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 return to Italy – On board the SS Costa Diadema – Savona

Our next port of call is Savona. During the night, the ship navigates around the Ligurian coast past Portofino and Genoa. Our plan is to travel by bus to Genoa and check out the old town. It is a bit overcast when we arrive in Genoa. It is an early start and an hour by autostrada to Genoa and we are dropped off at a square beside the aquarium and a fake galleon donated by Roman Polanski after he finished making a pirate movie.

Genoa is a much lively place with its ancient buildings having covered footpath hiding the retail premises beneath the residences above. For the naval historians reading this, you will know of Genoa’s maritime history, its long – time battle with Venice for dominance of the sea lanes and the wealth of the town but those who don’t need to see our photos of the city gates and how residences and shops have all but swallowed it up, the streets lined with shops, the continuous apartments and the piazzas, the public icons on buildings, the churches (including San Maria Madellane where an Italian playing bagpipes played a lament on the anniversary of a deceased husband for the grieving widow and San Pietro in Banchi) and banks that line even the smallest streets.

Following the back streets led us to the mall in Via San Lorenzo. Here the more extravagant monuments could be found in Piazzas San Lorenzo (Cathedrale San Lorenzo) Matteotti (Chiesa del Gesu) and Ferrari. Outside the Chiesa del Gesu a protest to abuse of children. After the fountain in Piazza Ferrari we followed into Via Dante and the house of Christopher Columbus, that famous mariner who discovered and claimed for the King of Spain the Americas and all the time he was Genoese not Italian or Spanish. Remember Genoa was a city state with its own government, and naval force and Italy would not be unified until 1861 under Garibaldi.

After the house of Columbus, we passed into Piazza Dante and there stood two towers and another town gate. So, we sat in the sun with our stolen rolls from the ship and had our morning tea looking at a Roman ruin and the city gate connected to the remnant of the city wall. Following the city wall, we passed little trattorias, doorways in the wall, and the Piazza di Sarzano. After calling into a ship’s chandelier to pick up a thingo, we made our way back to the bus in Piazza Caricamento and return to the Diadema.