Archive for April, 2013

April 22, 2013

Windstar Cruising along Spanish Coast

Windstar Cruising along Spanish Coast
Lisbon to Barcelona by a tall masted sailing ship offered six Spanish ports of call during an eight night cruise. Coastal ports visited were Cadiz with access to Seville, Malaga with time for a visit to Ronda and Marbella, Almeria and enough time to visit Granada, followed by Cartagena, and Valencia, before arriving in Barcelona.
Windstar ships are small enough to dock (rather than moor) conveniently close to the historic centers. A time saver and certainly more pleasant for guests to come and go from ship at their leisure. Full days in port offer sufficient time for guests to get a good taste of each destination. Without exception every city visited was pedestrian friendly, culturally and historically interesting, and welcoming.
All three of Windstars ships have been recently refurbished and the crew, from Captain to Cabin stewards are professional and personable, all clearly eager to make the guests experience enjoyable.
When prevailing winds allow, the Windsurf, the largest of the fleet, can sail up to 13 knots per hour without engaging the engines.

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April 19, 2013

Valencia, Spain’s Third Largest City

photo2Still an agriculturally rich city, Valencia is the Spanish gateway to the Mediterranean, with the special charm that a seaport city has.  It has an excellent balance of commerce, culture, theatre, museums, music, and business.
Architecturally, Valencia is comprised of significant historical buildings that are beautifully maintained and abundant avant-garde modern structures that somehow blend harmoniously.  It is quite remarkable, as the contrast is so dramatic.
High points include the Cathedral dating to 1262, the iron and glass Mercado Central, the Ayuntamiento (Town Council), the Correos (main Post Office), as well as the ultra-modern City of Arts complex – the largest of it’s kind in Europe devoted to culture, education, and recreation designed by the world famous Santiago Calatrava.By the way, Valencia is where Paella originated and they make the most mouth-watering version I have ever had.
April 18, 2013

Ronda: Oldest Bullring in Spain

Inland from Marbella and Malaga about an hour by car, Ronda is a charming gorge-straddling hill town of about 35,000 residents. It dates to the Moors and was taken back by the Spaniards in 1485.
Ronda is the cradle of modern bullfighting and the home of the 19th century bandoleros. The two tiered bullring was built in 1785 and is a true show piece, complete with 136 Tuscan columns and a fascinating exhibit glorifying the sport.

The lovely Ronda Parador Hotel is perched on the rim of the gorge and adjacent to the bridge that joins the old historic center and the new. The city is very pedestrian friendly and well tended by the locals. Balconies are brimming with flowers and the cafes and shops are very welcoming throughout the old and new town. Ronda is well worth the trip inland from the coast.

On a side note, the route from Malaga to Ronda, passes the highly secured test track for the Formula One race cars.

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April 16, 2013

Sevilla’s April Fair Week Kicks off today

The capital of Andalucia and Spain’s fourth largest city, Sevilla, is beautiful and flamboyant – enveloped in the fragrances of orange trees, jacaranda, and myrtle. It is a place where bullfighting is still politically correct and little girls still dream of growing up to become flamenco dancers.

The center is very pedestrian friendly and architecturally rich. From Plaza de Espana, the sight of Spain’s pavillion built for the 1929 World Exposition; to Los Reales Alcazares, built by the Moors in the 10th Century and still serving as the royal digs; to the Cathedral, the third largest in Europe (after St Peter’s at the Vatican and St Paul’s in London).

A side note of interest, the town of Jaen, within an hour of Seville, produced three times more olive oil in 2012 than all of Italy. A testament to the agricultural production of Andalucia, also famous for it’s sherry.

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