A Travellerspoint blog

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Start of Second Grandson Trip

26 March 2008 - BWI to MIA


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For my second grandchild trip, I took a 13 year old grandson. He, like his cousin before him would be 14 in the month after our trip. He had so many baseball games in June that the only time he could go was Spring Break. His trip was the shortest - only 12 days. We left on Thursday March 27th after school, and got back Monday April 7th too late to get to school. He was studying Spanish in school and wanted to go to Spain

At the beginning of the trip, I wrote:

I'm sitting here in the airport, and I am next to a plug. I don't want to pay for the internet, but I figured I could at least start writing. I have not been able to get the printer to work wireless, so I went over and sat down at it to print out some things (like my boarding pass for today) and promptly gave myself a paper cut the whole length of the last segment of my forefinger, which I do use to type. That thing was really sore. I was afraid I had gotten it infected, so I sprayed it with Bactine and then later I dipped in alcohol. I did get the printer to work when I was attached to it.

I checked in for this flight and printed the boarding pass, printed out the information on hotels and other flights etc, and also purchased a Barcelona Turistico bus pass for two days. I thought of doing the same for Madrid, but wasn't sure if it would be worth it.

I also realized that I'd done internet research, but had NOT done anything about getting maps or anything in hard copy, so I went to the St Mary's County library website and found two books that I thought would do. So I went to the library, and found two books and tried the self checkout at which time I realized that I had the set of keys with the World Gym tag on them and not the set with the library tag. Oh well - fortunately before I left the house I checked that I did have my library card

Then I decided to go to the bookstore, and there I found maps for Madrid, Barcelona and Venice as well as a small (but heavy) book on Venice and one on Barcelona.

I was rearranging the computers - I decided to take the old silver Dell and not the new silver Dell because the new one is bigger and heavier and doesn't do as good a job finding wireless. I'm leaving Bob with mom's old HP so he can read the emails too.

I started packing my roller bag. It is absolutely stuffed full. Bob couldn't even get my nightgown in there that was down in the laundry basket.

I was going to take a shower last night, but they turned the water off for construction (again without notifying us) about 11 pm, so I had to wait until this morning.

We left the house this morning about 11:40, and got here (to the airport) about 1:15. The Express lot was full. Bob dropped me off , and I walked across the median to the curbside check in (which they charge $2/bag for now). The man who took my bag asked if I wanted a wheelchair, and I said no, but after he checked my single bag, he said there was a lady who wanted to take me in the wheelchair so I did that.

I had some strange idea that I could get lunch here in the airport, but with my coat and waist bag and cane and computer bag, I'm too weighted down with stuff to move around very much. I did get my sports drink bottle filled at the water fountain, so I hope I don't lose that like I did on the last trip when I left it in the excitement of boarding.

The gate area was full of people who were leaving on a flight to DFW, but eventually they all boarded (or didn't).
waiting at BWI

waiting at BWI


There seems to be a big group here that is meeting someone. They have just unrolled a big banner (I can't see what it says because their back is to me) How is it that they can get past security without boarding passes??

--- stopped writing here ---- continued in Miami -------------

The plane that came in which we are going to Miami on had someone on it that they were waiting for to do some kind of celebration. Eventually, the person that they were waiting for came out - tall, white hair, florid face, and in a pilot's uniform. Maybe he is retiring or something. The group made a LOT of noise. Most of the people who were waiting to get on the plane retreated out of the area. So the desk agent called first class and then group two and anyone that needed assistance. And no one seemed to be moving, so she just called everyone to come and get on the plane - all groups. I was in a window seat over the wing and there was an (East) Indian couple next to me. I put my cane and coat in the overhead compartment, the water bottle in the pocket and the computer bag under the seat in front of me.

The plane was supposed to take off at 3:10, but we were already taxiing out to the runway at 3:05. The wing got in the way of taking really good pictures unless the pilot banked.
Taking off - BWI

Taking off - BWI


I was getting hungry, and I thought they would have sandwiches, but that is only on a domestic flight of 3 hours or more. So when they came around I bought the 3 Musketeers bar, the chocolate chip cookie and the trail mix.

The cookie was huge - a quarter pound. So I ate that first, and then I ate part of the 3 Musketeers bar, but couldn't finish it. They do still give you free soft drinks and juice.
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When we came into Miami,
Landing Miami

Landing Miami


and were permitted to use our cell phones, I called my daughter (I was supposed to call her when I left, but didn't). So I told her our gate number and that the baggage was to be on belt 22. She said she would send my grandson in to help me and that he was wearing a yellow shirt and red shorts.

The man of the couple next to me got my cane and coat out of the overhead and carried the computer bag to the concourse for me which was very nice of him I thought. It was quite heavy.

I made my way to the baggage area, and there were a lot of people from our flight standing around waiting at belt 22. But the sign on Belt 21 said that was where the luggage for our flight would be. So I sat on my cane seat there at 21 and waited while keeping an eye out for my grandson.
luggage area

luggage area


When my bag came, I grabbed it, and just about the time I got to the door, my grandson walked in and I handed over the bags to him. He didn't have to carry them as I had the computer bag on the roller bag. He said to call his mom, so I did and she came around and picked us up.

Their white cat is now an inside cat because he got into a fight and had to have stitches (they shaved him and his tail looks really weird) and he had a tube out of his head. He appears to be healing up now.
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I have rearranged my luggage so I think I can find things. The stuff I had packed has gotten compressed somewhat so I can get more in there. After we got here and dropped our stuff, we went to Outback for dinner.
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Posted by greatgrandmaR 13:45 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Snaking Through the Airport

27 March - Leaving Miami


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27 March 2008 - taking off

We left the house at 3 for a 6:20 flight, with my daughter Barb in uniform (she's a pilot with AA) so she could help us if help was appropriate. First she dropped my granddaughter off at a friends house. Then there was a traffic accident on the other side of the highway which had us in a long creeping backup of rubberneckers, but we got to the airport by 3:45.

She didn't think we could do curbside check-in. I wasn't sure because I think even for international flights, I've done that (although printing a boarding pass is not as possible because they have to check your ID/passport), but our problem was that she made the reservations for MIA/MAD and I made the reservations for MAD to Barcelona, and they weren't on the same ticket. I wanted to be sure that the bags were checked through and I was pretty sure it would have to be an AA agent to do that.

The airport was a zoo when she dropped us off. We eventually ended up in a six snake line (after asking several of the AA herders). By a six snake line, I meant that the line snaked back and forth six times the depth of the airport at that point. My daughter went to park the car, and when she got back to the airport on the crew shuttle, she couldn't see us, so she phoned my grandson on his phone, and eventually I took his phone and walked out from the snake to the concourse (where there was another bigger snake on the other side that was wrapped around ours) and she saw me.

In the line with us were MANY people of course, but also people with MANY MANY bags including people with dog carriers. The sign in line said "One bag under 50 lbs free" and that the maximum per person was two checked items and that bags over 50 lbs and bags over one would be $50. So all those people with multiple big heavy bags were holding up the line writing checks.

We stood in line for over an hour. From before 3:45 until almost 5 o'clock. Someone tried to jump the line saying that he had 7 minutes to make his flight, but his flight only left 20 minutes before ours, so that wasn't true. Eventually we got to the counter and my grandson's bag weighed 44 lbs and mine weighed 34 lbs. She did manage to get them checked through, although no one could explain to me whether I would have to get them to go through customs and recheck them in Madrid.

Then we had to take the bags to the processing line, where they scan the bags before they load them. One of the guys saw Barb in uniform and took our bags quickly to process.

My daughter said that the security line was out of the airport as well, so she walked over to the crew check in and asked if we could go through there, and they allowed it. They also let her carry on my water bottle. Parenthetically, she said she didn't know why all the cleaning staff and all the gate agents and the duty free guys that deliver to the planes etc. all have swipe cards so they can get into the planes, but the pilots do not, and have to have someone let them in.

Our gate was D47 (I think - might have been 49) which was quite a long walk. But we were there before they started boarding. My daughter bought her son a water and a sports drink, and she also saw that one of the flight attendants was someone she knew and has worked with. The flight attendant said she would take care of us.

She left us before they started boarding and went home to pack to leave for Cancun the next day. She said it had been quite a long time since she had flown as an ordinary person with tickets, and she was appalled by the scene at the airport.

They handed me an immigration form as I got on. Somehow before we got to our seats (22 A and B on a 767), I managed to take a tiny chunk out of my skin next to my thumbnail, and so I was bleeding. I don't know how I did it and I didn't notice it until I saw the bloody prints on the immigration form. I asked my grandson to get me a bandaid, and he came back with one plus an iodine wipe. They had given him two forms, so I discarded the one I had with the bloody fingerprints. We filled out the forms.
x100_3930.jpgtaxi out to take-off

taxi out to take-off

Taking off

Taking off


There was a school trip on our plane - all girls with red T shirts which said Espana 08. They were all in the back. When the pilot ran the engines up and we took off there was a concerted cheer/sigh from those in the back, which was repeated when the pilot banked the plane. There were quite a few clouds so we couldn't see much of the ground.

We got two services of drinks (they offered me wine as part of taking care of me), but I was really fine. Dinner was lasagna (which I got)
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or chicken which my grandson got. The seats were not as nice or comfortable as the ones on the BA flight I took with my other grandson. There were no seatback screens. The first movie was the Bee Movie, which my grandson watched and also played with his new video game.
Grandson with electronic toy

Grandson with electronic toy


I spent my time reading the Barcelona guidebook. I'd done the crossword on the previous flight.

He said he wouldn't sleep, but he did - at least a couple of hours. The flight wasn't very smooth - the captain had the seat belt on part of the way.

The pilot and plane information said we would land at 7:45 Madrid time, so I set my watch, and camera ahead 5 hours. I had to go to the bathroom about 4 according to my watch, and so had to wake my grandson up. He then watched the very end of the second movie.

Posted by greatgrandmaR 17:23 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Mis-Adventures in the Madrid

Changing Planes - March 28th, 2008


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The man in front of me reclined his chair into my knees for most of the flight which meant that all his tossing and turning was transmitted through the chair to me. It was a curiously intimate situation considering that I could only see the very top of his head.

The sun rose about 5:25 according to my watch
sunrise

sunrise


and also the information screens about what the time was currently in Madrid. Although I couldn't see very well as the print was too small. They gave us a 'breakfast snack' which consisted of OJ, a croissant and a strawberry yogurt.
breakfast

breakfast


I took some pictures as we were coming in, although it was difficult.
Mountains - Arriving in Spain

Mountains - Arriving in Spain


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We had a window in front of our seat and a window almost even with the seatback, and that one had some sticky stuff on it that showed up in the pictures. The mountains were craggy and had snow covered peaks, and the fields below were greening up for spring. But there were also jagged brown areas.
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I got out my water bottle to take my pills (which I had forgotten the previous night) and downloaded some pictures to the computer and tried to change the time on it, but it insisted that the time in Madrid was an hour later than it was showing on the screen in the cabin.

When we landed and had all our bags together I was not able to find the little bag with the camera cable in it. I finally asked him to go into the seats back of us (those people had already gotten off) and look under the seats and there it was. I was so glad I did not leave without it.
Grandson walking off the plane ahead of me

Grandson walking off the plane ahead of me


We got off at what my watch said was 7:15, which was earlier than the scheduled 7:45, but I thought maybe they had made up time. But
The first clock I saw

The first clock I saw


said 8:15. I assumed that clock was wrong, but subsequent clocks all had my watch an hour slow. So I asked a terminal staff person and she assured me that it was indeed 8 instead of 7. So the computer knew what it was doing after all.

There were stairs (escalators), trains and elevators to get us to immigration where they stamped our passports and took the top half of the form we had to fill out. There was no suggestion that we get our bags. So we didn't.

My husband needed a belt, so we looked in one of the stores for a belt, but the cheapest one there was 20 Euros, which was way too much to pay for a belt ($1.70 = 1€) . But to go through immigration that meant that we had to go back through security again, and my grandson still had his two bottled drinks and I still had some water in my bottle.

So we got out of line and went to a Cambia, which turned out to be a REALLY good deal, as it was an American Express one, which only took American Express credit cards (which I don't have), but did not charge any fee for cashing traveler's checks or changing money. So my grandson changed two $50 traveler's checks, and I also got about $90 worth of Euros. Then he went to the bathroom and emptied out the bottles, and we got back in line and went through security.
Smoker enclosure

Smoker enclosure


So we walked around the little glass house they keep the smokers in (there's no top to it so you can still smell the smoke near it), and sat down. We both went to the bathroom and he looked for a plug to recharge his batteries and didn't find one. Since the plugs are those two round prong ones, I think perhaps he didn't know what he was looking for.

Our plane was supposed to board at 10:35, and leave at 11:10. The notice boards were confusing and for security reasons they did not announce planes boarding over the PA system so you had to look at the boards, and there was no place to sit and be comfortable while monitoring them.
Arrivals and departure board

Arrivals and departure board


My grandson asked if we were flight 1046 and without looking, I said yes, but that flight didn't have a departure gate yet, just that it was going to be a J gate of which there were 60.. We again asked a terminal person and she said the gate number would not be put up until a half hour before the boarding which would be 10:05. I tried using the computer, but it said it was having to close windows because of a fault, and I could not get it to boot. This worried me considerably. Then it got to be 10:05 and they posted that we were to be at gate 58.
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We walked down there, and when they started boarding at 10:20, I asked the gate agent if we needed to check in again and she said (horrified) that this was flight 1046, and we were really on flight 2614. We should go and look at the boards to see what gate we had - the 1046 flight was a shuttle to Barcelona. Ack.

We found a departures board - our gate was actually H13. We had to walk the length of all the J gates all the way down to the other end of the terminal and had to be there by 10:35, and it was now about 10:28. So we walked. I walked as fast as I could. And we did get there just before 10:35 - one of the last people to check in. Then we went down two flights of stairs to a bus, the bus took us to the plane, and we had to walk up a flight of stairs to the plane.
Boarding plane for Barcelona

Boarding plane for Barcelona


We were seats 23A and 23C, and there was no B seats (I think it was an MD80 with a 2-3 configuration). They had sandwiches on the plane and drinks but of course you had to pay for them. So we didn't. We were on the taxiway by 11:06. I must confess that I fell asleep on the plane shortly after takeoff. I did take a photo first.
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Posted by greatgrandmaR 17:34 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Gaudi's Barcelona


View Bermuda & 2008 Med Cruise on greatgrandmaR's travel map.

I was in Barcelona once before in 1964, but I did not get to see anything of the city as I just transferred from the airport to the train station at O-Dark 30 in the morning.
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When we arrived in Barcelona, our side of the plane were looking out our windows at the water of the Med. The other side was looking at the city.

When we got off the plane, we went to get our bags. Apparently in Barcelona, each little segment of the airport has its own baggage area. So since we got off in B terminal, our bags would be at B baggage claim. They had a little sign over the belts which said which flights bags would be on that belt
waiting for luggage

waiting for luggage

There were little children lying on and riding the belts, and no one said anything to them. My grandson did not recognize his bag because it was upsidedown, so it had to come around twice. My bag when it came had all the zippers partly unzipped. As far as I know though, everything is there.

I had bought the Tuistico Bus tickets on line (I got them on a website that had the price in £, but it came out as $80.00 for two adult tickets on my credit card), and I thought it would be a good idea to pick them up at the airport, so we did, and the girl there marked on the map where our hotel was. I also had printed out where the hotel was, and the information was in my computer bag. The information people said - oh take the airport bus in to Plaza Catalina - it is just a short walk to your hotel. So I started to get in line for tickets, but I was just too tired and sore and couldn't stand there and wait for the other people to futz around with the machine. So we walked up to get a taxi. My grandson put the computer bag in the trunk of the cab. When he asked me whether he should do this I started to say No and then it was already in there and the lid shut.
traffic on the way to the hotel

traffic on the way to the hotel


Now the taxi driver who speaks no English wants to know where we are going. I say the Reding Hotel. He says there are four Redings. What is the address. Well, I don't remember exactly off the top of my head. So he gets out his maps and looks (while driving of course). He didn't appear to ever find it. I said it was near the Plaza Catalonia, and eventually he got us there.
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The hotel web page said 25 € and the information person in the airport said 27 €, but actually it was 20.10 € and he said to skip the 0.10€. I'm not sure how he got 20 € because the meter said it was 14 €, but he added 6 € to it. I think there is a surcharge for the airport and for the luggage.
Front door

Front door


The Hotel Reding has a big glass door which you have to be buzzed in by the desk person. We checked in and I paid for the first night (134 €). She explained that the breakfast was not included and the buffet would be 13€ each. But I thought that was a lot for breakfast, and anyway they are not open on Sunday when we leave.
Hotel facade

Hotel facade


We are in room 301 which looks out on the street. We got in the elevator and I was leaning against the wall when the door opened behind me - we get out a different door than we got in at the lobby. Our room has twin beds,
Painting on the wall of the hotel room

Painting on the wall of the hotel room


Window and TV

Window and TV


a nice TV (BBC and CNN in English), an honor bar, and a light system that you have to put your room key in it to have light. Me reflected in the bathroom mirror

Me reflected in the bathroom mirror


The bathroom has one of those glass door showers, a toilet and a bidet.
Bathtub and toilets

Bathtub and toilets


Sink in hotel

Sink in hotel


I got out my European plugs, and the power strip and my grandson plugged in all his electronic gear to recharge, and I plugged the computer in on the plug that I got from the NCL Pearl and forgot to return. The one problem with this hotel is that there is basically no information in our room about the hotel. There's no list of numbers to call (desk, room service etc). There's no instructions about how to use the safe. We couldn't figure out how to use it (where was the key - it had an old fashioned keyhole in it and I kept forgetting to ask the girls at the desk). The safe appears to be locked - neither of us could pull it open. There's no list of times that things are open - like when could we get room service and what could we order from it. And the desk girls don't really know either because they are new. We have now found that, the restaurant is closed Saturday and Sunday. The breakfast buffet and the cafeteria is closed Sunday. The breakfast buffet was open this morning (Saturday). They say that the coffee shop is open tomorrow morning for breakfast, but they also said the cafeteria was open this evening and it wasn't.

I tried again to get the computer to boot, and eventually was successful when I went back to the last known successful boot, my grandson watched a pool match which seemed to be broadcast in German. I was relieved that the computer would work, but still I don't know exactly what the problem was, particularly since the desk clerk lady said I would have a hard time getting it fixed on Friday afternoon - I could forget getting anything done on Saturday.
Grandson on bed

Grandson on bed


I transferred all the new photos and the stuff I really need to have to the thumb drive. I wanted to call the desk with a question but could not find out how to do it, so I sent my grandson down to ask and also to ask how to log into the hotel system. She sent him back with the password, but she gave him a card with the hotel's phone number on it and that's not what I meant at all. I wanted to know how to phone her from the room phone.
room key to make the outlets work

room key to make the outlets work


I left the computer on standby to charge, so we left one of the room keys in the room so that the outlets would still work. I had decided that as jet lagged as we were, and with me being really tired and sore, it would be better to do one loop of the bus right away.

I think the desk clerk was miffed that we didn't buy the tickets from her. and all she said was that it would be up at the Plaza Catalonia. We then discussed the different Spanish accents, because she says Platha instead of Plaza. My grandson said it wasn't that cold and that we wouldn't need our coats. We walked up to a square,
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Placa de la Universitat

Placa de la Universitat

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but it wasn't the right square It was Placa de la Universitat. I didn't know exactly what the buses looked like except they were a double decker with an open top.
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We watched some kids skateboarding in the square (who my grandson said were pickpockets), and then saw one of the buses and walked up to it, but it was a different company.
the other bus tour company's bus

the other bus tour company's bus


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Eventually after walking around quite a bit, we found and boarded the blue line bus and went up to the top deck. My grandson was WRONG about the temperature - was quite cool and windy up there.We got on a blue route bus at Placa de Catalunya.

Blue line

Blue line


This is the report on that route: We went up the Passeig de Gràcia which links to the old village of Gràcia (hence its name). This is where the block called the Illa de la Discordia (Island of Discord), because it is a single block along the Passeig de Gracia containing four Modernista buildings by four different architects that were built between 1900 and 1910.

Stop » Casa Batlló - Fundació Antoni Tàpies
The most notable one is Gaudí’s Casa Batlló (which has the dragon on the roof top of it), built between 1904 and 1906. In addition to Casa Batllo,
Gaudí’s Casa Batlló

Gaudí’s Casa Batlló


Gaudi St. George and Dragon house

Gaudi St. George and Dragon house

dragon's back and sword (cross)

dragon's back and sword (cross)


there are Casa Lleo i Morera
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Casa Lleo Morera

Casa Lleo Morera


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The Casa Lleo i Morera has a very ornate tower which makes it stand out. Another building there is Casa Amatller. Casa Amatller was built between 1898-1900 The Architect was Puig i Cadafalch. It is right next to Casa Batllo and inside is the Institut d´Art Amatller.

On the Passeig de Gràcia there are benches and street lamps that line both sides of the avenue.

Stop » Passeig de Gràcia - La Pedrera
Next notable building was the Casa Milà, popularly known as “La Pedrera” (the Catalan word for stone quarry), another building by Gaudí which was constructed between 1906 and 1910.
P1000030.JPGP1000029.JPGx100_4043.jpg"Casa Mila" by Gaudi

"Casa Mila" by Gaudi

"Casa Mila" by Gaudi

"Casa Mila" by Gaudi

From here we turned and went up the Diagonal
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Stop » Francesc Macià - Diagonal
This square, which is named after the former president of the Catalan government, Francesc Macià, is one of the city’s a shopping and business areas. The Turó Park, is near this square. A statue of Pau Casals, the world’s best-known Catalan musician, stands at the entrance. The avenue which links the Diagonal to the park is named after him. I think this is where we saw a sort of Washington Monument type object which I can't find anything about.
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We went down Av. Josep Tarradellos to
Stop » Estació de Sants which is a railway station.
Railway station

Railway station


Just south of the Estació Sants is a park which was established in 1985 on the site of Vapor Nou, a former textile factory. The local name for the factory was L'Espanya Industrial. This area was under construction when we were there. The modern design is by the Bask architect Luis Pena Ganchegui. This park includes a grand entryway of oversized white steps and fountains (which we did not see as it was still too cold) which lead down from street level to a large area of ponds, waterways, lawn, play areas, and modern sculptures.
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which is used as a slide. We did a sort of wifferdill (a circle) here and went to
Construction around towers

Construction around towers


Nine large light towers (Watchtowers or lighthouses) are at the top of the steps. Housing projects surround this park.

The most prominent sculpture is 'The Dragon Without Saint George' by Andrés Nagel. The large structure in cast iron depicts a slain dragon coming out of the lake with outstretched wings and lowered head and tail. The sculpture also functions as a slide for children. We particularly took pictures of the lighthouse-style towers and the massive sculpture

xP1000038.JPGLarge metal sculpture with a  slide

Large metal sculpture with a slide


Stop » Creu Coberta which connects the Plaça d’Espanya with the Carrer de Sants, and saw the Mercad d'Hostafrancs - a big marketplace.
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This became an industrial suburb during the 19th century and was annexed to the city in 1897. It was the site of the city’s first textile mills: one of them, the Vapor Vell, is now a major public library. Next we drove by

» Plaça d'Espanya
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This plaza, with the central monumental fountain by Josep Maria Jujol -the multitalented architect and associate of Gaudí- marks the gateway to the great park of Montjuïc, the setting for the 1929 International Exhibition and the 1992 Olympic Games.
large_100_4067.jpglarge_x100_4066.jpgFira de Barcelona

Fira de Barcelona


Stop » Caixa Forum - Pavelló Van Der Rohe
Caixa Forum, the Social and Cultural Centre of “la Caixa” Foundation, is housed in a former textile mill built in 1911 and designed by the modernista architect Puig i Cadafalch. It now has an exhibition of the contemporary art collection.
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The Mies van der Rohe Pavilion was the German national pavilion designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for the 1929 Barcelona International Exhibition.

Stop » Poble Espanyol
The 1929 International Exhibition gave this area the Poble Espanyol (Spanish Village) If you get off here, you can walk through the streets and squares of a real village, with different architectural styles. It is also home to over 40 craft workshops where you can see artisans at work and buy what they have made.
Poble Espanyol

Poble Espanyol


You can walk through the Sculpture Garden, and visit the Fundació Fran Daurel with its collection of contemporary artworks by Picasso, Miró, Tàpies and Barceló. There is also wide range of shops and restaurants.
Blue Route stop

Blue Route stop


Stop » MNAC (aka Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya)
We took a lot of pictures of the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya which is one of Catalonia’s foremost museums. It looks old, but isn't. Near the MNAC is the Museu Etnològic which I think was mostly on the Catalonia culture
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After we went up and back to the MNAC it was time to visit

Stop » Anella Olímpica
The main site of the 1992 Olympic Games . Montjuïc’s Olympic Ring was the main stadium of the 1992 summer Olympic Games.
The Olympic Stadium, the Palau Sant Jordi, the telecommunications tower, the Sports University, and the Picornell swimming pools, are the major facilities in the Olympic Ring. Close to the Stadium is the Olympic and Sports Museum; and on the other side are the city’s botanical garden
Sant Jordi statue

Sant Jordi statue


Calatrava Tower

Calatrava Tower


Calatrava Tower at Olympic Ring

Calatrava Tower at Olympic Ring


Olympic Bell

Olympic Bell


Stadium

Stadium

Stop » Fundació Joan Miró
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The Fundació Joan Miró and the Centre for Contemporary Arts Studies opened to the public in 1975. Here is the permanent collection by this world-renowned Catalan artist The white building itself was designed by Miró's great friend, the architect Josep Lluís Sert,

Stop » Funicular de Montjuïc
I really wanted to ride this because it promised a bird's-eye view of the city and harbour It travels up to the castle on the top of the hill. But we didn't have time
large_100_4087.jpgFunicular

Funicular


A halfway stop provides access to the viewing area known as the “Mirador del Alcalde”, an attractive landscaped terrace which boasts harbour views. This stop is also near the Montjuïc swimming pools where you can go for a swim in summer. Then we drove down the side of the mountain through gardens

Stop » Miramar – Jardins Costa i Llobera

..which showcase all kinds of botanical species.
P1000070.JPGBotanical garden

Botanical garden


The garden by this stop is named after the Majorcan poet Costa i Llobera and features an extensive collection of palm trees, cacti and other species from subtropical climates. This south-east-facing side of the hill, which overlooks the sea, provides them with the ideal habitat. Now we have gotten down to the waterfront
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Acciona Logistica

Acciona Logistica


Torre de Jaume I

Torre de Jaume I

Torre de Jaume I

Torre de Jaume I

Stop » World Trade Center
The "World Trade Center" is composed of four buildings, one is a luxury hotel, which was built by the team of architects who built the famous pyramid of the Louvre in Paris. In addition to offices and an auditorium and other business services, there is also a shopping center and several restaurants.
Funicular tower

Funicular tower

Top of tower

Top of tower

Tram cars

Tram cars


The steel tower that rises in the center of the pier is the station of the aerial tramway. Between the ferry terminals stands a big tubular sculpture that suggest waves on the sea, work of the artist Andreu Alfaro from Valencia.
Waves waterfront sculpture

Waves waterfront sculpture

Wave sculpture

Wave sculpture

Waterfront sculpture

Waterfront sculpture

Park

Park

Stop » Colom – Museu Marítim
We have lots of photos of Columbus. From this stop, you can take a stroll up La Rambla. Or you can go up in the monument itself, or you can visit the Museu Marítim or go for a harbour ride
Columbus - facing the wrong way

Columbus - facing the wrong way

Columbus

Columbus

Stop » Port Vell
Port Vell, is the old part of Barcelona harbour and a major leisure and shopping complex, the Maremagnum.
We got off at this stop the next day, and had lunch there. and went to L’Aquàrium
Torre del Reloj

Torre del Reloj


There is a lighthouse at the harbor -Torre del Reloj- whichwas built in 1772. It has been inactive since about 1860. Approx. 20 m (66 ft) square pyramidal masonry clock tower; the top of the tower formerly carried a lantern and gallery instead of the clock faces seen today. Lights were provided in Barcelona as early as 1697. This is the only survivor of a rather large number of harbor lights built and removed at various times as the port developed. Located at the Moll des Pescadors on the downtown Barcelona waterfront. The tower is closed. I photographed it from the Bus Turistic at dusk in the spring without knowing that it was in the picture.

Stop » Museu d'Història de Catalunya
A section of the Palau de Mar, the brick building formerly used as the general warehouses of the harbour, is now home to the Museu d’Història de Catalunya (Museum of the History of Catalonia).
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Stop » Port Olímpic
The 1992 Olympic Games led to the construction of the Port Olímpic. The new marina was used for the sailing competitions, and the blocks of flats which housed the athletes and other competitors are located nearby. The marina has over 700 berths .There are reclaimed beaches suitable for swimming and public use (except it was March when we were there and too cold for swimming).
The Casino de Barcelona is located on the ground floor of one of the towers flanking the entrance to the Port Olímpic

Joan Miro statue

Joan Miro statue

Miro

Miro


Torres Agbar building

Torres Agbar building


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‘Bicing’ offers residents with a subscription access to bikes at various stations across the city. This is not available for tourists,

‘Bicing’ offers residents with a subscription access to bikes at various stations across the city. This is not available for tourists,


We did the whole blue loop on the top aside from the last two stops when I said we should go downstairs - my teeth were chattering and besides if we weren't downstairs I wouldn't be able to get down the steps in time to get off.

When we got off the bus, I was completely disoriented about how to get back to the hotel, but my grandson thought he knew how we came. And he did. He walked ahead of me a couple of paces and then would stop and wait for me to catch up.
My grandson walking ahead of me to the hotel

My grandson walking ahead of me to the hotel


We had seen some kids with backpacks running around the "Platha" that he thought they might have been thieves. So I clutched my little fanny pack close although it didn't really have much in it.

The problem with backtracking was we hadn't gone the most efficient way. Eventually we got to a place where I recognized the hotel, and we cut off about three blocks that we walked before. We were too tired to go out to eat,
cafeteria downstairs which closed at 4 pm

cafeteria downstairs which closed at 4 pm


so my grandson ate the peanut butter sandwiches that his mother packed for him in case he couldn't find anything to eat (He and his mom are both sort of picky eaters)

My grandson took 72 pictures today. I had a total of 172, but that counts from waking up this morning on the plane and going through two airports.

I went to bed this morning after writing the last two emails at about 2 am.

29 March - Turistica Bus - Red and Green Route
My grandson got up this morning around 8:30 and took a shower. He (like his cousin before him) complained that there wasn't much pressure to the water, but he didn't know that he could turn the shower head to have more. Eventually I got a shower and got dressed and we headed out about 10:30. Since he said he usually just had toast for breakfast, we went to the coffee shop. I got pineapple juice and he got OJ (1.6 € each), and we each had a croissant (1.5 € each) and I also had green tea. This only cost 11.55 €, and the buffet breakfast would have been 13 € each, and the juices in the mini-bar are 2.2 € each.
x100_4138.jpgMy tea

My tea


We left the hotel about 10:50, suitably attired for sitting on the top of a double decker bus. I had on my pink coat, and my grandson had on two tee shirts and a sweat shirt with a hood. He had his camera in his front pants pocket. I had a small fanny pack with a change purse, and my passport case around my neck, and of course my camera.

We walked up to Plaza Catalonia by a shorter route. But the lines for the buses were EXTREMELY long, and I got impatient. So I walked across to the taxi line and got in a cab. My grandson was still in line and wasn't paying attention to what I was going to do, and I had to get out and go back to get him. But we got a cab to the Sagrada Familia church by Gaudia
from the cab

from the cab


and got there about 11:20. We started to walk around it, as we had landed at the group entrance to find the family entrance.
group entrance

group entrance


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x100_4156.jpgGaudi's Sagrada Família

Gaudi's Sagrada Família


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I got really hot, and took the liner out of my coat while my grandson walked around to find where the red route bus stop was and the individual entrance. I couldn't find a way to stow the liner, so he put it on under his sweat shirt.
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grandson taking photos

grandson taking photos


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While the church is fantastic and I'm glad I saw it, it is, of course, still under construction. I found the facade color to be kind of grimy - like Baltimore was before they sandblasted years of soot and pollution from the building facades and brought them back to normal. Next time I will pay and go inside.
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There was a line to get into the church, and ALSO a line to get on the buses. I asked my grandson if he wanted to have lunch, or go in the church or get back on the bus, and he said he didn't care, so since my back was really hurting me, I decided that we'd just had breakfast and we could have lunch later, and we got in line for the bus.
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Note: If he says he doesn't care, I take him at his word and decide.
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As I said the buses were quite crowded and the first one we got on had no seats on the open top deck. So we rode on the first level for one stop, and then went up to the top.
Remain Seated

Remain Seated


Red route

Red route


Rotunda

Rotunda


Street scene

Street scene

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La Tamarita

La Tamarita


Sun dial only it was cloudy

Sun dial only it was cloudy

Passeig de la Reina Elisenoa de Montcada

Passeig de la Reina Elisenoa de Montcada


Another Barcelona Bus Turistic bus

Another Barcelona Bus Turistic bus


Pedralbes monastery cross

Pedralbes monastery cross


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Facultat de Fisica

Facultat de Fisica


soccer team?

soccer team?


Trolley in center

Trolley in center

We rode all the way around to the Av. Diagonal transfer point for the blue bus and got off. We missed two short sections of the red route where the blue route did not parallel it.

We got on a blue bus. We sat downstairs,
Downstairs on the bus

Downstairs on the bus

Blue Route (bottom part)

Blue Route (bottom part)


because we'd been up in the outside on the previous day.
Trolley

Trolley


We rode the blue bus down to the water front area
going through a tunnel in the Bus Turistic - top deck

going through a tunnel in the Bus Turistic - top deck


and my grandson asked where the aquarium was. I said it was probably at the next stop, did he want to go. He said no not really. I said if his dad was with us, he would want to go. So he changed his mind about going and we got off at the Port Vell stop. It was now about 2:20.

As we were walking around trying to find the aquarium, I again asked if he was hungry and he allowed as how he could probably eat lunch.

Sign out front

Sign out front


So we went into the El Chipiron which was there on the waterfront.
Octopus on display

Octopus on display

Inside the restaurant

Inside the restaurant


He ordered a pizza margarita
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and a coke (which was actually a pepsi), and I had a gazpacho (cold vegetable soup from the Med region) from the tapas part of the menu and tea.
Gazpacho

Gazpacho

My tea

My tea


The gazpacho came in a big round glass, so I ate the croutons off the top with a spoon and then drank it. My grandson said the pizza was only warm but the plate it was on was really hot. He also thought the pizza was good. It was a thin cheese pizza. Then I wanted some ice cream and my grandson wanted plain vanilla, but I wanted the caramel nut, so I asked for one scoop of each. But the waiter didn't convey those instructions to who-ever did the dishing up, so we got both scoops the same. We both ate it anyway. The bill came to 27.9€.
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Before we left I asked to use the bathroom. The men's had a little figure of a boy peeing in the toilet (standing up)
Men's room sign

Men's room sign

Ladies room sign

Ladies room sign


and the women's had a figure of a little girl sitting. I took pictures.

Now we tried again to find the aquarium. I found that there was a discount for the aquarium in the coupon book we'd gotten with our bus ticket, but my grandson had forgotten his. As we were in line, he pointed out that I could have a reduced price ticket (as an old person although he didn't say that), and so I gave them the coupon and said one adult and one elder, and they gave us the one euro discount on both tickets. We paid 26 € instead of 28 €.
Photo of us

Photo of us


We spent from 3:30 to about 4:35 in the aquarium. This was a nice little aquarium, which has 35 tanks, 11,000 animals and 450 different species, an underwater tunnel 80 metres long, and an Oceanarium, the only one in Europe. We spent about a hour here. The low light made it difficult to take pictures, especially if the fish swam fast, and also there was reflections off the lighted informational signs.
Ray

Ray

Ray

Ray


Stone fish?

Stone fish?


Red anenomae

Red anenomae

P1000182.JPGlarge_3974733-Europes_Biggest_Barcelona.jpgCrab with a sponge on his back

Crab with a sponge on his back


Aquarium

Aquarium

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Yellow tang

Yellow tang


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Shark and sting ray

Shark and sting ray

Ray

Ray

Penguins

Penguins

Penguin

Penguin


Nautillus reflected in the surfaces around him

Nautillus reflected in the surfaces around him


There was a shark tunnel
Grandson in shark tunnel

Grandson in shark tunnel


and they took pictures of people coming off the end of the moving walkway, but they were terrible of me, and my grandson had his back to the camera each time. I took a picture of the booth
photo of photo booth

photo of photo booth


and the girl said that was forbidden and would be 9 €s. I didn't pay it. My photo was really no good so she didn't lose anything..

He did buy the picture that they took of us at the entrance standing in sharks jaws. That was 7€s. He also bought a couple of things for his friends.
Stuffed toys

Stuffed toys


Then we got back on the blue bus (sitting on the first floor again) and got off at the green transfer point. There we met a couple more people that are going on the ship with us.

Green route

Green route


large_100_4381.jpglarge_100_4395.jpglarge_100_4396.jpgSmokestack or tower

Smokestack or tower


Sculptures in waterfront park

Sculptures in waterfront park

Helmet

Helmet

Facultat de Nautica

Facultat de Nautica


getting dark

getting dark

The green route is really short, and we transferred back to the blue bus without doing the complete green route, but there was only the short section between the two transfer points that we missed. Some of the buses stop running at 1900 and some stop at 2000, and I didn't want to be out somewhere when they stopped. I think we've done the whole blue route, and some of it twice.
back on the blue route to go back to the hotel

back on the blue route to go back to the hotel


Caixa Catalunya

Caixa Catalunya

Barcelona cathedral

Barcelona cathedral

After six o'clock

After six o'clock


We got back off at Plaza Catalonia.
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walking back to the hotel

walking back to the hotel


Woman's Secret store

Woman's Secret store


and my grandson found an even shorter route to get back to the hotel, and we were back by 6:20. In spite of the Do Not Disturb sign, they had made up our room and left us another two candies.

I had been wrestling in my mind with how to download my grandson's picture because I can't seem to make the software that came with his camera work. I had decided to try Picasa (a free to download photographic program), and indeed that worked. He took 190 pictures on the two days in Barcelona - he didn't start to take pictures until we did the bus tour. At the end of today, I have 310 photos. So after I downloaded both my pictures and his pictures to the computer and copied them to the thumb drive, we set out about 8:30 to try to find dinner.

The receptionist who was wrong about the cafeteria being open gave us a card for a tapas place just a couple of blocks away which she said all their clients liked, so we walked up to where we thought this would be, and couldn't find it.
going out to dinner

going out to dinner


And due to her warning about walking around with a camera, I didn't want to wander too far. So instead we went to another place called D'Or.
Menu

Menu


Inside tapas restaurant

Inside tapas restaurant


I got another pineapple juice, and ordered from the tapas menu
Spanish omelet (truita patata)

Spanish omelet (truita patata)


The Spanish omelet was a kind of pie made of egg and potato and onion, of which I got a wedge.
gambita blanca

gambita blanca


The gambia were called crawfish on the English menu and were about 7 large shrimp in the shell. They came with the whole head and were warm and kind of greasy and very hard to peel. My grandson ate 3 of them and I ate 4. My grandson had a coke, a cheeseburger and
Fries (patates fregides

Fries (patates fregides


The cheeseburger was a McDonalds size cheeseburger and the fries came on a separate plate. The coke was a 330 ml can, and they gave him as usual two HUGE ice cubes. The whole thing was 18.38 €s which is less than lunch.
Hotel Reding at night

Hotel Reding at night


There is a notice in the elevator that they start daylight savings here tonight.

We went to bed after we got back to the hotel, or at least my grandson got into his pajamas and played with his video game.
The TV in the hotel has a sports channel which seems to have the narrative in German even though the players may be speaking English. He has been watching some kind of billiards match and trying to figure out the rules.

My grandson had asked what dock the ship would be at, and I didn't know for sure, but I found google.earth and we could see some of the port on it - we spent some time looking at it because someone said that there was an inner and an outer port and only the smaller ships could get under the bridge.

I wrote up the trip and did some downloading of email and edited some photos, but decided that I'd better try to get some sleep. I looked at the computer time and it said 3 am., and I was horrified, but I think the computer automatically changed to daylight savings.

I was really freaked about not having the NCL form filled out for taking a minor on their ship - I had a notarized authorization for me to travel with him from his parents (which no one during the entire trip ever asked for), but this was a specific NCL form which I found when I couldn't print out his embarkation documents. So I had a hard time getting to sleep, and was playing scenes over and over in my mind where I was sitting at the dock crying and they were not going to let him board.

I know - too much imagination.

Breakfast 30 March 2008 and Boarding

We woke up about 9 and packed. When we were done, we went down to see about breakfast, but discover for the first time that is no food in the hotel after 4 pm Saturday. The coffee shop is a smoking area, and the doors are open, but no one is there to serve food.
Coffee/Bar

Coffee/Bar


So we walked across the street to the Hotel Gravina for breakfast.
Breakfast on Sunday

Breakfast on Sunday


Breakfast menu

Breakfast menu


My grandson said he usually didn't have anything but toast for breakfast, so I ordered toast and butter, he had OJ
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and I had apple juice and tea. I thought the tea would calm my stomach a bit. I paid with a credit card, a total of 11.6€s which was more expensive than yesterday but not a big bill. Incidentally I left my cane at breakfast and the female security guard at the Gravois brought it across to me.
Looking from the bar out to the street

Looking from the bar out to the street

My breakfast

My breakfast


As I was getting ready to leave, I found a list on the table of when the various restaurants were open which I am sure was not there before because it was on top of a map that was a duplicate of another one that I was leaving there, and there was nothing on top of that map when we left to get breakfast. That list said there was no food served on Sunday after the cafeteria closed at 4 pm on Saturday.

I asked the receptionist to call me a cab for 11:30, and we brought our luggage down to check out. They gave us the bill in €s or pesetas, and I asked why. The receptionist said the €s came in after the billing software was in place for pesetas. She said she could do €s in her head but just for small amounts - larger amounts she had to use pesatas.

The cab came and already had 5 €s on the meter. I asked, but he didn't really give me much idea - I have a feeling it was a call charge. I asked the receptionist what the numbers beside the taxi sign meant (1 or 2) and she said (which my grandson had noticed) that 2 was more expensive and was for at night. The cab from the airport had a 2 on it.
Two on a taxi for higher weekend fare

Two on a taxi for higher weekend fare


Didn't ask about what the "P" was for that he also saw.

The cab took us down some narrow streets that looked like they were just for pedestrians.
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And we went past the Ramblas which we had missed before.
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Columbus again

Columbus again


Taxis crossing the bridge to the cruise ship port

Taxis crossing the bridge to the cruise ship port


Anyway, we found the ship (it was visible from the shore - I could see the NCL on the smokestack and there was also a dark hulled ship behind it)
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and gave our bags to the porters, and walked in to the terminal at just about noon. There was a station outside for people to put their room numbers on their luggage if they didn't have baggage tags, but we didn't need that of course.

The lady that was steering us to the various stations asked if I wanted a wheelchair, and after a few seconds I agreed that I did. They took us right to the head of the line and checked us in - didn't even ask for any authorization of any kind. All my fears in vain.
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While we were waiting for the computer system to operate, I talked to the wheel chair pusher person who was ships personnel. He was anxious to get to some of the ports where he had never been - it was a first time for him. The ship has been in Hawaii prior to this

He wheeled me onto the ship (we did get our photo taken by the photographer which Bob and I do not usually do),
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and to the room, although the signs said that the rooms weren't ready quite yet. It is a HUGE room, because it is a handicapped/wheelchair accessible room (which I didn't ask for)

There were two beds, each with a little bedside table,
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a dresser with a stool (but no drawers) a closet which had a hanging rod which could be pulled down to wheelchair height, and also shelves, shelves next to the closet,
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couch which could make into another bed, a table with three chairs, and a TV stand which had the TV on top and also three drawers, the mini-bar and the safe in the base. The bathroom, in addition to the sit-down shower had a mirror that could be tilted for a wheelchair person, but not much in the way of shelf space. My grandson had to put his toilet kit out on one of the shelves in the room100_4482.jpg

We went up and I signed him into the teen club about 1 pm, and he stopped there and played one of the video games. I also bought him a 20 drink teen card for $30.00
Bar on the ship

Bar on the ship


and I made a reservation for the Taco Bar/Tex Mex restaurant for about 6:30.
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We had a late lunch in the Grand Pacific restaurant on the stern which was called the Summer Palace on the Pearl.
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We watched them wash the windows while we ate. I had chilled banana soup and an American club sandwich,
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and my grandson had BBQ Pork Ribs, which he said were good. They came with what they called ranch fries, and he said those were good too.
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We both had ice cream for dessert - I had mine with caramel sauce.
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After that my grandson said he wanted to shoot some hoops, and I wanted to take some pictures, so we went up on the top deck.
Dogs inspecting the luggage

Dogs inspecting the luggage


We heard barking and I thought maybe it was a seal, so we went to the side and looked down. It was a big black shepard, that was tied up. He was barking at the other dogs which someone commented were drug sniffing dogs.
Shooting hoops

Shooting hoops


He fooled around with the basketball and also the soccer ball for a bit while I walked around and took pictures.
Golf cage

Golf cage

large_100_4502.jpglarge_100_4506.jpgHarbor bridge

Harbor bridge

large_100_4515.jpgAid to Navigation

Aid to Navigation

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I also signed in at the internet cafe.

They had the boat drill in the various restaurants and not out on deck like they did on Grandeur of the Seas and the NCL Crown. We were at a table with someone who had flown in that day, and the guy kept going to sleep. We met the people with the 14 yo girl there - she's from the Gainesville area, but her grandmother said she was a Seminole fan. My grandson was too shy to talk to her - unlike his cousin the year before.

We had dinner at the Tex-mex place and they seated us, but didn't wait on us very quickly. My other grandson saw this picture and asked me "Grandma what did you do to him?" But I hadn't done anything.
Waiting for dinner

Waiting for dinner


My grandson had ribs again.
BBQ ribs

BBQ ribs


I had the cheese quesadillas,
Quesadillas

Quesadillas


and the black bean soup (which I swear had meat in it kind of like pulled pork and was way too spicy for me to eat),
Black bean soup

Black bean soup


and a roadhouse beef burrito.
Roadhouse burrito

Roadhouse burrito


We left the dock at about 7:15, and I told my grandson he could go watch. Then I got up and left too without waiting for dessert. The ship went forward to the turning basin and then spun around and went out of the harbor forwards. I sat out on the deck (which was pretty cold) until about 8:15 and took photos.
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Ferry

Ferry

People on a higher deck

People on a higher deck

Bow of the ship

Bow of the ship

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Pool shower

Pool shower

Leaving port - last light

Leaving port - last light


I emailed the family right after we got on the ship, and since then have found a couple of glitches about email. We are supposed to have a LAN cable availability in the stateroom. But apparently this particular stateroom does not have this ability at the moment, and the people on the ship do not know how to fix it.

They said it would have to be done from corporate and we'd have to wait until Monday for that. In the meantime, I can sometimes get a wireless connection here in the stateroom for long enough to receive email, but it is dropped quite readily, and then I can't sign off. Oh well. By Monday late, the LAN connection was fixed.

When I got back to the cabin and wanted to go to bed, I couldn't find my nightgown, so when the cabin steward came to deliver the Freestyle for today [I don't know how it is spelled, but his name is pronounced Why Me] found it where it had gone down under the bed.

I edited my grandson's pictures for a little while (he has some really good ones), and then couldn't stay awake anymore and he was already asleep.

March 31, 2008 Sea Day

I woke up about 2 and the ship was bouncing around, so I hunted around and looked at the bow cam, but of course couldn't see anything. So I left the bow cam on and turned off the bathroom light and went back to sleep. Two things we are missing - a night light (but that's minor - we can always leave a bathroom light or something on and in this room the glow of the thermostat is enough for me to see where the bathroom is) and my grandson doesn't have a watch.

I woke up again this morning at about 9:15 and realized that I wasn't going to be able to get to breakfast in the main dining room unless I left right away. My grandson had said he didn't think he'd get up for breakfast and he was still sleeping. I decided I wasn't really hungry so started to write an email. Then I discovered that the Cruise Critics meeting was at 10:30 and it was already 10:20, so I shut the computer down and threw on a dress and went to it.

When I came back, my grandson was still asleep, so I waited until about noon and then woke him. I got a shower and so did he. The controls in the shower are - the red side (right) controls the temperature and the green side controls the water flow. It isn't that you have to adjust how much cold to how much hot. Which is good.

I went to lunch, and my grandson went out too and I had him set the room notice to make up the cabin, but by the time I got back it wasn't made up yet. They came to do it while we were there. I took my grandson up to the internet cafe and showed him how to sign on so he could send an email, because his mother asked if he would send her an email. But it turned out that he did not do it.

I went to lunch by myself and sat with another couple in the aft dining room. I had pineapple-vanilla bean soup which was good,
Meatloaf for lunch

Meatloaf for lunch


meatloaf which was way too spicy, and I couldn't eat much of it, and then
pear galette

pear galette


(cooking light-292 calories) with cranberries and raisins (it was a kind of pie) for dessert.

My grandson told me that one of the elevators was not working, and he was correct. I saw someone on top of the elevator in the shaft, and then while the door was open, the workman called the guy vacuuming the floor to come block the shaft so no one would fall down. They all seem to be fine now.
Guarding the open elevator shaft

Guarding the open elevator shaft


Tonight is dress up night. We dressed nicely (and I did see them turn away a very fat man in shorts and sandals),
Formal night

Formal night


and went up and had dinner on lobster night in the main dining room. They said they would seat us for sharing but put us at a table for 2. Service was very slow. The lobster was not written on the main menu but was an insert, and my menu didn't have one.
Ceiling left over from when this was a Hawaiian based ship

Ceiling left over from when this was a Hawaiian based ship

My grandson does not order soup or anything before dinner, so he eats the whole bread basket full of bread while he is waiting for me to finish my soup, which in this case was
chilled carrot and Orange soup

chilled carrot and Orange soup


which was VERY orange, but good

We both had the lobster.

. The lobster came with broccoli, green mashed potatoes, tomatoes and asparagus. He let me eat his asparagus. He said the potatoes tasted funny. They gave us a little sauce boat of melted butter for the lobster, but I think they were a trifle overcooked and mushy as they were EXTREMELY difficult to remove from their shells.
Formal night lobster

Formal night lobster


My grandson said he wasn't allowed to have lobster at home.

(!) His parents later disputed that - he wasn't allowed to order something that expensive when they are out at a fancy restaurant, but he could have it when his dad cooked them at home. (His dad free dives for them during the mini season.) I had
creme brule

creme brule


which had a chocolate pudding bottom, and he had vanilla ice cream as usual.

Tomorrow we get to the port for Rome.

Posted by greatgrandmaR 17:41 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Seeing the Sistine

And St. Peters


View Bermuda & 2008 Med Cruise on greatgrandmaR's travel map.

I had a car and driver hired for both Rome and Naples because my oldest daughter told me that I could not see Rome unless I could walk. I can't walk for any distance so I viewed the coming visit to Rome with some anxiety. All of the ship tours involved considerable walking. The alternative would have been either to take the train to Rome and walk (which would be hard for me) take a taxi (expensive), or to book an individual car from the cruise ship which would have been $750.00 for just a HALF day. On a tip from a fellow VTer, we hired Sandro Pagnotta of RomaLimo.

We had a wonderful tour of Rome with Sandro Pagnotta, VP. & C.O.O of RomaLimo. We had the car for the whole day - the two of us, and he took us to see the sights we were interested in (Sistine Chapel (where he obtained a guide for us), Trevi Fountain and the Coliseum) and many sights that we would not have thought of asking to see like Circus Maximus, Spanish Steps, the Knights of Malta keyhole, the city gate and the Basilica of St. Paul Fuori le Mura. The Mercedes that we used could go down the narrow streets and easily get around where a normal sightseeing bus could not go. Sandro spoke excellent English and was charming and helpful. The day cost us $675 (plus tip), and paying in advance I could pay in dollars instead of Euros.

I ordered breakfast from room service for 7 am, but either they didn't come, or didn't knock loud enough to wake me up, because I didn't wake up until 7:50. We were supposed to meet Sandro at 8, and by 8:15 we were driving out of the port gate toward the Vatican.
leaving port 8:15

leaving port 8:15

The Port for Rome

The Port for Rome

100_4616.jpgRoad to Rome

Road to Rome

Cyclists between lanes

Cyclists between lanes

Bus stop

Bus stop

Vatican wall

Vatican wall


Vatican walls from the car

Vatican walls from the car

The country boarder between Rome and the Vatican

The country boarder between Rome and the Vatican

Driving around the wall of the Vatican

Driving around the wall of the Vatican

We got to the Vatican about 9:30.
inside the Vatican 9:44 where people gather to buy tickets and go to the musuem

inside the Vatican 9:44 where people gather to buy tickets and go to the musuem

Sign

Sign


going in the exit

going in the exit

large_y100_4633.jpg
My grandson had said he wanted to see the Sistine Chapel so the driver Sandro had hired a Vatican guide for us. I think the guide cost 100€
Vatican guide

Vatican guide


And you can't go back and look at it later after you go to the Sistine Chapel. I knew that we couldn't go back later, so I took photos along the way, and our guide took us the quickest way through the museums explaining what we were looking at.
Looking at the dome from the museum

Looking at the dome from the museum

dome

dome

Vatican gardens

Vatican gardens

small dome

small dome

Marble tomb with guard on the scaffolding behind

Marble tomb with guard on the scaffolding behind

architectural detail

architectural detail

Guard at one of the doors in the museum

Guard at one of the doors in the museum

Walking through the museum

Walking through the museum

courtyard

courtyard

courtyard with big reflective ball

courtyard with big reflective ball

Passing Through the Museums

Passing Through the Museums


fountain in the courtyard

fountain in the courtyard

Crowds in the museum

Crowds in the museum

line of marble heads

line of marble heads


View from the balcony

View from the balcony


If you look out the windows while you walk through the museums, you can see some interesting views of this smallest country. If you have time (we didn't) you may want to look at the Gardens which are decorated with fountains and sculptures. They cover approximately 57 acres which is most of the Vatican Hill. Stone walls bound the area in the North, South and West. The gardens date back to medieval times when Pope Nicholas III (1277–1280) moved his residence back to the Vatican from the Lateran Palace and enclosed this area with walls. A tour of the Gardens allows the visitor to be part of a group tour conducted by an official Vatican Guide. (duration of the tour is approximately 2 hours)

Outside in the forecourt

Outside in the forecourt

Marble tub

Marble tub

mosaic floor

mosaic floor


Green marble lobster sculpture

Green marble lobster sculpture

bust of a pope with my grandson

bust of a pope with my grandson

Across the hills of Rome

Across the hills of Rome


ceiling of museum

ceiling of museum

Mosaics in the Vatican

Mosaics in the Vatican


Statue of Hercules in the Vatican

Statue of Hercules in the Vatican


tomb

tomb


mosaic

mosaic


tomb

tomb

Fertility goddess

Fertility goddess


Faun statue with guide

Faun statue with guide


Ceiling in the Museum

Ceiling in the Museum


Another view from one window to another

Another view from one window to another

The road around the outside

The road around the outside


Sistine Chapel Dome

Sistine Chapel Dome

corridor

corridor


My sister apparently went on a trip which took them on a private tour of the Sistine Chapel and at a time that they could take photos. But the only photos I could take were of St. Peters, the museums and the grounds. We could not take pictures in the Sistine Chapel. We sat at the end of the room where the Pope would enter the room and looked at the paintings.

We also went through St. Peters. It was interesting, but since we aren't Catholic, it wasn't a religious experience.
door detail - St Peters

door detail - St Peters

dome St Peters

dome St Peters

The Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica

The Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica


Pieta by Michelangelo

Pieta by Michelangelo


large_3997437-The_Popes_Church_Vatican_City.jpginside of the dome St Peters

inside of the dome St Peters

Peter

Peter

large_3997435-The_Popes_Church_Vatican_City.jpg
large_3997436-The_Popes_Church_Vatican_City.jpg
Sunburst window over St. Peter's alter

Sunburst window over St. Peter's alter


large_3997434-The_Popes_Church_Vatican_City.jpg
writing on the edge of the dome in St. Peters

writing on the edge of the dome in St. Peters

confession booth

confession booth

Mosaic floor

Mosaic floor

Exit

Exit


- inside and out.
large_3997446-Wednesday_Mass.jpg
Our guide took us through the museum first, and then we went through St. Peters. He mentioned that they were setting up the chairs in St. Peter's Square for the Wednesday Mass. He suggested that unless we really wanted to see the Pope, that we should not plan to visit on a Wednesday or Sunday. We were there on Tuesday, April 1st - about two weeks after Easter.

If you do decide to go, remember - Most of the masses are celebrated at St Peters Basilica. However there are some Masses when they expecting a larger number of people and then they will use St Peters Square. St Peter's Square can host up to 80 000 people. Normally for the seated area you will need a ticket but mostly you can attend standing without a ticket.

For most of the Masses with the Pope you will need to have a ticket.

Tickets are always free.

Don't forget that to attend these celebrations you will need to pass through security scanners (like the airport) and long lines are to be expected. Places will only be be guaranteed according your arrival time. The tickets will be asked for at the entrance of the Mass.
Remember:
Tickets DOES NOT necessarily guarantee entrance or a seat.
When the church / Square is full access will be denied even with your ticket
x100_4687

x100_4687


Looking back at St. Peters Square

Looking back at St. Peters Square


detail of the frieze

detail of the frieze


line of statues

line of statues

Worker in safety harness

Worker in safety harness


St. Peters dome

St. Peters dome

The most famous guards at the Vatican are the Swiss Guards. In Renaissance Europe, the Swiss had a problem - they had about 500,000 inhabitants in a small overpopulated poor country. There was no choice but to emigrate and one of the most profitable jobs of the era was that of a mercenary soldier.

So the Swiss Cantons marketed their greatest asset - their soldiers, and these soldiers played an important role in the history of European politics. Pope Sixtus IV in 1497, made provisions for the future recruiting of mercenaries, when he had barracks built for them near the small Church of St. Pellegrino, in Via Pellegrino in Vatican City. On January 22, 1506 a group of the Swiss soldiers entered the Vatican and were blessed by Pope Julius II. As allies of Pope Julius II in 1512 they helped to shape Italy's destiny and were granted by the Pope the title of "Defenders of the Church's freedom".
There are many guards in the Vatican and especially in the museum areas.

Swiss Guards

Swiss Guards

My grandson's friend, who didn't know anything about the Pope because (as his mother explained) they weren't Catholic, DID recognize the Swiss guards in our pictures. He isn't the only one. The great Latin historian, Tacitus, had said: "The Helvetians are a people of warriors, famous for the valour of their soldiers." [The official name of Switzerland is Confoederatio Helvetica which is Latin]

Inside the Vatican walls, the Swiss Guards Corps (Corpo della Guardia Svizzera) are posted to provide security. The guards, who swear an oath of allegiance to the pope wear very colorful archaic uniforms. In 1505, the soldiers wore simple tunics - the present uniforms date back to 1548. The story that they were designed by Michaelangelo is probably false. The Pontifical Swiss Guards is also the smallest and oldest standing army in the world.

We were finished there by about 11:30 and Sandro picked us up for the Rome part of the tour.

Posted by greatgrandmaR 17:58 Archived in Vatican City Comments (0)

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