We started the day with our usual cup of coffee at Starbucks.
(Don’t you love how it was the “usual” even though we have only been here two days?) Then it was off to do some shopping. We had read in books and online about several shops we wanted to see. Most notably a mask shop, a jewelry shop as well as two ceramic shops to indulge our passion for collecting ceramic plates.

We wandered down into the Old Town area and found the ceramic shops (nothing grabbed us) and a wonderful mask shop. We were looking for the mask shop because one of the nights on the ship was going to be Halloween and it was also going to be a formal night. Since we didn’t bring an entire costume we decided to go with just our formal wear and our masks. We were both able to find some great masks at this very special shop.

Santa Maria del mar

After finding the masks I was checking the map and found we were right near one of Barcelona’s cathedrals, Santa Maria del Mar, so we decided to stop in for a visit. It was astoundingly beautiful. And to top it off we got to see a wedding getting started, including the guests being seated as well as the bride arriving. (Later that night we saw a proposal on Las Ramblas so we came full circle wedding-wise.)

After leaving the church we did more wandering through the streets where I found a lot more gargoyles to shoot and Kathleen found more pulled down store doors that were imaginatively painted. On every trip, it seems that I have found some speciality item to take pictures of. Last year on Galaxy it was the dogs of Europe. This year it’s gargoyles for me (I think because my zoom lens pulls them in so well) and these wonderful painted metal doors for Kathleen. You can see more of them in our Art Shots and Gargoyles photo gallery.

Lunch--La Rita

Normally I wouldn’t devote an entire section to lunch but this one was special. First it is important to
note that even though we had experienced late dinners in Italy and France on prior European trips, Spanish restaurants serve dinner latest of all. Many don’t open until 9:00 pm for dinner. That means we would be eating at 10:00 and that’s something we just can’t do. So we had previously decided that we would eat our main meal at lunch and just snack for dinner. We kind of did that the first day but we ran into the previously mentioned liver incident (see page 1 of Barcelona). Today we promised ourselves we would lunch in one of the restaurants we had previously found online--La Rita. Now, websites promise a bunch but seldom deliver on it. La Rita and it’s sister restaurant came through for us big time.

We arrived as they opened at 1:00 pm (lunch time in Spain is 1:00 to 3:30). If we had been even 10 minutes later we would have had to wait at least 20-30 minutes. The place filled up in minutes and mostly with what looked like locals. Lunch exceeded our expectations on every level. The food was outstanding. The service cordial and quick. The menu (available in English) excellent.

Kathleen started with an appetizer vegetable pie with mushroom sauce. I got to taste and it was wonderful. I had a “vegetable stack” of red peppers, mushrooms and eggplant that was topped with melted manchego cheese. Ooooh la la!

For our main course, Kathleen had the a lamb tangine with couscous, raisins and pine nuts. I went for one of the best pieces of duck I have ever had in my life with mango and raspberry.

For dessert Kathleen can’t remember what she had but I struck it rich with one of the most outstanding desserts of my lifetime, the Catalunyan national dessert. I am still not sure what it is called but it consists of a coffee/nougat ice cream, floating in a wonderful dark chocolate sauce covered with custard. People, believe me when I tell you, you ain’t had nothing like this.

So from a lunch of some of the worst calamari and liver to this at La Rita made a huge difference in our feelings about Spanish cuisine. I truly believe that this lunch ranks in the top ten meals I have eaten in my lifetime. It was scrumptious.

More hopping on and off   

After lunch we decided to use up the rest of our 48 hour Bus Turista pass and ride the rest of the red line that we had not ridden the day before. This took us all over the suburbs of the city past La Sagrada Famila again as well as many other sites. Best way to find those is to check out day two of our Barcelona photo galleries.

After the bus ride, it was back to the hotel. We found that many more of our Cruise Critic buddies had checked in and the “living room” soon became the place to meet and greet everyone. To end the day with a short walk we headed down to Placa de Catalunya to El Cortes Ingles. This is Barcelona’s largest department store. We were looking for Fernando Alonso merchandise for Brian (Kathleen’s wonderful son-in-law). We were thrilled to find that they had an entire department in their satellite store devoted to Formula 1 racing so it was easy to find Brian a great Fernando Alonso baseball cap we know he would like. The photo above shows the very cool floor in El Cortes Ingles. Once we had the cap it was back to the hotel and a good night’s sleep so we could be up and ready for our last full day in Barcelona tomorrow

To continue to Barcelona Day 3, click here.