As of 0700 Eastern Standard time, 1200 GMT and 1300 ship time, the Empire State was moored pierside in Barcelona, Spain and located at 41 degrees 12 minutes North Latitude, 002 degrees 16 minutes East Longitude. The weather was partly cloudy with light winds out of the northeast at 3 knots. The air temp was 62 degrees and the sea temp was 58 degrees. Barometric pressure was 1025 millibars of mercury.
Barcelona is THE hit with both cadets and crew! I overheard one cadet saying to another, "Why didn't we just skip the other ports and stay here for nine days". I'm sure he would have detested staying at sea for 17 straight days at a clip to do that and he would have missed the cultural experiences and education that a variety of ports provide. But he is right; Barcelona is a great liberty port. Many cadets are touring Montserrat and the beautiful outlying countryside where they are sampling the real flavor of Spain. Others have elected to limit their excursions to Barcelona proper and aren't disappointed either. The city is filled with miles and miles of rustic streets so narrow that two motor scooters have difficulty passing. Architecturally unique, three and four-story building rise on each side, blocking out all but the noonday sun. Each street is lined with attractive shops, bars and restaurants. Some are extremely "local", tiny one-room cafes barely capable of holding the espresso machine and a refrigerator. In others, only two or three tables fit snuggly, and they are filled with residents playing cards or solving the world's problems. As one emerges from the maze of tight streets onto main thoroughfares and squares, the smaller shops give way to larger stores and the cozy cafes grow to full service restaurants or bars (topas). Although it is off-season, the sidewalk cafes are busy. They offer fresh air and ambience, which only enhance the satisfaction of quietly reading the paper while savoring the wonderful flavor and aroma of the strong, dark coffee.
The city's rich history is particularly evident. Massive, old municipal building such as the Port Authority, Naval Station and Post Office point to Barcelona's long standing significance in the Castilian region. Statues of heroes, such as Christopher Columbus, decorate traffic circles and neighborhood squares.
The new buildings are just as impressive. We are tied up to the new World Trade Center pier adjacent to the Center's principal building. The structure is very impressive as each successive story grows larger in area, like an inverted wedding cake. It surrounds an ample stone courtyard and a delightfully addictive fountain. The fountain has no pool at all; just jets of high-pressure water that stream skyward from the stone surface. The mini geysers, obviously computer controlled, are artfully illuminated and expertly choreographed to music. Stores and a few cafes, conveniently located within the nearby buildings, entitle the weary or curious to sit mesmerized by the spectrum of colors and the oddly symmetric schemes. It is a unexpected treat to find such a retreat within a busy waterfront. But everything that the cadets are doing are a real treats and wonderfully educational at the same time. I would rate our stop in Barcelona as a complete success.
Well, we are quickly closing another memorable chapter in Sea Term 2000 and while today promises to be fun packed and exciting, tonight is guaranteed to be full of work. Tomorrow we sail and I can already hear the words ringing throughout the ship...Only twelve days and wake-up, till we see good ole Cape Cod...See you tomorrow.