Valéncia, Spain

Gardens at the Ciudad de las artes y las ciencias
9:00 am:
Yesterday was a terrific day with tours, relaxation and some time exploring on our own.  Really this cruise thing has been a better mix than I thought it would be.  This morning we came into port around 6:30 or 7am.  By the time our coffee and english muffins arrived and we moved to the balcony (at 7:15am) the ship was just finishing docking.
Carrie and I enjoyed some toast / muffins and tea / coffee on the balcony thinking that we would go eat in one of the on-board restaurants later, but, you know, by the time we had a little something and got ready for the day, there didn’t seem to be a point.  I think we’ll survive until lunch, though…  🙂
Carrie just finished getting ready and now we’re heading out.  When we signed up for excursions we decided not to sign up for a Cruiseline planned excursion here in Valencia, so we are striking out on our own.  The ship leaves at 4pm, so we have to be back by 3:30pm and can spend the rest of the day reading and relaxing by the pool.
I hope that all is well for you…wherever you may be as you read this blog!

4:00 pm:
We’re back!  It was a great day, for sure.  I was grumpy this morning because I had not slept well last night.  It wasn’t a comfort thing… i was just amped up.  Anyway, most people who know me well will know that I get grumpy when I don’t sleep enough.  So, I think Carrie and I argued all the way to Historic Valencia, but, I quickly got over myself and we had a great rest of our day.

A church tower at Plaza Lope De Vega
Our first stop was the Plaza Lope De Vega.  Then we walked to the Cathedral and Basílica, but decided that outside was enough for us, today.  We had planned to go to the Mercado Central (Central Market) but got a report from Bob and June that there were no longer vendors there (it had been converted to coffee shops and restaurants).  We decided to pass on that.

The Cathedral (above) and streets nearby (below)

The argument earlier that day was because iI wanted to go see the Cuidad de las Artes y las ciencias (City of Art and Science) which is a complex of museums in Valencia.  It caught my eye because of the Aquarium where they have and underwater observatory where you walk under the water.  Well, we had time, so we headed out in a taxi for the museums.  Once we got there we enjoyed a walk to the aquarium, but it turned out it was €30 which is about $40 (?) per person.  If we could have just done the underwater walk or if it had been less expensive we might have done it.  But as it was it would take about 3 hours and we just didn’t think we had the time if we were going to enjoy our lunch and get back to the ship with comfort.

A view of the museum campus in Valencia

In the end the time, expense, and exercise we got on the way to the museums paid off by the sights we saw.  The buildings were stunning and we enjoyed walking through the parks nearby.  If we had to do it again, we would…it’s just that we would allow time to go through the museum, too.  Maybe we would plan a day just for the museums on a return trip.
We caught a taxi to lunch.  Katie and Carrie had found a restaurant out in the countryside that was well-known for their paellas, so we met Andrew and Katie outside of town at this country restaurant.  It had been written up and, then, made further famous when Gwyneth Paltrow and Mario Batali ate there.
We also enjoyed our meal.  It was delicious and worth the cab fares for certain!  You can take a peek at our meal, too:

We got back to the ship with plenty of time to spare and we are now getting set to relax.  Carrie just headed up to the pool, so I will leave you all behind and follow after her!

In Barcelona
my beautiful wife at breakfast with me.

Well, we made it across ‘the pond’ and let me tell you something…it was my most pleasant trans-atlantic flight, yet!  You see, the upside of having had two brain surgeries this spring?  Pain relievers.  There is no reason to fly uncomfortably if you can help it and, this time, I could.  A couple of Somas was probably the most helpful part of my trip 🙂

Heathrow Airport in London

The only snag we had, was right away in St. Louis at the airport.  Carrie and I were in the last group of passengers to board and they ran out of room for over-head carry-ons…so one of our bags had to be checked plane-side.  Except, it never showed back up.  Luckily there wasn’t much in it, but the biggest loss are my tennis shoes.  so sad.  The good news is that they have found the bag and it’s on-route to Barcelona…but we’re leaving Barcelona, so we hope it ‘catches up’ soon!

La Boqueria, a market in Barcelona
The plaza near La Boqueria

Our first day of the trip, once we made it to Barcelona, was very nice.  We went to La Boqueria which is a famous market and we enjoyed appetizers and drinks in a lovely plaza nearby.  The crowds were too much for me (ever-since my surgeries I can’t handle that sort of noise and crowds).

our hotel lobby

After a restful night our bags are in the hall with their tags and we are down in the restaurant.  We’re on our way!