Valencia was our second stop in Spain, and what an interesting mix of old and new! In one day, we saw the Holy Grail AND some of the most modern, space-age looking buildings we’ve ever seen. The first half of the day was spent walking around the more historic part of the city, shooting the Basilica dels Desamparats, the large cathedral (home of the Holy Grail) and the local market. Valencia is where the famous Spanish dish, paella, originated, and we were happy to find some delicious paella while we were there.
The second half of the day was spent at the City of Arts and Sciences, and what a contrast that was to the old churches and such! The City of Arts and Sciences is a huge, futuristic, educational complex designed by the famous architect, Santiago Calatrava. It looks like something you’d see in a space-age movie and we spent hours photographing the many buildings there. The rest of the story, I’ll tell in photos. Enjoy!
The Holy Grail, found in Valencia’s cathedral.
Valencia is where paella originated, so we had to get some while we were there!
After spending two days exploring Morocco, we sailed through the Strait of Gibralter toward our first Spanish port: Cádiz. Cádiz is the oldest inhabited city in the Western World, so we were excited to explore some old buildings and historic Spanish squares. Instead of doing a cruise excursion here, we went off exploring on our own, which was easy since the ship docked right in town. (It was so close to town that it literally looked like it was nestled in with the rest of the buildings!)
We started off in a big, beautiful square that was mostly occupied by the Cádiz Cathedral, which was huge. We took photos inside and out and then wandered around the surrounding cobblestone streets, which were lined with loads of old buildings and full of local vendors in some areas. Walking through the local market, it was incredible to see how different and new-looking it seemed compared to the one we had visited two days earlier in Casablanca.
Most of the historic part of Cádiz is surrounded by water, and one of the places we visited was an old fortress that jutted out into the water and overlooked part of town. Right by the fortress, on the water, was a nice little tapas restaurant and that’s where we stopped for lunch, using their wifi to connect to the rest of the world for a while. A tapas lunch in Spain overlooking the water… not bad, right?!
As with many of the rest of these posts, I’ll tell the rest of the story in pictures. After Cádiz, we would sail to Valencia and explore another Spanish town. More to come…
After departing from Madeira and saying goodbye to Portugal, we continued onward to visit two of Spain’s Canary Islands. The first stop was Lanzarote, which is unlike its neighboring islands in that it’s very dry, with a lunar-like terrain. This is because of all the volcanic activity this island has seen over the centuries. We did a shore excursion in Lanzarote that had three stops and gave us a good feel for the island. Our first stop was an agriculture museum called El Patio, was really a series of historic buildings that somehow dealt with the agriculture of the island. There was a farm house, a barn, a winery, a windmill, etc. The place was very photogenic so we spent a lot of time shooting there before we all ended up in the winery to taste some of the island’s vino and have some tapas. Our second stop was a gigantic cactus garden that featured over 1,400 species of cacti! When shooting a place like that, I do a complete walk-through with one lens, then switch lenses and walk through again in an attempt to see things in a different way. Out last stop on Lanzarote was the César Manrique Foundation, which is an artist’s home-turned-museum that is literally build into the lava rock, with the natural terrain serving as the walls and ceilings. The place had a very organic and artsy feel to it, and I shot what few photos I could in our limited amount of time there.
Before I move on to the next Canary Island, here are some of my images and Karen’s video from Lanzarote:
Our second Canary Island was Tenerife, which was just a one-night sail from Lanzarote. On this stop, we did not do a shore excursion. Instead, we went about exploring town on our own. (We would eventually return to Tenerife a week or so later and do a tour at that point.) The Crystal Serenity docked at the port in Santa Cruz, which is the business capital of the island. It was quite bustling compared to our previous island stops, with busy pedestrian streets full of stores and people doing their Christmas shopping. We did find some historic buildings as well as a farmers market to shoot in town, but the most interesting thing we shot that day was the overly unique concert hall (You can see it in the photos below). It’s a very modern, space-age looking structure that was juxtaposed in an interesting way to the historic part of the town. On our second stop to Tenerife, we traveled to a more quaint and colorful town, but we’ll save that for another post. Next stop: Morocco!
More to come…