As promised, I am sharing photos, details and stories about what I call our “Dream Trip” to the Mediterranean.
I hope these posts will provide you with some useful information and/or travel inspiration, or at the very least a bit of entertainment! For me, putting these posts together is a fun way to document our trip and share highlights with family and friends.
Please feel free to ask me any questions you like about our trip – either in the comments or you may contact me privately (just click on the little black envelope above my photo slide header).
Off We Go!✈️
First, some details about our Dream Trip:
Over the summer, we decided to book a Mediterranean cruise for the fall to celebrate my 50th and 51st birthday (find an explanation of that here), and more importantly, my husband’s retirement after 34 years in the fire service.
After looking at lots of cruise lines and itineraries, we chose to cruise on Regent Seven Seas Cruises, taking off from Barcelona and arriving 10 nights later in Rome.
Our cruise fare was all-inclusive, even our round-trip Business Class airfare was included in the fare. Since neither of us had been to Spain before, we decided to add a couple nights to the front end of our trip. And since we haven’t been to Rome in 8 years, we also added two nights to the end of our cruise.
The night before our flight we stayed at Embassy Suites near the San Francisco airport. When I checked my phone the morning of our departure, I had emails from our travel agent, Adam Martindale, with upgrade offers to purchase larger suites. Bill and I decided to upgrade our room to the next level – more on that in a future post about the ship.
After checking in at SFO and whizzing through security, thanks to TSA Pre-check, we got settled in the United Polaris Lounge in the International Terminal. What a luxurious place! All food and beverages were complimentary and delicious. Since we had plenty of time before our flight boarded, we decided to bypass the buffet and sit down in the restaurant for a breakfast of bagels and mimosas.
Once on the plane, we got settled in our roomy pods. The flight was better than expected, although neither of us slept. Perhaps we were too excited! Instead, we watched movies and relaxed.
Our 10-hour flight to Frankfurt was smooth and uneventful – just the way I like all my flights! Soon we were boarding another plane to Barcelona and a couple hours later, we arrived in Spain.
Our Hotel in Barcelona 🏨
Adam, our travel agent, arranged ground transportation for us to and from airports and when we disembarked our ship in Civitavecchia, Rome’s port. What a treat to not have to worry about that aspect of travel for a change.
A friendly driver met us at the Barcelona airport and took us to our hotel, El Palace Hotel in downtown Barcelona.
What a gorgeous and elegant hotel it is. I wish I had gotten a better photo of the exterior. This majestic hotel is located at a bustling intersection and I regretfully forgot to cross the street for a full shot.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by several valets who took our luggage and directed us to reception for check in. The first thing I noticed, once inside, was the beauty and grandeur of the hotel.
There is a big round table in the middle of the lobby that was full of different varieties of fresh flowers in various vases, as well as autumn gourds.
Once we were all checked in, we were ready to be shown to our room. A friendly staff member led us to our 6thfloor room and showed us all we needed to know to make our stay enjoyable.
Our Guest Room
Our room was so elegant. It had an old-world feel but with plenty of modern touches. I loved our big bathroom. It had lots of counter space, a heated towel rack and a big shower with ceiling mounted rainfall showerhead.
Our bed was incredibly comfortable and, since we faced the back of the hotel, our room was very quiet. The staff at El Palace Hotel was warm and friendly and so accommodating. A bottle of Spanish cava on ice and a box of Lindt chocolates awaited us in our room along with a welcome note from the staff.
Out and About in Barcelona 📷
Once we unpacked and changed out of our traveling clothes, we ventured out for a few hours to explore Barcelona. The weather was pleasant; similar to the weather here in California in November. It was warm in the sunshine but got chilly once the sun went down. I only needed a light jacket and scarf.
We were rather tired by this time – no surprise there – but also determined to stay awake our first day until our normal bedtime. I located Las Ramblas on my phone and off we went.
On the way I took some photos of buildings and other things that caught my attention. We ended up passing by a beautiful church that I later found out is the Catedral de Barcelona.
Several friends warned us that Barcelona is notorious for pickpockets, especially in such a people-dense area as Las Ramblas. So I kept my phone mostly in my pocket while we walked through this famous tree-lined pedestrian street, which meant few photos.
I did manage to take a few pictures once inside Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria – commonly known as just La Boqueria. The sun was going down and we were getting a bit cold so we didn’t stay too long. What a great place though! I recommend a visit to La Boqueria if you travel to Barcelona.
By the way, we had no problems with pickpockets and never felt unsafe for a second during our time in Barcelona.
The Bluesman Cocktail Bar 🍸
Back at the hotel after our walk around our neighborhood, we decided to check out the downstairs bar. The Bluesman Cocktail Bar, built in the 1920s, is done in dark red velvet, gold and red brocade, and dark wood with dim lighting and 1960s music playing in the background. They have live music too but we didn’t catch any performances during our stay.
Our bartender made us two perfect vodka martinis, served to us on a tray that included some salty and crunchy snacks – a wonderful way to start the evening after such a great day.
The Very Best Salad 🥗
Later in the evening, it was time to think about dinner plans. We were too zonked to venture out and the hotel has a restaurant that we were sure would be excellent so we chose to eat there.
There is a casual section and a more formal dining area. We chose the former as we were still in our sightseeing garb with no interest in dressing up. I ordered the special soup – a lovely and delicate vegetable soup – along with a green salad, which was truly the freshest and best tasting garden salad I have ever had.
Although we did not order dessert, we still had some sweet treats delivered to our table by our wonderful and attentive server. Whatever these little chocolates are, they were so delectable, I still dream about them. And I am not even a big chocolate lover. The tiny little pound cakes were outstanding too. I ate them both as Bill doesn’t like cake. Score!
After our lovely and delicious dinner, we retired to our room where we had a peaceful night’s sleep. We both awoke surprised that we slept a full night on local time with no interruptions the first night!
Buenas Dias! ☀️
Morning in Barcelona began with this stunning sunrise. This was the view out our guest room windows.
We dressed for the day and headed downstairs for breakfast at the hotel. The hotel package that Adam booked for us included breakfast both days. We loved, loved, loved the food!
There was something for everyone including traditional Spanish pastries, cheeses, jamon (ham) and sausages. And they had “pan con tomate” – bread and tomatoes – a Catalan staple and a treat we had a few times during our Barcelona stay.
They also served excellent coffees, mimosas, fresh fruit, Asian cuisine and our traditional American breakfast foods like cereal, yogurt and bagels.
Breakfast was served in a large and elegant ball room. What a treat to begin the day with breakfast at El Palace!
After breakfast, we began our day of sightseeing and fun in Barcelona. Stay tuned for my next post with the lowdown on Day Two of our Dream Trip!