After leaving Barcelona where we stayed for two days, we headed off on our 14 day Transatlantic sailing back to Ft Lauderdale where this journey began a month ago. The first four days of this cruise was spent visiting Valencia, Malaga, Cadiz and Lisbon. We then had a sea day before reaching our final port stop at Madeira. We had never been to three of these stops which made this repositioning cruise more interesting for us.
Our first stop at Valencia was alright but not the best port stop you could have. The city center is an hour and a half walk from the port which of course we walked. Along the way we went by their Art and Science Museum along with their Aquarium. Although we did not go inside, the outer appearance of the buildings was absolutely amazing as you can see from the pictures. This complex of buildings was at the start of a long park that wound its way through the city all the way to the city center and beyond. Since we had arrived on a Sunday the park was full of bikers and runners along with just many people just taking a casual stroll. This park was really nice and would rival any other city’s parks. We eventually arrived at the city center and walked around a little marveling at some of the unique buildings that had been built centuries ago. Even the post office was an architectural masterpiece. There may have been other things to do at this port but because we had never been there, we had wanted to at least walk around and see the basic city area and what it had to offer.
After leaving Valencia we moved on to Malaga the next day where we have stopped several times previously. There really wasn’t anything we particularly wanted to do or see at the city but we enjoyed walking the city for several hours and shopping at some of the many stores in the area. On the way back to the ship we had some Sangria at one of the sidewalk cafes.
From Malaga we went on to Cadiz the following day. Originally we had thought we might go into Seville from Cadiz but we found out it would take us around 2 hours to get there and that would not have left us much time to see the city. Instead we decided to walk around Cadiz since our old friend, Julio –the Destination Expert on board our ship that we have met on several previous cruises, told us this was a nice town to walk around and admire. The town has 4 walking tours that are marked by different colors and physically the sidewalks/streets that you follow have a colored line painted on them. That made it very nice to see some of the main sites without having to navigate a map. We took the first walking tour to see the Cathedral and some of the other interesting buildings around the town. Along the way we did a little shopping. The next walking tour we took was around the town along the shoreline where we saw the castles, beaches and boats around this small town. These walking tours were enjoyable and we found this port stop to be very nice.
We then went to Lisbon which we were excited to see since this was in Portugal where we had not spent any time except for their island of Madeira. The port where our ship docked was quite far from the city center and many of the main sights to see. We initially walked away from the city center to see a few of the main sightseeing attractions along the Rio Tejo. We first saw the Monument of the Discoveries which hangs out over the water and is a tribute to the great discoverers of the New World such as Vasco de Gama who was Portugal’s most famous seafarer. Very near this monument is the Belem Tower which is a unique mini-castle which guarded the city harbor along the coastline. Very near the tower is Jeronimos Monastery which is much nicer than many of the cathedrals we have visited. There is a huge museum next to the monastery that is also very impressive from the outside. In order to allow more time to see the city we took a taxi all the way back St George’s Castle which is on top of the hill of the Moors Quarter of the city where all the roads are narrow and winding. We stopped at many of the shops along the way down from the castle as we walked to the more modern part of the city. Along the way we were able to see many of the street cars that are famous in the city. We walked down to one of the main squares and then walked down a few of the many streets lined with shops and restaurants. We stopped along the way to have some a light lunch. We ran out of time looking at the sights and decided to take a Tuk Tuk back to the ship. This is really just a three wheel motorized golf cart. It was fun and we got a little tour on the way back to the ship. The last time we had taken a Tuk Tuk was when we were in India. Lisbon is a very nice city that we would not mind coming back again to see a little more.
Our final port stop was Madeira which is an island a long way off of the Portuguese coastline. Having been here several times, we once again had no specific places we wanted to go but we had always enjoyed going to this island. Unfortunately after a month of almost perfect weather, we had a day with drizzle on and off all day. We still walked off the ship and strolled around the town doing a lot of shopping along the way. In this town is one of Sharon’s favorite cork stores where we spent a good amount of time looking at their new items (jewelry, handbags, etc.). We walked around in some areas we had not seen before and enjoyed our time there even though the weather wasn’t cooperating. Before heading back to the ship we stopped off at small restaurant to enjoy some of the famous Madeira bread we have had there before. It is called Bolo do Caco Bread. The bread we had included cheese, butter and garlic that is served warmed. It is really delicious. After walking around a little more we headed back to the ship.
We are now back on board, heading out to see on our 7 day trek across the Atlantic. We have really enjoyed our port stops but now we are ready to also have a good time at sea. We arrive back in Fort Lauderdale on October 17th and fly back to Atlanta later that day. After another month of cruising we are still Hooked on Cruisin’!!
Greg & Sharon