A Travellerspoint blog

La Coruna

  • LA CORUNA**

Date: * 4th November 2014

  • Weather: * Mostly Showery with some sunny periods, Hails, Thunder & Lightning

Our visit into the port of La Coruna was a most welcomed break, because of the weather and sea conditions the previous afternoon and night, for the seas had been really rough and our ship had been moving around a lot. But for the time of year, we`ve had some fabulous winter sunshine.

This was our first visit to La Coruna (or as it`s known locally “A Coruna”), it is situated in the north west corner of Spain in the region of Galicia and is also that regions capital. Our berth is right in the centre of the city. And we had no particular plans for our visit, just to go ashore and explore to see what was there. After breakfast there was some doubt whether we would go ashore or not, because the weather had been quite showery with thunder and lightning not very far away, and that persisted for most of the day.

Finding a break in the weather we stepped ashore and were a bit surprised on what saw, a palm lined square come park, it was more sophisticated and well laid out, more like an inland city than a coastal one. La Coruna is also known as the “Crystal City” because of the glass-enclosed balconies which adorn the tall apartment buildings facing the harbour, and I must say they do look impressive. We followed the harbour road around and then under an arch into the Plaza de Maria Reta this was a fine open space with on one side a fine looking town hall the other sides of the plaza were substantial granite buildings. Out through some corresponding arches on another side of the Plaza and into what looked like the main shopping street, it was nice to see independent retailers rather than the multi-national chain shops. All along this shopping street there were many street sellers of umbrellas and that is not surprising as this area of Spain is renowned for its rainfall.

We now found ourselves back the commercial part of the city, with many fine bank buildings, but with threatening black sky overhead we decided to make our way back to the ship. Our observations of the weather were well founded because as we arrived at the terminal building we had a thunder storm coupled with some hails.

This was just a fleeting glance of La Coruna but some of its nearby attractions are, the still used Roman Lighthouse, Cape Finisterre and its proximity to Santiago de Compostela with its fine cathedral and the final destination for the pilgrims on the walk of St. James.

So of out into the Bay of Biscay and onward to our home port of Southampton, I known it was only a short trip, and hope you have enjoyed following us on our days ashore.

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Posted by pzack 07:35 Comments (0)

Seville

  • CADIZ / SEVILLE**

Date: *2nd November 2014

  • Weather: *Little early cloud, but cleared to give long sunny periods 26c

We like it when we visit Cadiz, but this time we made the decision to visit Seville before we`d left home. We`d tried to go to Seville before but it
was the height if their summer, when the air temperatures are very high,
and not comfortable for sight-seeing.

Our excursion “ Seville on your Own”, is where you are taken there, you are given a meeting point, a city map and a time to be at that meeting point,
and the rest of the time is your own. The drive from Cadiz is 1 ½ hours ,
and the roads are good. With this type of excursion it pays to do some home-work prior to your journey on what you would like to see. And for a
city such as Seville there are some difficult decisions to be made, ours
was also complicated by the fact it was a Sunday, I say that because one of the major sightseeing highlights is the inside of the Cathedral, but
because of the Sunday mass services no sightseeing visitors could go in the until 2.30pm, and that was far too late for us this time. The Majority of
what Seville has to offer is in a fairly compact area, say about a mile square, so everything is very walkable, and the city is also flat.

Our first place to visit was to the “ Plaza da Espana” a magnificent huge semi-circular building, with beautiful Spanish tiles everywhere, within
the half circle of the building is a plaza, with a central fountain and the plaza is surrounded by a moat. The day we visited Seville was the middle
day of a bank-holiday weekend, and on that plaza was a car rally for the
”Seat 600 ”. We then walked through the Parque Maria Luisa a lovely shaded park with wide carriage paths being used by the horse drawn taxis which are for hire all over the place. We then came to the river Alfonso, which we followed its bank, to the “ Torre-del-Oro”, this building was where the old merchant ships had to pay their taxes on such cargos as gold from the new world.

Now we went into the heart of the city, always using the bell tower of the “Giralda” as a reference point to stop us losing our way. You have keep looking in all directions and looking up as there many fine things to see.
At this point we stopped for a break, at a pavement café right alongside
the cathedral. After lunch we followed the Constitution avenue where some
good street entertainment was to be found, one of which was some Flamenco dancing, which we both enjoyed. Next up was the beautiful town hall a real ornate building, also within the same square are many other fine buildings, you are really spoilt for choice.

We now head for the Santa Cruz district, this is the old Jewish quarter
where you can get lost quite easily, little tiny streets and alleyways
which then finally open up into lovely squares, all these streets have
their Tapas bars, it`s a very colourful place to spend some time and
getting lost.

Another thing I would like to say is whilst moving around the city we were aware of a very modern looking tram service, we did not use it, but it
passed many of the sights we were at, so you could save some time walking,
and away from the heat which is infamous here.

Time for us was going all too quick as we passed the entrance to the
“Alcazar” the Royal Palace, along with its gardens, it`s another of the * must see* in Seville, but you need to spend a few hours there to do it justice.
But sadly not for us on this visit, as we had to get back to our party and
our pick-up point. Our group seemed to be a good one as everyone was there
at the correct time, so with everyone accounted for we walked to our coach
and then made the return trip to Cadiz, with a few tired people taking the chance of a sleep along the way. So on reflection we would say that Seville
is a beautiful city with plenty to offer, we shall certainly return if
we`re lucky enough to be back in this area again.

So from Cadiz we sail up the coast of Portugal to our last stop of La
Coruna in the North West part of Spain.

Posted by pzack 08:15 Comments (0)

Malaga

  • MALAGA

Date: * 1st November 2014

  • Weather: * Bright and sunny all day, 26c

On arrival we were greeted with the sight of another of the P&O fleet the “ Aurora” this is most unusual to be in foreign ports and see other ships of the same fleet, for us it has been two days in a row. Also while here another cruise ship from MSC line came in, she was a big ship.We`d been to Malaga before but we could only remember certain aspects of it, but on our arrival it just refreshed our minds as to layout of the port and the city. With regards to the cruising side of things, the port has really developed since we were last her, it now has the capacity to take four cruise ships, with a large terminal and infrastructure to go with the terminal. Inside the cruise ship berths there was a busy harbour with smaller vessels, this area was also well served with cafes and bars and a nice promenade with palms which leads you towards the city.

After a late breakfast we made our way to the city by means of the shuttle bus which is provided. We took the option of the city guided tours bus, the one you hop on and hop off at the stops you wanted, these sightseeing buses are usually good for giving you a good overview of a place. We passed many sights and our trip around the city which took 1 ½ hours. Some of the highlights are the “ Passo del Parque” with a fine avenue of trees, one of their great looking buildings is their town hall. During our route we took the option to jump off at the Castle Gibralfaro, the castle was an old Moorish one which was rebuilt in 788, it has great views of the whole surrounding area. With our bus trip over, it was now early afternoon ,so we got our baring’s and were started looking for something to eat, and there are plenty of options available. After studying several café menus we found something that we both wanted, it was nice to stop and watch the world go by, and the food was excellent and we had an Iced tea to follow.

We were supplied with street maps by the local tourist office, we took the option of a walking tour of the city which takes in a lot what the city has to offer, these walking tours are done by yourselves there is no guide. But most the tour is pedestrianized and the surface you walk on is great, it`s like marble( I don`t know if it is or not, ) While in the pedestrianized area we got to see a lot of places which were not possible with the bus earlier in the day.

So with tired feet, with a good feeling of our time in Malaga well spent, we made our way back to the ship via the shuttle bus service. So we say goodbye Malaga and head towards our next port of Cadiz, just a short distance away in southern Spain.

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Posted by pzack 05:15 Comments (0)

GIBRALTAR

GIBRALTAR
Date: *31st October 2014

  • Weather: * Overcast at first, clearing later to give long sunny periods 21c

Our visit to the “ Rock of Gibraltar “ was an extended stop. Our original Itinerary was for a half day afternoon stop, but that was changed to 9.30
pm leaving time, which gave some people the chance of an evening in port. The reason for that change was that we could not get to the cruise terminal berth as one of the other ships in the P&O fleet, Arcadia , was there in
the morning. So our berthing time was delayed slightly, so as Arcadia left we then took her place along- side. But still it was nice to see another ship of the P&O fleet.

There is an on-going dispute about the sovereignty of Gibraltar with Spain trying to claim the “Rock”, but it is still * Very *much British. So any visits to any nearby parts of Spain are made difficult by the Spanish
border control. But for a small piece of land there still a few things to
do on this stop. Plenty of taxi tours to take you around, and to the top of the rock. At the top end of main street you can get a cable car to the top of the rock where there are great views of the Straits of Gibraltar, and North Africa, this is also the place where the famous Apes can be seen.
This place also has a big military history which goes back many hundreds of years, it is because of its geographical position between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic.

There is a good mini-bus taxi service to and fro the ship to Casement square, which is at the bottom end of the main street, and a big meeting place. Having been here several times before we took the walking option
from the ship into town, it`s about a 15 minute walk at a gentle pace. Then it was some window shopping and taking the general atmosphere. One of the main attractions of this stop, is that the port is a duty free one so there are lots of bargains on jewellery, perfume, electrical goods & drinks etc. So after our time in the town was up, we again took the walking option and strolled back to the ship.

Back on-board things were being prepared for a Halloween deck BBQ, several of the bars were also decked out accordingly.

So it`s good bye Gibraltar and onto our next stop, a short over-night hop
to Malaga.

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Posted by pzack 09:55 Comments (0)

Lisbon

  • LISBON**

Date: *30th October 2014

  • Weather: *Clear blue sunny skies, 24C wind very light.

Our approach to Lisbon by sea was up a long estuary , where the river
Tagus runs out into the Atlantic. Our berth was 18 miles up into the estuary where the city lies on the northern banks. The sail into Lisbon is always a very enjoyable sight with plenty to see on your way in. Ours started with daylight in its early stages, and the early sunlight catching some of the shoreline. As you enter on the north side you pass the towns of Cascais and Estoril, then the first of some noteable buildings which
were “ Torre de Belem “ a five- storey stone fortress which was built in 1515 to guard the approach to the city water, this building was later used as a prison. Next up is the “Monument to the Discoveries” erected in 1960 to commemorate the early discoveries of the Portugese explorers , a fine white stone monument in the shape of a sailing ship bow with the explorers carved onto the ship all looking forward.

Always visible as soon as you enter the estuary is the “ Bridge” on the lines of the San Francisco bridge, with the same colouring. It has a central span of over 1,000 yards and a total length of double that. When you pass underneath it has a buzzing or humming sound which is made by the traffic going across it, this is because of the open metal work design.

Right next to the bridge on the south bank is a statue of “ Christ the King” resembling the one in Rio de Janeiro, but a lot smaller, it was paid for by the women of Portugal in thanksgiving for the fact that their menfolk were not actively involved in WW11. This is a fine sight stood on a plinth some 215 feet high.

As we arrive at our berth very near the main city centre the river Tagus is still a massive river with the south bank shore some distance away, and with lots of ferry traffic which serves the commuting public from the town across the river.

Our plans for today were to do our own thing and explore some more of what the city has to offer, we`ve been here a few times before so we knew the general layout of the place. After some late breakfast we made our way to the quayside to pick up a shuttle service which took us to the city
centre. We did have one objective for the day and that was to take one of the old electric trams to the “Alfama” district. The trams are very much a work horse for their respective districts well used by locals and loved by the tourist. They seemed to be a bit unloved but that all adds to the character. The Alfama area is a working class area with narrow streets and alleyways going everywhere. After some unusual twists and turns in the tram track we arrived at an open square with cafes local shops plenty and of people. The edge of the square was terraced with fine views of the river and the rooftops spread out below. So after taking in all what was on offer we waited for the next tram which took us back to the city centre, this particular route is a circular one, and you can jump off at many different stops to explore lots of points of interest.

We decided to find a pavement café with the dual purpose of having a rest and finding one that also had the Custard tarts for which all Portuguese places are famous, and that was soon done! we sat for quite a while, and the sun was warm so it was a nice break. We then went for a walk to remind ourselves what the city looks like again, there are many fine buildings and monuments dotted around. The Baixa district is the main commercial centre of Lisbon and is laid out on a grid system but the whole city is very easy walking.

After having our fill of the city we made our way down to “ Black Horse “ Square to where there is a fine monument, this square is right on the waterfront with a nice view over the river. From this position we decided to make our way back to our ship which was only a short walk along the waterfront and this we did, stopping to see some more fine buildings along the way.

We had a light lunch and then retired to the deck for a sit down with a view of Lisbon, finishing our stop here very well pleased.

An early evening sail away with the last of the daylight seeing again all those views we saw earlier in the day . Thank you Lisbon, now we head for Gibraltar.

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Posted by pzack 09:25 Comments (0)

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