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Barcelona Bye Bye

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Barcelona, our last stop and then it is time to head home.  To be honest, it was a long hard day, followed by hardly any sleep and then a long flight home.  The term “jet lag” doesn’t begin to describe the condition of these old bones.

What a rough day for the ship’s crew – disembark all those passengers, and then scramble like crazy to get ready for the next group, who are already lining up to climb aboard.

We had a lovely time on the cruise.  Treated like royalty, food and drink up to our eyeballs, in a haze of indulged, self-entitlement we are herded out the door as the dawn just is coming up in the sky.  I’d have had tears, except for the crusty sleepers in my eyes at the obscene time of day. We are in Barcelona – our final destination.  6 a.m. in the morning.

For the last month, the news has been filled with stories of political rioting in Barcelona.  We were hoping it would be over by the time we arrived.  The crew of the cruise didn’t mention a word about it the entire trip, and we had been checking the news as we sailed closer to our final destination.  We did hear that the ship had taken on more provisions in Valencia, just in case the protests closed the port in Barcelona.  The protests had been just outside our  reserved hotel location, so we were a bit concerned.  Fortunately, things had quieted down, and there didn’t seem to be any sign of the recent strife.

What do you do standing on the sidewalk outside the port at 6 am in the morning, loaded down with too much luggage?  Take a taxi, of course, and fortunately they were nearby.  Our hotel was only about six blocks away from the port, but a taxi seemed like a good idea.  The driver didn’t speak a word of English, but I had a print out with the hotel address in it and he had the most sophisticated cab with all the latest techie stuff that we have ever seen.

I had booked the “hotel” online, and it was just about a half a block off the main tourist street in town, the Las Ramblas.  The driver had obviously never heard of our hotel, which sort of puzzled me.  But he crept down a dark, narrow alley (the sun wasn’t quite up all the way) and deposited us in front of a small glass door.  My “hotel” was actually a “hostel.”  Ooops!  Visions of bunk beds with snoring college students sleeping off their wild Barcelona night life appeared before my eyes.  What had I done?

This was not the time of the day to start wandering the streets, hauling massive amounts of luggage and a tired, hungry husband, in search of a hotel room.  Oh dear….. I walked in, desperately hoping the desk spoke English.  A tall, darkly handsome, God-like Spaniard rose to his feet from behind a modest desk.  With a smile that could melt the heart of the Iron Maiden (not to mention a tired, overfed woman suffering heartbreak from leaving her fairy tale cruise ship), he assured me that we didn’t have to sleep with college students.  We had a private room, with a bath.  He smiled again, and I would have been willing to sleep in the alley dumpster.  He asked if I had my husband with me, and I somewhat reluctantly pointed to the bald guy on the sidewalk.

Our room wasn’t ready, of course, but they kept our luggage and he pointed out a good place to eat further down the alley.  Stuffing our luggage into lockers, we headed into the Barcelona morning.

We woke up over a breakfast of espresso and pastries.  As this was our last day, I indulged in the best looking pastry I could find.  Okay, I had two.  Plus some beautifully ripe fresh fruit.  And it was all delicious!  Okay, now I’m waking up.

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George eating his pastry and fruit. He is so excited to be on the streets at dawn.

This was going to be a tough day, we have one day in Barcelona and then have to be at the airport at 3 a.m. to catch our flight.  Which means not much sleep.  George was tired out, this trip has been very hard for him.  How do you even catch a glimpse of the hugely vibrant, crazy city of Barcelona in a few hours?  Especially with a tired, grumpy old man who would be happy to go back to the hostel and find a free bunk bed with 24 other snoring men.

The only place open at 7 a.m. is the famous fresh food market, which was just a few blocks away.

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Entrance to the market. The last time we were in Barcelona, it was on a Sunday and the market was closed. I was so excited to be there early in the morning, watching them set up for the day.

Fresh veggies were being set up like art exhibits, fish and meat arranged, fresh pastries, nuts, candies….you name it.  It was fun to be there so early and watch them.  Who needs YouTube!  George thought it would be more interesting if he viewed it over the pages of his book, so he found a table on the edge of the market.  It was at an  exotic location called Dunkin’ Donuts (yes, they have a location in Barcelona).

I walked the market, thinking it was going to be larger than the madhouse in Valencia, Spain.  But it was quite a bit smaller, and due to the hour, relatively deserted.  There were a few locals shopping, but only a couple of tourists.  I’m sure it gets very busy later when everyone gets out of bed.  But I was surprised at the size, much smaller than expected; I definitely thought it would be huge.  Apparently, there are five large markets throughout the city, rather than one giant one.

Everything is more expensive in Barcelona.  I purchased a small bag of fresh gummy bear type candies for a granddaughter – and it cost 8 Euros.  Whoa!  It was a portent to the day ahead.  This is not the cheapest destination site for a visit.  But the prices for fruit and meats seemed very reasonable.  And the artistry!  More than any other food market visited, each stall was an art exhibit.  And beautifully done.  The tourist and city living influence is marked at this particular market.  There were a lot more prepared foods, ready to be snatched and savored.

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After I had strolled through it all, I found George at Dunkin’ Donuts, finishing off a coffee and a doughnut.  He looked guilty, as we had just finished a breakfast of pastries and fruit.  I couldn’t say anything, as I had just stuffed my mouth with a treat I found while strolling the market.  What is it about the last day of vacation and the mentality of “I need to eat every bite, see every site, buy everything I see…..”

So now what.  It’s 8:30 am in a strange big city and nothing touristy is open.  Well, our other big tourist spot on our list was Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia.  The amazing cathedral that has been under construction for decades – and still not finished.  George was all for taking a taxi, but I figured we could manage the subway system.  There was a metro stop right ahead and down into the bowels of the city we went.

Whoa.  This is a huge system with many overlapping lines of subway trains.  I was completely confused and Grumpy Pants wasn’t being particularly patient.  But lo and behold, a subway ticket guy walked up and patiently explained the system and helped me purchase tickets.  Everyone we have encountered so far has been so friendly!  This may be a big city of 1.6 million people, but there is no big city impersonality.

We jumped on a metro train, and quickly found out we were going the wrong way.  I should have had the guy walk us to the right train, apparently.  We got off, went the right direction, transferred a train and made it quickly to the Sagrada Familia.  We figured we would be early and avoid the huge lines.  WRONG.  We weren’t the only early risers, and the lines stretched down the block.  And that was just to buy tickets.  There was already a huge line waiting for the church to open.

George said NO.  He was tired, and he wanted a chair.  A part of me really wanted to go inside, but the idea of standing in line for hours wasn’t appealing.  It was cold and windy – and we didn’t have coats.  Without much argument, we withdrew.  George wanted to sit down and I had to use the bathroom.  The great universal free toilet location called Starbucks beckoned and we had yet another cup of coffee.  At this rate, it won’t be a problem getting up to leave for the airport at 2:30 am – I just won’t have slept.

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It is difficult to get great pictures outside of the cathedral. It is huge and raises straight into the sky. There is not another design similar in the entire world.

And what should drive by the window of Starbucks?  The Hop On Hop Around Bus!  George’s favorite mode of transportation.  So off we went.  George slept on the bus and I watched the sights go by…..This is a long route, so George got a pretty good rest.

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They drove us by a number of buildings designed by Antoni Gaudi.  As Bernini made his imprint on Rome, so has Gaudi had on Barcelona.  The difference is you don’t see it replicated in other cities – it is uniquely Barcelona.  Gaudi was born in 1852 and died in 1923.  It seemed crazy these buildings were designed at the turn of the century – they are fall of the edge modern by today’s standards.  He created a modern approach to architecture that is unique.  He didn’t like to draw plans, and were highly individual and expressive.  Apparently, the buildings emerged as his creativity blossomed during construction.

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In my amtaeur opinion, you either love it or you don’t.  If asked to describe it, I would say the style is similar to decorating a cake with frosting.  You could enter it in a avant garde cake decorating contest and win first place.  His buildings dot the city, and at every one there is someone gazing at it.  I can’t begin to think how expensive owning an apartment or building would be.  Probably a great investment, but there would always be someone peeking in the windows.

We hopped off the bus, and ate yet another meal for lunch.  It was amazing and the service was great.  George said enough was enough and wanted to go back to the room.  So back to the Hop On!

Eventually, the Please Let Me Hop Off Bus neared our hostel (it isn’t allowed down the main street Las Ramblas), and I poked George to get up.  On the map they gave us, it looked like it was just a few blocks.  Making the mistake of using my phone map to find the hostel, it took us on a merry chase in circles.  George was exhausted from his latest nap, and not happy about it.  Get this man home!  I thought I knew where we should go (I was right), George thought he knew (he was wrong) and the phone map was laughing like crazy while it directed us everywhere but our destination.  The upside was we found some incredible old buildings dating back to Roman times!  We would definitely not found that if we had walked straight back to our room.

George decided it was THAT WAY, and started walking.  I knew it was the wrong way; two policemen appeared, and I asked them.  Yet again, they were dazzling nice and helpful and showed us the way.  We thanked them profusely, and limped our way to the hostel.  At last, we arrived.  And our room was ready.

This was our first hostel experience.  And it was a good one.  Definitely not luxurious, but it had two twin beds in a very narrow room with a clean bathroom.  They also served a breakfast, that we wouldn’t be there for.  Signs everywhere said no noise after 10 pm, which was kind of a joke, because the street parties were still going on when we left at 2:30 am.

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Our room was narrow with two twin beds lined on the wall. Clean but spartan! No wonder it was such a good price on the internet! But we were only using it for a few hours, so it worked out great.

George immediately laid down and crashed.  I went out and finished buying souvenirs and brought back some sandwiches for dinner in the room.  It was obvious that the poor man was not going out again.

At the desk in the morniwe had asked if they could call a taxi, and when we tiredly came down at 2:30 a.m. there was one waiting for us.  They had also packed up a breakfast to go for us!  Handed to us, of course, by another devastatingly handsome young man.  This is the land of Dirty Old Woman Dreams……

The taxi driver was incredibly nice, even though his only English word was “airport.”   I keep wanting to speak my pigeon Portuguese, but that just confuses everything even more.  Between us, we figured out which terminal to go to and he dropped us off.  The airport was eerily quiet, and darkened so the many people sleeping on the floor could rest.  We made it through and found our plane.  We flew to Amsterdam and had a mad run to make our plan to Portland.  Who knew George could actually run that fast.  The thought of missing the plane and spending one more day in another country did wonders for his speed.  We made it and pretty much sat in a stupor for the next ten hours.

Back to Portland, and home.  And massive jet lag.  We both stumbled home and fell on the bed asleep.

It’s always strange leaving one dream world and coming back to reality.  That’s what I love about travel – our reality becomes such a lovely living fantasy.  How great is that.  Memories to cherish, and new dreams made.  I like to think that each trip just gave me a taste of something new to explore more fully.  That’s what I love about cruises.  We had visiting Lisbon years ago on a cruise, and I knew we should go back – and we did.  Never mind that I combined it with Cartagena in my mind, it still exceeded all expectations.  Portugal is a wonderful country and very affordable.

Now back, I’m dedicated to losing the three pounds gained, and it feels good to be eating on a regular food routine that I can control easier.  It will come off!  Every time I get on the scale I am going to envision another pastal de nata from Portugal has just evaporated from my behind.

This was a hard trip for George, and until he gets a bit healthier, we aren’t going to be able to repeat it.  I love him for his heroic efforts to make a wonderful trip for me – and it was.  I am so grateful to be married to a man who lets me live my dreams.

And we have new dreams.  George is retiring next month and we have bought a motorhome!  We are going to head off on some great domestic adventures together.  And he will have his own bed going everywhere with us.  He can snooze, look at Facebook and read his books in lots of new, exciting locations.  How great is that going to be!

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Ibiza – Where Orlando Bloom tried to punch Justin Beiber. Where ARE we?

The island of Ibiza is our last port of call before ending the cruise in Barcelona.  I’ll be honest, I hadn’t heard of Ibiza.  Apparently, I need to get a subscription to some celebrity magazines.  Where have I been?  Ibiza is a small island (25 miles long and 16 miles wide) off the coast of Spain.  Back in the ancient day, the Phoenicians and Catharginians  thought it was a hot place for trade, but it was pretty quiet after that for a couple of thousand years.

Spain had a terrible civil war in the 1930’s.  Prior to that Spain had become a popular retreat for bohemians like Earnest Hemingway.  They wanted off the mainland and moved to the island of Ibiza, which was out of the path of the civil war.

It took the Love Power of the Hippies in the 1960’s to really cement Ibiza’s reputation as a party place.  The Hippies came and the parties began in earnest.  And apparently never stopped.  From May to October this is the place to flaunt what you got, baby!  After that it quiets down, shuts down and hits the snooze button on the party clock for the year.  But during the peak months of the year, this is where the big names hang and the party goers flock to have a good time.

We were there on a Sunday in November.  As you can imagine, it was like visiting a party house after the party is over and the guests are all gone.  Almost everything was closed, even the McDonalds!  The Hard Rock Café at least had a sign thanking everyone and saying they will reopen next Spring.  There were a few places open for the locals, and one dress shop that was mobbed by the cruise ship patrons.  But the Burger King was still open – and doing a huge business, because they had the only open bathroom in town!

My personal award for Best Gender Bathroom Door Sign of the Trip goes to Burger King.  It was truly representative of the feelings of the ship passengers who had trekked all over the island and couldn’t find one.

It was kind of surrealistic walking the nearly empty streets.  One apparent leftover party girl sat sobbing next to a building like a poor abandoned puppy.  She had the thin, aged face of an addict who had been left behind by the party goers.  It broke our hearts.

The town is built on the side of a small mountain.  The old part of town was built high upon the mountain with a large fortress.  It has an absolutely breathtaking 360 degree view from the top.  And an absolute totally take your breath walk to the top.  George took one look and decided to wait on a bench.  I decided not to miss the photo opportunity and started up the old cobblestone street.  Which entered the old fort and became fort steps.  It went up.  And up.  And up.  Oh my, this was more than I thought.  It felt like I hiked up 1,000 feet – straight up.  I’m not sure how high it is, but it is steep!

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See the trees on the left hand side of the picture? George was waiting for me on a shady park bench. This is one high hill! And this wasn’t the top – about midway!
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Still going……did I mention this was steep?
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Gasp, that has to be the top! Sadly, it made a turn and still went a bit higher.
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I’m not there yet, but getting closer.
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I made it!  The wind! As I was taking this selfie, my shirt blew up over my head! I almost threw my phone over the rampart trying to get it down.  The views, however, were amazing and made the trek worthwhile.  Invaders had no way of sneaking up on this island!

There was a tiny village very near the top, and it had the look of an old greek village – all painted white, with narrow winding streets.  It is the tourist spot of the hale and hearty – and, of course, all closed.

Walking down was far easier than up, although the winds were so gusty that it literally blew me sideways at times, and my purse was blown so hard that it stood away from my body.  I found George comfortably reading on a nice bench under a shady tree.

We saw some real estate for sale posters in a window.  For only 3 million Euros you can get yourself a sweet little four bedroom house with a pool.  For 6 million you can get six bedrooms.   Interested?

Well, I’m not!  It’s a lovely place, and when things are open, it must be quite a sight to behold.  Yachts and lots of lovely bodies in scanty clothing.  Now, if it had a Roman amphitheater, I might be more excited….

Valencia – You Know Those Oranges in the Market?

Visiting a port every day can get tiring.  George has decided to take his meds in the evening to give him more energy during the day.  We will see how it works, but he did get going feeling perkier this morning.  We took a shuttle into Valencia, which dropped us off near the old city center.  We did pass a lot of orange trees on the streets, there must be Valencia orange groves around here somewhere!  An enterprising impoverished looking person sold us a free map of Valencia for one Euro.  We were all happy, and we pretended not to notice it was a free map.

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The entrance into the old city. The old river bed runs right in front of the castle. It repeatedly flooded throughout the city’s history, so they diverted the river away from town. The old river bed is now a huge park that runs through the city. It has jogging/bike paths, parks, soccer fields, etc. It beautifies the city and provides a great way for people to avoid city traffic. There were tons of bikes whizzing along it.

Valencia is HUGE.  This is a large city with large party goers.  All the cruise ship info on the city was relating to the wild night life.  Which was interesting, as we left the port at 6 pm, well before the parties started.  My main interest was the central market.  A giant place, housed in a 1930ish glass domed building.

With the wonders of a not-so-free map and Google Maps, we easily found it.  OH.  MY . GOODNESS.  There are over 1,000 food stalls in the market.  And at least 10,000 people.  And they weren’t all tourists.  Tons of locals were hauling carts through the crowds, body slamming people to get them out of the way.  Not to be rude – it was the only way to get through the crush.  I have never seen so much bounty in one location.  It is supposedly the second largest market, second only to the famous one in Barcelona.

George took one look and said he would wait outside.  I, however, managed to cruise all 1,000 booths.  It should be up there as one of the most adventurous achievements of my life.  I have never ever been truly pushed along with a crowd.  Sort of upright body surfing.  I snatched pictures as I went.  It killed me not to be able to buy the fruit and veggies, but we can’t take them on the boat, and how would I ever get them home anyway?  Take a gander at some of these food wonders.

American shoppers could be pretty shocked at some of the food presentations.  We live very sanitized lives with our food.  We don’t always think about chickens having heads and feet.  Piles of entire carcasses are sold; also buckets of heads and feet can be purchased.  Huge hams are hung with the hooves still attached.  We tend to forget that these were live animals and weren’t born in a cellophane package.  The hardest one for me were the skinned rabbits with their large eyes staring up at me.  Sorry, there I go being a vegetarian again!  I do think they have the right perspective, however.  If we are going to eat meat, we should know and acknowledge how it came to be.

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There were many tasty food stalls, but you had to claw your way to the counter to purchase something. I bought George a juice and pastry to take outside for him, and it was a real challenge.

When I finished, which admittedly took a few hours, George was ready to eat and go home.  We stopped at a tapas bar and had a quick snack.  I had never had Sangria, which is wine mixed with fresh fruit.  I thought I should try a glass.  It’s a good thing it isn’t  available everywhere at home, because this is seriously good.  Very refreshing after a full body press with thousands of sweating people.  And it goes down way too quickly.

They take afternoon siestas in Valencia, (it’s Sangria time!) and many of the businesses shut down at 2 pm.  George was done for the day and said he wanted a taxi to go home.  He did not want to walk back to the prepaid shuttle.  The info I had read said to negotiate carefully the price, because the taxi drivers can take advantage.  I asked the guy how much and he said 12-15 Euros.  We had paid 25 Euros for the round trip shuttle, so I figured he was okay.  He was extremely nice and had us back at the ship quickly for 12 Euros.  George was very happy.  He had been sitting in the sun waiting for me, and was ready to rest.

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There were Yorkie dogs all over the place! It must be the signature dog of Valencia. We have two Yorkies and George couldn’t resist petting one that looked like his dog Charlie. The lady was so nice, she didn’t speak English but they both communicated the love of their dogs.

Valencia is way too large for me.  We could see that there is a large nightlife.  Tons of bars and restaurants did not open until late at night.  It seems like a young persons town.  Admittedly, we saw a very small portion of a very large city and cannot begin to make a fair judgment.  However, they sure do have one cool food market!

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We passed many beautiful doors on our walk through Valencia. Huge, ornate and all of the doorknobs are located very low. I googled it, but couldn’t find the history behind it. People were definitely shorter back then, but these are very low! It may be me, but they seem lower than in other cities. But gorgeous!

Cartagena – My Kind of Town!

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The beautiful square that I remembered being in Lisbon. Well, it is beautiful in Cartagena!

Okay, this is one of my favorite cities.  My favorite so far in Spain.  And I have an embarrassing revelation.  We were here several years ago on a cruise.  We stopped in Lisbon and I fell in love and knew we had to come back.  I have one special memory of sitting on a beautifully tiled street, sipping hot chocolate and having one of those supremely happy moments.  We walked right off the boat and into this spot of heaven.  When we went to Lisbon, I hiked all over the place trying to find that spot – to no avail.

Now I know why.  It was in Cartagena and not Lisbon!  I had liked both cities so much that I blended them together and made the perfect paradise.  I was thrilled to find the spot of my memories and really shocked that I was in the wrong city.  Geez.

Yesterday was marred by my self-induced pity party.  George felt badly about it, and I felt lousy that I had made him feel bad.  He cannot help it and is trying his best to enjoy, and let me enjoy, this trip.  I determined to be a better person.  I didn’t know it, but he didn’t take his new medication that fatigues him so much.  He wanted to have more energy for me.  And it did work, so we had a super nice day, but I felt bad when he told me later.

The world’s cheapest Hop It Again Bus is in Cartagena.  It only costs 6 Euros.  That’s because there is no place to hop off.  They only make one stop, and it is one block before the place we got on.  But it is a nice 40 minute ride, and we enjoyed it.  The streets have trees and the buildings are covered with fancy iron balconies.

Cartagena is gorgeous and history abounds everywhere you look.  I know I am an amphitheater nerd, but they have a wonderful one right in town, complete with a wonderful museum.  First you tour the museum and then it lets you out right into the old amphitheater.  I was kind of startled to see that they are filling in missing areas with composite reconstructions.  It seems sad to alter what is left, but then again, it will probably be used to hold concerts and events.  Truthfully, I’m not sure how I feel about that.

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Isn’t it grand? Wow, what a sight, site, however you want to spell it!  You can see where they have replaced the steps with concrete, and the stage has new flooring.  But it does allow people to view it up close.  There are signs asking that the original stones not be touched.

I admit to being emotionally affected by the amphitheater.  Standing on the stage and knowing that 2,000 years ago, the theatre was filled with thousands of residents, watching a performance.  There wasn’t a chance in the world there was a woman on stage, but none the less, the sense of history surrounded me.  Did anyone in the audience think that a woman from a continent unknown would be standing on the stage 2,000 years into the future?  A bit embarrassed, my eyes got teary as I thought of the history of this site.  And I am lucky enough to share a piece of it.

While I’m blinking back tears like a post-menopausal whacko, there are all sorts of people enjoying (or sitting bored while their family explores) the spot.  Inevitably, in locations of picture opportunities, there are young girls dressed to the hilt, posing like models.  Their friends, equally decked out, busily take shots until it is their turn.  It is the same around the world, and I always get a kick out of watching them.

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A gleeful selfie from the stage

 

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George had orders to gleeful and overjoyed. Not bad for him! The thumbs help.
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If I lived in Cartagena, this would be my apartment. Overlooks the amphitheatre.

The weather was perfect, in the high 70’s.  The sun was shining, my mood was better and George actually went to some things with me.  We strolled the streets, drank the best hot chocolate in the world, and had a great lunch.  Big salad for me and George had paella, which is the national dish around here.  He loved it.

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George’s paella. This is his happy face.

In the States, we always have this controversy about when to display Christmas decorations and start selling all the commercial stuff.  Not so in Spain.  They unapologetically start decorating the day after Halloween.  November 1st is the official start of the Yuletide.  As a person who could celebrate Christmas year round, this makes perfect sense to me.

If you know me, you know I have an unabashed enthusiasm for the Dollar Store.  I do love cheap junk.  My cart loaded, I will find a use for it somewhere, some day.  And I found the Spanish equivalent in Cartagena!  Another reason to love this city.  Not only is it filled with Christmas decorations and a huge mishmash of useless items, but a large section of the store floor is glass, and showcases the Roman foundations of ancient buildings and streets below.  Oh my goodness, two of my favorite things in one spot.  Useless junk and priceless Roman history.  It cannot possibly get better.  George knew he had lost me, so he found a spot to sit and read his book.

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I saw the one Euro signs from a distance, and knew this was going to be my store.
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Can you believe a Dollar Store with Roman ruins as the flooring? It was like this store had all of my dreams. Totally worthless items sitting on top of the best engineering the world has had to offer. If you look carefully, you can see the Roman road.

Just in case your are interested in buying a home in Cartagena, this is an advertisement from a local realtor:

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$88,500 Euros buys you a two bedroom, two bath condo with a garage.  Not bad compared to our prices!

Some days are so good.  There just aren’t words….

Málaga, Spain. See Any Celebrities?

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The Roman and Moorish ruins are beautiful in Málaga. Very accessible by foot or vehicle.

Every morning the Captain comes over the speaker system and tells about the port of the day.  Today is Málaga, and he says it is frequented by celebrities, so keep our eyes out.  It is a beautiful beachfront city, lined with hotels as far as the eye can see.

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No celebrities were spotted, but the Octopus, one of the world’s largest yachts was docked near us. Owned by Jody Allen, the sister of Paul Allen, she donates the use of it for research and humanitarian purposes. I think it was being used for party purposes on this day. A rock band was heard practicing and they were taking on supplies. Funny, we weren’t invited….

We are interested to see Málaga, for a couple of reasons – none of them involving celebrities.  I hear quite a few people move here for the beautiful weather.  George has a Facebook friend who loves it here.  It is also the birthplace of Picasso, and there is a museum of his art.

Not willing to repeat the long walk to town, George convinced me to do the Hop On, Hop Off Bus.  They picked up right outside the ship.  We decided to do the tour and get the lay of the land.  It drove right up a mountainside to a Moorish castle.  We hopped off, and George didn’t want to walk around the castle.  I was feeling guilty for leaving him so long yesterday, so I longingly looked at the castle and didn’t go in.  George urged me to do it, but I was wearing my martyr hat – which just sets me up for feeling sorry for myself.

Continue reading “Málaga, Spain. See Any Celebrities?”

Hail Gibraltar, Big Rock in the Ocean! #3

It is either my age, or the age of my laptop, but I have had a devil’s time with my blog this trip.  The days go quickly, and some days it is just too much to sit down and work on it.  This naturally puts me behind.  But when the computer doesn’t cooperate, as well, it gets frustrating.  This is the third time that I am writing about Gibraltar.  Twice, just before I hit the “Publish” button (and I did save the sucker first), the entire article has disappeared before my eyes, and cannot be recovered.  There are the  five stages of grief when this happens, most notably ANGER.  Just ask George, he had to listen to me.  But here I go again, the third time is the charm, right?

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We have been to Gibraltar before and found it very interesting, although I wouldn’t put it on my short list for a long-term stay.  Do you actually know where Gibraltar is geographically located?  Everyone has heard of it, but I’ve found people are a bit fuzzy on its location.  In my other blog attempts, I inserted a map.  I’m now superstitious and wondering if importing it caused prior problems.  Sorry!

Gibraltor is a narrow peninsula connected to southern Spain.  It is kind of like the finger pinky pointing to Africa.  So close, in fact, that you can see Africa on a clear day from the top of it.  It literally guards the Mediterranean.  The Rock of Gibraltar was one of the two Pillars of Hercules,  the other pillar on the African side of the strait.  In ancient times, the two points marked the limit to the known world.  Gibraltar is this amazingly huge limestone rock sticking 1,396 feet into the air.  It literally is THE ROCK OF GIBRALTAR.  It is a natural fortress for defense and It has been inhabited since the Neanderthal.  They lived in the natural cave formations and it provides scientists with time capsules of their lives.  From their findings, we know the Neanderthal looked like this:

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Doesn’t this mother look like she is enjoying the odd looking tourists walking by?

Continue reading “Hail Gibraltar, Big Rock in the Ocean! #3”

On the Cruise to Spain! It Ain’t no Pain!

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We awoke to rain.  We have had lovely weather the entire time, until today.  I took it as an omen that Lisbon didn’t want to see us leave.  I was ready to chuck the cruise, but George pointed out we had spent a fair amount of money to go on the sucker, and I really do love cruising.

Something made me double check the port dock location for our ship.  Always go with your instincts.  There are three cruise ports in Lisbon, and we didn’t want to go to the wrong one.  Our tickets said one port, but when I checked the Port of Lisboa’s site, it gave the ship location at another one.  Yikes!  We had planned on taking the Metro to the port, as there was a stop right across the street.  This new location was not close to a stop.

We broke my ban on taking taxis, and grabbed one outside our hotel.  We had to get the one taxi driver in Lisbon who did not know a word of English.  And my Portuguese is so fluent….  The guy was old enough to be my father (remember, I just got Medicare!) and could barely pick up our luggage to put it in the trunk.  I kept offering to help, but he waved me away and slammed the bags into the fender repeatedly while trying to get it high enough to go into the trunk.  It would make a good Samsonite commercial.  These bags can play Whack a Mole with a taxi and still not fall apart!

Continue reading “On the Cruise to Spain! It Ain’t no Pain!”