Our family of four took a 12 day Mediterranean cruise June 15th, the second voyage on Carnival’s newest ship, the Breeze. This was our second cruise, and first time to Europe. We’ve fallen in love with cruising, and hope you find this information helpful.
From the moment we landed in Barcelona, I fell in love.
The cosmopolitan city is filled with art, culture, food, and very chic people.
Petit Palace Museum Hotel
We needed a hotel for two nights in Barcelona before our cruise. I knew I wanted the hotel near the center of town, and close to the cruise port. For this, TripAdvisor was a great tool. You can search by location, neighborhood, and easily see ratings, reviews, and pricing.
I liked the look and feel of the techy Petit Palace Museum Hotel in Eixample. The artwork in the hotel was quirky and fun, which we all enjoyed.
As I was researching hotels I discovered that hotel rooms in Europe are much smaller than in the US. It was difficult to find a room that would accomodate four people. We lucked out and found that the Petit Palace Museum Hotel had family suites.
I also liked how the hotel used technology to be environmentally friendly. Electricity in the rooms were turned on, when your room key was placed in the slot inside the room.
The hotel rating system must be different than in the US, the hotel is rated four stars, and perhaps it does deserve that for the lovely bathroom, the amenities, and the tech-friendly atmosphere. However, the hotel, at times did feel more worn, but for two nights, it was no big deal. There was also a noticeable odor in the hallways, and as you first enter the room. Not sure if it’s just the smell of the area, or because the a/c shuts off whenever you leave. I have a small bottle of Febreze I bring with me on trips to remedy things like that.
Our girls loved the bunk bed set-up and the adorable reading lights. The hotel offered free wi-fi, free bikes to rent, and we found that the lobby staff were all very helpful, and friendly. They all speak English, but we liked to practice our Spanish with them. We appreciated their patience with us.
Oh my goodness. The.Food.
One of the best things we did was ask our driver from the airport, where to get the best tapas. He told us that Cervesería Catalana was a mere 4-5 blocks from our hotel, and a place he likes to eat. We couldn’t wait to try it.
The restaurant was beautiful, filled with simple lines, and an understated elegance. The food. YES. Our entire family still talk about how delicious our meal there was. I want to go back to Barcelona just to eat there again.
As we were strolling back from the restaurant we decided to take a quick photo in an open display at one of the shops. Go fútbol!
Ca La Nuri
We knew we also wanted to have paella. So the front desk folks suggested Ca La Nuri. In fact, he told us that their fideuás were divine. He was right. I liked the fideuá better than the paella. The difference is that instead of rice, fideuá uses rice noodles.
Our favorite part of the meal was the amuse bouche and the appetizer. The toasted bread, with fresh tomatos and olive oil is traditional there, and it was perfect.
Gusto Ristorante Pizzeria
One afternoon, after we had been touring and walking around all morning, the girls were too exhausted to go out. They wanted to stay in, so my husband had remembered we had passed a pizza place, went on out and bought the freshest, most delicious pizza we’ve ever tasted in our lives.
Gusto Ristorante Pizzeria specializes in traditional Neapolitan cuisine. Our family drooled over the the freshly made mozzarella, juicy fruit sliced off a pineapple, and a crust that was cooked perfectly. Oh my heavens! I love how Europeans cook.
You could taste, the freshness of the vegetables on our veggie pizza too. We love good pizza. This was by far, the best any of us have ever tasted. Clearly, we need another trip back to Barcelona.
The brilliance of tapas is that you don’t have to commit to a dish that’s the size of a buffalo. You know what I mean. In the US the portions are outrageous. You have to really want that dish, because you won’t finish it in one sitting, and you’ll take it home and have to eat the leftovers for two days. That’s a big commitment.
I can’t even recall the name of the last tapas place we visited. It was near the hotel, and was in a more populated area of the city, unfortunately, we weren’t terribly impressed. There were a few dishes that were decent, but we were all kicking ourselves for trying a new restaurant, and not just going back to Cervesería Cataluna, which we knew was phenomenal.
I don’t know if I could’ve done the metro if my husband wasn’t there. Once we rode around, I discovered how easy it really was, and loved how efficient the system is.
I loved hearing the violinist in the next car over playing, hoping for a few Euros.
I will say that it is wise to always be aware of your surroundings on the metro. On one of our rides, I noticed a woman eyeing my husband’s bag, pockets, constantly scoping, and looking nervous. As soon as I noticed, I made sure to make eye contact with her, just so she knew I was watching her. Guilt in the eyes is so blatantly obvious. I also alerted my husband, and am relieved that she didn’t try to do anything. We probably looked like too much trouble. Definitely be watchful in the metro.
La Sagrada Familia
Pictures do not do this ethereal edifice justice. You have to go to La Sagrada Familia to feel it’s grandeur. It’s really miraculous.
From the outside, the church looks almost like a great, gothic sand castle. The inside, shocks, with how light, airy and heavenly it is.
For me, it was so profound to see how beautiful a work-in-progress is, and a reminder of how we’re all works-in-progress. La Sagrada Familia has been under construction for 130 years. I love that Antoni Gaudí used cues, and shapes from nature to create this tribute to God. We’re all just trying to emulate the natural beauty around us. Gaudí hit it out of the park.
This is how the brilliant engineers of La Sagrada Familia determined weight, and scale, and all those technical engineering feats with arches, and such for the church. It’s amazing, and I won’t pretend to understand it.
We chose to do the children’s audio guide with our kids. As the adult and child tours have completely different paths through the church. Plus, the children’s audio tour was far more interesting, and filled with great tidbits. Julie Andrews, and an adorable boy are the voices for the audio tour. They also, play games with you. If I went back, I would totally take Julie Andrews’ voice along with me again.
The numbers next to Judas betraying Christ, below, are symbolic. No matter what line you add up, they all equal… guess? Groovy.
The passion doors are carved with words, in multiple languages, all about Christ. Mixed in with the words are pictures that have to do with His life. It’s like a fun treasure hunt to spy them.
ps. I am not being compensated in anyway to post about cruising. I like information, and am sharing information that I would want, if I were considering a Mediterranean cruise.