The Retirees return to Italy – On board the SS Costa Diadema – Marseilles and Barcelona

Sailing along the Gulf of Genoa and the Ligurian Coast, past the Principality of Monaco, Nice, Cannes and Sanry sur Mer, our next port of call is Marseilles. Daylight saving starts tonight so we find ourselves waking at 8.20am to see “Marseille” out the starboard window.  I spot an island with a fort and a church with a tower on a hill. But this is Sunday a day of rest for us too. So, we spend the day on ship in the spa having an ice cream and finishing with massages and a movie. We set sail with the next stop Barcelona.

Arriving at Barcelona, we find ourselves caught out by the time change for daylight saving. We rush to have breakfast to ensure we are on board the first coach to the city centre. The coach drops us near the World Trade Centre and we see the Red Bus nearby. We are not sure what we want to do in Barcelona and we decide that with grey skies and sprinkling rain we should catch the bus. One thing we have learned about Barcelona is that it is spread widely so the bus trip took a long time to get anywhere.

The first sight we see is the cable car tower at Port Voll which connects with Mont Juic. We board the Red Bus which climbs up Mont Juic past Anella Olimpica which is a renovated building converted into a stadium for the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. Further along we encounter the Arenas de Barcelona (the former bull fight ring) now a shopping centre. It had to be raised to fit the new use. This was on the way to the stadium for FC Barcelona.

The bus returned to Port Voll with over 4,000 moorings and some rather decent boats. From there we visited La Barceloneta and the main beach of the town. Unfortunately, the day had not improved and wind and rain now swept the beach. My goal was to see Sagrada Familia the most popular of Barcelona’s works by the famous architect Gaudi. We changed from the red west line to the green east line to see the Familia but it was not to be. In fact, it is so popular that you have to purchase tickets to visit. By the time, we got there the tickets had sold out until the following day. So, we strolled around the Familia and I was able to take a few pictures even though it was still under renovation/repair.

We found a warm bar across the road and ordered a paella. We made the decision to abandon the bus and try our hand at the Metro to visit the old part of the town. After investigating the available lines at the nearby Metro, we decided on the purple line to Paral-el. Once we arrived at the station we found it is situated on the Avenue Paral-el and very close to the cable car tower where we started our trip. We were still not in the old town so we headed to the wharves and took a left-hand turn to Avenue la Rambla and into the heart of the old town. On the way, we passed a reminder of Barcelona’s industrial history, and a reminder of it is medieval past. The old town was drab and although it had its fair share of old churches, medieval bridges, and Roman relics, it did not capture our interest. The sky had lost its cloudiness and the warmth of the sun could be felt and appreciated but it did not last long. We stopped at a small bar and enjoyed a fruit smoothie each and decided to head back to the ship. Our excitement was so great that we left without paying which I remembered when we were halfway back to our collection point causing us to retrace our steps pay our bill and start again. Tomorrow is Mallorca and Palma de Mallorca.

The Retirees go Abroad – Cannes

The 5th of June. It’s Saturday and the hot weather is continuing. But this will not keep us down. We have determined to drive to Cannes and not by the motorway in the hope we will travel along the coast. We leave Nice with the morning rush hour traffic but soon leave it behind as we move into the coastal towns between Nice and Cannes. We start to get a feel for Cannes at Antibes where we spot a yacht moored with its helicopter at the ready to transport those important people to important places.

We make our way to a central parking station and move out onto the streets of Cannes. Shops abound. Some palatial, some bizarre and others just tourist.

We make our way to the Promenade and see that the boats are in. Bloody tourists spoiling our day!

The tourist information centre is our first port of call and then we try an ice cream as it is a hot spring day. The old city calls us like a siren and without knowing it we have climbed to the top of the hill. Some glorious shots of the city and coast and some fabulous pictures of the old city itself. I noticed the clock on the church tower was named “Brian”. I wonder if this was the inspiration for “The Life of Brian”. Perhaps not.

Back down the hill we are into the back lanes and the markets. Fresh fruit and veg, meats, sausages and the world most expensive nougat. A pretty fancy mobile pizza oven as well! Kerry spots a nifty shopping trolley and stops the woman wheeling it to find out where she got it. “Off the internet” says the woman with a North American accent.

We wander the back alleys and then onto Rue Antibes the shoppers Mecca, but the girls resist the sirens call. We make our way to the car and collect our picnic then go to the park on the Promenade where we dine on fresh baguette ham and salad. We are awaiting the tourist train that has been held hostage by those tourists from the boats. Finally it is our turn and we jump aboard for the slow trip through the traffic looking at hotels and hearing about the rich and famous, just about makes you puke. But Kerry spots the Palm Casino and her partner in crime Veronica are both determined to walk the red carpet with the memories of their winning at Monaco.

So after the train rise finishes we head to Palm Beach Casino. There is a grand entrance with naked Atlas holding up the pillars of the earth for a squibby little gaming area inside, but the machines were ruthless never the less and took the money from our giggling girls.

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Hot sweating and somewhat tired we head home to Nice. It is getting on to 6.00pm but you would not know it. A swim in the Baie of Anges is the next treat and a treat it was. Cool with currents of cold, it turned some hot sweaty bodies into ice but the real issue was getting out of the water. An all pebble beach is difficult to walk on particularly when it collapses as you try to get out of the water.

A fantastic finish to the day and making us eager for tomorrow. But there are a few hands of cards before we see any sleep.