Barcelona, Spain: A black virgin, dramatic scenery, Freixenet wine, more entitlement stories

We arrived in Barcelona, Spain this morning to cool, but mostly clear skies. Marina slowly made her way past three other cruise ships, including Costa Favolosa, Regent Seven Seas Mariner, and Serenade of the Seas, to finally berth at the front of the dock area facing the city..

We had a tour set up today with Barcelona Day Tours to Monserrat and the Cava wine area. We had ten people initially, but one couple cancelled two days ago. We had a nice 32-passenger bus for eight people! Our tour guide Eva was a personable young lady who moved here to Barcelona twenty years ago from Poland.

Our first destination was the religious destination of Monserrat, high in the dramatic rocky Monserrat peaks west of Barcelona. This monastery has the “black virgin”, a mysterious dark statue of Mary with the Baby Jesus. This is the second most important pilgrimage destination in Spain after Santiago de Compostela, so we certainly hit the biggies on this trip.

The church was spectacular, with many unique silver candelabras and a high niche above the altar with the black virgin. The line was over two hours long to visit the famous relic. We wandered the sanctuary and took some photos (no sacrilege committed by me this time) and also lit a candle. Next to the monastery was an art museum that was actually quite good, with works by El Greco, Caravaggio, Monet, Sisley, Picasso, Dali, and many excellent Spanish painters.

Our group met up after nearly three hours exploring this place and we headed to the Freixenet facility for a tour. This huge producer of sparking wine that is aged in caves is a major employer in the region. Our tour was quite fascinating, although quite difficult for me because I have just about burned out on walking up and down stairs and standing. The facility has over 140 million bottles of different sparkling wines being processed at any given time. We had a tasting after an hour-long tour, then hopped on the bus and headed back to the ship. By this time it was quite chilly and raining a little bit. We hope for good weather tomorrow.

We finished packing, then had a final dinner on-board at the Terrace’Cafe. The place was packed, so we offered to share our table with another couple. These two turned out to be snobby, entitled elitists that were so annoying that Steve ended up kicking me under the table to keep me from saying something I would regret. The woman complained constantly; she was irked about not being able to get to Brussels when we were in Zeebrugge two weeks ago (that’s where we had the pilot concern for the heavy seas that delayed our docking); she moaned about not seeing Oporto and Casablanca and couldn’t figure out why they “decided” not to go to those ports. She didn’t like the ship and the number of people on-board. Whine, whine, whine…

We also had a conversation tonight with the couple from Tasmania, who are wrapping up an eight-week holiday. They were terrific folks and they enjoyed their cruise as much as we did. They shared the ultimate entitlement complaint they experienced: A woman on an excursion they were on was appalled because the tide was out in a picturesque location and it ruined her photographs! This compares to someone we heard few days ago moaning and groaning because we were stopping in Cadiz (Sevilla) on a Sunday – they were really irked because things might be closed that day or would not be accessible (I guess the cruise line needs to skip certain days of the week or waste fuel circling around for a day so you can avoid inconvenient days like a Sunday).

We’re ready to come home. We really, really enjoyed our cruise, but it’s time to be at home again for a while. More tomorrow from our final day in Barcelona…

Leave a Comment