Finally!!! My Birthday Cruise Report – Day 1 (plus flight to Barcelona the previous night)

A little over a year ago, I decided that I would take a big cruise to celebrate my birthday (it was a big one). After looking at options and debating, I settled on a Mediterranean/Venice cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas. It would be round trip from Barcelona, Spain, and would visit Villefranche (Nice), France; Livorno (Florence), Italy; Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy; Salerno (the Amalfi Coast), Italy; Venice, Italy (overnight); Ravenna, Italy; and Kotor, Montenegro.

I spent the year planning, dreaming, changing excursions, and basically getting super excited about it!

Finally, June 28 arrived – the last day of school, and the day I would fly to Barcelona!

I got to JFK and headed to the Delta Sky Lounge to chill until time to board the plane. Oh, yeah. I splurged on Business Class!

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Yeah… I was so spoiled!!

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I landed in Barcelona and collected my luggage (another perk of Business Class was that my bags were among the first off the plane!

I cleared passport control and walked into the Arrivals area where I found my pre-arranged driver. Yep! I got to be one of those people whose name was on a sign being held by a driver!!

We headed to my hotel

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I was able to check in and get into my room right then which was awesome! I do best if I don’t nap when I cross that many time zones, but I desperately wanted a shower to get that travel grime feel off of me!

Once I was all clean, I headed out for the Hop On Hop Off bus! There are two companies, and they go to the same places – I got the one my hotel sold (I think City Sightseeing?) and walked a couple of blocks to where I would pick it up. There are two routes – I did the Green one, though in retrospect the Orange might have been better for me to get oriented. I didn’t really have time to figure it out as both were about to leave and it would be 20 minutes or so before I caught another one.

It was fine – I got to see some cool things on the tour…

The Columbus monument…

 

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These precious ones were getting their pictures taken and were too cute!!

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Camp Nou – the home of Barcelona’s Football Club (soccer here in the US)…

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The Olympic Stadium…

 

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La Pedrera…

 

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Just to name a few. Once the loop was finished, I went back to the hotel to change and head out for my evening activity – dinner and a flamenco show at Tablao Cordobes.

To get there, I headed towards Las Ramblas…

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About three weeks before the trip, in conversation about stuff, my doctor asked if I’d been tested for a wheat allergy. Well, technically when I was tested for peanuts (which I react to but it showed negative), it showed positive for wheat. It was like a light bulb went off over her head and she declared that I needed to cut gluten – that my reaction, which I didn’t think I had, was probably this reduced air flow she’s been puzzled by (I’m medicated for reactive airway and by all accounts the flow should have been greater). So… I got some cards in Catalan, Spanish, French, and Italian saying I needed gluten-free foods AND I called Royal Caribbean to have it noted on my booking. I wasn’t sure what I’d find at Tablao Cordobes, but I managed to find enough…

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Plus, if you ordered wine, they brought you the whole bottle! No, I did not drink it all. Interestingly, there was a couple at the table next to me – obviously American, and more obviously from my area. Well, we started chatting and found out that a) they were from Long Island, b) she was a guidance counselor in the DOE, and c) they were going on the same cruise as me. I mean, what are the odds?!?!?

After dinner, we were shepherded into the performance room.

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The show was really good. Yes, I realize flamenco is not native to Barcelona, but still. It was good. The last five minutes they give a signal and at that point you can take pictures or video.

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After the show, it was still light, so I wandered a bit on my way back to the hotel.

Found Placa Reial…

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The Cathedral…

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And Barcelona City Hall, which had a banner on it that made me smile…

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Then I headed back to the hotel and took a hot bath and climbed into bed.

 

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