Europe 2015 Day 10-13: Barcelona and Sailing

A Europe trip was long overdue for this New Yorker. I managed to clear 19 days (flight time inclusive) to figure out how to plan such an itinerary and came up with:

Day 1 – Fly from NYC to London overnight
Day 2 – Check in hotel, brief sightseeing, sleep
Day 3,4 – Explore London
Day 5 – Daytrip to Paris via Eurostar
Day 6 – Travel to Edinburgh, sightseeing
Day 7,8,9 – Tour the Scotland highlands
Day 10 – Travel back to London, Harry Potter tour
Day 11 – Fly from London to Barcelona, sightseeing
Day 12-18 – 7 day cruise
Day 19 – Fly back home

The most challenging part is planning it all (and saving enough money as well). The flights, hotels, where to go, how to get there, things to avoid, not getting lost, saving money, optimizing time, eating, bathroom stops, what to pack, currency, backup plans for when things go wrong, survival, etc. Somehow, everything went according to plan with a few minor mishaps. Follow me on my travels as I cover the itineraries, highlights, and other random encounters and experiences.

My 100th post!

Day 10: The Fail day

From Edinburgh to London on the National Rail on a rainy day. I scheduled this day to visit the Warner Bros Harry Potter tour. Guess what, our train was cancelled and we had to get on the next one. Actually, all trains were experiencing delays due to a malfunction. The 4.5 hour trip turned into a 6.5 hour trip and we didn’t make it to London in time for the tour. Lesson learned; you should plan things such that there are a few hours in between for unexpected delays and such. It was raining all day in London as well. It was just a big fail. You can’t win em all. Perhaps we were better off flying to Barcelona a day earlier. Eh, it could’ve been worse I suppose. So we just ate dinner at the hotel and considered it a rest day from all the walking around.

Day 11: Hola

Looking forward to some sun, we flew to Barcelona (2 hour flight from London) the following morning. After baggage claim, the blue Aerobus drives people to the city center for a few Euros. Hello Euros and goodbye UK pounds. It all looks like monopoly money to me. Starting from the last bus stop at Placa de Catalunya, it was about a 5-10 minute walk to the Casa Camper hotel. This was perhaps the best hotel I’ve ever been to. Once you enter, you are treated like royalty. You get a quick tour of the hotel and your room. They show you the eating area which is fully stocked with salads, sandwiches, fruit, beverages, and snacks. They said “take whatever you want, 24 hours”. Mind blown. You don’t have to tell me twice amigo. We didn’t get the room which we originally booked so they gave us a free bottle of champagne and another room. Actually, 2 hotel rooms! One regular room and another that has a couch, hammock, and balcony. Unreal!

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While the hotel was amazing and all, there is a major building to visit; the Sagrada Familia church. Although Gaudi didn’t finish building it, he left over his design plans so that people can finish it for him. It’s an incredible and unique church, inside and outside. Detailed sculptures are on every inch of the exterior.

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Gaudi’s design for the interior was inspired by nature, trees in particular. When creating the design for the church, Gaudi even took the lighting and sound into consideration as well. The audio tour is 30-45 minutes and is a good site to see even if you’re not into churches or museums.

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Afterwards, we made our way to the main artery of Barcelona, Las Ramblas. People flood the streets with all its shops and restaurants. The Ramblas has so many good places to eat. So hard to choose. Right on the Ramblas is the Boqueria; a massive marketplace that sells all kinds of food. They close on Sundays. Guess what day it was when we were there. Meh. It was a ghost market.

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Halfway down the Ramblas is Placa Reial which is another area full of great restaurants. We ended up eating seafood tapas at the Mariscco restaurant.

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It started raining on the way back but that was ok, did we not just come from Scotland. Off we wandered around in rain gear while all the other tourists got soaked.

Day 12: Sailing Day

We wandered around during the following morning but not for too long. Barcelona deserved a few more days but there was a 7-day Norweigan Epic cruise to catch.

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From Barcelona, the ship sails to Naples, a port near Rome, a port near Florence, Cannes, and Palma de Mallorca (Spanish Balearic island). Many cruisers were given promotional packages such as unlimited dining or drinking plans. Pluses of the ship are the ice bar, bowling alleys, Cirque Dreams show, and the promo packages. Minuses would have to be the puny adult pool, no comedy shows, and unnecessary fee charging. But overall, it was a great way to sample Italy.

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Day 13: Day at Sea (Rest Day)

The following day was a day at sea. Nothing else to do on a cruise ship except cruise stuff, like eating a lot.

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Everybody knew that the next 3 days were going to be crazy so we all slept a bit earlier. Italy awaits…

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