It was an epic adventure in the Mediterranean on board Valiant Lady. I had the opportunity to fly first class on American Airlines and access the lounge in all four airports. Sitting down and relaxing in a pleasant environment before your flights is lovely. Have food, drinks, and water available and wifi so you can continue checking your emails or social media while waiting for your departure.
When it is time to board, they will announce it or keep an eye on the monitors so you can see when it's time to make it to your gate. Most of them are conveniently located 5 minutes from your gate. Except at the New York airport, it was a bit further, so we had to run a little bit.
The seat is pretty comfortable, but when it turns into a bed, not so much. The blanket and pillow were excellent, and I was still cold even though I wore warm clothing. I slept a couple of hours until the flight attendant woke me up to have breakfast. It was a long journey from Nashville to Barcelona, and we were exhausted when we arrived. Seeing our driver waiting for us as we exited the terminal with my husband's name on his tablet was nice. The Hilton Barcelona where we stayed was very friendly and close to many restaurants and sightseeing. We spent most of the day sleeping the day we arrived, trying to get over the change of time and jet lag.
We had four days to explore Barcelona before taking our cruise. It was great to be back in such a beautiful city. The first thing we did was find vegetarian restaurants. I was so surprised to see so many options. I was not too impressed by the first one we went to, but the other four we visited were delicious. Some are within walking distance, others not so much: GreenUp was 17 minutes from the hotel, their food was super clean, and they had a great Mocha Coffee there. Flax & Kale near La Rambla was one of the best meals. For Mediterranean vegetarian food, we went to Hummus, and we were so hungry and ordered so much food that we could not eat it all. Their pita bread was freshly made and fluffy, and the service was excellent. On our return from the ship, we had one more day in Barcelona, so we went to have lunch by La Sagrada Familia at Cheese & Cake. This tiny vegetarian cafe offered a variety of unique sandwiches. I owe you the photo because I was so hungry and surprised by the sandwich presentation that I forgot to take a picture. Imagine three slices of bread; each layer has different toppings, from humus to fruits to veggies and avocado. It was delicious!
Our ship Valiant Lady is a sister ship of Scarlet Lady. They all have the same decor except for a few surprises. We had the Seriously Suite cabin that included a fully stocked bar, and the bed faced the balcony with two chairs and the famous red hammock (picture above). Our itinerary included stops in Toulon, France; Marina Di Carrara; Ajaccio, France; Cagliari, Sardinia and overnight at Ibiza, Spain. Unfortunately, we could not dock in Ajaccio, France, because of some issues with the terms and regulations of docking at that port. So, the captain decided to skip it and go to Olbia, Sardinia, instead. The was not much to do there except go to the beach for a few hours,
Things we did on our own at each port:
1. Went to the beach for a couple of hours. Took a walk around Toulon to see the narrow cobblestone streets. Took a taxi up to the cable car to see the city from the top of the hill. Gorgeous view A must-do!
2. Took the bus to the train station in Marina Di Carrara to Pisa and then to Lucca. Seeing the tower standing tall, white, and beautiful right in front of you is awe-inspiring. We wanted to climb up to the top of the tower, but there was a long line and not enough time to wait. So, I have a reason to go back ;-) Lucca is known for its wine and walled city. We ate pizza and gelato and ran back to catch the train so we could be back in time to port.
3. Oblia is a tiny port on the island of Sardinia, and even though the crew was able to organize some last-minute tours, we opted to go to a beach just 15 minutes bus ride from the port.
4. Cagliari, another beautiful city on the same island but on the south side, has gorgeous cafes alongside the main street across from the port and incredible architecture. We again took the bus and went to one of their beaches called Monte Mixi which was about 30 minutes away. Then we walked around town a bit and sat down to enjoy a drink before heading back to port.
5. The glorious island of Ibiza. As you pull into the port, you see all the beautiful million-dollar yachts along with the port. We had an overnight there, so we hurried off the ship to check out the city. I think that we walked about 4 hours looking at everything. Hundreds of small stores surround the small area by the port with souvenirs, clothing, cafes, and outdoor dining. The balconies are beautifully decorated, inviting you to come into a shop. We looked for a salsa club to dance to and found one, but the floor was not suited for it, so we just hung out at their lovely outdoor patio and enjoyed a mojito.
6. One of the things to do while in Ibiza is to take a 30 minutes ferry ride to the island of Formentera. It has the most beautiful turquoise water and white sand beaches ever. However, you must take the bus and walk about a mile in the hot sun to get to it. It's scorched and dusty there.
Tip: Do not go to the restaurant called Piratas. Awful service, and the tuna sandwich was a joke, just a piece of bread with tuna out of a can with nothing else on it.
I have many photos of my trip, but I am sharing a few with you in the slide below. Should you like to take advantage of the tours offered by Virgin Voyages, let me know, and I will book it for you and your cruise with all components of your adventure. You can reach me via email or phone or on my website's contact page.
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