Thursday, June 28, 2007

Last Sea Day, Disembarkation Day and Barcelona

Jeff here again. It’s Thursday, 6/28 and we're back in the states at my mom's house. We've been up for 22 hours and I'm worn out. Nevertheless, while we had time sitting around in the various airports we worked on our latest blog entry off line. Here we go....

We got up around 8:30 on the last sea day. We had noticed overnight that the seas had gotten rough. The Magic has fantastic stabilizers, so it wasn’t nearly as bad as the sea state (very rough) indicated. Going up to get coffee and diet cokes, I noticed large waves with white caps and the winds were blowing hard. No one was eating breakfast outside at Topsiders either. We decided to go to the 10:15 am showing of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. It made a lot more sense the second time around, especially since I stayed awake for the entire movie. After the movie and lunch in Lumiere’s, Susan and I went to the wine tasting. During the cruise there are 3 tastings, each on a sea day...well that would be true for the 11 night cruises...I'm not sure what they do for the 10 night cruises. Also, each of the tastings is themed to a country. The first tasting was for Italy, second for France and the last for Spain. Neither of us was terribly impressed with the Spanish wines we had, but it was an opportunity to drink wine, so that’s always a good thing! Next up was packing…talk about know you’re going home when it’s time to pack your bags. They must be tagged (with tags Disney leaves in your room) and placed outside your stateroom between 8 and 10 pm if you want Disney to take them off the ship for you. Otherwise, you’ll have to tote them around with you all morning on disembarkation day. We finished packing in time to see the 6:30 showing of the Farewell Show. It was a nice variety show with Taylor Mason, the ventriloquist, being my favorite. Our final dinner was at Lumiere’s, where we said our farewells to our tablemates Bob, his wife Sara, Michael, his wife Alice and their daughter Marta and exchanged email addresses. We then presented our head server Toto and assistant server Analia with their tip envelopes and some tokens of our appreciation for their great service through the cruise.

Wednesday morning, disembarkation time. BOOO! Though we hated to leave, part of us are also ready to get back home to see our dog Oliver and to sleep in our own beds. The disembarkation process is as simple and easy as it can be. We just walked off the ship. There was no waiting for them to call your color or number or any such mess. Luggage in the terminal was organized by tags…ours was Chip and Dale. We quickly found a porter and were queued up for a taxi. Disney announces they want everyone off the ship by 9 am. We were dropped off at our hotel, the Regencia Colon, in a short while and, after leaving our bags there, we were off to do the “Bus Touristic” – Barcelona’s city bus tour. It costs 19 Euro each for one day and covers three separate routes. We did the red route (north) which visits the Sagrada Familia church (first picture) and Park Guell (second picture) and the blue route (south) which visits the Spanish Village (third picture) and Montjuic hill. This was a good way to see the city and get around. With the Bus Touristic ticket comes a discount coupon book which includes coupons for Spanish Village and Sagrada so don’t miss those. The Sagrada Familia was designed by famed architect Antoni Gaudi, who spent most of his career working on the church. Construction began in 1882 and, as the photo shows, it continues today after more than 100 years and will likely continue for decades more.

Our next stop, Park Guell, is yet another Gaudi creation. His ability to combine nature and architecture is displayed throughout the park - the second most visited park in the city. Originally planned as a garden city, the project was abandoned after only 5 of 60 buildings were completed. It was turned over to the city by owner/industrialist Eusebi Guell, for whom the park is named. Next up was the Spanish Village or Poble Espanyol. Built for the 1929 International Exposition in Barcelona, the Spanish Village was intended to be a temporary exhibit showcasing regional architecture, handicrafts, cultural styles and cuisine. However, the Village proved to be so popular, it was kept and now receives more visitors than the Sagrada Familia or the cities major museums. We finished up the evening with a nice dinner at Amaya, a sidewalk restaurant on La Rambla. It had been recommended by the desk manager at the Regencia Colon and we give a thumbs up to it as well.

Susan here reporting on the VAT refund. The DCL folks provide envelopes to save your receipts for purchases from Treasure Ketch and Mickey’s Mates (combined) and Shutters. If I had been smart, I would have used those envelopes all along rather than getting it all together on the last sea day. Anyway, you can only claim items that you have not used or consumed. This is important! Also, all of the purchases have to be in the same name, so ladies, you can make all of the purchases!! There is a chance that they might check at Customs, so better to be safe on this. On the last sea day, from 6 pm to 10 pm, they have a number of Cast Members at the Shore Excursion Desk to check your receipts and fill out the forms for you. There was a pretty substantial line for this so be forewarned. Beverage purchases that you have consumed and spa services are not able to be claimed. All of this is explained on the back of the envelope, and obviously quite a few folks didn’t understand. I had all of my receipts together, they were totaled and the forms with my receipts stapled to them were returned later in the evening. I believe that there was a message on our phone with the times that the desk was open. At the Barcelona Airport, it took a while but I finally found the wee little white window where you get the stamp on your forms. It is located in Terminal A, just outside the Arrivals. When you walk into the door of Terminal A, look to the right for the arrivals, pass the information desk, and the window is to the right of the arrivals exit. There is a small sign that says “Tax Free” near the window. For those of you that need a landmark or two, there are some vending machines at the corner, and it is before you get to the bank windows and food court. FYI, you have to have your ticket and passport. At first, we had not checked in, so I wasn’t able to get the stamps, but after a quick and efficient check-in at KLM, I was back at the window and soon had stamped forms in hand. Yeah!!! I will mail them when I get home. I believe it will take 6-8 weeks to get the refund.


Anonymous said...

Hey Guys,

Thanks for sharing your trip with us! I have enjoyed following your experiences. No desire to go myself but feel I was there through your updates.

Welcome home! Dave R.

word sneezer said...

Okay, I am thoroughly jealous. Not rushed through Rome, or the South of France like we were. And such beautiful photos!