Port of Motril, Spain

5:30 pm:

Leaving port yesterday we were able to witness a tug pulling the cruise ship, although I don’t think we had a tug any of the other times we left port.  I suspect it was because we were so tight in at the port.

I also learned something that I didn’t know:  The captain of a cruiseship, apparently, does not take the ship in or out of port.  A boat from the port authority comes out and meets the ship and then a captain comes aboard who specializes in “parking” cruiseships.  Huh.  Who would have thought.  We saw a small boat come up the other night and someone came aboard.  I didn’t think they were Somali pirates, but I guess I was curious who was jumping aboard before we got to port.  Now I guess I know.  Here is a video of…we’ll call him a valet…the guy leaving our ship after he got us out of port last night.

Last night was a bit choppier at sea.  We were late leaving port, but I think we left by 5:30pm or so and were at sea until sometime this morning.  For the most part, it is so smooth you hardly know the difference, but last night we could feel a bit more movement.  It was actually funny, because the first time I felt it, it felt like the disorientation I’d been feeling with my medicines since surgery (that just went away before the cruise) so I had to ask my wife if it was in my head or if the boat was moving.

Lunch in Granada (the arab quarter)

I had a restful night, but still had great difficulty getting up this morning.  My wife, I suspect, was quite irritated that we were leaving the ship later than intended, but she didn’t say a word.  Katie and Andrew joined with Carrie and I and we took a taxi from the port at Motril to Granada.  We really made the right choice in going on our own.  Katie and Carrie had both been there before and both feel that it is in their top 3 cities worldwide.  We only had a few hours so without the hustle and bustle of a tour group, we were able to relax and enjoy a long lunch off the beaten path (well, not really as far off the path as we would have liked).

After lunch Katie and Andrew and Carrie and I split up and went our own ways.  Andrew was on the hunt for some good local wines and Carrie and I really wanted to just enjoy the streets and get some interesting photos.  Since we didn’t have the time to go see Alhambra, we tried to find a scenic overlook from some tourist information, but to no avail.  We gave up and enjoyed our limited view.

We ran into Katie and Andrew just in front of a little café/bar.  How convenient.  We had drinks and relaxed in the shade before heading back down to the taxi.

The taxi to Granada was the only real way to go for us, but it was pricy.  We thought it would be about 80€ (somewhere around $100 or so) each way and would have had to started back a bit sooner (in order to find a new cab), but in the end we were able to hire a driver to wait for us and it was a bit cheaper.

When we got back to the ship we were exhausted.  It had been a good day, but we had tried to cover a lot of ground in a very limited amount of time.  Carrie and I couldn’t think of doing another thing.  I ordered room service treats (i’m working on a diet coke and fruit plate, right now) and I am working on this blog out on the balcony and Carrie has passed out into our bed.  We should be getting underway, soon.  Tomorrow, I think, is a day at sea, so no stops.  That means time by the pool and cooking classes in the Bon Apetit Culinary Center.

Hope this note finds you all doing very well!

7:00 pm:

Update:  Well, internet was down earlier, so I have more to say, now 🙂  Our cruise director came on earlier to let us know to expect a bit more motion today / tonight as we leave port and head to the Atlantic.  It is nothing to worry about, but the wind has, apparently, picked up and we’re in for rougher waters.  He wasn’t kidding!  It’s not enough to feel sick, but enough to know you’re on a ship.

Well, That really is enough, I think.  I’m going to get back to the fun of vacation!

Valéncia, Spain

Gardens at the Ciudad de las artes y las ciencias
9:00 am:
Yesterday was a terrific day with tours, relaxation and some time exploring on our own.  Really this cruise thing has been a better mix than I thought it would be.  This morning we came into port around 6:30 or 7am.  By the time our coffee and english muffins arrived and we moved to the balcony (at 7:15am) the ship was just finishing docking.
Carrie and I enjoyed some toast / muffins and tea / coffee on the balcony thinking that we would go eat in one of the on-board restaurants later, but, you know, by the time we had a little something and got ready for the day, there didn’t seem to be a point.  I think we’ll survive until lunch, though…  🙂
Carrie just finished getting ready and now we’re heading out.  When we signed up for excursions we decided not to sign up for a Cruiseline planned excursion here in Valencia, so we are striking out on our own.  The ship leaves at 4pm, so we have to be back by 3:30pm and can spend the rest of the day reading and relaxing by the pool.
I hope that all is well for you…wherever you may be as you read this blog!

4:00 pm:
We’re back!  It was a great day, for sure.  I was grumpy this morning because I had not slept well last night.  It wasn’t a comfort thing… i was just amped up.  Anyway, most people who know me well will know that I get grumpy when I don’t sleep enough.  So, I think Carrie and I argued all the way to Historic Valencia, but, I quickly got over myself and we had a great rest of our day.

A church tower at Plaza Lope De Vega
Our first stop was the Plaza Lope De Vega.  Then we walked to the Cathedral and Basílica, but decided that outside was enough for us, today.  We had planned to go to the Mercado Central (Central Market) but got a report from Bob and June that there were no longer vendors there (it had been converted to coffee shops and restaurants).  We decided to pass on that.

The Cathedral (above) and streets nearby (below)

The argument earlier that day was because iI wanted to go see the Cuidad de las Artes y las ciencias (City of Art and Science) which is a complex of museums in Valencia.  It caught my eye because of the Aquarium where they have and underwater observatory where you walk under the water.  Well, we had time, so we headed out in a taxi for the museums.  Once we got there we enjoyed a walk to the aquarium, but it turned out it was €30 which is about $40 (?) per person.  If we could have just done the underwater walk or if it had been less expensive we might have done it.  But as it was it would take about 3 hours and we just didn’t think we had the time if we were going to enjoy our lunch and get back to the ship with comfort.

A view of the museum campus in Valencia

In the end the time, expense, and exercise we got on the way to the museums paid off by the sights we saw.  The buildings were stunning and we enjoyed walking through the parks nearby.  If we had to do it again, we would…it’s just that we would allow time to go through the museum, too.  Maybe we would plan a day just for the museums on a return trip.
We caught a taxi to lunch.  Katie and Carrie had found a restaurant out in the countryside that was well-known for their paellas, so we met Andrew and Katie outside of town at this country restaurant.  It had been written up and, then, made further famous when Gwyneth Paltrow and Mario Batali ate there.
We also enjoyed our meal.  It was delicious and worth the cab fares for certain!  You can take a peek at our meal, too:

We got back to the ship with plenty of time to spare and we are now getting set to relax.  Carrie just headed up to the pool, so I will leave you all behind and follow after her!