The Alumni Association’s Ginny Hall is with a group of NC State alumni and friends on a Wolftreks cruise along the Mediterranean, exploring the shores of France, Monaco, Italy, Greece and Turkey. Here is her first dispatch from their journey:
Our trip began in the beautiful city of Barcelona, where our first stop was the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia. La Sagrada Família was begun in 1882 by the diocesan architect Francisco de Paula del Villar. At the end of 1883, Antoni Gaudi was commissioned to carry on the work, a task which he did not abandon until his death in 1926. Since then different architects have continued the work after his original idea and now, over 100 years since it was begun, it still is not finished. This is because it is an “expiatory” church, meaning it is built only with donations. Based on historic trends, the official estimated completion date of the basilica is some 150 years from now but, due to increased tourism, resulting in more revenue, it is rumored that Sagrada Familia could be completed in as few as fourteen years.
We next toured the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia (also known as Barcelona Cathedral). Unlike most cathedrals, this one has several of its chapels outside the cathedral. Because the chapels were sponsored by local organizations that wanted to represent their success and wealth, the chapels contain the finest marbles, gold and jewels. They have ornate, spike-topped wrought iron gates to protect them, but are not impenetrable. The solution to this challenge was the 16th century security system called geese. Geese are aggressive, have teeth, will only accept food from their known handler (so, unlike many dogs, cannot be distracted with a juicy steak), and become upset and honk loudly when a stranger enters their domain. The geese are still there today, but they are now kept inside a gated enclosure to protect visitors.
After touring the cathedral, we continued on foot through the area surrounding the oldest medieval square in Barcelona. This area was originally built by the Romans and, while most of the streets have been widened to allow vehicle access, some of the original Roman streets (only 600 feet wide!) remain.
Next it was on to the harbor to board our beautiful ship, Oceania Cruises’ Regatta. The Regatta is small by cruise ship standards, with space for less than 700 guests. This allows for a much more intimate and luxurious experience — there are less than two passengers for every crew member.
The first night of our cruise, our tour company, Go Next, hosted a reception for our group, along with all the many other alumni groups aboard the ship. This is the first time our entire Wolfpack group assembled and we had a wonderful time. While we are not the largest alumni group on board, when our name was called, our cheering was certainly the loudest!