Once we located the meeting point for the start of the Gondala Ride (which is not that easy in Venice) we were given a really enjoyable Gondala Ride accompanied by a remarkable guy who serenaded us while we floated through the canals in the beautiful evening light. This was followed by an enjoyable dinner at a local restaurant, however we did get lost trying to find it!
Our tour was on a Sunday and we could not telephone the Viator office as requested to confirm the meeting point. Eventually another tour operator phoned our guide and brought her to meet us at the Port Office. We set off in a black mercedes along the beautiful coastal road towards Cavtat, stopping for photographs at a picturesque location, and proceeded along the journey, learning the history of Croatia and Dubrovnik in particular. Our guide was very proud of the history of her country and answered our many questions. At Cavtat we were given free time to enjoy this gorgeous, unspoiled small coastal port. We strolled for over an hour along the waterfront, in and out of two churches, up and around the hillside bordering the sea. Cavtat was spotlessly clean and it was evident that the townspeople took great pride in keeping it this way. The walkway was magnificent, with the restaurants and shops set back a little. They were handy but not in your face. Quaint eating places and ice cream shops mixed with quality souvenirs stretched the length of what appeared to be the promenade or focal point of this lovely place. There was no rush at Cavtat and we met up with our guide at the precise spot she left us. We then headed back the way we had travelled, viewing the coast from the opposite side of the road until we reached Dubrovnik's Old City, complete with city wall, gates and mote. Our guide gave us a lot of interesting history, including the invasion, the city fire and the sacrifice of the city's defenders. Later we visited the museum honouring the defenders, as well as two of the old city churches. She even explained the three Croatian costumes worn by the girl dolls in the shops. She led us around many notable areas before leaving us to wander on our own for an hour before meeting up outside the city gates for transportation back to our ship. This tour was certainly worth the money. Cavtat and Dubrovnik's Old City were both wonderful places to visit.
We found these 3 bus Hop-on Hop-off tours allowed us to get a real feel for Barcelona City and its culture. You can get off and get back on as many times as you like during the day and although we didn't have time to get off and see all the major points of interest, the bus commentry was a great help in infoming us along the way (although we found problems with some of the earphone connections within the bus). Highlights for us were the 'Park Guell' and the 'Sagrada Famillia' Cathederal - sights not to be missed.
The meeting point was not easy to find but we were there early and waited for our guide, who turned up a bit late and led us through many small streets to pick up a minivan for our trip to Montserrat. A good supermarket was located next door to the office which was helpful to some, to buy snacks for the trip. At first our guide didn't introduce herself and we felt a bit strange following her, however we were soon on our way, through the outskirts of Barcelona and on up the winding road to Montserrat. Our tour was in the morning, so we didn't get to hear the boys' choir but we spent a most enjoyable morning hearing about the black virgin, the whole monastry story and how the Montserrat community was held in high esteem by Catalans and those further afield, to the point many pilgrimages take place there. We had free time to wander through the beautiful Basilica and surrounds and we ate our lunch in the sun from a high vantage point. Entering the museum a little late, we bought a book and hurried back to meet our guide at the agreed point before retracing our journey down the serrated sacred mountain, along the highway, past the palace and on to the Sagrada Familia (Sacred Family - Mary, Joseph and Jesus), a magnificent church designed and predominantly built by architect Antoni Gaudi. Sagrada Familia is a living masterpiece in that it is still under construction and may not be completed until 2026. We were given 'time tickets' for our skip-the-line access and had time for a quick lunch before entering. Our guide gave us history and pointed out the various facades and their meanings before dropping us off and organising our tickets. Looking at the crowd waiting in line, we were glad of the skip-the-line arrangement. Once inside we were captivated by the magnificence and splendour of this church. Our tour ended at Sagrada Familia, so we were in no hurry to leave. Both visits gave us enormous cultural insights and were certainly worthwhile.
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