P&O Azura Mediterranean Cruise – Day 6: Barcelona

Day 6 of our cruise brings us to our second port – Barcelona.

This is one of my favourite cities and would be my 4th visit. Mr FFF has been 3 times but it was MIL’s first visit.

We were in no real rush to get off the ship as we were planning on doing our own thing and didn’t have to be back on board until 10:30. We went for breakfast in the buffet at about 8:45 it was pretty busy so we ended up getting our food and sitting outside by the pool. In our Horizon information programme for the day, it told us that we needed to take our passports ashore with us due to local regulations. This is the first time we have been told this in any Mediterranean port including when we stopped in Barcelona last year. We dutifully took ours ashore and were slightly worried about losing them or having them stolen all day and in the end, no one asked to see them so I’m not quite sure what that was all about.

Anyway, our ship was berthed at the far end of the very long dockyard but once we were through the terminal building, we were able to get straight on to a shuttle bus to take us to the World Trade Centre which is close to the bottom of La Rambl, the famous street that leads from the sea up into the heart of the city. Last time we were here, we managed to pick up a rickshaw tour near to the WTC and it was a really great way to see the city so we’d planned to do this again but take a different route. As the shuttle bus pulled up, there were a number of rickshaws just pulling up so we had no problem getting one. One rickshaw just about managed to hold the 3 of us (it’s a good job it wasn’t near the end of the cruise!) and cost €30pp per hour. We opted fora 2 hour tour that took in the old town, Parc de la Ciudad and the Gaudi route. Our driver, Carlos, was extremely knowledgeable and friendly recommending places to eat and drink and other things to see and do in the city. He gave us plenty of time to take pictures and our tour ended up being closer to 2.5 hours at no extra charge. Despite the fact that it was my 4th time in the city, I saw places I hadn’t seen before and learnt new things about the places I had already seen.

After the tour, Carlos dropped us off by the gothic cathedral near to La Rambla. We grabbed a quick drink and a toilet stop at Bilbao Berio which was on the corner of Placa Nova. We went in here as it was the first place we spotted and my only regret is that I wasn’t already hungry (weird I know) because they had the most amazing looking bruschetta on the counter for between €1.95-€2.50 per slice. Definitely one to try when I go back.

Suitably refreshed, we headed out to La Rambla to show MIL this famous street. I’ve got to admit, I’m not a fan of it – in summer at least – as it is so crowded but you’ve got to at least be able to say you’ve been there. We were hoping to visit La Boqueria market, which is just off La Rambla, but unfortunately it was closed due to a public holiday.

By this point, we were starting to get hungry so we headed to Placa Reil which Mr FFF and I had found before. It is just off La Rambla and is surrounded by really good restaurants. We again ate at Ocaña. Although they no longer offer a dedicated tapas menu, the food that we saw being brought out of the kitchen looked really good so we pointed out to the waiter the dishes we’d seen that we liked the look of and ordered those. MIL ordered a burger which was huge, properly cooked and came with proper chips; Mr FFF ordered an Iberian Ham Bocadillo which was served in an individual ciabatta loaf that was enormous. Both of them began eating before I could take a picture but I tasted them and they were delicious. I went for a tuna casserole type thing that was made up of tuna tartare, avocado, chunks of potato, sundried tomatoes and paprika and was served with a poached egg on the top. It was absolutely amazing and it’s another dish I’ll be trying to recreate at home.

After lunch, which I of course washed down with a glass of cava, we had a stroll around the streets of the gothic quarter enjoying the shade and browsing the numerous boutiques and independent shops. Although all of the big name shops in the main shopping areas were closed for the public holiday, there were plenty open in this area and lots of great buys to be had. I definitely need to do more shopping the next time I come here.

By about 3:30pm, we’d walked our feet off and were feeling the heat so we headed back to the ship. We got on a shuttle bus straightaway and were back at the ship in about 10 minutes.

Once back on board, we had a refreshing dip in the pool, which is warming up nicely, before getting ready for dinner.

For dinner this evening, we again opted for the MDR. I ordered a bottle of French Sauvignon Blanc that had previously caught my eye on the wine list. I’m a big fan of Marlborough sauvignon blancs and so was very interested to try this. It was slightly smoother and less acidic than the Marlborough variety with pear tones rather than passion fruit. Overall, it was a very nice wine but I do prefer the Marlborough version.

For dinner, I chose a Thai Chicken Salad followed by Salmon, Tuna and Tiger Prawn kebabs which were served with cumin-spiced roasted aubergine. This accompaniment was my main reason for choosing the dish and I’m pleased to report that it was so good that it’s something else I’m going to try to recreate at home. For dessert, I didn’t fancy tonight’s sundae option so I stuck with the chocolate offering. Tonight it was a Hot Chocolate Fondant with Salted Caramel Ice-cream. It was absolutely gorgeous; the best dessert I’ve had on board so far. I considered asking for a second portion but, for the sake of my waistline, I refrained!

After dinner, we went to watch the local flamenco troupe who were performing in the theatre. It was interesting to see this cultural art form first hand but I’m glad the show was only 30 minutes long as it was a bit repetitive.

We had a late sail away scheduled for this port with the all aboard time set for 10:30pm. As we missed the sail away party in Southampton due to the weather, we decided to go to tonight’s tropical-themed party. The open decks were packed with many people wearing Hawaiian shirts and getting into the tropical spirit. Staff were handing out leis and the ship’s Caribbean band were playing. It was a great atmosphere and a fantastic spot to watch from as we left the bright lights of Barcelona behind.

By this point our beds were calling so we decided to turn in. Tomorrow we have another sea day as we sail towards Italy.

Thanks for reading,

FFF