Barcelona

Saving the best for last…can’t say enough nice things about Barcelona. If you’ve never been, I’d put it on your bucket list. It’s is a modern, clean city with all the advantages yet has so much of the old world charm in its beautifully maintained buildings and architecture.

If you haven’t really experienced tapas, this is the place to have small plates of food and make a meal of them. I have to say, the food here REALLY special – simply grilled seafood with olive oil, garlic, parsley, and a little salt for the most part, and use that treatment on all kinds of seafood, vegetables, meats.

The Boqueria food market has to be one of biggest marketplaces of separate food stalls operating under one roof selling absolutely everything imaginable. If I lived here, I would shop here everyday. I have to say, it’s hard to get me out of this place. It is so colorful, fresh, and memorizing to be in the marketplace. I know you’ll get hooked on these fresh fruit smoothies too.

Fresh fruit at the Boqueria
Fresh fruit at the Boqueria

The city belongs to their favorite son, Antoni Gaudi…architect extraordinaire. His work is visible throughout the city, in houses, the park, apartment buildings, and of course, the Segrada de Familia, his most famous church. Construction started in 1882. Every time I see it (3rd time – lucky me!) a different part is covered up, and they are working on a new section.

Being a very devout Catholic, Gaudi really emphasized two most notable moments in the life of Jesus. The front of the church features the stations of the cross, showing the story of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for mankind (Easter)…

Front entrance - La Segrada Familia
Front entrance – La Segrada Familia

The back of the church illustrates the birth of Christ and all aspects of the nativity (Christmas). To see this church in person is to truly be in the presence of genius…it is amazing and unforgettable. It’s slated to be completed in 2026.

That’s it this trip. I hope you enjoyed seeing this corner of the world with us!

 

 

 

Seville

We landed this morning in Cadiz, the oldest city in Europe, then took a 90 minute bus ride to Seville, the fourth largest city in Spain. Within 30 seconds of seeing the town, our friend Donna said “oh, I could live here!” What a spectacular city this is…so clean, beautiful, charming, colorful, fabulous architecture, and such a richness to the land…so different from yesterday. There are more palm trees here than people, with their biggest products being olives, oranges, wine.

This city was first built by the Phoenicians, who originally came from Lebanon! and then it was conquered by so many others…the French, the Spaniards, the Moors, the Arabs, I couldn’t keep up with all the who’s and when’s…but the influence on the architecture is certainly here. The wall to the King’s palace, Pedro the first, is seven layers thick….every time someone conquered, they just added a different layer to the wall. Much of the palace is Arabian style, which the Spanish really liked, so they kept much of it that way, and added the Christian influence to the Arabian tiles and archways. It’s quite beautiful.

image

 The rooms are all separated by beautiful arches and no doors.

image

This beautiful church was first a market place, the. It became a mosque, and eventually it was converted by the Catholics to a beautiful Cathedral. The bottom of the bell tower is Arabian, but the Catholics added the bell tower later which chimes beautifully throughout the city.

Inside the church is the burial memorial for Christopher Columbus. It’s the first time I’ve seen elevated burial remains suspended mid air. He is held mid air by 4 kings. Take a look at the real people down below to get an idea of the scale of this beautiful masterpiece.

image

This last monument was built for the Spain world expo in 1924 and has been featured in over 125 movies, including Tom Cruise’s Knight and Day. It’s just magnificent and so huge!!

This is definitely a place to come back and spend more time. We really enjoyed this beautiful city.

Lisbon

We spent today in Lisbon (pronounced Leash-boa in Portuguese). It’s was a nice sail into the port along the river. Lots of colorful buildings with tiles covering entire walls, leftover from when the Moors occupied Portugal.

image

We went to a monastery, which was about 3 blocks long, done in an altered gothic style, but with more sculptural detail. Its the scale of these buildings that just really take you back a bit and the amazing craftsmanship to hand carve all this detail!

image

The cloister inside was a huge hexagon shaped space surrounded by these amazing arches decorating the outdoor hallways. Can you imagine the monks coming here to meditate all day? It was the size of a baseball diamond in the middle.

image

This last monument was a tribute for all the navigators that helped to sail and discover new lands for Portugal. Represented here on both sides are sailors, kings and queens, poets, and writers, all who contributed to Portugal’s history of navigation. It has become the symbol for Portugal.

image

This last monument was a tribute for all the navigators that helped to sail and discover new lands for Portugal. Represented here on both sides are sailors, kings and queens, poets, and writers, all who contributed to Portugal’s history of navigation. It has become the symbol for Portugal.

There are tons of outdoor eateries with wonderful seafood.  t’s early November and the weather is still nice enough for everyone to eat outside wearing their sunglasses…lucky dogs!

Málaga and the Beach

Hola from Spain…we sailed for 1.5 days to awaken in Málaga, Spain, the birthplace and childhood home of Pablo Picasso. this charming waterfront town must really be bustling during the summer months. There’s a long beachfront lined with palapas umbrellas framed on the other side of the street by little tapas eateries and fancy clothing stores.

The Cathedral de Málaga is absolutely specular, you would be in awe of its scale. Once inside you will feel so humble and small. It was once Moslem occupied, but is now a Catholic Church. Done in the Renaissance style, it is something to behold.

The homes along the waterfront are really fabulous, with huge palm trees and garden verandas on the front of the houses. It’s a fairly wealthy town for those who can afford to live oceanfront.

image

The center of town has narrowed streets closed to autos, and just for pedestrian traffic. The streets are all made do stone and granite…so clean and beautiful, line on both sides by fabulous boutiques, stores, and gelato and pastry shops. It was oh so cute and wonderful for us girls, and we sure wish we had more time in this place! I could easily spend a week here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waking in Savona, Italy

Buongiorno miei amici,

( good morning my friends)

We awake in beautiful Savona, Italy. Unlike American tours where everyone gets on at the first stop, and all disembark at the conclusion, this Italian cruise line is quite different in that is picks up and disembarks passengers at each stop. Savona must be their hub as it’s really busy here with many passengers joining at this spot.

What a charming little city, quite reminiscent of Monaco with its curved, palm tree lines streets along the waters edge. We ate at a tiny place and had the best linguini and clams ever, along with some great gelato.

 

 

 

Spain and More

We are off on a cruise with Costa Cruise Lines.  Yes, I know it’s the company where the captain sank a ship, but hopefully that was a one time situation.  We chose it because of the locations.  The cruise starts in Barcelona and ends in Barcelona, one of our favorite cities, so come and follow along with us.

Costa Cruise to Spain & More...
Costa Cruise to Spain & More…

Casablanca, Morrocco

Bonjour mes Amis, (Hello my friends),

I’m writing today from the former French occupied Casablanca, so they speak Arabic and French here. I had some expectations of this place having watched Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart many times in the famous romance story which took place in this exotic locale. Sad to say, this place is nothing like the movie.

We are not far from the Sahara desert so understandably, this place is an arid, dry place in the middle of a vast wasteland. These people try to live in this barren ground, in a country devoid of natural resources. Scrambling out a life is pretty tough. The people are really poor, and live in very meager domains, but no matter how poor, everyone seems to have a satellite dish for watching tv.

One of the big attractions is the palace of the King. Only tourists are allowed to visit the grounds of the palace and even at that, we were only allowed to photograph the front entrance to the palace, and only from one corner of a sidewalk. We were forbidden to stand in the street to be able to look down the archways to see beyond the guard protected entrance.

The Tomb of Mohammed V was pretty amazing when you hear that this is all hand carved marble, tile, and wood beautifully done. (Below)

 

image

I never knew what they meant when they said “come to the casbah…” but I do now. It is the gated and walled community that contains 500 homes inside, full of narrow, winding streets, all painted blue and white to keep it cool. Once inside, you would think that you were in Greece. It costs three times more to live in this section of town. Here’s is the entrance to the Casbah. Chuck doesn’t care what the price is…he’s not interested.

image

The biggest attraction is the mosque of Mohammed Hassam 2. It’s newly built, 1997, and is the 2nd largest mosque in the world. The interior is the length of 3 football fields, has only carpets inside, n hold 20,000 kneeling men on the first floor, 6,000 women on the second floor, and another 80,000 outside. Interestingly, I heard that the pope was invited to speak to the crowds here, and yes, men and women are kept separate. You have to be covered down to the wrists and ankles to enter the mosque. It’s a bit shocking to know that they spent a billion dollars to build this place when the people and country are so poor.

Speaking of being covered up, women certainly have an unequal role in this society. Notice the photos of the girls at the beach!!

image