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Old 07-17-2011, 07:35 PM   #1
lornak
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June 18, 2011, 11 night Med Magic---our 20th Anniversary Cruise! COMPLETED!!

I have done a lot of posting on these boards (and even more reading!) but I have never done a trip report. And even though I am nervous to post this I feel compelled to do it for two reasons:

1. I scoured the boards for months (who am I kidding---years) to find every little bit of info on the Med cruise I could. I was so thrilled when people posted. Especially the first Med cruisers this year who graciously posted the day they returned!! I benefitted so much from those posts that I really want to give back. I hope this helps someone!!

And 2. This was the BEST TRIP OF MY LIFE!!! And I am hoping that a trip report will help me relive it!!!


A little background....I booked this cruise the day it was released. My husband and I agreed it would be a wonderful way to celebrate our 20th anniversary. My sister and her husband decided to join us and celebrate their 15th anniversary. Between us, we would be leaving 8 kids at home!! We have 4 children (15, 12, 11, 7) that we left at various friends, families and camps! We have left them before but never for this long! I had a pretty complicated schedule (four pages!) printed up before we left as they were all going in different directions. But this too worked out wonderfully in the end!

We booked what was then category 12's and hoped for an upgrade....we didn't get them but we were totally happy with our inside staterooms. I searched for airline tickets for months and ended up putting serveral alerts on my iPhone. Tickets had hovered from $1200-$1400 the entire time I had been searching. I had been hoping to spend about $800 on flights from MSP but I was starting to think that was unrealistic! One evening about 1:00 AM I heard my phone "ding". It was an alert message from airfare.com. Tickets were $871. I called my sister and we booked in the middle of the night. I was very concerned as I read some reviews of this consolidator AFTER I booked the flights! But in the end everything was very smooth and we had no issues at all.

So for the past 18 months I have been researching and creating a binder filled with every bit of information I could find. We checked books out of the library, watched youtube videos in bed at night and memorized Rick Steves! In retrospect I think the anticipation and planning was almost as much fun as the cruise. Almost. But it really did extend the trip for us as we worked and planned and dreamed.

So I think that is the background...! I am going to copy my journal as my trip report. I'll try to edit anything that is too personal or boring!

Here goes....!



Last edited by lornak; 08-19-2011 at 11:23 PM.
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Old 07-17-2011, 08:41 PM   #2
lornak
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June 15-16, 2011

Cast:
me (Lorna)
dh (Kermit)
dsis (Becky)
dbil (Brant)

Those left behind!
dd (Addie, 15)
dd (Olivia, 12)
dd (Millie, 11)
ds (Sivert, 7)



June 15-16, 2011

We’re in Barcelona! How did that happen? After months (years!) of planning, here it is! It is going to take me a while to believe it! Catching up quickly….I spent the 4 days between our trip to Branson and leaving for Barcelona packing, packing, packing and organizing! I had all the kids packed in various bags for each stage of their journey. Anywhere from 2 to 4 bags per kid....each one with clothes, swimsuits, stuffed animals and gifts! I printed forms, itineraries, legal docs, etc. I made countdown calendars for all the kids and packed care packages for camp. I had a lot of packing done for our trip but had to finalize the details, weigh bags, print check in forms, etc… Not a lot of sleep this week! Oh well!

We drove to the Twin Cities last night stopping in St. Cloud for a hair cut and wax (hmm...maybe I already broke the rule of too much personal information from the journal?!?!)! We got the kids settled into my parents house and then got all of the presents organized (Sivert could check his countdown calendar---if the day was marked in red he got a present). That went a long way for him forgetting about us leaving! He is the only one who seems too stressed out by us leaving....but he is holding it together pretty well!

I didn’t sleep well last night. I woke up every hour or so. Kerm got up early and had breakfast with his dad. I got up and just finished packing and organizing. We said goodbye to the kids…Sivert asked me to bring him an antique from Europe! When I asked him what that was he said it was something old that you collect! Oh boy—I guess I have my work cut out for me!!

My dad drove us to the airport and we arrived just after 8:30 AM. There was no one in the US Airways line and we walked right up—only to find Kerm’s old high school friend Neal working the counter! He checked us in and then we chatted with him for about a half an hour. I was secretly hoping he would hook us up with first class seats---I guess they weren't that good of friends! We quickly got through security and had over 2 hours before our flight. I wanted to eat at the French Meadow Bakery as I had been dreaming about the breakfast tortilla ever since my last flight out of MSP! We sat down for breakfast and I loved every bite of my tortilla. Kermit just got coffee as he had been out to breakfast with his dad. This quiet breakfast was the official start of VACATION! It has been a long time since we have had breakfast alone!

Boarding was easy and smooth -- and we did that after browsing some of the fun shops on the main concourse. I had been so worried about carry ons and weights, etc.. No one paid any attention to what we were bringing on board! The flight to PHL was only 2 hours and we read and watched a little of “Prince Caspian” on my iphone. We then had 4 and a half hours to kill in PHL. Kerm and I did not agree on how to spend the time and unfortunately we fought and pouted our way through the entire layover. Too bad as there were some many things I would have liked to try. Not the best start to the trip but we got over it!!!

The boarding in PHL was crazy. Tons of people were standing by the gate. The security alarm went off continuously for over an hour---driving us crazy! The flight staff could hardly make announcements over the alarm! Also, someone was escorted onto the plane by two policemen. They waited until the plane doors closed to leave his side. Then another set of officers escorted him off the plane first in BCN!! Glad we weren’t sitting by him whatever the story was!! We did have to show our passports and then we boarded. I was very happy to have the two seats by the window together. I think the middle 4 would have been a bummer! Again, I was worried about our carry on—it’s weight as well as finding a spot for it. But once again, no one paid any attention and we found storage space right by our seats. Each seat had the personal video devices and I loved it! I watched “Burlesque” and “Go For It”. I enjoyed them both. I had a prescription for Ambien so I took two of those so I could sleep. No go! I couldn’t believe it…I was wide awake. I guess I was just too excited! Or maybe I am like those kids who get hyper when they take Benydryl? I did doze off for a few minutes but then the attendants turned on all the lights and served everyone juice and pastries! We still had 90 minutes to go so I was surprised they did this. But whatever! I was excited to be so close! Soon we landed and we were off the plane!


Here's all the luggage we brought with us. I tried to pack light but....

I’m in Europe! It took me 40 years but I am here!! We got off the plane at 8:30 AM on June 16th and found the airport to be very quiet! We started looking for the Metro signs as we had wanted to purchase a T10 card at the airport so we would have it right away. But we asked at the Information Desk and they said we would have to go to the other terminal (T2) to get it. She made it seem a little complicated so we decided to skip it! Instead we grabbed our luggage, walked through security and found our way to the first floor. We did stop to get Kermit his first cup of European coffee (café Americano is what he ordered from here on out!). It was a tiny, tiny cup of very strong coffee. He liked it but thought my mom would have loved it!!! We followed the signs to the hotel shuttle meeting place (thankfully the Marriott had sent us very clear directions and all we had to do was follow them). Even with the directions it was a tad unclear where we should wait. But we saw some signs and then some other people hanging curbside so we joined them!!







We only waited about 10 minutes before the shuttle arrived. The mini bus was well marked so we knew it was ours! The drive was around 5 minutes---very easy and FREE! A great perk of this hotel! There was only one guest ahead of us at check in. I checked in with our "friends and family" Marriott certificate with no problem. Since we are platinum members we were upgraded to the elite zone. This was such a wonderful blessing! We had access to the elite lounge with breakfast, drinks and snacks throughout the day…and best of all, free wifi and computers! Plus, our room was ready!!! It was a lovely room and we were so happy to head right there!!!






Right now we are chilling in the room (NOT SLEEPING so we can set our bodies to Spanish time!!) until we take the noon shuttle to La Rambla-----I can’t wait!!!

Last edited by lornak; 09-01-2012 at 08:20 PM.
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Old 07-17-2011, 09:09 PM   #3
lornak
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June 16 continued...

Ok, I never would have guessed that we would be gone 10 hours today! I’m exhausted but I know if I don’t write now too much other info will crowd it out. So, here I go….

We went down to the lobby at 11:00 AM and used the free computers and wifi in the elite zone. I emailed my mom and Becky and sent off notes to the kids. It was great to check in and let everyone know we had arrived. Then we went to the lobby at 11:45 AM to wait for the Ramblas shuttle. There were two free shuttle to Las Ramblas earlier in the morning but we couldn't make those. There was also a noon shuttle for 5 Euros...this is the one we planned on taking. There were several others waiting by noon but we were all able to fit on the bus. One of the concierge staff (who were absolutely great, by the way) did tell us they could always get the larger bus if they needed to—so maybe they could have even taken more? The drive was a quick 20 minutes right to the Colombus statue. Again, it was so amazing to be seeing these places we had read about for so long!!!

We went right to La Rambla and started walking. It is kind of divided up by sections of similar things. So all of the portrait and art work people are together, then restaurants with outdoor seating, then flowers, gelato, etc…. I was very excited when we got to La Boqueria.



It was very busy but we saw so many lovely things (and some gross ones as well!). There were tons of fresh fruit and vegetables, smoothies, bread, meat, cheese, wine, candy, seafood and more!













We bought a mango/coconut smoothie (E1,50) as our first treat of the day and drank it as we explored.


Later Kermit bought a bag of cherries (E2) as he just couldn’t resist how wonderful they looked (and they tasted just as good!).



There were so many amazing things that I would have liked to try! We found a metro stop on our walk and went down to try and buy the T10 card---no issues at all---we converted the red machine to English and inserted 10Euros (price was E7,80). I will say that I am glad for all of the research I did ahead of time. The only reason this was easy was because I knew EXACTLY what to look for and what to buy! I had found a wonderful Barcelona Metro article on the internet and it had pictures of the machines, turnstiles, tickets, etc…. I had read and re-read these notes and when we got to the station I knew just what to do. I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have gone so well had I not done the reading ahead of time!!!

We walked all the way to Catalunya and saw all the protestors. At first I thought it might be homeless people as they had tents and other temporary housing set up. We later learned that it was the protestors. I had to chuckle as I had been so worried about the reports of the protests in Barcelona! These people were all pretty much just sitting around playing cards and drinking wine!! I was hungry so we stopped at PAN, a local fast food sandwich chain that I had read about. I got a baguette sandwich with brie and Serrano ham, pop and Spanish fries for E8. It was a quick stop just to get a little energy!

We had decided to take the Fat Tire Bike Tour at 4:00 so we thought we would try and find the meeting location. We found it---with 2 hours to spare! Kerm’s leg was hurting (we were 4 months post surgery on this trip--he had torn his achilles tendon in Feb) and I was tired…so tired in fact that I thought I better keep moving!! We both practically fell asleep on the street when we sat down for a moment!! We got up and got our first gelato of the trip! We had dark chocolate and crème brulee…it was delicious (E2,50)!!! I’m sure it won’t be the last!




As yummy as that was it only killed about 10 minutes! So we walked more of the Bari Gottic area and came upon a cute coffee shop. We were both pretty hot so we thought we would get some drinks. Kermit got café Americano and I got a sangria.



It was a nice stop but we were both so tired! Of course, we had been up for 24 hours at this point—that might have had something to do with it! But we were determined to reset our internal clocks so on we went…!!! It was finally 4:00 and we went to the tour meeting spot in St. Juame square. We met our guide (Chris from VA) and went back to the bike shop. It took a while to get the bikes to everyone but by 4:30 the 12 of us were ready to go! I had to laugh as Kermit made me take a bunch of picture with the bikes as he said no one would believe we had chosen a bike tour!!




It ended up being a great way to see the city and an overview of Barcelona. It was E22 for each of us and for what ended up being a 4 hour tour we thought it was a good deal as well! We started with the cathedral and the original Roman wall. We saw the Royal Palace and the steps where Queen Isabella welcomed Colombus back to Spain (there was even a Colombus actor there posing for pictures!).




We saw the opera house, the bull fighting stadium and finally Sagrada Familia.















During the tour we did all witness a crime being committed! We had seen a few young boys on bikes just riding around near us. At one point one of the boys sped way up and came up on a woman standing on the street. She was wearing a necklace and a neck pouch. The boy biked right up to her and ripped the necklace and pouch off her neck. We couldn’t see if he cut it with a knife but both things did come off her. The boy quickly joined his friends and they disappeared on their bikes. We were all so surprised and kind of couldn’t believe how quickly it all had happened! If nothing else, I think it made us all pretty vigilant about our personal gear!! After that we rode to the waterfront and had a beach break.







Chris gave us so much information on the history, architecture and culture of Spain. It was very fascinating. I had another sangria at the beach (E5) and after about 15 minutes we started the ride back to the bike shop. We were hoping to catch the 8:15 PM hotel shuttle back to the Marriott but a bike had a flat tire and it delayed us too long. We ended up missing it and having to take the metro/bus back to the hotel. The metro part was easy and we arrived in Espanya with no problem. But then we weren’t sure where to meet our bus. There were bus stops everywhere. We were waiting at one near the metro station for about 15 minutes when we saw bus #65 across the street. We tried to run to catch it but we missed it. We waited another 25 minutes for #65 to come around again. When we boarded the driver asked us where we were going. When I told him El Plat he said we had to be on the bus across the street! Ugg! Across the street we went! This bus stop actually had a digital display of the buses that were coming and how long until they arrived. We had another 15 minute wait and then finally we were on the bus an on our way back. Our hotel was the last stop on the line after many, many stops along the way! We finally arrived back at our hotel after 10:30 PM!!! Major bummer of a commute but what do you do?!? We were bummed we had missed the food service in the lounge—we were hoping to catch it as we hadn’t had any supper. But the very sweet lounge attendant brought me a bowl of trail mix and made sure I had beverages. I did stop and send a few emails as the free computer/wifi was just too good to pass up. I grabbed a poptart back in the room and FINALLY showered 32 hours after we left MSP!!! We fell into bed at 11:15 with plans of getting up tomorrow at 6:30….we’ll see. What an amazing day this has been!

Last edited by lornak; 09-01-2012 at 08:27 PM.
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Old 07-18-2011, 03:27 AM   #4
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Thank you! Great start! Please keep it coming!
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Old 07-18-2011, 04:01 AM   #5
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Can't wait to read more love your report so far, but so much to come
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Old 07-18-2011, 02:38 PM   #6
lornak
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June 17, 2011

Whew! I am tired just thinking about writing today---but here I go! We set the alrarm for 6:30 AM but woke up at 8:47 AM with a panic! We dressed quickly and ran down to breakfast. They had granola, rice kripies, oreos (why oreos??), donuts, croissants, scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, fruit (whole and sliced), cheese, salami, coffee, juice and milk. It was such a nice feature of the Elite Zone. I’m sure that would have been a E30 breakfast! And with the location of this hotel I don’t even know where we would have gone to eat!

We hurried to get ready and headed out to the bus stop. When we got outside we saw bus #65 on fire!! The fire department was there but we figured we were out of luck for that bus!! We went back to the hotel and told Antonio (one of the concierge staff) what was going on and asked him for alternate transportation. He hooked us up with another couple who were going to Placa Espanya and told us all to take bus #165 from the stop just down the street. We realized then that the other couple was on the bike tour with us yesterday!! We asked them if they had any trouble getting home. Nope—they beat us by almost 2 hours! We should have stuck with them yesterday!! We all walked out to the bus stop and chatted the whole way. They are in the military and stationed in Italy (originally from CA). It was interesting to hear about the things their family gets to do while overseas. We waited 20+ minutes with no luck of another bus?? Our new friends had booked an excursion for the day and they were running out of time. They decided to grab a cab. We continued to wait at the stop and a few minutes later a car pulled up and gave me a lot of information----in Spanish! Luckily another woman at the bus stop translated for us and told us bus #165 would be there in a few minutes. Sure enough, about 5 minutes later the bus pulled up. We were FINALLY on our way. All in all, it took us 90 minutes to get to Espanya. I am sure this is exactly the kind of thing people are talking about when they say this hotel isn’t a great choice for seeing Barcelona. I would agree with that however, the awesome price we got (E45 per night) along with the Elite perks were enough for us to put up with the distance and extra travel time!!!

We headed down into the Metro station when we got to Espanya. We had printed directions on how to find the train to Montserrat but it still took us a while to find any signs for the R5 line. We eventually found it and headed in that direction. When we arrived at the platform we saw a Montserrat stand. The attendant spoke English and he told us about the ticket options. We told him what we wanted and then he filled out a little white slip. He then told us to give it to his colleague in the red shirt. This gentleman took the white slip from us and worked the ticket machine. All we had to do was insert the money! We were never asked if we wanted train vs cable car. It didn’t even seem to be an option? We ended up with the train tickets and were initially disappointed. However, by the end of the day we were very glad we were using the train!!! The train to Montserrat was only 2 minutes away—our first travel break of the day! We had to walk to a platform a little farther away and a train was just pulling up. We hesitated for a minute as we weren’t sure if this was the right train. That hesitation cost us seats! We had to stand the entire way to Montserrat! Don’t believe the reports that say it is "about an hour"….it was a full 75 minutes!! Oh well…at that point we were just thrilled to be on the train as the next one didn’t come for over an hour!! Thankfully I knew what stop to get off at (thanks Rick Steves!). There was also a brief announcement (in English and Spanish) on the train that said they would let you know when to get off for Montserrat. Many, many people got off at the stop for the cable car. I don’t know where they got their ticket but off they went. The next stop was for the train. When we arrived at the station the connecting train was already waiting for us. We just had to show our ticket to an attendant and hop on. It was about 15 minutes—straight up the mountain!!—and we were there!




We arrived in Montserrat square and weren’t sure where we were supposed to go. I was so thirsty that we decided to stop in the little cafeteria right in the square. I got a bottle of water and Kermit got a coffee (E4). We sat down and pulled out the Rick Steves guide. He said the audio tour was excellent so we decided to go with that. We went to the information (TI) location and got 2 headsets (E12 for 2). We were glad we had these as we go so much more out of the basilica and surroundings. The guide even has an optional section where you can listen to the boys choir. Since we had missed the live performance for the day it was nice to hear them! We sat in the Basilica and enjoyed a song from them…. We toured the Basilica (but skipped the Black Madonna as the line was over 2 hours long).






Wethen walked to the gardens, strolled along the walkway and down past the outdoor market. The views were gorgeous and the entire area just lovely!






We had about 50 minutes before the 4:20 train we wanted to take back to Barcelona. So we stopped for another water and coffee (E4). We then checked out the open air tents selling cheese, nuts and honey. Then we decided to get something to eat as we had a long commute!! We got a ham and cheese baguette and some kind of yogurt/cheese with honey (E8). It was a nice break and took the edge off our hunger. We got back on the cremellera at 4:20 PM and then transferred back to the R5. We got seats this time (!!) and were back inBarcelona by 6:15 PM. We decided to purchase another T10 card so we would have it ready upon our return after the cruise. By this time we felt like Metro pros! We are much more comfortable making our way around the city. If we were staying for a week or two I think we would find the entire process easy and quite cheap!

We decided to take the suggestion of our bike tour guide and bring a picnic to the Magic Fountain show at 9:30. I had read about a little cheese shop on Trip Advisor and I was determined to find it! We followed the directions from her website and finally found it! It is a tiny little store really off the beaten track. But it was worth it! We met the owner (who spoke English) and told her we wanted a few items for a picnic. She let us sample several cheeses and then we chose two. She wrapped them up in wax paper for us and put it all in a paper bag. She had some wine at the counter for E3,99 and we asked about that. She said it was just a very nice compliment to the cheese so we picked up a bottle of that as well. Total bill was under E10 and we would later realize it was all delicious!!!



Next we set off in search of churros and chocolate. I had read so much about this treat and couldn’t wait to try it. AND random fact---my 7th grade Spanish textbook was called “Churros y chocolat”…now I know why!! We found a cute little coffee shop in the Bari Gottic with a churros sign in the window. We found a tiny table and the waitress came over to help us. I ordered in Spanish and she understood what I wanted!! Kerm got—surprise—coffee (E6 total with tip). The churros were warm and in the shape of an oval. The chocolate was a FULL large coffee cup of thick, dark chocolate sauce….so yummy!!



Becky texted us during this break. They have arrived!! But they were too tired to meet us tonight at the fountain so I guess we will just see them at the port tomorrow. We set off for more picnic supplies---off to La Boqueria. It was only open for another hour so things were slowing down. In fact, at about 7:40 PM they started “clearancing” the fruit!! We got 2 nice sized tubs of cut, fresh fruit for only 2 Euros! Perfect for our picnic! We also picked up a small loaf of bread (E.95), 2 truffles (E3) and a bottle of wine to take on the ship (E3,99). We hung around Boqueria until it closed at 8:00 PM. Then we walked down to the Colombus statue to try and get some pictures. Unfortunately the sun was right behind the statue and no matter how I changed angles or shots I just couldn’t get it. We strolled La Rambla a little longer and then went to Drannanes station and caught the metro.
We took it to Espanya station and hoped we could find the fountains from there. I had read that you only had to follow the crowd…and that was certainly the case. Almost everyone getting off at Espanya was walking in the same direction. So we just followed the crowd and headed toward the national palace. It was only 8:30 (first show was at 9:30) and it was already packed!! In addition to the crowds, Revlon was doing some kind of red carpet event. They had a large area roped off and set up with serving stations, waiters, etc… I never did see much happening over there so I think that party started later in the evening. We found a spot on the steps and broke out our picnic. I have to say, I felt very European eating my bread, wine and cheese….not sure if that is true, but it is my guess!!




There was a small pre-show at 9:00…music and fountains. Very fun! Just before the pre-show started some side fountains turned on and squirted all kinds of people. Everyone laughed and took it in stride! Then, at 9:30 was the first “show” with the added lights on the fountain. The music was an all Disney medley! We had to laugh as it seemed so appropriate for the night before our Disney cruise. The lyrics were all in Spanish but I sang along anyway! We stayed through the first show and then headed out around 10:00 PM. If I had to guess I would say there were 7000 people---I only have the Fantasmic theater to compare it to! FUN FUN FUN night!!!





We knew the right bus stop this time but #165 was just pulling away as we arrived. The digital sign said #65 was only 5 minutes away so we decided to go with that one even though it has a few more stops. We were back at the hotel by 10:45—much better than last night! We grabbed a quick drink in the lounge and got on the computer to email the kids. We got to bed about midnight….which is where I am now. I am getting really excited for the MAGIC tomorrow!!! However, I have decided that I love Barcelona!!!! I am so glad we had these extra days to explore and enjoy!!

Last edited by lornak; 09-01-2012 at 08:32 PM.
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Old 07-18-2011, 03:05 PM   #7
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Beautiful pictures!!!
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Old 07-18-2011, 03:26 PM   #8
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Great trip report so far! I am really looking forward to hearing about the cruise.
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Old 07-18-2011, 03:54 PM   #9
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First off, Happy 20th!!! Looks like you had a marvelous time! Can't wait to read more!
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Old 07-18-2011, 10:09 PM   #10
lornak
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June 18, 2011

I had a terrible time sleeping---too excited I guess. I got out of bed about 8:30 AM—Kermit went for breakfast but I didn’t want any….saving up for the ship!! We spent about an hour packing up and getting organized. We headed to the lobby about 10:30 AM and it was packed!!! Luckily we had been given a "check out card" that we were able to fill out and hand in for our checkout. That saved us from waiting in the VERY long line at the registration desk! I was a little stressed about getting a spot on the bus but I had a printed confirmation so I just waited it out. In the end it was all good. They had a large bus and we all fit just fine. The shuttle arrived around 11:00 AM and it took about 20 minutes to load the luggage, find seats and pay (E10 each). The ride was only about 10 minutes long. It was so fun to see the MAGIC waiting for us in Spain!! We arrived at the port and a DCL rep boarded the bus and gave us some instructions. She told us that DCL would get our luggage so we could just proceed into the terminal.



The Barcelona terminal is somewhat of a makeshift area. The staff seem to all be Spanish. In fact, all of their name badges said “summer staff”. We had to first show our passports and signature form to be let into the terminal. We then passed through the security area and were given boarding cards. We were given a #10 card. We are platinum cruisers and I thought about asking for the correct card—but I figured I would just mention it at check in. Just past security are some little shops. Honestly, I didn’t even look at them! I just headed right to the check in lanes. There was the “concierge and platinum” cruisers carpet laying out in front of one of the lanes so we headed there. Someone stopped us and asked us what stateroom we were in. We told him and then he said the line was only for concierge guests. I felt a little dumb saying we were platinum cruisers but I politely mentioned it. He had no idea what I was talking about so we just moved to the Castaway Club line. There were only a few people in line so it was no big deal! At check in the CM gave me a silver CC lanyard—again, I felt a little dumb but I told her I was supposed to have a platinum lanyard. She just looked at me. I told her again that I was supposed to have a different lanyard and all of a sudden she got it! She apologized profusely and got me a new lanyard. I then asked about a #1 boarding card. She said just to show our KTTW cards and we could get in. At this point I wasn’t convinced the “summer staff” was very familiar with CC procedures, but whatever…we’re here!! Just then we heard an overhead announcement “all guests holding boarding cards 1-40 are invited to move to the boarding area at this time”. What? I guess our boarding number isn’t going to matter! I was so surprised they were going to let so many people board…maybe the ship isn’t very full? We stepped out of the check in area and into the boarding room (they are two separate rooms). It was crazy! Everyone was standing in line and trying to get to the front. Brant spotted us from across the room and came and got us! It was so fun to finally be with my sister! We quickly compared notes and then I asked what was going on in the boarding area. They said that the announcement got everyone up and moving to the line---but what they REALLY meant was that they wanted people with boarding cards 1-40 to move out of the check in area and into the waiting area. But they never made another announcement and so the poor CMs at the front of the line were having to call out boarding numbers. The were telling everyone that boarding group #1 could board. I told everyone we should just try to get to the front. I “excuse me”d us up to the front and showed the CM my KTTW card. I told him I was traveling with my sister and he said she could board with me. So, the four of us got through the crazy mess and were on our way. I did see Minnie in the back in an adorable flamenco outfit. I would have liked a picture with her but I wasn’t going to fight that crowd!!!

There is quite a long gangway type walkway to get to the ship but pretty soon we were in the atrium being announced….we’re home!



I went to Rockin Bar D first to see if we could have Cyprian for our server. I had called in the request but I wanted to double check. We were the first ones in line and I was delighted to find out Cyprian would be our server. He was our server on our very first cruise in 2003 and we have stayed in touch ever since. That really tops off this amazing cruise!!! We decided to eat at Topsiders so we could be outside. It was the same standard welcome aboard buffet—I was curious if it would be different, local foods. It was a great experience to not worry about the kids!! We sat for a long time just enjoying the view and chatting about our trips to Spain.



We decided to hit the pool next but first Becky and I ran down to Guest Services to sign up for the special wine tasting. It cost $30 pp but hopefully it will be a unique experience. After that we all changed into our swimsuits and headed to the adult pool. Again, when have we ever done this?? I normally just walk past the adult pool and look longingly at it! There was hardly anyone at the pool and the weather was a perfect 85 degrees and sunny!! Not too long after we arrived Goofy showed up wearing a Spanish outfit. He apparently didn't have anywhere else to be as he spent almost 20 minutes in the adult area. He was in rare form as he sat on the edge of the pool and then fell over the ledge into the bar area. I was happy to get my picture with him!!




We spent about 90 minutes just relaxing and then decided to head to our staterooms. We had staterooms next to each other on deck 2. Everything was ready for us and the standard CC gift was waiting on our bed! Our luggage came within a few minutes so we were able to unpack right away and get organized. It felt great but I know the time is going to go fast—even if it is 11 nights!

4:00 was the safety drill. We met in the WD Theater, then off to the sail away party. Afterwards we still had a lot of time to kill before dinner. We chose late dining on this cruise due to the long port days as well as the fact that we didn’t have the kids with us and thought late dinner might be more “adult”? We grabbed a snack and sat by the adult pool. Becky and Brant had the exact same idea and joined us just a few minutes later! We sat on deck 10 and watched two other ships pull out of the port.




The Barcelona port is very industrial with a huge cargo loading area. I know we have ports like this in the US but I have never seen one. It looked just like the last scene from The A Team movie!!! Then it was the MAGICs turn to depart and we started moving. The ship actually turned a full 180 degress and then pulled out. It was really fascinating to watch this from the deck. We all went to the Welcome Aboard show and it was a fun start to the cruise. I did have to chuckle as there were a few references to Castaway Cay in the songs/skit!!

We all headed back to the staterooms and sat in Becky and Brant’s room sharing a bottle of wine they picked up in Barcelona. We had decided to pick up a bottle of wine in every port and sample the local flavors. We loved the one they had chosen from La Boqueria...too bad I didn't write the name down!! It was a nice and relaxing moment before dinner. Finally it was time to head to Animator’s Palate for dinner. We saw Cyprian right away and it was just wonderful to reconnect with him. He took us to our table (#10) and we met Adrian, our assistant server. We all had large, yummy meals !! I had calamari, cold cucumber soup and seafood and asparagus risotto. Kermit's normal procedure is to order 2 entrees....he didn't disappoint me! He had the steak as well as the chicken with sweet potatoes. I tried the sweet potatoes and they were wonderful!! Everything was delicious and it was so fun to try a new menu!!! I had Kahlua chocolate crème brulee to top it all off! We left dinner full and happy about 10:15 PM. We’re tired and even though it seems crazy we are going to bed!! One sea day and then the crazy port adventure days begin!!! Can’t wait!!!!

Last edited by lornak; 07-18-2011 at 10:37 PM.
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Old 07-19-2011, 03:14 AM   #11
HermanTriplets+1
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Wonderful!
Did you write every night? Or did you write afterwards, from memory?
We are also celebrating our 20th next year - and we also have 4 kids - so I am feeling a "kindred spirits" thing while reading your TR!
Looking forward to the next installment
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Old 07-19-2011, 09:08 AM   #12
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HermanTriplets+1----I wrote in a journal every night. Most times I had to force myself to do it but I knew I wouldn't remember the details if I waited until afterwards! That is why some of it is written in present tense---I am just copying my journal.

Are you planning a trip for your 20th??? My husband joked that we needed the trip to remember that we actually liked each other! It's not that extreme but you know how hard it can be to find couple time with so many busy kids in the house!! This was an amazing chance to reconnect and enjoy each other.

Thanks for reading!!!
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Old 07-19-2011, 01:25 PM   #13
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I love reading this and look forward to each day when you add more! We are going in August on the 7 night cruise and can't wait! Thanks for the tips!! =)
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Old 07-19-2011, 02:31 PM   #14
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More please! Love you're report. Been onthe 11-night Med last year so it's nice to relive the memories and to readhow you've enjoyed your romantic getaway.
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Old 07-19-2011, 05:22 PM   #15
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great report ,
we were on the same cruise, I love hearing about everyones expericence on board
we spent the morning walking around Baracelona and boarded about 2 pm the port was empty when we got there
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