SOVEREIGN, 24th September 2016
SOVEREIGN, 24TH SEPTEMBER 2016
WITH THE OCEAN LINER SOCIETY
Friday 23rd September 2016
I flew out from the United Kingdom to Barcelona airport on a mid-morning flight, and easily made my way out to the train station there. It felt a little odd not to have a rucksack on my back, but today I have a small pull-along suitcase as I wanted to bring a couple of dresses and shoes to wear during the cruise. I bought a T10 train ticket (Euros 9.95) which entitles me to ten train or bus journeys around the city during my stay, and I could get the train from the airport station to Sants in the city, and then get to another station underground to take the L3 line to Liceu. I shall use the ticket again this evening. Once out from the Liceu station I walked the short distance to my Hotel in the Gothic Quarter and soon checked in to a comfortable room with a tiny balcony looking out onto La Rambla. This is the wide street going down the centre of the old part of the city, ending at the Christopher Columbus statue on a tall column looking out over part of the port.
There are fourteen of us booked on the OLS cruise and three of us met up for an evening meal. The old bull-ring in Plaza Espana has now been roofed in and the circular terrace surrounding it on the top floor is filled with restaurants offering many kinds of food. We walked round the terrace in the dusk and all around us was the noise of thunder, reverberating against the tall buildings. The lightning flashed almost continuously and the first rain drops were felt, so a decision was made to eat in a restaurant offering tapas dishes. No sooner had we been seated by a welcoming Spaniard than the heavens opened and the noisiest storm I have ever encountered burst all around us. The rain became torrential and the owner rolled out a blind to cover the existing roof and make it completely waterproof. Another short blind was rolled down from the roof gutter to offer more protection, but soon even that was not enough. Another blind was rolled up behind our seating to join the upper blind and we were more or less protected from the torrents outside. The noise of the thunder and its echo around us made speech quite difficult but everyone in the restaurant kept on drinking and eating and feeling grateful not to be outside. We decided to prolong our stay with more delicious food dishes and conversation with the Spanish owner, but it was not until a couple of hours later that we could go outside and hop and skip over the puddles to the nearest internal escalator entrance/exit to the lower floors inside.
It was an extraordinary evening with the storm remaining over the city of Barcelona for many hours. It had been forecast but I don't think anyone expected the intensity of it. Several friends were due to fly in from various airports in various countries, so we wondered how they were getting on. We later found out that some had arrived as the storm was starting in Barcelona, and landed before the rain started. Others were delayed in taking off from the UK because of the known weather conditions over here, and arrived later than scheduled but glad to have missed the drama.
One friend was in a plane coming in to land as the storm broke, and said that it was quite turbulent; the cabin was in darkness for landing of course but he could see the lightning outside the aircraft. Suddenly there was an enormous flash and the whole of the inside of the aircraft cabin was lit up as bright as daylight and he guessed they must have been struck by lightning. We all know that aircraft are built to take this, but he said it was an unforgettable moment and he was very glad when they touched down and could get into the terminal building.
The three of us made our way to our respective hotels and decided it had been a spectacular start to this year's OLS cruise!
Ships seen: SNAV Adriatico with its huge red Estrella Beer advert on the hull, MSC Poesia, TUI Discovery, something of the Seas, Zenith
To be continued...