Spain and Gibraltar

For the next week or two, I’m going to be grouping some of my stops. Things are getting a little hectic with a new port every day. I’m starting to miss the lazy sea days where we had fewer things to do and now it’s up earlier than normal to catch a bus for a tour somewhere.

Malaga, Spain – This is the classic sun drenched, delightful southern Spain beach town. It’s one of the oldest ports in the Mediterranean so there is lot’s of history along with great beaches and delicious food. I did a highlights tour, which starts out with a panoramic bus ride around town to some of the scenic sites and then starts a walking tour through the old town. Instead of cobblestone streets, the old town is covered in marble. We arrived right after all the holy week celebrations and Malaga is known for it’s large ornate parades and decorations. As the processions wind through the streets, they are all burning candles and of course the wax is dripping on to the marble. For our visit, the city workers were out with power washers blasting the wax off the marble, so if you are every looking for something slippery, try a wet marble floor with wax. I decided to try a tapas lunch so after reading what seemed like a hundred menus, I found a place on my way to the market that looked really good. What I didn’t know was that I just outside the market and the tables and menus I was looking at were for fresh restaurants that were inside the market. Let’s just say that was some of the freshest seafood I’ve ever had and was delicious. One example is a grilled shrimp skewer on a bed of fresh greens covered in Iberian ham bits. We were only there for the day, so after walking and the lunch it was back to the ship. I will say this is one of the few places I’ve visited where I would seriously consider if I was ever to make a move like that. Rent costs are low, beach within a block, great restaurants and shops and the climate is incredible.

Gibraltar – Next stop Gibraltar and it does look a little different from the commercial. Very British in spite of being surrounded by Spain. They have the little red phone booths you see in London as well as the police where the big hats and there are fish and chips at the pub. I did a WW 2 tour of the caves inside the mountain which was very interesting. A few Gibraltar facts, you have to drive across the runway of the international airport to get to the Spanish border, there are more miles of caves inside the mountain than outside. There are also a lot of monkeys they call apes that are at the top of Gibraltar. They are experts at stealing bags and purses as well a making a mad dash to get inside a tour bus and raid any food they can find.

Seville-Next stop, Seville which is 60 miles from the coast. How do you get there on a cruise ship? You take a small river until you get to Seville. This river is so small there were places we had less than 75 feet on each side of the ship and there was no room for 2 ships to pass, so a timed passage. We would clear a bridge and power lines with only a few feet to spare and when going through a single lock just before arriving, there was less than 20 feet on each side and not much front and rear. If you’re not on a small ship like this, your option is to dock in Cadiz and then take a 2 hour ride to get to Seville. As for Seville itself, it’s probably one of the most famous cities in Spain for some of it’s buildings, narrow streets and sidewalk restaurants. Before getting here many of the passengers would go on and on about how beautiful it was but after Malaga those stories changed a little. It’s still a very nice place, but this was way more commercial and “big city” feel and pricey. On day 2, I went on a tour of the largest Sherry winery in Spain. In their earlier days, they would put an image of a red bull alongside the road as advertising. Then the king of Spain liked it and wanted them larger and there was concern about the “advertising” so they changed the paint color to black. The Sherry itself dates back to the mid 1700’s. After the tour we were treated to snacks and a sample of each type of Sherry they make from the dry to the cream style which is almost like a port. We were supposed to be in Lisbon by now but due to heavy rains and wind, we had to delay our departure for over 12 hours so now scheduled to arrive Lisbon at noon instead of 8:00 am.

What about the food – I get asked a lot about the food so I thought I’d share a couple of photos. This was from the Easter brunch.

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