. We have sea days now for six days. Nothing but water on all sides We are following the equator so the weather is quite warm, (29C) and blue skies. The sea is fairly calm, a bit of rocking and rolling at times but my ginger pills and the absence of alcohol seem to be keeping sea sickness at bay for now.
Boot camp followed by more sun bathing and swimming. The pool is like a wave pool with the swaying of the ship which is kind of fun. They show old tv shows in the morning at the pool, Happy Days, I love Lucy and Mash followed by loud music from the 70s and up.

We gained another hour today. We gain 7 hours over the course of the cruise which is pretty cool. No jet lag when we get home.

We spend a lot of time talking to other passengers and crew as I said and the time passes much quicker than I thought it would.

The crew are involved in a murder mystery game where we need to figure out 'who done it' in the next week.
After dinner there was a fantastic show "Epic Rock from the 80s' the singing dancing and visual effects were amazing and we were all blown away by this 35 minute show.

After this show we went to another area for an hour to listen to live rock and roll from the 80s again and watch others dancing.

Day 62. Miles and miles of ocean. Another hot and sunny day spent pool side. Today I decided to mix it up a bit and do pool and sun first and gym later. I watched tv while in the pool, it is getting very hot.
Working out in the gym is challenging when the boat is rocking so much.
The movie 'Lincoln' was playing at the pool this afternoon which Doug watched but I found it hard to hear so went to the cabin.

After dinner we watched another comedy show which was funny.

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Day 63. Another time change last night. I can't figure out what time it really is anymore. Hot and muggy today. We look to be in the middle of the Atlantic right now. We see some of the same people over and over and forming a friendship with a few.

Pool time and boot camp at 2PM today which was a bit too late for me but I survived,(barely). We started with 6 women and 4 men and 3 of the men dropped out cause it was too tough....

An early night after dinner.

We have a different towel animal on our bed every night. Sometimes we are not too sure what it is....

Day 64. Had a great night sleep. There are a lot of people with colds, it is sweeping the boat. I am fighting it off but Doug is suffering.

After breakfast I went to check out the water slides and decided to try the slow one, yellow. You had to climb up around three stories or more and then choose one of three slides. It felt like it went on forever and threw me around inside a lot.

After that Doug and I went swimming and laid in the sun for a short while but it was over 30C today so too hot to stay out of the pool for long.

Greg and I decided to tackle the rope sky course. I had my sandals on and one of the young men said that I needed runners. I told Greg I would have to come back and the young man gave me his runners to wear! The staff is fantastic here. I felt like a clown from the circus, they were a few sizes too big but I got harnessed in and off I went.

The first station was a tightrope across. You had a rope to hold on to and also your harness.
"I think I made a mistake, I don't want to do this"

There was a line forming behind me. So I went.

The old "don't look down" didn't work too well here. I made it across the first two stations and then freaked.

A balance beam that seemed to go forever. One of the young men who worked there came over and talked me across and stayed with me the rest of the course.

I watched others just zip across, but my balance is terrible and I am terrified of heights. I could not believe I finished this without falling off, or freezing. One woman a while ago just stopped in the middle and would not move. They had to get a pulley system to bring her down.

As soon as I got down I ran into a woman that we sat with at dinner a few nights ago and she wanted to do the water slide with me. After I stopped shaking from doing the ropes we headed over.

She got in the blue and I did the green, we were going to have a race. I crossed my ankles, laid down and crossed my hands across my chest as instructed.

We went so freaking fast, but my head was banging on the back as I went down.
Bam bam bam. Ouch, that hurt. I am going to have a headache from that.

Hazel said the blue one didn't do that and talked me into going down again on that one.

The blue slide was so fast! I got to a corner and flipped around and got a face full of water and before I knew it I was at the bottom. With a huge wedgie. Damm that was fast.

That's enough of that!!

My body is a little sore right now.

Another great dinner tonight and then we went to another comedy show and in bed by 9.
No wait, 8 , another time change.
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Day 65. I went up to the gym to weigh myself this morning and the digital scales went up and down 15 pounds continuously because the waves are so bad today. It was quite funny. Kevin, our trainer, said we would not use weights today because the ship is rolling too much, just our own body weight and the resistance of the waves. I would be doing push-ups and thinking "wow, this is so easy" and the the wave would go up and it would be so hard. Really cool but a tough work out.

Pool time, reading, relaxing. Lots of wave action in the pool. You can do laps without moving, it's like one of those resistance pools. No seasickness yet which is fantastic. I find it fun so far.

Most of the passengers are American, then Canadian followed by European, Russian, German, English, Israeli and Spanish.

Today is November 11, Remembrance Day. I made each of our 6 a poppy from the daily newspaper in our room, Carnivals colors are red. We had a moment of silence at 11am.
There was a remembrance gathering in the after noon that Doug went to.

After dinner we went to another "playlist" show. This is with the professional dancers and singers and tonight was a 70s theme. Our cruise director and some of her staff came out to where we were all lined up to go in, and asked who wanted to be a VIP, who could do the "YMCA song."?

For reasons that remain unknown, I yelled out " I do, I do!!!"

I was given a VIP neck tag and interviewed about the 70s and then my party , Doug ,Heather, Doug and Sally, were al escorted in and put in front row seats. What have I gotten myself into? They did the same with about 10 more people.

Sally took off thinking that they would have all of us do something. Greg was In his room nursing a bad cold.

The show started and the music,dancing and costumes were fantastic. Third song in one of the women dancers came over to me, put a pair of glitter cats eye glasses on me, which really impacted my vision, and we started to dance. There were six other guests on the floor partnered with the other dancers.

We then made our way on stage to do " the hustle". Well I have no rhythm but was doing pretty well following her lead until they moved me to the front and I had no one to watch, I was two left feet dancing.

She brought me up again at the end of the show to dance and it was a lot of fun. Normally I hate this type of thing but really didn't care that much.

Day 66. Changing the clock back every night is getting tough. Everyone is waking up at 3 or 4AM . A lot of tired people in the gym this morning.

I have a siesta around 2 or 3 every day, but find I am not tired then and feel the need to sleep at dinner time instead which is inconvenient. I haven't had my nap for three days now, but going to bed around 8 PM is helping.

I sat at the pool and read but only lasted around a half hour in the sun as it is so hot, over 30. The pool looks like there is a convention happening, standing room only. There are so many crispy critters laying by the pool. They are going to be sore tomorrow.
I moved into the shade to read for a few hours and then the pool side theatre showed the Michael Jackson movie "this is it" . I have seen it twice before but still loved it the third time.

After dinner Doug and the other two guys went to a ventriloquist show which they said was great. I stayed in tonight.

Day 67. Port day. Turks and Caicos. Another carnival cruise ship pulled in just before us so the place was packed. But what a place! The ships pulled in just a few meters from the beach. We walked down the walkway, through the duty free shop and out to find our shore excursion. We are on Grand Turk, one of a few islands here.

Carnival owns this part of the island which has stores, bars, a huge swimming pool, and many lounge chairs on the beach and under to palm trees. It is a great set up.

The beach has powdery white sand framed with Palm trees and the water is a gorgeous turquoise. We can see the tropical fish from the pier.

Doug and heather and the two of us signed up for the "ultimate snorkel tour". There were around 50 of us on a catamaran that had two snorkel stops. The crew were all wonderful and we left for our two and 1/2 hour sail at 10:30am.

The first stop was not great. I am so spoiled from Belize but just dead coral and a few fish. I was so disappointed.

The second stop was much shallower and there were many more tropical fish and some colorful coral. Two nurse sharks and a barracuda were swimming with is as well.

All too early we had to head back but stopped to watched four dolphins playing in the water. It would have been great to snorkel with them.

The rest of the afternoon was spent swimming in the beautiful warm crystal clear water and relaxing under the palm trees. This was such a wonderful break from the ship. I think I would like to come back here one day for a couple of weeks. When the cruise ships aren't here it would be very peaceful.

After dinner we went to a show by one of the entertainers who sang and performed and we all really enjoyed it.

No time change tonight. Yeah!!!!
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Day 68. We talk to the crew a lot, especially the wait staff. One young man from Indonesia has really touched our heart and we spent some time talking to him about his plans etc.

I said I would like to ask him a question but he didn't have to answer if he didn't want to. Does Carnival pay you well?.
"No, we don't make any wages, only tips"
What? really?

Three years ago they changed their policy and quit paying them, but after a straight 8 or 9 month contract they will pay their flight home and back after a holiday.

He said they book them on the milk run to get the cheapest flights, he would rather get a salary and book his own flight.

These guys and girls work so hard, 12 hour days or more. If you talk to them they give you all the time you need, and now I know why.

There is a mandatory tipping of $11 per day per person divided between staff,, but you can also give extra to whom you want.

No wonder cruises are so inexpensive.

After my boot camp Doug and I sat on lounge chairs on the upper deck and read. The weather changed and it rained a bit, we moved under cover.
There are a number of silly, (in my opinion) games on the ship and today was no exception. Today was the men's hairy chest contest.

Did I mention the average age on the ship is 60? It should have been the hairy back contest. Older men with pot bellies strutting their stuff and then two women in their 70s would run their hands through the chest hair of these strangers. Yuck. It got really silly after that and I tried not to watch and just read my book, but it was like a car accident, I just had to look up now and then.

Lazy day, lots do reading and then we dressed up for our second, and last, formal night dinner. We were also treated to another playlist production with more amazing dancing and singing with the eight very talented young men and women. The theme tonight was Latin songs and the colors and costumes were fantastic.

After the show we went to a comedy show and he was the funniest we had sen yet.
Stayed up until 11PM tonight and then had another time change back to 10PM. Whohoo

Day 69
After my workout in the gym Doug and I met for breakfast and sat with a couple from England who were probably in their early 70s. They lived close to Liverpool and had a very thick accent, but delightful to talk to. They described the Serenity deck (the top pool deck), as an old folks home. People go there and lay in the hammocks and lounge chairs all day and don't move. He said he saw one guy even drooling as he slept, and they even have their meals brought to them. It was very close to the truth and we found him very funny.

The weather was very rainy and bleak today. We did a lot of reading and after dinner went to a comedy show which was funny. At each port stop we have new comedians and entertainers board and the old ones leave.

The ship was really rocking tonight. I had a hard time walking.

Tonight we had a jazz band from New Orleans, the "dirty dozen" which had 7 men playing brass keyboard and drums. Not sure why they were called dirty dozen? They were very good but incredibly loud. The only thing about this cruise I would complain about is that the music and events are far too loud. A lot of people ended up leaving the show because of the volume, including me.

Day 70. My last morning in the gym. Doug and I went for a swim this morning after breakfast, the weather was great today.
We arrived at the Mississippi River and started our way up to New Orleans. We sailed past many oil rigs and then to an area of marshland. Large pelicans flew overhead, cows grazing on the grassland. Everyone was on deck and it was very exciting to come to New Orleans this way.

After lunch there was a Mardi Gras party on the pool deck, with the jazz band from last night, who turned the volume down thankfully. It was a lot of fun to watch and a great way to spend our last day on the ship.

At 4pm the ship anchored in the middle of the river and immigration boarded to go over all the papers, mostly of the crew. Because this is our first point of entry into the USA and the crew is from all over the world they will clear them fist so that no one slips in tomorrow when all the passengers disembark. Paranoia about crew jumping ship to stay here I guess.

We gave some extra tips to some of the staff members who went above and beyond for us. It is hard because they are are all so wonderful. One buss boy that Doug gave a bit of money to was so grateful, well they all were, but he said, " you know it's not the money, it's the respect"

We had an early night tonight. Had to pack up and get ready to leave what was our home for the past 16 days.

On to New Orleans.

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Posted by debbep 20:53 Comments (1)

Florence and Barcelona

Day 48. A different route was chosen for our drive back to Pisa though some very hilly and winding roads. The landscape changed the further north we got, with many more trees, hills that were more rugged and grapes replaced by olive trees. The trees were heavy with black and green olives just waiting to be picked.

A detour to the hill town of Volterra took us up a very steep climb and offered great views from the top. A stop just long enough to stretch our legs and walk around and then back on the road to make sure we were on time. If we are more than a 1/2 hour late we are charged an extra day on the car.
We found one of the few Roman ruins that we have seen here in this small town.

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Very pleased with ourselves we check the car in, no dents or marks and a half hour early, not getting lost.

A short train ride into Pisa central and then we took the next train to Florence. We had planned to go into town to see the leaning tower but decided that we just wanted to get to Florence right away instead.

Our hotel is spacious and clean and only two blocks from the Duomo, which is in the major tourist area in Florence. We went out for a walk down the pedestrian road which was very crowded with tourists from all over the world. The stores and cafes look fantastic. A few stalls are on the side streets selling leather goods and scarves etc.

Our walk takes us to the Ponte Vecchio, a well known medieval bridge in Florence which dates back to 996. Shops selling gold jewelry are lining both sides of the bridge and there are many people and vendors here tonight.
We look forward to exploring more tomorrow.

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Day 49. We had prebooked tickets for the Uffizi Art Museum for 930AM. This is one of the most famous and oldest museums in the western world so it gets very busy.

The museum is overwhelming. Paintings and sculptures by DaVinci, Raphael, Botticelli Rembrandt just to name a few. After an hour of seeing so many amazing works of art your head is spinning. We took a coffee break on the roof for an hour and then went back to discover more masterpieces for the next couple of hours.

I think that visiting this museum would be better over a few days to really appreciate the art in smaller pieces. It was one of the most amazing galleries we have ever been to.

After lunch we went back to the room for a few hours and then walked the streets for a few hours before dinner.

I love to people watch and notice that the tourists must get up in the morning and say to themselves " I want to be comfortable" and dress accordingly.
Italian women on the other hand must wake up and say " I want to look Fabulous" and they do. They throw together items of clothing that shouldn't work but do, and look amazing. They have such a sense of style. The men throw sweaters over their shoulders, wear bright scarves looped around their necks and expensive looking shirts and shoes. If they wear glasses the frames are very colorful, and some quite outrageous for the age of the wearer. I love it.

There is also a lot of passion on the streets. Lovers young and old practically making out on the streets You will be walking behind someone and they will just stop and get into this very heated embrace. We are so conservative at home.

I went shopping tonight for a short while and did end up finding a pair of boots.
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Day 50. The Duomo was on the agenda for this morning and so we lined up early and got inside when there were not too many others there. What a gift. The Duomo, or cathedral, called the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, is huge and unlike the others we have seen. The building was started in 1296 and finished being built in 1436. At the front of the cathedral is a dome that has wonderful paintings on the ceiling.
The tour groups and throngs arrived. We all do what I call the tourist shuffle. Cows to slaughter. We MOOOVE slowly from place to place in a huge crowds shuffling our feet.

Doug and I sat on a bench for a while and just looked around at this extraordinary building. We can see the dome from our hotel room and it is a great landmark. When we don't know which way is home, we just look up for the dome.

I love watching other tourists. I turn around and there are about a hundred or more all with their cameras pointing up to the ceiling, a few more hundred iphones doing the same thing. It makes you wonder exactly how many of the same photo there are in existence.

We wandered next door to the museum but there are under construction and only a half of a dozen or so works on display.
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Day 51. Tonight we fly to Barcelona on a low cost flight so we packed our bags and left them at reception for the day. I have been reading reviews of the airline and I barely slept last night worried about our luggage being over 23Ks as they will charge you $20 for each kilo you are over. That can quickly add up to negate any savings on the airfare. You can also bring 10K as hand baggage which they weigh and measure at the gate however. We have no way of weighing our luggage so we spend the morning throwing out any thing that we didn't need. I wore most of my heavy jewellery and three lawyers of clothing. More on that later.

We had tickets to the Academia where the statue of Michalangelo's David is. The crowds were not too bad and the museum also had other paintings and statues that we found very interesting.
David ,however, is a masterpiece. I thought, " yeah, I have seen pictures, and I even saw the copy that is in one of the squares in Florence, how great can it be?"

We sat and just marvelled at it for close to 45 minutes. The perfect body made from marble. It is truly magnificent. Every vein and muscle is so perfectly carved. You wonder how on earth he could have made this from one huge piece of marble. And a piece that was turned down by many other sculptors as being too narrow and imperfect.
We were very glad we went and it really is worth seeing in person. We could not take pictures of it, so this is the copy in the square.
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Exploring Florence for a few more hours until it was time to take our cab to the airport. Florence is a huge city. We did not realize how big because we just stayed in the old quarter. Our cab driver is very skilled at driving as it is a real challenge in Florence with the narrow roads shared by bicycles, pedestrians and other vehicles.

Our bags were each 14 lbs less than the maximum. Can I take some clothes off now and repack? Too late.
Our knapsacks were also under weight. All that worry for nothing. THe flight was good and we arrived in Barcelona at 9PM

Barcelona. What a surprise this city was. It is so huge, the cab ride from the airport cost more than $50.
Our hotel in on the Ramblas which is a very popular walking area with many hotels shops and places to eat lining the streets. A wide pedestrian area in the middle is flanked by streets on either side and many trees to offer shade in the heat of the summer. This well used walkway is always crowded with young old as well as many families. Tourists and locals alike are found here.

It was a very long day and we went straight to sleep.

Day 52. After breakfast we walked the Ramblas and came upon a large indoor market. Once again it is similar to Granville island but larger and extremely crowded. We bought some fruit for our day and wandered around looking at the different types of fish fruit and offerings.
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As the city was so big we decided to do a Hop on Hop off bus tour and got the two day pass. Today we did the green route which took two and a half hours and we did not hop on or off, just enjoyed the tour.

We went past many different areas of Barcelona, as I said it is huge, and past a large marina with thousands of boats, some of which were large yachts. They have a very big aquarium here with the water tunnel above so that the fish, sharks and rays will be swimming all around you. We did not have time to visit however.

Barcelona is on the coast and they have developed a cement pathway along the many wide beaches that go for miles. People are walking , jogging, skateboarding roller blading and biking on this wide promenade. It looks like it is well used. There are a few people sunbathing and a number of sailboats in the water.

The architecture is so diverse. If you were a student of design this would be a great place to come. The buildings are all different. There is no area where only one style is permitted. You will see Art Deco next to modern next to Gothic. It is really quite spectacular to see all the different styles together.

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We got off a few stops before home and went to the cathedral of the Holy Cross and St. Eulalia, also known as the Barcelona Cathedral. It is a gothic cathedral and seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona Spain. It was completed between the 13th and 19th century and quite fantastic.
I was here in 1973 and don't remember too much about the trip but do remember this cathedral and wanted to see it again.

Doug and I went inside and marvelled at the paintings and interior design.
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On our walk back we came upon another indoor market, this one was more of a cross between Whole Foods and Granville Island and offered many varieties of cheese, nuts, vegetables and what ever you wanted.

A restaurant was attached and we stopped to have lunch. The design and atmosphere reminded us very much of being in Granville Island.

Later that evening we went out to find a place to do our laundry. The fellow there convinced us to let him do it for only a few Euros more and it would be ready in an hour and a half. How could we refuse?

A few doors down was the Gaudi Palace. Gaudi was an architect and has designed many buildings around Barcelona. They are very distinct and quite unusual. After giving him his diploma, his teacher at school said," he is either a genius or a lunatic".

It was a great time to visit, 7PM, because there were very few people there. We had seen extremely long line ups for many of his building's today and did not want to spend the day queuing up.

His design is fantastic and so unique. He used metals, leather and wood all at once. This was a home (palace) commissioned by a wealthy industrialist to be built by Gaudi. The price of admission included an audio guide which was very informative and there was a short film about his life to give you a better understanding of who this man was. We spent just over an hour touring this work of art. The chimneys for the many fireplaces were colorful pillars on the rooftops

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Our laundry was done, we dropped it off at the hotel and went out searching for dinner. We found a square lined with restaurants on all four sides. Doug wanted a paella but most only make them for two and he wanted seafood and I vegetarian.

We managed to find one in an out door seating area and the paella was fantastic. It took forever to arrive but worth the wait and fun to people watch in the meantime.

Day 53. The orange route was explored today on the bus tour. The top of the bus offers great views and the temperature is nice and warm today. This route took us through a different area of the city and then up to the top of a hill to see a wonderful panoramic view as well as where the gondolas leave from to take you over the city. If we had more time I would have loved to do that.

The summer Olympics were held here in 1992 and at the top of the hill is the massive indoor pool and stadiums. Nearby are the old buildings and exhibits from the World fair that took place here in 1929. We also pass a huge art gallery that would have been worth a visit had we had the time.

The bull ring was on our route. Not used any more and now a shopping centre, I can remember seeing a bull fight in this building in 1973. Linda and I were cheering for the bull, which did not go over well with the other spectators. It was a horrible event and I am glad this building is now closed.

Lunch was at another of Gaudi's buildings that had part of it turned into a cafe. Doug wanted to go back onto the bus tour 'green line' again. I went part way and then got off to shop for a few items needed for our cruise, toiletries etc.

This evening, our last in Barcelona, was spent walking the small streets looking for a place to have dinner. We found a small one and once again had paella which was very good.
It is Halloween today and many children out dressed up going from shop to shop. We see a number of young adults in creative costumes as well and there was a party atmosphere in the air tonight.
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Day 54. Barcelona deserves at least a week in my opinion. There are so many things that we would have liked to have done here. Today however, we leave for our cruise towards home. We will make our way to the ship around noon and start our 16 day cruise to New Orleans. I am excited but nervous about this next chapter.

Posted by debbep 03:28 Comments (2)

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