|Our bus driver was busy looking at texts and
talking with our “guide” for 1.75 hours each way
during our trip to Barcelona. Dangerous! Annoying!
One of the most important things in delivering a luxury experience is consistency. I should be able to know, in advance, if my “On Your Own” transfer will have a tour guide or an assistant. Regent can easily give the local operators a Standards and Procedures to be followed. Further, and once again, as there was no Regent Seven Seas representative on the bus, there was no quality control…or person who actually should have taken the iPhone off the windshield and told the bus driver to be quiet and focus on driving rather than yapping away and disturbing the guests.
|Razor Clams with Garlic and Oil|
|Fried Smelts, Calamari and Crab|
We then, still dealing with the rain, headed to the Picasso Museum which, with all of the time I have spent in Barcelona, I had never been to. Devin was not, from what I could tell, terribly impressed with the collection as most of it was focused on his early years…and the museum was crowded. We had purchased our tickets online the night before, so we were able to skip the rather long line and head straight in. I am not sure why everyone doesn’t do it. With this option available at most museums in Europe, I strong recommend it.
We then had some time to spend wandering the Gothic Barrio (Quarter) and La Rambla before lunch…and then the skies opened. We ducked into a tent covered bar on La Rambla and figured we would grab a drink while we waited for the skies to clear. I have to admit it: I WAS A TOURIST. I didn’t ask because I was just happy to be dry. Out came a huge beer and diet Coke…and a 21€ bill. It was embarrassing and I am still angry with myself. But at least I am sharing this Fail.
I was lucky enough to score a table in the small room right next to the kitchen. I love watching the chefs cooking and tending to the fire below the stove with giant cast iron hooks; the waiters, in their white shirts and black vests, calling out orders and bantering while waiting for dishes to be delivered, and the smells emanating from chicken and roast kid, prawns to ox.
We found La Rambla which is both beautiful and lined with trees, but great shopping as well. After a bit of shopping we dove into the old city, with winding walkways and lots to see and enjoy. We eventually headed to Mercate de L’Olivar, the local market. It was OK, but a big let down after yesterday’s visit to Barcelona’s La Boqueria.
We confidently decided that we would have dinner in Sette Mari, as our first experience was well and truly excellent. And that is where we screwed up. We should have left it alone. Our experience was almost exactly the opposite..and the consistency of Regent Seven Seas Cruises inconsistently smacked us right in the face!
We sat down and then just sat there. Then, unlike our first experience, a glass of prosecco was just poured and the antipasti was virtually thrown on our table with various items pointed to and then the waiter disappeared. Getting a welcome to the table was fleeting at best.
For starters Devin ordered the minestrone soup and I the cheese lasagna. Devin’s watery, flavorless, soup was delivered literally ten minutes before my lasagna…which I had to ask for twice; only to have delivered a small square of over-cooked pasta dish. The main course was no better as Devin’s spaghetti was Olive Garden quality and my Lamb Osso Bucco was incredibly fatty (though the meat – once found – was quite good. (I was going to post a photo of all of the fat, but decided to spare you.)
The consistency of the inconsistency is both remarkable and exhausting.
Our last morning we arrived in Valencia, Spain. I felt compelled to try a Regent Seven Seas Cruises “free” tour one more time “Valencia at a Glance and Wine Tasting”. With a deep breath we headed out. Our guide was charming, witty, well-informed and very efficient. I could not have asked for a better guide. Regent sent along someone from the ship; the first time in our ten days. Also, our tour did not start at an incredibly early time. And the wine tasting was both informative and entertaining. This was the best of the “free” Regent tours on this cruise.
Our tour, with 22 guests, started with a brief drive around the historical parts of Valencia.
We then disembarked our bus at a gate to the old city, where we had short walk to our wine tasting.
|Old City, Valencia, Spain|
(The description has the wine tasting at the end, but it was better this way.) Our wine guide was a charming man whose job is to promote Valencia wines and he did a fine job balancing information with a bit of humor.
We then walked through the old city to the Mercat de Central (Central Market) where we were given 30 minutes of free time to shop and wander about.
Afterwards we continued our brief tour of the old city
before heading to the City of Arts and Sciences; an architecturally intriguing area recently developed by Valencia to promote tourism. We only had a photo stop, but it probably is worth a bit of a visit the next time I am here.
Once again, I have to ask myself, why Regent Seven Seas Cruises can deliver a wonderful tour right after one that was painful (and dangerous). The consistency of inconsistency is both frustrating and mind-boggling.
As we arrived back at the ship at 2:45 pm once again I had no lunch option other than the very limited menu at the Patio Grill. I thought I would give the hamburger and hot dog test a second try. While I am happy to report I did receive a top and bottom bun on my hamburger and my hot dog bun was toasted, the rest was pretty much the same disappointment. My daughter ordered a panini and it came soggy; something that I have never seen before. Ugh. Not a great way to wind up our experience on the Regent Seven Seas Voyager.
Well, it is now time to pack up and head home. I will be writing a Reflections article in the next days.