In June of 2018 I decided to try out a cruise with NCL for 7 days with the starting point of Barcelona, Spain. Always looking for new places to go, I thought this voyage was mostly new and my partner could enjoy my repeated locations from years ago. After booking the cruise, the search of decent airfare began from here in Mexico to Barcelona that lead us to try Iberia Airlines in preferred economy for the cost of about 38,000 pesos. I have decided that long flights need to be in the new Premium Economy Class that most airlines are now offering. It gets you that extra space, better service, and amenities not found in coach for not too much more money like Business Class.
I actually find a flight with Iberia that partners with the Mexican airline Interjet, so I can book the whole flight with Iberia directly. Leaving on May 1st we go from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to Mexico City to Madrid, Spain and then finally into Barcelona. The whole flight with layovers lasts about 16 hours, not too bad considering we have to make 2 plane changes. Upon our arrival the next day at 430pm, we take a taxi to our hotel that I located just a few blocks from the Ramblas, the boardwalk place to walk, be seen, and people watch in Barcelona. A quick stop around the corner we find a local restaurant offering excellent Spanish dishes by a family run restaurant. Tired from out long flight, we decide to just walk Ramblas a little bit this evening and of course stop to have one of those liter sized Sangrias! These definitely became our evening favorites while walking Ramblas.
The next day we are off to do the sightseeing because I had planned to enjoy several days before boarding the cruise in Barcelona. I always like to use the Hop On Hop Off buses if a city has them because it provides such a great overview of the city and since we were here a few days, we would get the 2 day pass. With about 40 stops on several routes, it gave us the flexibility to get all over Barcelona for 2 days without using any taxis. I had already purchased our Sagrada Familia Cathedral tickets in advance, we could use the Hop On Hop Off bus to get there at our appointed time for the entrance. Getting tickets the same day is nearly impossible in the summer and sometimes you will have to wait days to get an entrance ticket. They sell them there but you never know what day and time is going to be available. I strongly recommend you purchase them in advance online before going to Barcelona.
We spent several hours that afternoon at Sagrada Familia where I had pre-purchased the entrance tickets. I highly recommend doing this because same day entrance tickets are almost impossible to obtain. Used the Hop On Hop Off bus the get here and back to the area near our hotel where we had started that morning. As a part of our tour, we decided to take it all the way around and then on the 2nd round we got off in the places that were of interest to us. One of those was the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics area because I noticed a tramway the went over the top of Barcelona and ended in the Marina area. Great views and it was worth the cost! After getting off we walked around the Marina area and found a restaurant that provided excellent mussels for very reasonable prices. The Ramblas ends near the Marina, so it is easy to walk back up to our hotel.
We spend the next day doing a little more of the Hop On Hop Off tour on a different route and then we planned to go to Sitges and city south of Barcelona known to be a gay beach front destination. Taking the train from the main train station was simple and inexpensive and we arrived in Sitges in about 30 minutes. There are not many traffic streets, so it was a nice walk around the shops and led downhill to the beach front restaurants and boardwalk. The weather was a bit rainy, so the beaches were empty but we enjoyed a nice lunch on a boardwalk front restaurant. Train ride back to Barcelona and we enjoyed an evening on the Ramblas again for Sangrias!
Our third day in Barcelona was planned to be an all day excursion to the Montserrat Abbey about 1 hour north of Barcelona. I had pre-booked a tour online and it was a nice complete tour with mini bus transportation, incline railway up to the top, long leisurely walk back down and then a Boys Choir Concert in the Abbey to complete the day.
We start our last day in Barcelona by going back down the Ramblas and enjoy lunch at the same restaurant that we had visited the first day, because the mussels were so cheap and delicious! We head to the cruise ship port around 12pm for the check in for our 7 day cruise. Please see my Barcelona to Barcelona 7 day Cruise blog about that trip.
Upon our return to Barcelona after the 7 day cruise to Italy, I had booked another hotel in a different area of Barcelona referred to as Barrio Gothic with over 2000 years of history. This was a completely different area of Barcelona featuring small cafes and restaurants including a mini Arc de Triumph replica, museums, and narrow pedestrian walking areas with shops. I am glad that we decided to spend one more day in Barcelona to experience this area. A short visit to the Barcelona Aquarium was included that day as well a visit to the Gothic Cathedral and some more of Gaudi’s architecture. There was also a free entrance to a Roman Temple that is worth the visit. I would recommend that you either stay in this area or at least make sure you spend a day visiting it!