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Cruisin’

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Published: June 21st 2017

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There is a protocol to how to live on a ship with about 650 other people and we are learning all about it.

Our first stop was Menorca. This sleepy surprisingly large island was resplendent under the hot sunshine and the brilliant blue ocean surrounding it was worthy of a tourist flyer.

We visited the town of Ciudtadella briefly on a shore tour and a few other spots on the island as well. In the afternoon, we spent some time in the capital Mahon on our own, where not a lot was happening (it was the siesta time)

In Spain, between the hours of about 1.30/2 pm till about 5/5.30, businesses close down and the streets are pretty deserted. If, as a tourist, you are wandering about, this is the time to get all those holiday snaps sans people! It’s also a good time to just go have a rest because it is really the hottest part of the day and when the sun is beating down and the humidity is high, there is no point in walking around.

We ventured out again at about 6.30 and got a

tip about a fish restaurant. It took a taxi ride to get there and the place was surrounded by nothing except green hills. We enjoyed our set menu very much; the tiny prawns were sweet and succulent and the mussels excellent.

The second day we had reached Mallorca and were docked at the town of Alcùdia which is on the northern side of the island. Mallorca is actually quite a big island, so after our morning tour of Alcùdia, Mark and I decided to get the local coach to Palma (the capital) which is on the southern side of the island to visit the capital. The coach ride was an “express” and took about 40 minutes to traverse the distance.

Palma seems a very beautiful city with an enormous and impressive cathedral set right on the sea and some very lovely streets and buildings. It was literally teeming with tourists from the large cruise ships we could see docked in the harbour. We managed to do a walking tour by ourselves which took us to some quieter spots and got to see the ancient Arabic baths, the only remnant in the city of that

culture according to the notes we had.

That night the ship left at 7 and we enjoyed a most beautiful sunset over the island as we sailed by as well as the rising of a full moon over the ocean. It was special.

On Saturday, we spent the whole day at sea. I love to just watch the endless blue that surrounds us. Not only does it seem endless, it is also endlessly fascinating to me. We have even managed to see some dolphins swimming alongside the ship on this cruise which is always a delight.

Sunday, we arrived in Gibraltar in the morning. The famous rock was shrouded in fog and it had not cleared when later we visited the top with our very loquacious guide Karen. She told us all about the fascinating military history of this tiny bit of Britain surrounded by sea and Spain. The macaque monkeys which inhabit the top of the rock put on a fine display for us. We got to see a newborn (it probably had been born that morning – the mother still had clear signs visible that the birth had been

a short while before). One youngish monkey thought I the entrance ticket I was holding was food and decided to jump onto my backpack. That was a bit thrilling, I have to say. I am just glad I did not scream.

We visited St Michael’s cave and the military tunnels and Karen kept up an informative prattle the whole time.

I must say, the town of Gibraltar did not impress me at all. However, in the afternoon Mark and I attempted and completed the Mediterranean walk which took us scrambling over uneven steps and natural pathways on the weather-beaten side of the rock which faces south. There were countless birds squalking and soaring on the updrafts and next to sheer cliffs. It was spectacular. We even managed to see a mamma Barbary partridge with her seven or so little ones grazing for food in the undergrowth.

On Monday, we sailed into Càdiz (pronounced with the stress on the first syllable, not the way we usually say it) and it is such a beautiful city! It claims to be the oldest one city in Europe. Phoenicians established it in about 1100 BC.

I loved it immediately. It is virtually surrounded by the sea, there are fabulous beaches here (probably the best I’ve seen on this trip), a cathedral, churches, fortresses, cobbled streets, elegant buildings and wonderful gardens flanking the headlands which Mark and I walked through on a very hot afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed.

We had our last Spanish meal at lunchtime in a little bar tucked down one of the narrow laneways, tapas and a fried fish dish. Superb. I have loved just about every mouthful of Spanish food ingested during these five weeks. And I have loved Spain, the Spaniards and their wonderful language. I am quite sad to be farewelling it. Lisbon is our last port of call.


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