The diverse ports of the Mediterranean Sea offer spectacular scenery, great food, wonderful people and cultures. On top of all that they offer a glimpse into the past. Recently, we joined some friends on a recent Mediterranean Cruise and fulfilled all of our expectations. The cruise ship was Celebrity Equinox but we had shore excursions provided by travel agent Thomas Hogan based in Myrtle Beach. The travel agent had arranged for native guides in each of the cities that we visited.
The cities in the order we visited them were Barcelona in Spain; Monte Carlo in Monaco, Nice in France; Florence, Rome, Naples, Sorrento and Pompeii in Italy, Kotor in Montenegro, Venice in Italy and Dubrovnik, Croatia. Exciting as these destinations are, we were happy to have our familiar room on the cruise ship to come back to after every tour.
After landing in Barcelona, Spain, we had a full day and a half to explore the city before boarding the ship and beginning our cruise.
Barcelona is in an area of Spain known as the Catalonia. The fierce pride of their citizens can be seen in the flag that is flown on many of the residential buildings in the city.
We took a bus ride up into Montserrat which is a peaked mountain near Barcelona. Near the top is a Benedictine Abbey with a beautiful chapel which has a statue of the Black Madonna behind the altar. The chapel was the first of the many beautiful churches we will see on this trip.
The treat for the evening was the farmhouse where we had dinner. Much of the food on the menu was grown on the farm, such as the olives and other vegetables.
The spectacular finale of the delicious dinner was the entertainment: guitar playing and flamenco dancing.
The next day we had a native guide who led us through the city of Barcelona specifically the area that was the site of the 1992 Summer Olympics.
In addition we visited Park Guell which is an ubanization project designed by Antoni Gaudi, the modernist architect from Barcelona. His idea for the park was to bring natural elements into an urban setting.
Many of the building and walkways are designed in his original style which avoids straight lines.
and he would decorate his structures with mosaics made of broken ceramic tiles. Here is a close-up of a building in Park Guell. Note the intricate and colorful mosaic tiles of the roof design.
Another Gaudi Design can be seen at the Basilica de Sagrada Familia. This Cathedral is still being built but attracts many visitors.
The exterior has a look of melting mud with carvings everywhere. The interior has soaring lines
and brilliant stained glass windows which are unlike any other church I’ve seen.
Continue the journey…
Stay tuned to the blog for the start of our Mediterranean Cruise 2013.