Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Cinque Terre and Barcelona and Malaga -- oh my!

Blogger's note: Wendy and I are just back from a transatlantic cruise aboard Holland America's Zuiderdam. This feature was written during the trip and I'm just now getting around to posting it.

Leaving Livorno, heading west into the Mediterranean
Here I sit at the moment, high atop the Zuiderdam, glancing out at the Port of Cadiz in southern Spain just this side of the Strait of Gilbraltar.

The lovely Miss Wendy and I are a week into a 19-day transatlantic crossing and the good news is we're still speaking to one another!

We landed in Rome eight days ago, made our way to Civtavecchia, the port of Rome, where we boarded the Zuiderdam, and settled into our stateroom before sailing off to Livorno. It's a port that mostly serves as a jumping off spot for cities and sites across Tuscany.

We jumped and spent the following day in Cinque Terre, a lovely group of villages built over an expanse of mountainous terrain that rest magically and majestically above the Mediterranean. The views were splendid, at times transcendent as Mother Nature, as she is want to do, managed to euphorically blend land, sea and sky!

I'm pretty sure if you looked hard and long enough you could find it written somewhere that on the eighth day God created this special place! But I digress.

Village of Portovenere, just south of Cinque Terre.
Over the next several days, Wendy and I stayed busy checking out the Zuiderdam -- eating, walking, exercising, eating, going to shows in the ship's theater, eating, meeting and making friends, eating, shopping, napping and, well, eating.

We also toured and walked around a half dozen ports of call along the east, south and west coasts of Spain, including Barcelona, Alicante, Malaga and Cadiz, with a side trip to the nearby island of Mallorca where we rubbed shoulders with the locals in Palma and tourists in the picturesque seaside village of Soller.

Today we are steaming west, headed toward Ponta Delgada and Horta in the Azores. The skies are overcast and the seas mildly angry, rocking us gently as we stay busy walking, exercising, eating and, well, eating yet again.

We've been warned by the captain that the seas here in the mid-Atlantic will grow angrier over the next several hours, with swells expected to toss us about for the next day or so, then grow quiet as we reach the Azores. Perhaps I might skip today's afternoon snack! Then again, you can never be too rich, too thin or visit the Zuiderdam's buffet too often.

Up next: Stumbling across the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona and being asked to remove my cap. Stay tuned.

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