Day Ten – Barcelona
Woke screaming with cramp, all the way from all five toes to knee, left foot, up the front and outside simultaneously. I was sobbing with the pain. The muscles were so in spasm that I could not put my foot flat on the ground. I had to stand on it with the other foot to make it go down flat. That’s what gluten does to me. One of the things, anyway. So, let’s go with ‘up and about earlier than planned’.
The ship’s newspaper said that we had to take our passports ashore today. This is transparently nonsense. We are in Europe. We need nothing of the sort. In addition to which, this is the tourist theft capital of the world. Everyone on this ship has a mugging or dipping story to tell about Barcelona, including one I witnessed myself. So, no, nothing as valuable and difficult to replace as my passport is going ashore today. We compromised and shoved photocopies in a pocket, but no one asked to see them. I don’t know why Barcelona always ask us to do this. It’s nonsense. When you arrive in the city by air, you leave your passport in the hotel, you don’t wander the streets with it. So why should we cruise passengers have to? I could rant on this topic for hours – how it ruins lives and holidays, probably contributes to the bad reputation of the city because we are known sitting ducks, strands people and prevents them from going home, leaving the country, continuing their holiday, etc. This is something I have thought long and hard about and discussed at length with others. I have a LOT to say on this subject. Not really the time to say it all here. Maybe I’ll do a full length Mpinion piece sometime, when I’m not so busy.
Anyway, they made us use the airbridge to disembark. This is folded back on itself, so you are essentially walking an extra half mile to end up just feet from where you started. Very frustrating, and thoughtless for those with limited mobility, who, as I often point out, are quite plentiful on P&O ships, and on this cruise are even more well-represented than usual. We opted for mum to be pushed ashore in a borrowed wheelchair, after which we walked and taxied the rest. The airbridge was even more frustrating when you looked down and saw a ten foot gangplank on the lower level, being reserved for crew only. Hardly fair.
Quick shuttle bus into town, and then found a taxi to take us to one of the shops on the list I had researched. Quite a long way from the centre of town. And when we got there? The shop wasn’t there! Most miffed. Will be writing a rude letter. I only looked it up on the website yesterday afternoon. So we wandered a little and accidentally found ourselves having coffee in a very nice hotel, called the Hotel Casa Fuster, which is part of the HC group. Never heard of either. But very lovely. Our drinks and danishes cost the same as lunch would do later, but it was well worth it, just for the lovely loos. Then they found us a cab, which took us to C&A. Mum bought a blouse, but I came away empty-handed.
We then went to McDonalds for lunch.
Now, you may be thinking, ‘that’s not very posh/local/interesting’, but when you are a recently-diagnosed coeliac who hasn’t eaten one of their favourite foods in nearly two years, because she will get ill, it is a momentous event. Because McDonalds in Spain does GLUTEN FREE BURGER BUNS. This meant that I could have a quarter pounder and chips, with ketchup and a Diet Coke, just like in the old days, and just like a normal person. It made me so happy, I nearly cried. And it tasted divine.
Bizarrely, this branch of Maccy D’s then let itself down massively. It was spread over three floors. There was a lift to go to the food ordering level and the extra seating level. But if you wanted to use the loo, the only option was two flights of stairs, one of which had no handrail at all. Who designed that?! Just goes to show what mum can achieve if she’s determined enough, though!
Then we pootled down Las Ramblas, bumping into fellow passengers – which wasn’t as obvious as in some other ports – there are four cruise ships in today (including one that no one recognised – either ship or line- it was called the Riviera – pay attention there will be a test later). The Costa Fortuna is parked next to us – we’ve made that joke before when we’ve seen them elsewhere– but now it says the line is the Neo Costa. THAT’s the best you can do at rebranding?!
We popped into Carrefour (vive la France!) for gluten free crisps (when in Spain…!) (they are Lays, who are the same company as Walkers – so why are Lays’ salt and vinegar gluten free and Walkers’ are not?) and then hailed an electric taxi to take us back to the shuttle bus. It’s eerily quiet inside a Prius. Very weird.
Much hassle finding a wheelchair to get mum back on board, precisely as expected. P&O are very nice about wheelchair assistance, but they just don’t think it through. They need a logistics expert to explain it to them. I doubt they would listen to me, if I tried. Taking someone ashore is all very well, but you need someone on the quayside to BRING THEM BACK AGAIN. *sigh*
P.S. Did not win the quiz last night. Only got 16 out of 20. One table (that includes Ross, Cheryl and Gary) got 20 out of 20, which is pretty hard to beat… I was surprised how not insufferable they were afterwards. I was expecting much more gloating than I got. Which was nice.
Last night was eighties music in the nightclub, so we had a good old singsong. Ross was a bit out of his depth at times, having not been born until 1992… *sigh*.
Tomorrow: Cartagena (pronounced Carta- hay – na (and if you can make the aitch sound like loch, so much the better), and not some of the gibberish I have heard from other passengers and crew today).