If you’re one of my readers who pops in regularly then you might have wondered where I’ve been – no posts for a fortnight. That is because on Monday 8th October we embarked P&O’s Ventura cruise ship and I refused to pay £25 a day for the onboard wi-fi! Once aboard, we made our way to our cabin and settled into our rather comfortable home for the next 12 days. We like a balcony cabin because it is quieter and more private than the public decks. This is not our cabin (my photo was very dark) but an identical one. It was fabulous.
Our destinations included Gibraltar, Lisbon and the Spanish cities of La Coruna, Valencia, Cartagena, Cadiz and Seville. I have no intention of boring you with long, detailed descriptions of what we saw so apart from a couple of future posts in which I will mention specific events, I shall squash several days into the following paragraphs. First stop was La Coruna in Northwest Spain where we joined an excursion to visit some of the Galician estuaries. We had been told that a light snack would be provided but hadn’t expected such a wide selection of tapas and wine in a pretty restaurant situated high up overlooking the estuary.
Cadiz is the oldest inhabited town in the Western world and last time we were there the highlight of the day was the brilliant flamenco dancing in a local bar (again with a tapas lunch). I’d like to have spent the day in Cadiz again but instead we took a trip into Seville as we’d not been there. The architecture is stunning, the Moorish influence very strong.
I love the wide open plazas and squares which feature in so many European cities. Seville’s Plaza de España may possibly be the most beautiful of them, and I have visited a few. It consists of a semi-circle of buildings which overlook a boating lake. Dating from 1928, González’s design incorporates a mix of Art Deco, Spanish Baroque and Spanish Renaissance-style architecture. The buildings now mainly house Government departments.
I’m not a great one for shopping on holiday but these window displays did catch my eye. Fans are very popular and range widely in price from a just a couple of euros to hundreds! I liked the pretty ceramics too.
But best of all was the children’s shoe shop. Not the most imaginative display but I loved the little leather and satin flamenco shoes, available in so many colours. And just look at those gorgeous baby shoes.
I had read that Valencia was one of the most stunning cities in Spain. It was certainly attractive but not my favourite place on the holiday (that award goes to Cartagena which is why it will get its own post in due course – prepare to be amazed). Again it was the architecture in Velencia that I most enjoyed. As it had done in Seville, the sun shone brightly and the temperature was in the high 20s so we whiled away some of our time drinking in the atmosphere from one of the many pavement cafes surrounded by historical buildings and monuments.
The British colony of Gibraltar, used as a base for the Allied Navies during WWII, is a unique mix of traditional British and Spanish (the weather falling into the latter category – it was so hot that on our return to the ship I was unable to stand more than about 30 seconds on the balcony and had to retreat indoors). The town itself is not overly inspiring but who could fail to smile at the apes (actually Barbary macaques – apparently the only wild monkey in Europe) which run freely around the area of ‘the Rock’. Feeding these apes is an offence which can result in heavy fines. The reason for this is because they started to become dependent on tourist hand-outs which began to cause the breakdown on their social groups and foraging abilities (though they did become rather adept at opening handbags and delving into the pockets of unsuspecting tourists)!
My interest in British history prompted a visit to the fascinating Siege tunnels which are situated inside the Rock of Gibraltar. These man-made tunnels began life in 1779 but were extended during WWII when they served as barracks for almost 10,000 (some sources quote as many as 16,000) service personnel and housed a hospital, power station, telephone exchange and even a bakery. The majority of the tunnels are no decommissioned but some are still used for the storage of war documents.
With only a short time left in Gibraltar we decided on a quick visit to the Glass blowing centre where we were able to watch the craftsmen at work.
I might have bought a souvenir here but the necklace which took my fancy cost £170. I liked it, but not that much!
I love holidays but 12 days is more than enough. By day ten I am always ready to come home. It’s a cliché but true – there really is no place like it. The only other thing to say is that the ‘gain a pound a day’ saying about cruising is not necessarily true (though given the sheer eye-popping amounts piled on the plates of some of our fellow passengers, I think that for them it almost certainly is). The food was fabulous but I managed to limit my gain to a 4lb total and for some of that I blame Chocolate con Churros…more in a later post! Slimming World on Monday.