Friday, September 26, 2008

The City of Arts and Sciences

In Valencia there is a section of the city called "The City of Arts and Sciences", it is a section of very modern buildings. One houses the aquarium, and then the other buildings are used for the arts....they are connected with shallow turquoise pools of water. It is really quite amazing whether you like the architecture or not! The pools and many of the outer walls are all made of ceramic mosaic. Anyway, here are some photos.

...the mother ship has landed :)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Valencia, Spain

Our first port was Valencia, which is in the south of Spain. I wasn't too sure about it at first...we got on the shuttle bus and the first few interesting sculptures were these two. A play toy for kids that looks like a dead guy....and this gremlin thing ....not too sure....We got off the shuttle and took the bus into the older part of the city....ahhh, much better. There is a lot of Moorish influence in the architecture as you can see in this photo. And again, the narrow old quaint streets, but many of the buildings were much more brightly colored than in Barcelona.This picture below is a little blurry, but the kids were so cute....we are on a public bus and a bunch of school boys get on, I guess going to school, and though dressed very proper, they were just as loud and obnoxious as any boys their age.

Everywhere we traveled we took the public transportation. I love it, it is cheap and you got a decent feel for the people and the cities. I am sorry to any of those who disagree, but I loathe tour buses!! I do not want to be stuck with gawking tourists for 5 hours while you drive around and then get out at a few stops to take pictures!! Ok, maybe when I am older and can't walk I will like them....

So we took the public buses with the rest of the masses, used the metros, and even one taxi, and then also just walked everywhere, stopping along the way to eat at cafes and getting a little better feel for the cities.

I must say though that some of the public transportation is better than others! Paris is amazing....other cities, not so much. One time (I think it was in Barcelona) we got on a bus, but none of the stops were marked and we were trying to compare the road signs to our map....and having so much trouble! A lady next to us noticed our plight and asked us where we were trying to get to...turns out we were on the right bus, wrong direction.....oh well....we rode it to the end of its route and then rode it back the right way :) Strangely enough, the driver made us get out at the end of the route, stand on the sidewalk for about 5 minutes, and then reboard and pay again!

Supposedly the largest indoor market in the world....I guess everyone has some claim....I am a sucker for markets. I don't buy much...but I love the sensory overload!Across the street from the market is a building that has been used for hundreds of years, and still is, to settle "water disputes"... go figure! I guess the disputers still meet here on a certain day each week and have their issues decided upon.
The ceiling was hand carved woodPhoto from the garden in the "water dispute" buildingSo we leave that area and go window shopping in the old part of the city. There were so many fabric stores!! The fabrics were all beautiful, and insanely expensive. And the shops displayed these kinds of photos....I have no idea what kind of ceremony this is, or what it is for that matter. If anyone does, will you please comment and let me know?
As we were walking I looked down and realized the sidewalks seemed to be pink marble. I felt them with my hand and I really think they is a picture for your own inspection!
We also passed by a huge number of men's suit and tuxedo shops. The suits were in amazing colors, and so were the ties for the tuxedos....I had never seen ties like these so I had to take pictures. I am sure we will see them in the U.S. soon, but maybe with different colors! (Sorry for the window glare!)

The Olympic Stadium

The first morning on the ship we had breakfast delivered to our room so we could get up early and go out for one last day in Barcelona. On this last day we took a bus up to the Olympic site which sits on a huge hill overlooking the Mediterranean. There is also an old fortress at the very top as well.The Olympic stadium was really nothing great...just looked like any other stadium...I was unimpressed.The sculpture outside the stadiumThe fortress at the top of the hill, on the other hand quite interesting, it looked like a medieval castle complete with a draw bridge!The chain and pulley for the draw bridgeThe inside of the fortress was a maze of these brick lined caverns....we got very turned around and eventually ended up coming out the other sideOne of the more"picturesque" views of the Mediterranean :) One of the many cannons aimed out over the sea....there were cannons all around the fortress, some very old, and some more modern looking like this one.

There is a gondola that goes from the top of the hill right next to the fortress, all the way down...

to a loading station just over our ship, in the harbor...(that is in the last post where David is turned around looking at it).

David said that he would enjoy going on it...I respectfully declined...

Pictures over looking the is the La Sagrada Família
View of the ship's wake from our balcony....It was cool to watch us pull out of port each evening and see the sun set over the horizon.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Our Ship!!!

We got to board our ship the afternoon of the second day that we were in Barcelona. This was the part that Colonial paid for!! The ship was the Seven Seas Voyager, a Regency ship that was all suites. It was really beautiful! Our suite was at the very back of the ship, so we had great views pulling out of every port. Everything was including on the ship, even tipping and all drinks!!Our balcony....

The stairwell looking down

The top deck was had a pool that no one used, as it was too cold outside...we used the hot tubs some, and in the afternoon they served meals on the deck.
View of Barcelona from the ship
Champagne and fruit upon arrival...they gave us fresh fruit everyday. We also had a full mini bar refilled every day, or whenever we wanted.....full of various waters, alcohol, juices etc.
Here is our suite, king size bed, and a sitting area and desk. We also had a walk in closet. Our room was actually much larger than our hotel room in Paris!

The bathroom was gorgeous...all marble tile, and huge shower and tub
The main theater where the meetings and awards ceremonies were held.

Our first evening on the was so weird to sit down to a full service meal, and order anything we wanted, and then just get up and leave when we were done, no check, no nothing.
The restaurants were fabulous, we got to reserve a different one each night and often just had a table for the 2 of us. A couple times we ate with a big group of friends, which was fun too. The restaurants were full service at dinner, so no busy buffet lines...everything was fine linen, china and silver.
I know...we were totally spoiled...and this being our first cruise, I think we will be jaded from here on out!

Looking from our balcony at the end of this sky ride thing that starts up on the hill overlooking the harbor...more on that in my next post.