9 November – more wonders in Barcelona

our second stop of the day and coincidentally the last tourist site on this trip. Turns out  we need to head to the airport this morning instead of this afternoon – we aren’t finished with Barcelona but have to leave regardless.

Have you heard of the cathedral Sagrada Familia? It is still under construction but even so it is the most stunning cathedral I’ve ever entered. Not to boast but I’ve been in quite a few – some of the finest in the world. This place had such a profound impact that both dad and I were moved to tears. We weren’t the only ones. I gather this is a common occurrence as the beauty is so over whelming.

I’m a bit pushed for time – dad is doing his final pack – well random dumping of clothes into his suit case.

Without further chatter – may I present – the glorious- Sagrada Familia….


  

I leave you with whatever emotions these pictures may invoke. We are off to the airport soon. Thank you for sharing this trip with Dad and  me. A special thanks to those of you who provided feed back.  It’s always nice to know I’m chatting with someone. See you soon.

9 November – a day of Gaudi wonders in Barcelona

Yesterday was busy. We used the hop on hop off bus service again and our ports of call were but two. There was no time for more because those two were so wildly incredible. By the way – the day was warm and sunny!

First stop Park Guell. Filled with more of those curves and wavy imaginative Guadi architecture, colour and design. I’m not even going to try to use words – I don’t think I could do this place justice. Not sure the pictures will either…


  

Remarkable? We spent considerable time wandering around here. And then continued on to Gaudi’s greatest work. Which is due to be  completed  in 2026 – more than 100 years after he began the build.

Due to wordpress being what wordpress is….. I’m going to post this separately so I can send a few more pictures. Hold your breaths in great anticipation of the next instalment.

Barcelona – the requisite four, no more pictures

   
The roof – chimney and water tank room of Gaudi’s Casa Batllo – fantastic fantasy….

 
The light well in the middle of the building. The blue tile gives the light an underwater quality. We’re going to be seeing more Gaudi’s master pieces tomorrow.

   
Looking up at the imposing Art Museum…. While I was waiting to take this picture, a young Asian man was  busy standing dead centre, combing his hair, smoothing his clothes, checking his teeth, preening like a wee peacock. Then he took no less than eight selfies. He seemed oblivious to his audience, others like me who were interested in capturing this scene not the theatrics of an egotistical little man……

 
Our lunch time view from the terrace in front of the art museum. As you can see others were also admiring the view, but not so much that pair using one of those awful selfie sticks. That couple walked up, turned their backs on the view, took pictures of themselves in it and left. They didn’t pause to look. By the way  I forgot to mention that selfie sticks are not allowed in the oceanographic museum in Monte Carlo. Banned outright. Need to be left outside. 

Dad and I are both very happy we gave ourselves three extra days here. This is a massive city with a great deal to see and do. We’ll do our best to scratch the surface!

8 December – shore birds

Dad and I were offered jobs a dishwashers today when we expressed an interest in not going ashore! We decided that life on the Viking Star as a dish washer wouldn’t be as marvellous as life as a passenger. So with sad hearts we walked down the gang plank one last time dragging our little wheely bags behind us.

We’re staying in a pleasant hotel in the heart of the gothic quarter, very close to the grand cathedral we visited yesterday. We’re hilarious – the beds aren’t as plush, the lighting isn’t as good, the cups are plastic, there’s no free stocked fridge, no soft carpet on the floor, the chairs aren’t as soft either. It really is a nice place and the bathroom is palatial – with a balcony no less. Have we ever become spoiled!

Free of the lollipop, we headed out armed with a map and got ourselves to the desired hop on hop off bus stop. It too is handy to our shore side digs. We hopped off and on in several spots. One was the beautiful land mark museu Nacional d’art de Catalunya. We toured two of the extensive exhibits – both to do with medieval art. Both brilliant installations. A beer and lunch over looking the city – outside – it is warmer here! Then continued on to a couple of Gaudi’s houses. We went into Casa Batllo which is complete imaginative magic. The man was a genius! Who’d have thought such a building could be conceived of never mind built! Not one square corner, not one straight line, all curves and swirls and ingenious use of light. I’ll send a couple of pictures – but if you’re curious google Gaudi’s Casa Batllo, I’m sure you’ll be as amazed as we are.

Now having a short rest before heading down stairs for tapas for dinner. It’s only 6:30. Dinner doesn’t get started here til after seven. Although we’ve taken the edge off our thirst and hunger with some of our remaining cherry brandy from Dubrovnik and figs from – hmm where were they from? – Kotor I think. It’s all becoming a bit of a blur!

Cheers from the incredible city of Barcelona. I think it might be odd to go to sleep in a “still” bed without the background purr of the ship lulling me to pleasant dreams.

7 Dec in Barcelona – four pictures

   
The Viking lollipop- I’ve gone about it often enough….

 
The little pooper – seriously – several stalls dedicated exclusively to them. I remain mystified.

   
The crowds at the Christmas market…..not many tourists – mostly locals. 

 
A drive by shot from the bus of a Gaudi creation. Inspired by nature. Remarkable. I’m looking forward to seeing more over the next few days.

7 December – Barcelona, our last day on Viking Star

Oh who knew I’d love this trip so much! And I have enjoyed it immensely! We had our last lollipop tour today. Wandering around the very narrow streets of the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona. Our hotel is in this area, we did not see it. I’m really glad we had this orientation with a guide as I had absolutely no idea where we where for most of the time! We had some free time at an insanely busy Chrismas market. Now in this area there is a strange phenomena. Little poopers. Yes – people here seem obsessed with wee and not so wee statues of guys wearing red hats, pants down, squatting and pooping. Bare bums and poop all part of the statuary. The reason for this peculiar attraction escapes me. It has something to do with the circle of food production…… You can figure that cycle out for yourselves. What is grown is consumed, what is consumed is – pooped. Presumably this is cause for celebration around here. So along with one’s manger statuary acquisitions one should also purchase a little pooper. The poopers seem to be included in the public manger arrangements, and  judging from the Christmas market the poopers are an integral part of this ornamentation in people’s homes as well. Three kings, baby Jesus and the pooper. 

We visited a grand gothic cathedral. We drove around town and saw a few of Gaudi’s architectural wonders. Toured through a marvellous farmers market. All a taste of what dad and I will enjoy on our own over the next three days.

Back on board we packed. No – I packed. Dad doesn’t do these things in advance. We need to be out of our cabin at 8am tomorrow – he plans to pack in the morning. Must be a guy thing! Dinner this evening followed our last forensic anthropology lecture. I’ll be visiting the presenter – Margaret Cox – when I’m in the UK next August. We’ve discovered so many things to talk about. Our last dinner was delicious, as was the wine….. We’ve said good bye and thank you to some of the numerous crew members who have contributed to a fabulous voyage.

So for now. Good night from the Viking Star. Will update you on our explorations of Barcelona from shore tomorrow.

6 December – Toulon France

Dad and I aren’t really sure why we are here. We think it may be that it is a convenient and perhaps necessary stop between Monaco and Barcelona. Toulon – compared to the other incredible places on this journey – has  little (nothing?) to offer. Never the less we’ve spent a day here and it was ….. well – it was a day. Our lollipop tour took us through a vibrant farmer’s market. Past a cathedral. Through several squares with fountains and statues…. We took a boat tour of the harbour. Yes, the same harbour we sailed through upon our arrival. We think the boat tour idea was an act of desperation to keep us occupied. The only difference was that this time we had someone saying look at this old fort and that older fort. Also we were on rather basic seats in the open air rather than the extremely comfortable confines of our ship’s cabins, lounges and dinning rooms. It so happens that Toulon is the largest military naval base in France. But as most of the ships are else where due to the ISIS attack in Paris, we saw where the navy normally hangs out, but not where it is currently, thus saw a lot of nothing. 

After being freed from the harbour boat tour and the lollipop, dad and I walked back to the Christmas market in town. (We had been herded by earlier while on tour)  This provided some interesting photographic moments. The cutest carousel ever – a rotating Christmas tree – children ride in the decorations….round and round. White stuff covering Christmas trees,  surrounded by the local Palm trees – a bit odd. Despite Toulon being generally underwhelming – we enjoyed the day. I picked up a very unique neck lace watch at the market. We had an entertaining time practising our french.

Dad and I had a tour of the ship’s bridge this afternoon which was very interesting – this ship has every mod con one could imagine and more. The ship can be controlled by an itsybitsy  joy stick – or several other methods. Along with the numerous electronic gadgets there are real paper charts! Yes – my kayaking friends – just like what we use! (For my friends who sailed on that dreadful “Oasis of the Seas” travesty of a ship – no, we did not have to pay extra for the privilege of visiting the bridge. We just needed to ask.) 

This evening we had dinner with a couple we’ve talked to a fair bit – originally from Hawaii – now living in California. We had some good chuckles about typical (ugly) American’s. They love Rick Mercer. Need I say more! 

On that note tis time for me to get shut eye so I’m bright eyed for our last shore excursion in the morning. We will wake in Barcelona. Sadly this will be our last port of call. I’ve become very fond of the luxury! Real life might be hard to get used to!

Pictures of Toulon to follow….. Tomorrow. Good night from somewhere in the Mediterranean between Toulon and Barcelona.

Monte Carlo – wimpy palace guards and other pictures

 
Just is case you thought I was exaggerating – those wimpy palace guards clambering into their van so they don’t  get those pretty muni forms wet. 
 
So expensive the price isn’t even listed. Somewhere over 3.5 million euros.

   
OK  I couldn’t resist sending a shot of our lovely ship Viking Star sitting so proudly with those Monte Carlo yachts!

 
What a lovely place. Monte Carlo just oozes wealth at every corner!

Monte Carlo Maritime museum in pictures

   
A mock up of the  lab on Alexander II’s maritime research ship

 
The hall of marine skeletons 

   
The entrance hall to this fabulous museum

 
So hard to take pictures in the low lighting of aquariums – but for the record…

I guess you can tell how impressed I was with this place. Other Monte Carlo pictures follow I hope. This word press program has been driving me nuts. When I type, I finish about 30 seconds or more before the iPad. It’s pretty weird to watch the thing typing away by itself, and making up random meaningless words as it goes. Proof reading is crazy because I sometimes can’t remember what I planned to say  or make heads or tails of what is actually printed.