Tag Archives: Spain

C = Cartagena, Spain

A to Z Ports: Cartagena, Spain

The sail-in / out for Cartagena, Spain is beautiful and gives you an understanding of why this port is so important to Spain. It is large, deep and much protected. The hills surrounding it have several fortresses that blend into the rocky landscape and, while they may look worn-down, are still partially in use to protect the harbour.

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Because this is a deep harbour, all sizes of ships are able to dock very close to the city centre – just walk off the ship!

Along the pier, you will find restaurants, a nautical museum and a harbour tour. If you cross the boulevard, there is a tourist office that can sell a number of package tickets, including a hop on, hop off bus. The bus can give you an understanding pf the city’s layout and a stop to the elevator that takes to you a castle that overlooks the entire city and harbour.

 You can easily walk to the entrance to the Roman theatre and a city centre. The museum is usually closed on Mondays, however both times I docked, it was supposed to be closed, yet it opened just a little latter than the posted time because there was a ship in port.

I love how easy this port is to navigate and find your way around.  It is not crowded and the people are amazing. It has become one of my favourite ports of call.

 Here is my previous posts about Cartagena.

#AtoZChallenge

 

Strolling around Palma de Mallorca

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.

 

Mystery Cruises #AtoZChallenge

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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.

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The ports included:

Larvik, Hundested, Nyborg, Fredercia, Wismar, Lyskil

Would I go on another one? It would be hard to keep me away!

 

 

Y is for Y más: a review of my top five places

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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!

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Number Four: Lisbon has beautiful architecture, twisting streets, great museums, amazing music and, of course, good food and wine!

Number Three: Buenos Aires with it different neighborhoods, tango all night, and friendly people — I think I lost part of my heart there!

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?).

 

T is for Toledo, Spain

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Toledo, Spain is a beautiful walled city that has been memorized in artwork by El Greco.

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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!

G is for the Gardens in Valencia

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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.

La Coruna and the Torre de Hercules

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.

Walking in Cadiz

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.

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Lazy Day in Cartagena, Spain

After the heat and dodging marathon racers in Valencia, I was looking forward to an easier port of call. Cartagena proved to be just that! The Braemar docked right next to a small habour and wide boulevard that gave easy access to the city.

Directly across from the harbour is a monument to fighters last in the battle at Santiago de Cuba, along with several statues leading into the main city.

As you walk into the plaza, the Museo Teatromano de Cartagena provides an entrance to the Roman Theatre. It is a nice museum that includes several different rooms and a series of escalators to bring you to the theatre.

Besides the Roman theatre, Cartagena has a number of archeolgical sites. It also has a number of walls and fortifications that protect its natural harbour. It is easy to walk and there is a hop on, hop off bus as well as a harbour tours boat. Along the harbour, there are cafes, which makes this a very easy and pleasant port to visit.

Here are some of the sights of the city.

Our sail-away was spectacular. This is the only way to see the series of fortresses that guard the harbour. We also had fun with a small boat that had photographers from the ship sailing around the Braemar taking pictures of us– taking pictures of them!

Hot day in Valencia

Valencia probably was not everyone’s first choice on our Braemar “Choose your Cruise”, but we were told there was a marathon scheduled for Palma de Mallora, so Valencia won the vote. Unlike the last two ports we visited, the cruise port is not that close to town. When docking there, either the ship will provide a transfer, or the Port of Valencia will. In our case, the ship provided this, which also meant that it could only drop us near the old town. What we did not know was there would be more detours waiting for us. But, on our way to the old city centre, we passed some of the new, modern buildings that are part of the Ciudad de las Artes Y Ciencias — arts and science museums.

We were dropped off just on the border of the old city, near a park and the library.

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I meandered through the streets, until I got to the main street that runs through the city centre and came to a complete stop.  We escaped one marathon to come to another one!

Fortunately, once I figured out I did not want to try to cross the street where the runners were, I found some charming places in the old city, first walking up a charming street that led to the church and Torre de Santa Catalina.

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It was near the Plaza de la Reina which is in front of the cathedral.

Behind the cathedral was another plaza with cafes, statues and fountains.

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It was an easy walk to the Torres de Serranos.

One of the interesting things about Valencia is the creation of a series of parks that are in a dried riverbed. It was very peaceful to walk in this section of Valencia, after the craziness of the marathon and twisted streets around the cathedral.

In additional to gardens, there are playgrounds and, of course, a soccer field.

I continued my walk through the city centre until the heat got to me and I headed back the ship’s pool. Here are some other sites I enjoyed in Valencia.