Sailing into Palma de Mallorca is beautiful and a highlight is the ability to see the entire Cathedral – a very large building that can fill a photograph.
While is looks like your cruise ship is close to the city centre, it is about a 30 minute walk or a one-way taxi ride that costs approximately 10 Euros. Fortunately, the cruise terminal will provide a shuttle bus for 8 Euros, round trip. Taking the shuttle, you will pass by one of the largest marinas for private boats – it seems to go on forever!
The shuttle will drop you across the boulevard from the Cathedral, which is a great place to start your own personal tour. Once you cross the street, you will find an information centre and the first stop for the hop on, hop off bus. You will also be at the base of the cathedral, which includes several parks and a pedestrian street that has several coffee shops and cafés. This is a very walkable city and it is easy to slow down, stroll and just wander through its streets.
If you want to get a good “lay of the land” or see more of the city, the hop on, hop off bus is a great option. It also includes a stop at the Bellver Castle that overlooks the city – giving you great views of the harbour.
So, why would someone pay to go on a mystery cruise; get on a ship and head to ports unknown? Since I love to cruise, this sounded like an interesting opportunity to sail into, well, mystery! I’ve now done two of these cruises and both on the Braemar. I really like this ship. It is a smaller one and feels like family. It is very easy to sail solo and meet lots of friends on this ship.
On the first cruise, we sort of knew where we were going. The passengers were given a choice and we voted for one port or another — but we did not know where we were going until we got there! Here are the ports we visited:
Porto, Malaga, Barcelona, Valencia, Cartegna, Cadiz, La Coruna
The second mystery cruise was truly a mystery — one that would include only maiden ports (ports where our ship had never visited). It was very strange not to be able to plan or research the ports we were going to, nor to be able to know exactly what to pack — for warm or cold! The cruise was early May, so it was hard to plan for everything. It started in Dover and we waited to see if we would turn to go north … or south (or if we could even trust that, in the night, the ship would change directions!). As it turned out, we continued North and thus we began a cruise that went to Norway, Denmark, Germany and Sweden.
The ports included:
Larvik, Hundested, Nyborg, Fredercia, Wismar, Lyskil
Would I go on another one? It would be hard to keep me away!
Y más or “and more …” is my review of my top favorite places to visit — as least at of today! Here is my countdown…
Number Five: Cadiz, Spain! I was so surprised at the beauty and walk-ability of Cadiz. At to that a Fortress named after my patron saint that is constructed in a star shape, beautiful beaches and great seafood — what more could I want!
Number Four: Lisbon has beautiful architecture, twisting streets, great museums, amazing music and, of course, good food and wine!
Gate to downtown Lisbon
View of the opera house and Plaza from the Santa Justa Elevator
View of the castle from the Santa Justa Elevator
View from the Castelo de Sao Jorge
Number Three: Buenos Aires with it different neighborhoods, tango all night, and friendly people — I think I lost part of my heart there!
Me at the Piazolla New Year’s Eve show
Number Two: Cuba! I am still dreaming about Cuba and all it has to offer. I love Cuba and her people. Viva Cuba!
And number one should not be a shock to anyone who has read my blog … BARCELONA! If I could, this is where I would like to live. Architecture, people, beaches, food, night life, museums, concerts — it has everything I love (and did I mention football and Camp Nou?).
Toledo, Spain is a beautiful walled city that has been memorized in artwork by El Greco.
The cathedral towers over the entire city while massive walls surround a jumble of twisting streets where churches, synagogues an mosques stand side by side.
It is an easy trip by train from Madrid and even the train station is an interesting site.
But it is the cathedral that is the heart of the landscape.
I loved wandering the streets of Toledo, seeing more of El Greco’s artwork and, of course, eating marzipan — a Toledo specialty!
Running through the center of Valencia, Spain is a series of gardens. These gardens are gathering places for families, sporting events, and a wonderful place to cool down in the hot sun! That was my goal — I’d spent a very hot morning wandering the streets of the old city centre and shade provided a welcome relief.
Here are some pictures of my walk through the gardens in Valencia.
Here is more about my experiences in Valencia.
The last stop on the Braemar “Choose your own cruise” was La Coruna, Spain. This is a small, charming coastal town. I was drawn to it because it is the home of the oldest lighthouse, La Torre de Hercules. It is very walkable, but also has good transit. During the summer, there is an old-fashioned tram, however from the port, it is easy to get around by bus. The main tourist bus is 3 or 3 A, however 5 also goes to all the same places — and heads out to the suburbs and university. Yes, I ended up taking this one, not realizing how much of a “tour” of the city I was going to have!
It is also a very friendly city — I had several opportunities to practice my Spanish, and even a chance to speak French! It was very pleasant to walk around and see this charming place. Here are some of my favorite pictures.
Sunrise in La Coruna
La Marina Galeries
La Torre de Hercules
The marina had a lovely park with statues.
And there was lots of waves!
This was one of my favorite stops on this cruise — completely surprising, friendly and a mixture of city and nature.
All the research I did indicated that it would be easy to walk around Cadiz from port where the Braemar would dock. There is also a Hop on, hop off bus. So, I opted for a quick trip around Cadiz to get my bearings, then it was time for a nice walk next to the beaches and through parks. Cadiz is a great place to walk and see some interesting architecture, beautiful beaches and gardens and old forts. Perfect for pictures!
Before leaving ship, I got top see a submarine being towed out of the port, then heading out to sea.
There are several parks that run along the Atlantic Ocean. Here are somize of my favourite areas.
There was an interesting area with a waterfall, dinosaurs and ducks …
and this beautiful tree that provided shade to a memorial for Jose Marti — the Cuban poet and freedom fighter.
I did mention beaches, right? One very nice one is located between two forts.
One of the fortresses is a star-shaped fort named Santa Catalina.
From this beach, it is an easy walk to the main plaza and other sites such as churches and monuments.
Cadiz is a beautiful city — very easy to get around and friendly people. I was sad to leave.