Our Travels – Part 1 Barcelona to Marseille, France
We have SO much to share about our Mediterranean cruise and tour of Spain, so we will break it up so you will not be overwhelmed. Plus it will give us time to process the gazillion images we took : ).
We were so excited to see our first views of Barcelona!
After Customs, we collected, then stored our bags in Left Luggage (luggage lockers at the Barcelona airport) and started our exploration of Barcelona. Be sure to stop at the Barcelona Turisme desk after you collect your luggage, they have lots of information and speak multiple languages including English.
Since we had a some time before checking into our apartment, we headed out to Placa de Catalunya via the Aerobus (about 6 euros). The Placa de Catalunya is the city center, and a great starting point for exploring Barcelona since there are historic monuments, Metro (subway) and bus stops, shops and places to eat all within walking distance.
Wandering through La Rambla, one of the main pedestrian streets.
The Catedral de Barcelona was amazing. Let me stop here…there will be a lot of superlatives used in these reviews; the breadth, and scope of the places we saw was in some instances, just overwhelming. So there! You’ve been warned : )…
The cathedral was constructed from the 13th to 15th centuries, with the principal work done in the 14th century. The cloister, which encloses the Well of the Geese (Font de les Oques) was completed in 1448. In the late 19th century, the neo-Gothic façade was constructed over the nondescript exterior that was common to Catalan churches. The roof is notable for its gargoyles, featuring a wide range of animals, both domestic and mythical.
If we thought the views outside of the cathedral were breathtaking, the views inside were just awe inspiring…
After leaving the cathedral, we found the Santa Caterina Market and grabbed some very tasty tomatoes!!
The Barcelona Turistic bus is a great way to hit many of the major highlights of Barcelona; the added bonus is it features an open top so you have unrestricted views from the comfort of your seat. And if the weather is inclement, you can ride fully enclosed on the lower level.
We checked out a few more shops, including the FNAC (a department store) to pick up much needed electrical converters, before finally checking into our apartment. We settled in for a bit, then caught the nearby Metro, to the train, arriving into the airport to pick up our son who had flown in from France. After a great night’s sleep it was time to head to the port. The My Taxi app for your smartphone is a great resource! By the way, be sure to check in with your mobile provider when traveling outside the USA since voice and data charges can be expensive.
The check in process to board the Costa Serena was a breeze! The cruise terminal in Barcelona is very spacious and modern.
The cruise terminal offered duty free shopping, a kid’s play area, a full service bar and an outdoor terrace to relax while waiting to board. Nice!
Our turn to board!
Our balcony stateroom was great and a chilled bottle of Prosecco just made everything better!
The view from our balcony.
A couple of interior shots of the Costa Serena, more ship photos later.
Our first port of call – Marseille, France! Costa offered a motor coach transfer into the city for about 9 euros per person, round trip. There were trips back to the ship every 30 minutes.
View of the Marseille docks with the Notre Dame de la Garde in the distance.
Here we made a great discovery… the tourist train! This enabled us to cover a lot of ground for about 7 euros per person and the trip was about an hour and a half. Well worth it to get your bearings in a new city.
Great views from the tourist train.
Mémorial aux heros de l’armée d’orient, or Memorial of the Army of the East and distant lands.
Our feature stop on the tourist train route was the Notre-Dame de la Garde, from here we had amazing views of Marseille.
Time to head back down to the waterfront.
Once our tour was over, it was time to explore the sights, and tastes of Marseille.
Checking out the kiosk at the Marseille tourism office, located conveniently OUTSIDE of the office.
Yummm, French macarons! Although my well-traveled son insists we must try them in Paris ; )
We love to check out the local markets, so many interesting things to see and taste! : )
Trying a Doner kebab, standard European street fare…
Our first sighting of the Menu of the Day, a lovely European custom that we’ll discuss in depth later.
After our stroll through the markets, we enjoyed a mini concert at Vieux Port.
The Vieux Port pavillion in Marseille
Look up! And voila, a great family portrait!
Thank you Marseille for a wonderful day! Now back to the Serena and on to Savona, Italy!
Author: Desiree Carter
Photos: ©Cedric Carter