The final day of our Mediterranean Cruise with MSC Cruises was spent at sea as we sailed from Tunis to Barcelona where we would end our week’s cruise. Since we had been out sightseeing every day of the holiday, we were quite glad to have a chance to relax and enjoy the ship with no fixed plans.
Our preference on this cruise has been to eat in the Villa Verde restaurant, with waiter service, rather than brave the busy Bora Bora self service restaurant. We took our breakfast there as usual, bagging the table for two by the window which we had come to feel was “our table” with a view of the ship’s wake. Over the morning I had a chance to walk around and explore the ship properly, as even after a week I still didn’t quite feel that I knew my way around, since MSC Splendida is such a large ship. The weather alternated between clouds and sunshine and the aqua park and pool areas were as busy as usual during the sunny spells, with guests trying to top on their tan.
For a change we decided to take lunch in the other formal dining restaurant, La Reggia, where we had a table for two. I didn’t realize until now that this restaurant is on two levels, although only the upper level was open at lunchtime. By the entrance was a chef who was making a fresh sauce for gnocchi with gorgonzola cheese and a sprinkling of walnuts which we both tried for lunch. Being an Italian cruise line, we’ve found the pasta and pizza on board MSC Splendida to be exceptionally good.
In the afternoon Guy tried out the gym to work off some of that pasta and pizza, while I went for the more relaxing option of a Balinese massage in the Aurea Spa. I was shown into the treatment room and laid on my front covered by warm towels for my full body massage. The therapist started with my legs and the massage alternated with firm pressure which was almost uncomfortable at times, alternating with softer strokes. As she moved up to my back and shoulders it really felt as if she was working every knot of stress out of my body. I must admit that I’m not very good at relaxing and at the start felt quite uncomfortable, especially since my hair was tickling my face and I couldn’t breathe easily facing down. When I turned over for the second half of the massage I felt more relaxed and started drifting away to sleep, finishing feeling beautifully perfumed all over.
Our evening was spent packing for the disembarkation at Barcelona as we would need to leave our cabin by 9am although as usual we enjoyed the evening show and the dinner with the other guests at our table. By around 11am the next morning, after a fair bit of waiting around, we were off the ship and took a taxi to Plaça de Catalunya, leaving our luggage in the handy locker storage down a side street nearby. Unfortunately the brilliant sunshine that we had enjoyed when we arrived in Barcelona had abandoned us and we now experienced cloudy skies and rain showers.
We had visited Barcelona on a family holiday ten years ago, but I was keen to visit some of the Gaudi sites again, so we walked up Passeig de Gracia towards Casa Mila, the apartment building designed by Antoni Gaudi in the Modernista style. The curvy facade of the building was under wraps for renovation and we had to queue for 45 minutes before we were eventually in and took the lift to the rooftop with all the sculptural chimneys and ventilation shafts. Next we went down a level to the attic space with brick arched ceilings, originally designed as storage and laundry space for the apartments, but now housing an exhibition and models about Gaudi’s work and design of Casa Mila. Finally we had a look around the apartment which is furnished in the style of the period and shows how Gaudi’s design made the most of natural light from the internal courtyards.
Our visit ended with quite a few purchases in the gift shop including some colourful mosaic design table mats to replace the blue and white ones that we bought on our previous visit and have been using ever since. Feeling rather hungry by this time we walked a block to a restaurant La Bodegueta (Rambla de Catalunya, 100) that we’d seen recommended, which had a very authentic atmosphere and served wines and tapas. Unfortunately it was so popular that we couldn’t find any space, so walked back for a pleasant lunch at le Pain Quotidien (Provenza 300) right opposite Casa Mila, which specialises in healthy salads, veggie and vegan food.
Next on our wish list was La Sagrada Familia and we were hopeful that as it was now 4.30pm the crowds would have reduced. The sun came out as the ornate spires of the Antoni Gaudi’s unfinished basilica came into view, but we could see the queue snaking around the block and on joining it realised that we would have a 40 minute wait just to buy the ticket which would then be for a timed entry even later. We decided that it was not meant to be and abandoned the queue, taking the metro back towards the Barrio Gothique, where we walked around the narrow lanes surrounding the cathedral. The weather was not on our side and as a rainstorm started, we decided it was time to get the bus from Placa de Catalunya to the airport for our flight back to Bristol.
The week on board MSC Splendida had flown by and we’d visiting some fascinating new places on our cruise as well as enjoying the ship and the entertainments on board. Thankyou to MSC Cruises for showing the Mediterranean lifestyle on board MSC Splendida.
Other articles in my Mediterranean Cruise series
Join me on a week’s Mediterranean cruise with MSC cruises
All aboard at Barcelona – Day 1 of my MSC Mediterranean Cruise
Bonjour Marseille – Day 2 of my MSC Mediterranean Cruise
Palazzo and Gelato in Genoa – Day 3 of my MSC Mediterranean Cruise
Naples and an excursion to Pompeii – Day 4 of my MSC Mediterranean Cruise
Messina and an excursion to Taormina – Day 5 of my MSC Mediterranean Cruise
Tunis and Carthage – Day 6 of my MSC Mediterranean Cruise
A day at sea and back to Barcelona – Day 7 of my MSC Mediterranean Cruise
Thanks to MSC cruises who hosted Guy and Heather’s Mediterranean cruise. Heather and Guy travelled on MSC Splendida from Barcelona on a 1 week cruise calling at Genoa, Marseille, Naples, Messina, Tunis. Prices for a similar cruise start at around £700 per person. For more information, visit the MSC Cruises website or follow them on Twitter @MSC_Cruises_UK or on the MSC Facebook page.
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