Apr 16 – Sailing to Spain
Today was another sea day as we approach the final leg of the journey. Tonight was Spanish Formal Night, but there wasn’t much about it that was Spanish.
TOMORROW – Cartagena, Spain
Apr 17 – HB HJ
Happy Birthday, Harper Jane! We missed your second birthday but expect to be there for your third.
We have visited Cartagena twice before. It is an old town with a lovely pedestrian shopping area filled with locals and tourists. We love the many sculptures, many in bronze, which dot this area. We especially love one of the local bakeries. We have entered and sniffed on our previous visits, but today we actually bought things.
We met Ed and Roxanne Pettus on the dock this morning. They are here on the Eurodam, a HAL ship half-again as big as the Amsterdam. We wandered through the mall until we found “our” bakery and were able to secure a table for four outside. We ordered cappuccinos and tea and Ed and D went inside to select pastries. The four of us sat and talked for about 2 hours, perhaps more. When it was time to leave – they had a 3:30 departure – D paid for the cakes and coffees and ordered a kilo [2 pounds] of cookies to take back for trivia. Ed, who was trying to break a 50 euro note, insisted on paying for them in return for the coffee. D tried to dissuade him but was unsuccessful.
We had brought presents to Ed and Roxanne, albeit small ones. The biggest, by weight at least, was a plate of sticky buns from the Amsterdam. We knew from an earlier blog by Roxanne that he liked them and we didn’t know if they were available on the Eurodam. The second present was a handful of bull’s-eye candies [Goetze’s Caramel Cremes] for Roxanne who used to eat them every day at Trivia. Third, and funniest, were sugar packets from the Elvis Café which they visited with us in 2011.
Once back on the ship, we went to the Lido for lunch and pretended it was a sea day. Later, we went to visit the ship’s doctor in search of Lidoderm [lidocaine] patches to relieve the pain in MA’s back which has gotten worse since we bounced around Israel in the back of the van. Linda Starr had given her an expired one to try and we used that to dupe the doctor into thinking she had run out when, in fact, she never had a prescription from home. The medical staff said they will call us tomorrow to let us know if the port agent was able to secure any.
TOMORROW – Malaga, Spain
Apr 18 – Mishaps in Malaga
“On the 18th of April in ’75 [hardly a man is now alive who remembers that famous day and year]” Paul Revere rode through the countryside around Boston to warn the residents of the British invasion. Our travels through Malaga were not as historically important but they had the potential for being historic for us.
We really only wanted to do three things today – find a vendor for saffron; find a pharmacy in the hope of buying the analgesic patches; and getting lunch. We walked into town and directly to the information kiosk where we were directed to a spice shop and given a map to facilitate finding it.
Malaga is a lot like Tenerife and other Spanish towns. Most buildings, but not all, are less than 6 storeys and the architectural style is similar in them all. Malaga, like Tenerife, has a large pedestrian shopping area and it is a town filled with life. That we were here on a Saturday only made it busier and more crowded.
Following the map, sort of, we wandered through the streets and pedestrian areas as we worked our way toward the spice shop. We stopped for a drink along the way to rest MA’s back and then tried to find a shopping center instead. What we found was a tremendous market building filled with nuts, spices, vegetables and proteins. It was packed to the rafters with locals doing their weekly shopping and we found it difficult to navigate. In fact, it was so crowded that we abandoned any hope of finding saffron and left. We were told later that a Cortes Ingles department/grocery store was just 2 blocks further along; it would have been the perfect store but it was too late.
Pharmacies were all over the town. We stopped in several to inquire about the patches and were disappointed to learn that none of the ones we went to had any in stock. The good news is that they seem to be an over-the-counter item in Spain, so perhaps we will have better luck tomorrow in Cadiz. We know where the Cortes Ingles is there.
Having struck out twice, we attempted to have lunch before returning to the ship. The cafes near us were all quite busy, but we found a table in the pedestrian mall which was perfect for people-watching. No one came to clear the table from the previous diner or to offer a menu, but we got one from a neighboring table and discovered that there was nothing of interest available. Strike one. We found a table at another café and had the same problem – there was nothing appealing on the menu. Strike two. Finally, we returned to a place where there had been no open tables earlier and found several, so we sat down and waited. After a few minutes, D went inside and took an English-language menu from the pile to we could see what was offered. We waited some more. D went inside again and indicated to one of the staff that we would like service outside. Still no one came, so we left. Strike three. We did stop for gelato on the walk back to the ship and sat on a bench to eat it before it melted.
Malaga is a pretty town with parks near the water and we thought it would bear a return visit, but today was a complete bust. We returned to the ship and got lunch on the Lido where we shared a table with Barbara and Roger and talked about travel and pain patches.
When we got back to the room, there was a message from the medical center informing us that they had the patches! We hurried down to get them before trivia so we wouldn’t forget. MA has a supply which will last past our return and maybe longer if we can cut them in half without losing to much of their effect. The one she got from Linda was great when we were in Cartagena, so we are hopeful that fresh ones will be even better.
After dinner tonight, we went to a flamenco dance performance but found it repetitive so we left during the fourth number. We have seen better in Buenos Aires and Disney World.
TOMORROW – Cadiz
Apr 19 – HoHo Home
Today marks the third time we have been to Cadiz, Spain. We passed the Rock of Gibraltar in the middle of the night as we steamed out of the Mediterranean and into the Atlantic Ocean. Cadiz is about as far west as one can get in Spain and was an important trade link with the United States for many years. Before that, it was important a vital seaport for a series of cultures and conquerors. Today it is a tourist haven while still maintaining a shipbuilding industry.
On our first visit, in 2009, we took the Hop On/Hop Off bus around town and ended up at El Cortes Ingles, the Iberian department store which is a presence in both Spain and Portugal. We were looking for a lemon meringue pie to present to Mukti who had, if you remember, eaten a slice intended for MA on that cruise. We were unsuccessful in Cadiz but eventually found one in Bermuda.
In 2011, we followed a walking tour [the purple route] through the old town and ended up in front of the Cathedral. From there we walked to the Flower Market and had lunch at an outdoor café before winding our way through narrow streets to the harbor. There, too, we stopped for gelato on the way.
Our initial hope was to find the saffron at Cortes Ingles today and maybe the pain patches at a farmacia. Reality set in when we realized that very few shops would be open because we were here on a Sunday. We took the HoHo around again anyway and stared at the shuttered Cortes Ingles store. Once back to the ship, we had to change buses to continue around Cadiz again. This time, we left the bus at the Cathedral stop because we knew there would be shops and cafes open there; it might be Sunday but here were tourists with money to spend. We thought the cafes would also be catering to the locals after church.
Before looking for lunch, we did a little shopping and found more tchotchkes and some potato chips for one of the Pub trivia people. We found Ginger and Dave eating what we discovered was Round 1 of their lunch at a café directly in front of the Cathedral, but we continued on and settled on one around the corner, away from the tourist crowds. Our version of tapas included a version of a stuffed pepper, artichokes and peas, and stuffed eggplant similar in taste to moussaka. Since we were picking blindly from the display inside the café, we had no idea what to expect and were surprised at how good everything was. Even more surprising was the fact that the eggplant was our favorite. With the obligatory bread and 2 Diet Cokes, lunch was about 14 euros. Boy, do we know how to live!
Rather than walk uphill to catch the HoHo back to the ship, we walked downhill through the main plaza and across the street to the ship. Of course, we stopped for gelato in the square.
Once back on board, we booted up the computer for a Skype session with Harper, Caiden, Carter, Briton and Emily. Briton had brought the boys to Baltimore for Harper’s birthday while Jon was in Jakarta and we had a good but disjointed conversation with them. HJ wasn’t so interested in her grandparents, but C&C were. We also got our first fleeting look at Em’s remodeled basement. We will probably not talk to them again until we are in Florida.
TOMORROW – A Much-needed Sea Day