Buenas dias! We're in Spain again, at the beautiful old city of Cadiz. We've been here before, and it's one of my favorite places. The streets are so narrow no cars are allowed in the inner city, so it's a lovely place to walk, sit and have a capuccino, and enjoy the gorgeous Christmas decorations. When we were here last, in springtime, there were 6 foot towers of petunias, in every gorgeous color, all over the old city -- now there are towers of pointsettias, lovely. It's wonderful, to walk through the narrow lanes of the streets here and look up to see the balconies overhead almost touching each other across the street. Cadiz has several beautiful churches & a cathedral, as well as many miles of beautiful beaches, but this trip we decide to explore part of the old wall that surrounds the city. The day is beautiful, and so is Cadiz.
12/12/07 Wednesday, sea day.
This is a much -- needed sea day of rest. Tonight is a formal party, and I get to swim, catch up on my e-mail, and take a long nap before getting all dressed up to go dancing. There is also a production show tonight "Words & Music" which I saw on the last segment, but Richard didn't, so we both see it after dinner. All the shows are amazing -- so well conceived, choreographed, costumed and sung. Delightful.
12/13/07 Thursday: Funchal, Madiera, Portugal
Bom Dia! After our restful day at sea, we dock this morning at Funchal, which rises out of the sea; its volcanically created slopes lush and green, and covered with terraced houses; its rocky peaks and cliffs dark and dramatic. the vista that greets us from the ship is classic Mediterranean -- not too much different from that which greeted Christopher Columbus when he came here to study the famous Portuguese sea craft and take a wife. Only after she died did he begin his explorations. The island was officially discovered in 1419, when Joao Goncalves Zarco found it in the usual fashion -- by getting lost. Funchal is named after one of my favorite veggies -- fennel, or sweet anise (fenocchio in Italian) which is called funcha in Portuguese, and grows wild here. It's such a fertile island! With a climate as warm as California, but wetter, the whole island is a tropical greenhouse. We took a double-decker bus tour, and saw banana plants, birds of paradise, bouganvilla and every sort of tropical plant. Grapes are important here, of course, because Madiera is known for its sherry-like wine. It also has a thriving sugar industry. From our bird's-eye, top deck bus seats, we see the lovely streets, remains of the old city wall and forts, cathedrals, and the many sculptures that grace the city. this is the home of the sculptor whose giant statue of Christ is on Sugar Loaf mountain in Brazil.
The last time we were here, we took a taxi to Our Lady of the Mountain Church, a lovely little convent & church (founded in 1492) on a high peak, from which the friends traveling with us taht time, Lyn and Geoff Dye, took a sledge ride. In a large basket-like contraption, they sat and slid down a cobblestone street to the bottom of the mountain.
This time, Linda & Mark tell us at dinner about their wild ride. The day dawned lovely, but by sailing time, ominous clouds are gathering on the mountaintop, and we wave goodbye to our last port of the trip, and begin sailing across the Atlantic Ocean.
12/14 -20/07 Crossing the Atlantic from Portugal to Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Now we have day after day at sea, to relax, enjoy the ship, the pool, the fine dining, dancing and entertainment. We love these Atlantic crossings, and we have great weather all the way. A perfect cruise -- and the flight from Ft. Lauderdale to LAX is much easier than the one to Rome.