I returned yesterday from my Mediterranean cruise vacation, I had a blast. I went with SF and hiking buddy SpunkyLB; she loves cruising and her DH can’t travel. The weather was lovely and warm, with a few rain showers. I feel rested and relaxed, and I enjoyed the focus on art, archeology and history. We traveled to Barcelona (Spain), Cannes (France), Florence and Pisa, Rome, the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii, Ravenna (also in Italy), and Dubrovnik (Croatia). I had never been on a cruise before, and it was my first time visiting these destinations.
On the fitness front, I did pretty well on most goals.
1. No snacks – achieved
2. Improved sleep – achieved!
3. No alcohol – well, we had 4 alcoholic beverages in 20 days. So alcohol intake was moderate.
4. I ate plenty of fruits and vegetables, and made healthy food choices overall.
5. My biggest problem was overeating at meals – portions were large and the food was good. I did not overcome the temptation of large portions of delectable food. AND I ate dessert.
6. We exercised daily, with lots of walking and hiking. I stretched daily. I did strength training every other day, which is really good for me.
7. I broke my energy drink habit! I will make a huge effort to NOT backslide on this bad habit.
We flew to Barcelona, Spain, where we had 2 days and nights in Barcelona before the cruise began. Barcelona is a beautiful bustling city with distinct neighborhoods. We stayed in the Ejempla District, very close to iconic architect Gaudi’s unfinished cathedral, La Sagrada Familia. In fact the cathedral spires were right outside our window. Gaudi never expected the cathedral to be finished within his lifetime; he always responded that his client, God, did not have a deadline. From our hotel window, it was really interesting to watch the construction; the workers were like tiny ants on the huge scaffolding, and how the huge cranes operated with such precision.
View from hotel window
There were huge long lines waiting to get tickets to tour inside La Sagrada Familia, and we did not want to wait for 2 hours in line. So we viewed it from the outside. That may have been a wrong decision; during the cruise a couple told us it was the highlight of their trip to go inside; the space was filled with light, art, and unusual grand design. (From the outside I did not appreciate it as much. It is huge and overpowering; and the cranes and scaffolding interfere with the design)
We traveled around by Metro (underground), and walked throughout Barri Gotic (gothic district). This district is built on top of Roman ruins; the Roman walls are visible.
By Roman wall
We enjoyed walking through the narrow alleys. We found the Picasso museum in La Ribera (our goal) but it was not open on Monday. We really enjoyed the lovely Catedral de Seu (constructed between 1300 and 1450), which contained an incredible collection of artwork.
Ducks in monastery courtyard
These 3 buildings were nicknames La Manzana de Discordia (the apple of discord) because they were so controversial when they were built. The central building is Casa Batllo, by Gaudi.
We toured La Pedrera, an apartment building designed by Gaudi. He did not like right angles and square spaces, and was heavily influenced by the forms of nature. Wow. Very unusual apartment building!
Mural and window grill from central lobby
I loved the paella in Spain. Spunky LB did NOT like it; she really prefers traditional American food. She was shocked that the shrimps were still in their shells; they looked like giant insects to her with their little legs in the rice. We both loved the sangria, which is a mixture of red wine and fruits (that’s why I didn’t meet my no alcohol goal!)
Barcelona from the ship
We joined our ship, Serenade of the Seas, and cruised overnight to Cannes France. We walked along the promenade along the beach. Unfortunately it just poured rain on our first (morning) hike; we returned to the ship for lunch. We then took the tender (boat) back to Cannes and walked the other section of the promenade in the afternoon, the rain was more intermittent.
Ship from Cannes promenade
Spunky LB and I had both purchased new rain coats – but the weather was so warm we couldn’t wear them. An umbrella was much more comfortable!
I'll close with a couple of pictures from on board the ship, and I'll post another blog soon!
Dressed for dinner!