All good things come to an end, and on Friday morning, our cruise came to an end in Barcelona. Disembarkation day was, without a doubt, the saddest day of our vacation. You just gotta wake up so early to get off this magical floating resort you've called home for the last week or so. It's such a bittersweet feeling.
The morning of was hectic and rushed. Even though we chose a "relaxed debark," we were supposed to leave at 8 AM, which is not relaxing at all. We were running late as usual, so I sent the boyfriend upstairs to grab some snacks for breakfast as I tried to pack the rest of our belongings in our carry-ons. We lined up for the gangway, and we were off the ship in no time. There was no wait or no hold-ups - no customs. We went straight for the luggage area, and there they were! Our suitcases on the floor, waiting for us, by themselves. No need to search through a sea of suitcases! I guess we were the last ones to disembark in our number group... Oops!
We headed outside to the taxi line. It was a very long line, but it was moving steadily and it seemed very organized, so we felt quite optimistic... until it was our turn. We had waited for about 50 minutes before we got to the front of the line. We needed a van, because of our luggage (eight suitcases in total, we don't travel light!) so we had to wait even longer. At this point, the port workers became very disorganized and forgot about us (and another family), and began letting other people ahead of us. I don't know if it was just plain bad luck, but it's super frustrating watching people behind you in line get into the van that was meant for you. When we finally spoke up, and were assigned a car (not a van), the driver claimed not to know where our hotel was (we were staying at the Best Western Premier Hotel Dante in l'Eixample area, which is a pretty popular area), and so we had to wait for another van. Long story short, if you need a van, be aggressive (or assertive) or you may have to wait a while. Needless to say, our disembarkation experience with the Vista was a bit challenging.
Our hotel ended up being literally 12 minutes away from the port. We arrived at our hotel shortly before 10 AM. We were tired from the events in the morning, and we really wanted to take a nap. But unfortunately, our rooms were not ready until 1 PM. We grabbed a sandwich and cappuccino from the cafe around the corner, and visited the supermarket down the block to kill time. When we finally got into the room, we both passed out immediately.
We woke up a couple of hours later, ready to take on Barcelona. Barcelona was humid, but also breezy. There was a strong wind so I wanted to keep my hoodie on, but when we were in the sun, it was very hot. Our hotel was a ten minute, five blocks away walk from Las Ramblas. Once we reached Plaça de Catalunya, we really felt like we were in Barcelona. The busy square is where the old city and modern Eixample met. It was a true European metropolitan city feeling. We didn't have a plan, we just wanted to explore and see what Barcelona had to offer. Las Ramblas is the first attraction tourists think of in Barcelona. It is a lively street filled with shops and street vendors. We walked down Las Ramblas and stumbled upon La Boqueria. Barcelona's famous public market is known officially as Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria. There are fishmongers, butchers, and fresh fruit and vegetables, in addition to food bars (quick service restaurants with fine dining). It is a food lover's paradise. We were mesmerized by the sights and smells in the market, and we wandered through the stalls for hours. We wanted to sit down at a bar to eat, because we could see the delicious foods being served, but they were all packed. Finally, around 4:30 PM, we miraculously spotted two empty seats at Bar Ramblero.
Lemme tell ya, food is not cheap in Barcelona. We ordered two dishes, a grilled octopus and grilled razor clams. I've never had razor clams before, so I was pretty excited to try them. They were delicious! I'd been missing out all this time! The octopus was delicious as well, it was very tender and juicy. Our bill came to about €35. I highly recommend trying out one of the restaurants in La Boqueira, their seafood is so fresh and everything tastes delicious!
After our late lunch, we raced back to meet the boyfriend's parents. We were supposed to meet for dinner, but seeing that we had just eaten lunch, we decided to shopped around for a little bit. There are so many side streets branching off from Las Ramblas with hundreds of stores to shop in. It is very easy to get lost, and you may end up going around in circles (which is what we did). If you're planning to shop, you really do need a full day. We only ended up getting through one small area close to the beginning of Las Ramblas.
The boyfriend wanted paella for dinner, so we found a restaurant along Las Ramblas towards the direction of our hotel where it was less congested. The food was alright. Our tummies were content, but we later found out the restaurant was a tourist trap, and did not have very good reviews. On our way back to the hotel after dinner, we stopped by Haagen Dazs for ice cream.
As I mentioned previously, our hotel was located in l'Eixample area. It was "off the strip" and it was away from the busy tourist areas, but it was a very safe walk even at midnight. It's not eerily quiet during the day nor is it completely dead in the nighttime. There are a few restaurants between Las Ramblas and our hotel, so there are people out and about. We felt very safe walking in the neighbourhood at all times of the day.
Barcelona was absolutely rocking our world. There was so much to see, so much to do, and so much to eat! We have two more days in this amazing city, stay tuned...