Port and Shore Excursions
WED 09MAY12 Barcelona, Spain 8:00am 11:00pm
Barcelona was beautiful as ever. The shuttle bus ( $4 return ticket) dropped me right in front of the Ramblas, at the Statue of Columbus (ColÃ³n). Last year we took the subway and walked around town a lot so this year I took the opportunity to walk the park de Montjuic up to the Castell de Montjuic. It was a brisk walk but incredibly beautiful. There is so much to see in this parc, the views are amazing and the gardens well maintained.
I started all the way at the bottom, at the Font Magica of Montjuic, with the stunning view at the National Museum and just enjoyed the scenery, the Olympic Stadium, Stade de Jordi, after which I took bus 193, (2 euros pp each way) which drives by every 30 minutes for the last steep walk up to the Castell. This is more of a military fort than a Castle. First built in 1640, it served as a fort, a castle and lastly as a prison up to 1960. It now serves as a military museum. I spent a delightful 2 hours up here, making pictures of the canons (directed at our Rotterdam) and enjoying the gardens. At one point, up on the roof terraces of the Castell, I was wondering where the smoke was coming from I was standing in, when it dawned on me I was walking in clouds. That was so awesome. Going back I had the choice of walking down or taking the cable car (15 euro) all the way down to the harbour. But I soon realized the cable car wouldn't stop at midpoint, at the World Trade Center where I wanted to get off and I would have to walk around the harbour back to the bus stop, so I opted for walking down the mountain and enjoying the spectacular gardens and views as long as I could.
SUN 06MAY12 Gibraltar, British Territory 2:00pm 7:00pm
We docked 2 pm on the dot. Right behind the P&O Adonia. Perfect timing too, as we watched the Brilliance of the Seas making way to the dock. We decided to leave as soon as possible to beat that crowd. It's a twenty minute stroll from the cruise terminal to the center of town and ten more to the cable way up to the apes den. But literally hundreds of mini van taxis were waiting outside the terminal. They all seated 8 pax and they charged 2 euro per person for a one way trip to the town centre. When we walked onto Main Street we got a Disney feeling. It's so quaint. And crowded. And nothing but shops and cafes. The local currency is the British pound, but they accepted our euros just as easy.
At the cable car ticket office though I used my credit card, because the girl behind the counter wanted to give the difference in British Pound. Luckily there was no line waiting at the ticket office and we could go right up. The ticket was 9,75 BP pp, including a multimedia player with a guided walk of app. 30 minutes. It took me 6 minutes to get up there. I had to leave my passport with the lady to receive my player. If you don't have your passport with you, you may leave your boarding card. I didn't see much apes and was kind of wary of the ones I did see. One had a little baby, protectively in her lap, eyeing us warningly. The view up there is wonderful! The guided walk on the mediaplayer told me where to stand and what I was looking at, very informative!
When I got down I was surprised to see the enormous line outside, all the way around the ticket building onto the parking lot! I had about 1,5 hours to get back to the ship, walking would take me half an hour. I couldn't imagine all these people getting into the cable cars and enjoying their walk up there. I mean, they only got two of those, each could have around 15/20 pax... ? And then waiting in line again up there to get down? I don't know if I would have risked it if I hadn't get there so early! Back on the ship I was told that some people had trouble finding a cab to town as soon as the Brilliance docked. I guess that explained the line at the ticket office for the cable cars as well.
The isle of Ibiza is preparing a large harbour for Cruise ships, to the surprise of many whom visited Ibiza before. We docked in the new, not finished, harbour, in stead of in front of the Old town. This meant, we had to purchase a shuttle ticket into town ($12 round trip). And yes, the walk is way too far, 8 km with hardly any sidewalks isn't my idea of a nice walk, so we were glad we bought the shuttle tickets. Dal vita is immensely beautiful. It was a shame we visited the town so early in the day, and on a Sunday to booth, because the town was barely waking up when we were there. The boat would leave at 3pm and the medieval market would start at 2 pm. This was a bummer, because even the preparations looked spectacular! I wouldn't have minded to stay here a little longer.
SAT 05MAY12 Lisbon, Portugal 8:00am 5:00pm
We docked right on time in Lisbon, to the right of the former Royal Palace. It was an easy 10 minute stroll to the Palace, along the harbour. The city's town center is right behind that plaza. We took the quaint electronical tram, no. 28 and paid on board (5 euro for 2 persons). The tram took us all the way up after which we strolled back through town. I don't remember who recommended this, but thank you for that tip! It made Lisbon fun in an authentic way. Not all of the quarters in Lisbon are nice though. We walked through what later appeared to be the poorest part of town, the former Arabic ghetto. Although we never really felt unsafe walking around, this part of town didn't make us feel comfortable. A lot of poverty and buildings in disrepair.
TUE 15MAY12 Cadiz (Seville), Spain 9:00am 7:00pm
Cadiz is the gateway to Seville. But Cadiz is such a beautiful town it's a shame people don't take the time to explore it more, instead of hopping into an excursion bus to Seville.
From the ship you simply walk into town in Cadiz. How I loved Cadiz. The town is beautifully kept and easy to navigate. The information center provides maps with coloured walks. Informative, relaxing and a great way to getting know Cadiz. You see plates on the buildings everywhere around town, explaining the history of the building, if any famous person ever lived there and otherwise interesting facts.