Strolling Spain’s Most Famous City
Aaron Saunders, Live Voyage Reports
The two ladies sitting behind me on the flight have it all figured out.
I’m travelling from Canada to Barcelona, Spain to embark an old friend: Silversea’s ultra-luxurious Silver Spirit, for a six-day voyage through some of the most off-the-beaten-path ports in the Mediterranean. And on my Air Canada Rouge flight from Toronto – devoid of any entertainment options whatsoever – I’ve now tuned into the two ladies sitting behind me.
Unlike me, they’re not spending three days in Barcelona pre-cruise. Instead, they’re flying all the way to Europe, day-of, to embark a cruise on a ship I won’t mention, other than to say it holds thousands of guests and definitely isn’t Silversea.
The one lady is schooling her friend on what to do if they encounter any Captain Philips moments. Which seems unlikely; the only pirates you’ll find in the Mediterranean these days run the tourist shops. Either way, she continues to direct her friend on all aspects of their James Bondian maneuvers should the worst happen. I almost wish I was on their cruise, just to see these two kick into action.
After touchdown at Barcelona’s El Prat International Airport just before nine in the morning, I cleared immigration – a wordless and perfunctory stamp in the passport – and collected my luggage. Silversea’s excellent pre-cruise transfer service met me, and whisked met to the Hotel Condes Barcelona for my pre-cruise stay in this gorgeous city.
So it was that, by ten thirty, I found myself at the hotel, wondering what to do next. The classic long-haul traveller dilemma. You want to sleep, but can’t. You want to shower, but your room isn’t ready. What to do?
Long ago, I discovered walking was one of the best ways to stave off jetlag. So I set out to explore Barcelona on foot – and unwittingly ran smack into one of the cities busiest holidays.
A Rose On Every Corner; A Book On Every Street
It’s called Sant Jordi’s Day, and it happens every April 23. Those of you from the UK might know it better as Saint George’s Day, which commemorates the death of Saint George in 303AD. But the Catalonians in Barcelona celebrate this day through books and roses.
Booksellers sweating it out under makeshift stalls line nearly every major thoroughfare in the city, from the busy shopping mecca of De Gracia street outside the Hotel Condes all the way south to Las Ramblas and beyond.
In between every bookseller: a rose shop, selling roses real and fake. The rose symbolises the ultimate gift among people who love each other, and – according to legend – symbolises the story of Montblanc. You know the one: the knight saves the princess from the clutches of a fearsome dragon.