Since my last blog update we have had 4 port days in a row, Gibraltar, Cartagena, Palma and today, Barcelona – let me bring you up to speed.
Gibraltar was an afternoon call, we arrived at 1pm and promptly made our way from the ship up to Main Street. The weather to begin with wasn’t great, it started off OK then the heavens opened and the rain fell for about an hour or so before easing back and allowing us to carry on with our shopping. I made a stop at my favourite shop (of course), Pashmina, and left with a rather large painting of 2 elephants. It is absolutely beautiful but rather big and the walk back to the ship proved challenging with a painting in tow almost the same size in height as me!
In the evening it was back to my favourite restaurant onboard, Café Jardin. I had the prawns and buffalo mozzarella pizza with caramelised onions followed by a small baked ricotta cheesecake – my usual 3 choices, basically! I always say I will try a new main dish but I never do. The meal was absolutely delicious, I feel another visit coming on before this cruise is over! You actually get a trio of deserts to finish, but I was so full, hence I only asked for the cheesecake.
Cartagena was another chance to do some shopping and with the sun bleating down on us and not a cloud in the sky, it was the perfect Mediterranean December morning. My friend and I popped our heads in a few shops, coming across one called Elisa that we seemed to spend a lifetime in, and ultimately leaving with several purchases having been made. We seemed to make our way through the city quite quickly, finding ourselves back at the marina within just a few hours, so we decided to make the most of the beautiful weather and stopped for lunch and a few drinks. We finally made our way back to Oceana an hour before she sailed and enjoyed the party that was happening on the Lido Deck.
In Palma we used the hop-on hop-off bus service which I had arranged with Shore Excursions Group before leaving for the cruise, it was absolutely ideal. We “hopped-off” in the city and explored some of the shops and had lunch before jumping back onboard and doing the entire route from beginning to end. In total it takes around 1 hour and 20 minutes to go the full journey and we passed Castillo de Bellver, Parc de la Mar, Cathedral, Plaza Espana and Museu d’Art Modern. The stop is literally just outside the main terminal building, number 14.
We awoke this morning in Barcelona and left the ship just after 10am for our tour to Montserrat. The journey was quite pleasant and didn’t take as long as I had expected, we were at the train station within 45 minutes. The train takes roughly 13 minutes to reach the top and the views were absolutely spectacular, you could literally see for miles! Once we left the train we could more or less do our own thing so off we went to explore. I did want to see the Black Madonna but the queue was a mile long and I was too cold to stand in it for what would have been almost an hour – I suppose it gives me a reason to go back next year when I visit Barcelona aboard Britannia. The Basillica was also absolutely heaving so after a quick peek inside we decided to explore other areas and take some photographs. It was a very nice place indeed and I would highly recommend a visit there, it certainly beats the hustle and bustle of modern life in the city of Barcelona and as I said the views the incredible.
Thus far I have managed to do quite a lot of Christmas shopping, which I am pleased about! I definitely like the option of combining a longer holiday with the chance to get a taste of the festive season while exploring other countries. The short breaks are a great idea, but this is just a little more exciting and obviously you have the sea days in between to rest and relax.
Tonight we are dining in the Horizon Grill – prawns, scallops and steak are all on my list! 😉