Obviously a large part of an Atlantic Crossing is sea days, and we had plenty of them. Including six in a row at the end of the cruise until we reached Ft. Lauderdale. But we did have some great port stops through the first eight days of the cruise, and really only one port Leslie and I didn’t like.
Cartagena – Our first stop is a beautiful town on the southern coast of Spain. The bus tour Leslie and I took had us visiting some really nice old areas of teh city and included some much needed long walks and hills climbs. While the guide was fine, the group was too large and there were other groups where ever we went. One of the last bus stops was for shopping a relatively short distance form the ship so we just walked back a little early.
Malaga – Our second stop was another port town on the southern coast of Spain. Similar to Cartagena really if you stay in the port area. Our friends Darrell and Nancy arranged for a private tour of the inland towns up in the hills named the “White Towns”. Our main stop was in Mejas which was so charming Leslie expressed a desire to move there. All of the buildings in the town are white, and if there is any accents it is in green or red flower boxes planted with green or red flowers. Also many of the private homes have attached gardens as big or bigger than the house itself. Residential and commercial areas are not separated and many buildings house both. And while the town was certainly beautiful and beyond charming, the people were also very happy to have us there and gracious in their hospitality.
Casablanca– Perhaps the most famous city we visited on the cruise, mostly due to the classic Humphrey Bogart/Ingrid Bergman suspense romantic film of 1942. But in reality this is a large city in Morocco on the northwestern tip of Africa on the Atlantic Ocean side. Like most of northern Africa it is dominated by Muslim people but a non-secular government is in place. All 15 people from our group rented a private bus tour. We drove around some interesting spots and toured one of the largest mosques I have ever seen. But the tour was hurt by our tour guide who took us to a “shopping: stop were at first we were trapped by a very aggressive carpet/rug sales team and pushed very hard to get us to buy rugs. The we were move over to a similar spot to buy spices after another hard sales pitch. Leslie actually tried to buy some herbs but they only wanted cash. When she said she had to use a credit card they tried to usher her privately to another building saying that was the only place they could use credit cards. I felt we were being railroaded so insisted we just leave then. we got back on the bus unhappy with the visit and our feelings towards Casablanca were hurt by the constant sales pitches.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife– This was actually our second visit to this beautiful island off of the Atlantic coast of Africa. Owned by Spain it is also a common vacation spot for norther Europeans, especially the British. On our first visit we took a tour to around the island all the way to the opposite coast. So this time a group of us just walked all around the main port town.
Ponta Delgado – Our final part was another island, this time a little further west in the Atlantic. This is owned by Portugal so we like to say we have visited Portugal now even though we never reached the mainland of this country. To say this island was stunning doesn’t do it justice. We took a bus ride through the inner parts of the island and we awestruck by the natural beauty. Also our friend Richie Silva was born here before moving to the USA as a child.