Saturday, October 17, 2015

Spain and Portugal: Valencia, Málaga, Sevilla, Lisbon, and Funchal

Oct. 3

Today we began our two-week cruise of Spain and Portugal aboard the Emerald Princess. The cruise allowed us to visit additional cities in Spain as well as Portugal. And, after seven days crossing the Atlantic, we would disembark in Ft. Lauderdale.

After breakfast at the hotel we gathered our luggage and went to the lobby to await our taxi to the port.  

Emerald Princess in Barcelona

Oct. 4

Valencia was our first port. Since we were only in port for ½-day, we opted for a city tour. Although it was Sunday and many of the attractions were closed, there was still plenty to see.

Traditional Dress

We did not get to sample Paella, the traditional rice dish of Valencia, but we did get to drink Horchata, the typical Valencian drink made from almond milk. Very tasty!

Enjoying Horchata in Valencia

Before returning to the ship, we visited the The City of Arts and Sciences, a unique complex devoted to scientific and cultural dissemination.

City of Arts and Sciences

Oct. 5

Málaga is a seaside city on the east side of the Straits of Gibraltar and gateway to Spain’s Costa del Sol. Sugar, citrus, almonds, figs, grapes, olives, and fish are exported from here.

Approaching Málaga
Sunrise in Málaga
Walking to Town

We went on a wonderful, small-group, walk and taste tour. Touring the market and historic old-town, we sampled olives, ham, liqueurs, and gelato.

Walk & Taste Tour
Olive Vendor
Wine Store, Founded in 1840

Oct. 6

Our final port in Spain was Cadiz. From the port we boarded a bus which took us to Sevilla (Seville), Capital of Andalucia. It lies on the Guadalquivir, one of Spain’s longest rivers, with a history that dates back 2000 years.

Upon our arrival in Sevilla, we were divided into smaller groups for a guided walking tour of the city. 

Plaza de España
Plaza de España
Royal Alcazar of Seville
Cathedral Giralda

Tapas Lunch at Cerveceria Giralda

Oct. 7

Today was Jamey’s birthday and she got to enjoy it in Portugal - priceless!

Unfortunately, we sailed though the Strait of Gibraltar in the middle of the night and were unable to see the famous Rock.

Our first port in Portugal was Lisbon and we spent a full-day on a city tour which included the Pena Palace and the towns of Sintra and Estoril.  The Palacio Nacional da Pena was built in the 19th century with Moorish and Gothic features and bright colors. It once served as royalty’s summer home. This area lures the wealthy.

Pena Palace
Pena Palace
Pena Palace

After the tour of Pena Palace, we boarded the bus and headed back down the mountain to the very crowded historical village of Sintra. We found a place for lunch and because there was no seating inside, we ate standing up, outside. Ken went with several others to a port wine tasting while Jamey browsed through the shops.

Sintra Was Crowded With Tourists

The next stop on the tour was scenic Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of the European continent.

Cabo da Roca Lighthouse

That evening, we enjoyed celebrating Jamey's birthday in the Crown Grill, a specialty restaurant aboard the ship.

The Maître d' Wishes Jamey a Happy Birthday

Oct. 8

We sailed away from Lisbon under a clear and sunny sky. After four busy days visiting ports, today, a sea-day, was a welcome change.

Lisbon's Monument to the Discoveries
16th Century Belem Tower

Oct. 9

Funchal, Portugal could very well have been our favorite port, but because of the fog, we didn't see much of it. Located on the island of Madeira, Funchal rises straight up from the sea (5000 feet of mountainous terrain).

Panorama of Funchal

We joined another couple for a private island/wine tour. It was a very rainy day so we wore our rain jackets and carried umbrellas. It was so foggy that we couldn’t see anything from the tops of the cliffs.

Fishing Boats
The Foggy Coastline
Scenic Funchal, Portugal
Funchal Market

A highlight of the tour was a visit to the Henriques and Henriques distillery which has produced the sweet Madeira dessert wine since 1850.

Henriques and Henriques Distillery
Madeira Wine in Casks

Since the weather was not cooperative, we decided to eat a nice lunch at a seaside restaurant, O Barqueiro. We tried the fresh grilled local fish, espada, a long, black and really ugly fish. But it was delicious – mild and buttery and was accompanied by many side dishes of fresh and tasty vegetables.

Espada, the Black Scabbard Fish
The Espada looks much better on the plate

Oct. 10

Today we departed Funchal and began our transatlantic crossing and seven-days at sea!

On the Open Sea
Sunrise at Sea
Double Rainbow

Oct. 17

The ship arrived in Ft. Lauderdale early in the morning. After disembarking and passing through customs, we picked up our rental car and drove across the state to the familiar calm of our home..... it's time to start planning our next journey

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