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  • on July 21, 2007 -
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Barcelona, Day 1

Very early Friday morning the Emerald Princess sailed into Port Vell, Barcelona. We were assigned to disembark at 8:15am but since we knew our hotel wouldn’t let us check in until after noon, we relaxed in one of the lounges for an extra hour until most of the other passengers were off. After saying farewell to the ship we took a short but very circuitous taxi ride to Hotel Principal. The hotel wouldn’t have a room available for us for about two hours, but had free wi-fi in their lounge so we caught up on e-mail and news. Once we checked in, we took a walk down Les Ramblas, the touristy pedestrian strip, only a couple blocks from our hotel.

Walking Les Ramblas

At the southernmost end of Les Ramblas is the monument to Christopher Columbus. We took the elevator 50 meters (150 feet) to the top (Mike couldn’t believe they fit an elevator in there!) and got a nice view of the city in all directions. Realizing we were hungry, but wanting something very different than what we’d been eating the last two weeks, we stopped into a Chinese restaurant along Les Ramblas. Unfortunately, it was the worst Chinese food we’ve ever had, and we left only slightly less hungry than when we arrived.

Christopher Columbus monument

After a short siesta back at the hotel, we headed out and walked to the Gothic District (El Barri Gòtic) to follow the walking tour in our Frommer’s Guide Book. Barcelona began as a Roman city, and although it’s completely changed over time, there are still a few remnants of the Roman city. One of the highlights of the walk was — surprise — the Cathedral of Barcelona. We were getting pretty tired of cathedrals, basilica, and churches at this point, but they do seem to represent the pinnacles of each civilization’s architectural achievement.

Starting our walking tour of the Gothic quarter

We were able to make it only about halfway through the tour before the directions and map became so confusing that we had to call it quits. In this case, the fault fell squarely on Frommer’s: the landmarks didn’t match up with the numbers and names in the book, the book would often tell us to take a left instead of a right (or vice versa), and some roads didn’t even show up on the map! So we just walked around the rest of the district and headed back to Les Ramblas to wander around. The crowds had thickened significantly as the evening progressed, which is apparently normal in this area. We wanted to find something for dinner, but the awful lunch made us a bit cautious, and most restaurants in Barcelona don’t open for dinner until 8 or 9pm. After wandering a bit, we grabbed Barcelona’s version of fast food at two places, Pita Inn and Pan & Company. Dinner was significantly cheaper than lunch and much better.

The back of the cathedral in Barcelona

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