16 Barcelona 2009
Home Up Barcelona Day One Who Went Formal Pictures French Riviera Rome Evil Map Information Roman Republic

Barcelona 2009 Home Barcelona Day One Barcelona Day Two Isle of Capri Day Three Evil Map of Rome Day Four
Florence and Pisa Day Five Nice and Eze Day Six Marseilles Day Seven Who Went Formal Pictures
Precruise Information Capri - PreC Rome Reborn Florence - PreC  
The Fabulous French Riviera Nice and Eze Monaco Fast Lane Grace Kelly Cote d'Azur

The SSQQ 2009
Barcelona Cruise

September 27th - October 4th

A 7-day cruise through the Western Mediterranean Triangle aboard Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas

Visiting Naples, Rome, Florence, Nice, and Marseilles



Story written by Rick Archer
November 2009


I am going to begin our story with an event from Florence, our third stop of the trip.  Today I am with a group of 40 as we enter the Galleria dell'Accademia, one of Italy's leading art museums.

The first room we enter is cluttered with six or seven giant unfinished sculptures of men in various poses. These eight-foot tall statues were created by Michelangelo. Oddly enough, these are statues of slaves.  I wonder to myself why Michelangelo would bother sculpting slaves.

Some of the statues are almost finished. I find them interesting to look at. The illusion is a rock slowly becoming a human. As I stare at these massive statues, I wonder again why Michelangelo would spend valuable time carving out slaves. Carving a statue this large is not idle work. It is a big project. I am also curious to understand why these works were never completed.

Our guide, Marco, explains that obviously Michelangelo didn't plan to leave the slaves unfinished. I learn these sculptures were originally commissioned in 1505 for the tomb of Pope Julius II. The sculptures fell by the wayside when Pope Julius died before their completion. Basically, the new Pope didn't feel like paying Michelangelo to finish a project that meant nothing to him. And there you have it.

So I am standing here looking at these various sculptures. The room is extremely crowded with visitors. Movement and visibility is limited, even for a tall person like me. So I move slowly through the room one sculpture at a time. The area is very poorly lit, so I have to get pretty close to inspect each structure.

Then for some reason the crowd suddenly disappears.  They are all running somewhere.  I look up to see where they are going. That is the moment I spot Michelangelo's "David" towering above the crowd like a visitor from the Planet Mars. Although David is 40 away in the distance, I am incredulous to see his statue rise 30 feet into the sky!

I had no idea his statue was so big!  The statue of David completely dominates the room.

When I see him, I gasp. David is so lifelike I swear I expect him to move at any moment. His statue is so beautiful that it literally takes my breath away. I find myself in total awe. Goose bumps break out all over my body. I instantly abandon the sad, unappreciated half-finished slave statues and run to get a closer look at David. Now that I see it first-hand, I can't believe how perfect the sculpture is!

This trip is the culmination of a year of planning. I have traveled 6,000 miles from my home and spent several thousand dollars in the process to be here. The plane flight was an ordeal that took an entire day. I have suffered terribly from every ache and pain in the book in the process. I am tired, I am cranky, I miss my dogs and my daughter and I haven't had a peanut butter sandwich in days. As everyone knows, travel is never easy. There are sacrifices that must be made.

And yet in this exact moment, it is all worth it. I have just seen the most beautiful sculpture in the world.

All the pictures in the books and on the Internet will never begin to equal the experience of seeing this incredible work of art first-hand. This is a masterpiece. I have just witnessed beauty and perfection.

And that, my friends, is the reason that people travel.


The moment Marla booked this trip in the Fall of 2008, she and I were convinced that this trip had it all.

We already knew people were interested.  At our dinner table during our 2008 Italy-Greece Cruise, the favorite topic of conversation was where we wanted to go next year in 2009.  Over the course of our trip, the consensus was strongly in favor of going to Barcelona and making the Magic Triangle Trip across the Western Mediterranean Sea.

Due to an odd arrangement of dates in 2009, the studio would be closed for seven days near the end of September.  We had never taken a week off in September before in thirty years, but this peculiar circumstance made the trip even more attractive to me since I wouldn't have to scramble to find substitute teachers.  It was a good thing too because a dozen instructors came on the trip... they would have had to find substitutes as well.  Let's just say the timing worked out well.
This was the perfect opportunity for the studio to take this cruise!   No student had to miss a class and no teacher had to find a substitute.

Previously I have been excited about every Destination Cruise that Marla has booked - Mardi Gras, Alaska, New England, Hawaii, and last year's Italy-Greece trip.  However I have say that no previous trip promised the kind of sensational highlights that this one did... the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Vesuvius and Pompeii, the stunning Isle of Capri, the otherworldly architecture of Barcelona, the marvelous museums and ruins of Rome, the museums of Florence complete with Renaissance paintings and Michelangelo's David, the casinos of Monaco, the fabulous French Riviera, and the idyllic beauty of Southern France.

Sure enough, our instincts were confirmed.  This year's Barcelona Trip broke the previous mark for passengers on a "Destination Trip" with 90... an unbelievable total considering the shaky 2008-2009 economy.  Yet at the same time, what other trip could combine so much history, natural beauty, rich culture and tradition as this trip across the Western Mediterranean?   The trip promised to be sensational.  And guess what?  This trip completely and totally lived up to the hype.  The 2009 Barcelona Cruise did not disappoint for a moment.   It was a wonderful vacation for everyone.  


A concern about privacy came up during our trip. Someone pointed out I was basically telling the whole world when their vacation would be taking place by listing the full names of the cruise members. This information in the wrong hands was not such a good idea. After a round table discussion, the consensus was that first names would be acceptable from now on.

My attitude is to "do no evil". If people think listing full names is a problem, then for this story I will stick to first names and see what people think.
If anyone wishes to comment on this issue, I would be curious to know your opinion (privacy assured). For example, now that the trip is over, is there any harm in publishing the full names on the SSQQ Passenger List?  Should I include the full names in this story? Or should I use the first name and one initial? Or do you think sticking to first names only is the right road to take?  

(Rick Archer's Note: It has been a month since I asked these questions.  I have not received one comment.  That tells me this is not a burning issue.  Still, I think from now we will go with first names until the trip is over.  After the trip is over, I will post last names as well unless someone specifically asks me not to.)


After the trip was over, I cannot begin to tell you how many people would see me at the studio and immediately ask how the trip went. They could barely hold back their curiosity. People emailed me for the same reason.  How was it?  What happened?

Unfortunately, I couldn't possibly do justice to their request. The story was just too big. So I would beg their pardon and promise to write a story just as soon as I could.

To be honest, I expect to be working on the story of this trip for the remainder of October 2009 and most of November.  Maybe even longer. There are so many pictures to and and so many tales to tell.

I believe the story of this Barcelona Trip could reach 100 pages if I had the time and energy. There was such a wealth of experiences on this trip that I could go on forever. For now, however, let's start with a gentle overview of the first couple days of the trip and leave the serious writing for later.


Rick's Note from the future:  When I took this trip four years ago, I predicted I could go on forever.  Well, I was right.  I wrote more stories about this trip than any other.  It took me forever, but I enjoyed every story I wrote. Oh well, Michelangelo didn't finish everything he started either.

However, I did finally finish.  I published the final story on Marseilles in March 2013.  That means I wrote 21 different articles on various aspects of this trip.  Included in the material is a Six Chapter article about the French Riviera.  There is a Four Chapter article on Rome and the Roman Forum.  One can also read about the trip "on day at a time"  by clicking the seven links labeled Day One, Day Two, etc.  Plus there is a wealth of Pre-Cruise Information on the 2009 Trip in general, the stunning Isle of Capri, Florence, and of course the Fabulous French Riviera.

As I write in 2013, we have now taken 26 cruise trips. Barcelona 2009 remains my all-time favorite. I don't expect that status to change any time soon.  


Barcelona 2009 Home Barcelona Day One Barcelona Day Two Isle of Capri Day Three Evil Map of Rome Day Four
Florence and Pisa Day Five Nice and Eze Day Six Marseilles Day Seven Who Went Formal Pictures
Precruise Information Capri - PreC Rome Reborn Florence - PreC  
The Fabulous French Riviera Nice and Eze Monaco Fast Lane Grace Kelly Cote d'Azur
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