Port of Call Tenerife

Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands

West of southern Morocco in the Atlantic Ocean sits a cluster of volcanic islands called The Canaries. The Canary Islands feature a rugged volcanic landscape known for the black and white sand beaches. Tenerife, the largest island, is dominated by an active volcano Mt. Teide, which has its own astronomical observatory and is part of Teide National Park. Tenerife hosts a huge pre-Lent Carnival each year in the capital of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Santa Cruz de Tenerife

Where Your Ship Docks

Most cruise ships will dock at the piers in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. There are no cruise terminals or readily available public facilities at the pier. While docked in the city it is still a good walk to reach the central business district. At times there can be shuttles available to get out of the port area.

Transportation

The island does have a good bus system (CLICK HERE) that uses a pass card, the Ten+ Travel Card. It can be used on most all bus routes. The plastic card itself can be purchased at various outlets around the island for €2 plus a €5 minimum charge amount amount. The island of Tenerife is a large covering almost 100 square miles with a trip from one end to the other being about fifty miles.

Because of the distances that you need to cover to see the island on a short visit it’s recommended that you rent a car or take a tour.

Currency

The Canary Islands, like Spain are part of the EU making the local currency the Euro. Credit cards are widely accepted but you will need to use the Euro for cash transactions.

Attractions

The Canary Islands are a favorite holiday destination for Europeans, particularly the British. It features a good selection of fine restaurants along with a thriving wine industry with a number of vineyards of note.

Because of the volcanic nature of the island there are a number of interesting sights focused on the geology. The Cueva De Los Verdes, lava-formed tunnel with guided tours. Also the Jameos del Agua, a volcanic cave system with dining & music that opens each day at 10 am.

The Cristo de La Laguna

Blessed with a near perfect climate, Tenerife has a number of good beaches like Playa de Amadores, a busy beach for swimming & sunbathing. There is also Palmitos Park, a botanic park with an aviary & dolphinarium or Siam Park a Thai-themed adventure water park.

A good location to book independent tours while in Tenerife is a tour operator called TravelOn.

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Memorial Day and Pointe du Hoc

June 6th 2019 the 75th Anniversary of D-Day

A Day at Pointe du Hoc

At 7:10 am on the morning of June 6th 1944 at a point of land where the rolling farmland of western France drops ninety feet down vertical cliffs to meet the sea, in the words of one Army Ranger “All hell broke loose.”

Three hours before that, on a troopship offshore hidden in the fog and smokescreen laid down by the armada, the PA system announced, “Rangers, man your craft.” Of the three hundred Rangers that boarded those boats to attack those cliffs and capture its gun emplacements later that morning only ninety would still be standing.

The cliffs of Pointe du Hoc

At Pointe du Hoc, at that moment the World War II invasion of Normandy began.

Visiting today it is almost impossible to comprehend how anyone could scale those cliffs under enemy fire and succeed.

Spend a moment visiting this land, set aside to the memory of those brave men and reflect on just what Memorial Day represents.

Pointe du Hoc occupied the high ground overlooking beaches to the east and was covered in fortified cannon emplacements. It was thought that if the cannons were not taken out of commission they would have prevented a successful landing on the beach below.

The Battle Of Point Du Hoc

The 90 foot cliffs scaled by the American Rangers.

 

Looking down at the landing beach.
The German gun emplacements.
Pointe du Hoc is still covered by the craters of the Allied barrage.

 

The German gun emplacements.

The German gun emplacements.
Seventy years later Pointe du Hoc still shows scars from that day.

The countryside behind Pointe du Hoc.

Port of Call Lisbon Portugal

It’s easy while walking the streets of Lisbon to think you have somehow slipped back in time. The port of call of Lisbon really seems to live in the past. Quant cobblestoned streets lead to plazas bordered by palaces, churches and castles. Attractive small cafes and restaurants abound and shops and galleries invite at every turn. Streetcars that look like they really belong in another time, glide down narrow streets. Even much of this cities graffiti rises to the level of fine art. Portugal seems to have deliberately let the world speed on by, having discovered a comfortable place to sit back and watch everyone else frantically race on to – not sure where.

Where Your Ship Docks

There is a stretch along Lisbon’s central waterfront where cruise ships dock. There are two terminals not far apart, Terminal de Cruzeiros de Lisboa and Terminal de Cruzeiros de Santa Apolonia. Both feature good access to ships and town and have free public facilities. Much of central Lisbon is within a mile of the cruise piers.

Transportation

Lisbon features a good public transport network, both underground and surface with buses and trams and can also add the Transtejo (river connection). Lisbon Metro is one of the most cost efficient and flexible ways of traveling around the city.

There are 24 and 48 hour passes available and the funicular system can also be used.

 

1 Day ticket (24h)

Carris/Metro 6.40€ -Valid for unlimited journeys on Carris and Metro, networks during 24 hours following the first validation.

Carris/Metro/Transtejo (Cacilhas) 9.50€ – Valid for unlimited journeys on Carris, Metro and Transtejo (river connection), during 24 hours following the first validation.

Ticket Offices are open every day 7:45 a.m – 7:45 p.m at the following Metro stations:

Marquês de Pombal, Campo Grande, Colégio Militar/Lu, Jardim Zoológico, Marquês de Pombal

Rossio, Baixa-Chiado, Cais do Sodré, Oriente Aeroporto. There are also vending machines at every station.

There is also a visitor’s card called the Lisboa Card where you get unlimited travel for 24 hours for just €20 that also includes free access to Lisbon’s best museums and attractions like the Torre de Belem, Jeronimos Monastery and the Santa Justa Elevator and more. You can buy the card online HERE.

Currency

The currency of Portugal is the Euro and major credit cards are welcome almost everywhere.

Attractions

Castles, museums, churches and palaces all within a mile or so from the cruise ship.

Castelo de S. Jorge at R. de Santa Cruz do Castelo

Hilltop Moorish castle & palace ruins

Jerónimos Monastery at Praça do Império 1400-206 Lisboa

World heritage listed Gothic monastery

Oceanário de Lisboa at Esplanada Dom Carlos I

Waterside aquarium with ocean ecosystems

Museu Nacional do Azulejo at R. Me. Deus 4

Ceramic collections located in a church

Belém Tower at Tower at Av. Brasília

Medieval defensive tower

Padrão dos Descobrimentos at Av. Brasília

Concrete monument to maritime explorers

Santa Justa Lift at R. do Ouro

Elevator linking city levels from 1902

Carmo Convent at Largo do Carmo

Medieval ruins & archaeology museum

Basílica da Estrela at Praça da Estrela

Baroque church with twin bell towers

Ajuda National Palace at Largo Ajuda 1349-021

19th-century royal palace and museum

Arco da Rua Augusta at R. Augusta 2

Triumphal arch with a viewing platform

Miradouro da Nossa Senhora do Monte

Popular destination for city views

Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga at R. das Janelas Verdes

Historical art collection in old palace

Palácio dos Marqueses da Fronteira at Largo São Domingos de Benfica 1

Grand palace

Miradouro Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen at Calçada da Graça

Terrace park featuring sweeping city views

Museu de Marinhaat Praça do Império

Maritime museum in sixteenth century monastery

The Wonder of The Giants Causeway

The Giants Causeway – A Must See in Northern Ireland

Basalt columns everywhere

Up on the rugged coast of Northern Ireland about two hours north of Belfast is a geological wonder and a World Heritage Site named The Giants Causeway. The unusual formation was born of natural processes 65 million years ago, when Northern Ireland was subjected to major volcanic activity. During this period, molten basalt came into contact with chalk beds, forming a lava plateau. Because the lava cooled quickly, the plateau contracted and cracked, forming about 40,000 similar sized hexagonal columns of varying heights that look like giant stepping stones much like someone constructed them. The largest pilers stand over 35 feet tall.

40,000 columns cover the site
They climb the landscape

The site is really spectacular and we weren’t disappointed in making the trip even though the weather could have been a whole lot better. There is a good visitors center, a well paved road down to the Causeway, a bus shuttle and a number of food and refreshment venues near the site.

According to Irish legend, the columns are the remains of a causeway built by a giant. The legend goes that the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill, of Gaelic mythology, was challenged to a fight by the Scottish giant Benandonner. Fionn accepted the challenge and built the causeway across the sea so that the two giants could fight. In one version of the story, Fionn defeats Benandonner. In another, Fionn hides from Benandonner when he realizes that his foe is much bigger than he is. To save him Fionn’s wife, Oonagh, disguises Fionn as a baby and tucks him into a giant cradle. When Benandonner sees the size of the “baby”, he realizes that its father, Fionn, must be a giant among giants. He flees back to Scotland in fright, destroying the causeway behind him so that Fionn would be unable to chase him down. Across the sea, there are identical basalt columns (a part of the same ancient lava flow) at Fingal’s Cave on the Scottish isle of Staffa, adding additional confirmation to the legend.

 

We visited the Giants Causeway in May and the weather was a balmy 42° and clouds were gathering quickly. From the visitors center down to the shore is a good steep walk and while there is a shuttle bus, on a busy day the wait in line for the ride is probably much longer than the actual walk – so off we hiked. Our thinking was that we would walk downhill and ride back. Once we got to the bottom it started a light rain with wind picking up to 40 or 50 mph. Unfortunately we weren’t the only ones thinking about riding back and the wait was almost an hour for the return bus. Soon the temperature seemed to plummet and we started back climbing up the hill. I swear there was sleet stinging my face and at one point the wind got inside my hood and I swear it lifted me off my feet.

Once we reached the top we sought refuge in the bar of the Causeway Inn. It was a cozy place and much less congested than other options. We and our travel companions all had coffee and scones, spending a long time thawing out in the comfort of the lounge. Sitting next to us was a local family and we got to talking. Asking if they had hiked down yet they replied “Oddly no, and we live here. We’re waiting here keeping cozy while our guests freeze their noses off.” I understood but if we lived here we’d hike the area regularly but maybe not on a chilly and windy day. While it is an amazing place and we would recommend a visit, if we had the option of waiting for a warm and sunny day?!

One of the biggest issues to a planned itinerary with a limited amount of time is you don’t get to make many changes and you are stuck with the weather that fate deals you.

We could also see the ruins of Dunluce Castle not far from The Giants Causeway. We were told that this area was also used in a number of Game of Thrones episodes. We seem to keep running into Game of Thrones locations everywhere from Dubrovnik to Iceland here in Northern Ireland and Spain and we’re beginning to think that we are either just lucky or perhaps they film everywhere?

 

The Port of Call Oslo, Norway

The Port of Oslo, Norway

Historic, modern, remarkable Oslo. We can’t think of enough superlatives to describe this beautiful city. Within a couple of square mile area are great shops and restaurants, the Royal Palace, a truly incredible art museum, a flower market and the historic fortress.

Where Your Ship Docks

The Inner Harbor Oslo
Akershus Fortress

Most cruise ships will tie up at docks right under the walls of the Akershus Fortress within the inner harbor. While public facilities at the pier are not readably available it is only a short walk to the fortress or around to the central harbor area where there are facilities. It is also less than a mile walk around the entire central waterfront past outdoor cafes, shops and museums.

Transportation

Central Oslo

Metro Train is the best option if you are spending just a day or two in the central city area. While the train lines are numbered one to five and each one has a different color all five lines cover every stop from Majorstuen to Tøyen in central Oslo, so you can pick any stations or stop and always find the right train. There are at least four services an hour on every line. A transit ticket/pass works on all Oslo transportation systems and you can purchase tickets at Oslo Visitor Centre at Oslo Central Station, Ruter’s Customer Service Centre, in most Narvesen and 7-Eleven shops, from ticket machines at metro stations etc.

Cafes on the waterfront

You can also download the Ruter’s mobile ticket app and buy single, 24-hour, 7-day and 30-day tickets before hand. A 24-hour ticket (flexible start time, multi-user ticket) Adult 108 NOK Child/senior 54 NOK

Currency

Museum area

The Norwegian Krone is the currency of Norway. At this writing the exchange rate is 9 Krone to 1 U.S. Dollar. Of special note, Norway like several Scandinavian countries is well on the way to being a cashless society. Everyone expects you to use your credit and debit cards.

Attractions

Royal Palace

As mentioned above, within just a two square mile area is much to see.

Akershus Fortress is only a short walk from the pier and well worth a stroll around the grounds with a visit to The Resistance Museum on the grounds.

Other sights include The Royal Palace, The Nobel Prize Center, The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History, Viking Ship Museum, The Fram Museum, Oslo Cathedral and the Tjuvholmen Sculpture Park right in the central waterfront.

There are a number of very good cafes and restaurants on the harbor as well as interesting shops.

 

Love Locks – A Pledge of Undying Love

love lock Wurzburg, Germany
Wurzburg, Germany

Love Locks – Statement of Love or Vandalism?

A SHORT STORY

As we travel we have at times noticed collections of padlocks attached to bridges and other public structures. It wasn’t difficult to figure out what was going on by all the couples names engraved on the locks. But in the last five years or so it is becoming difficult to not notice these collections, they’re popping up everywhere.

The practice isn’t new but in the twenty-first century it has exploded worldwide. A love lock is a padlock which lovers lock to a bridge, fence, gate or monument to symbolize their eternal love. Recently the lovers’ names or initials, and the date, are inscribed on the padlock, and its key is thrown away usually into the river under the bridge to symbolize unbreakable love.

Dublin, Ireland

This simple and romantic practice seems innocent but more and more being treated by authorities as litter or vandalism, and there is becoming serious cost associated with damage and their removal. We’ve been told that there are places where authorities are embracing them as a tourist attractions.

A little research will show that love padlocks date back at least 100 years to a Serbian tale of World War I, about the bridge Most Ljubavi or the Bridge of Love in the town of Vrnjačka Banja. A local schoolmistress named Nada, who was from Vrnjačka Banja, fell in love with a Serbian officer named Relja.

Ha’penny Bridge, Dublin

In Dublin there is a famous pedestrian bridge called the Ha’penny Bridge. It is one of the more famous symbols of Dublin. Nearly 200 years old (1816) it is a protected structure, but in recent years Dublin City Council have had to remove thousands of padlocks from the bridge. They are considered unsightly and are causing damage by chipping paint and adding considerable weight to the historic bridge.

While the key to many a heart now lies at the bottom of the River Liffey where couples in love have thrown them after securing their love locks to Dublin’s historic Ha’penny Bridge, a group is dedicated to breaking that bond. Almost as soon as the lovers have left, an expert lock-picking group arrives to tear these bonds of love apart and stop the locks from making the bridge structurally unsafe.

love lock Wurzburg, Germany

“It’s a fairly constant churn,” said Seán Nicholls, who set up the group when he was on his way to a professional lock-picking meeting. “I was heading to the meeting one day and I walked over the bridge and noticed all the locks. That’s kind of where the idea came from,” he said.

Love locks River walk Wurzburg, Germany
River walk Wurzburg, Germany

Dublin City Council made the group official in the aftermath of a love-lock situation in Paris where the locks caused a section of the Pont des Arts bridge to collapse.

Port of Call Málaga, Spain

Málaga, Spain, is a popular cruise destination on the Costa del Sol.

Located east of Gibraltar  on the Alborin Sea it was originally founded by the Phoenicians, but Málaga has seen a number of major transitions. Occupied next by the Romans it later became a major Muslim city and was then conquered in 1487 by the Christian kings of Europe. Today it is a thriving modern city sitting in the heart of the Spanish Costa del Sol.

Málaga cruise pier

Where Your Ship Docks

Cruise ships dock at the terminal at Paseo de la Farola marina. The pier is right downtown and has a number of shops and cafes right in the marina including free public facilities. Getting into the main shopping district is less than five or ten blocks and the old city is just a little farther.

Transportation

Downtown Málaga
The Old City or Málaga

While the city has good public transportation, within the city centre you can see practically all the main sights on foot, as most major attractions are around the historic district. Within the major urban area and in the nearby suburbs, Malaga’s city buses, commuter trains along with the city-bicycle hire service will take you anywhere you want to go. Malaga is also currently testing its new Metro lines, although at this writing they are not open to the public yet.

Currency

The local currency is the Euro but most credit cards are welcome virtually everywhere. There are also ATM machines available operated by a number of major banks and networks.

Attractions

Alcazaba fortress sits above the city

Málaga is very proud of their favorite son Pablo Picasso and features a major museum and gallery dedicated to his works (Websites Here and HERE).

Alcazaba

The Alcazaba fortress of Málaga, Spain. This fortress palace, whose name in Arabic means citadel, is one of the city’s principle historic sites and is not only beautiful but holds commanding views of the city and harbor. Built by the Muslim Hammudid dynasty in the early 11th century, it is the best-preserved alcazaba (citadel) in Spain.

The Cathedral

The Cathedral of Málaga is a Roman Catholic church constructed between 1528 and 1782 in the Renaissance architectural tradition. The cathedral is located within the limits defined by a now missing portion of the medieval Moorish walls, the remains of which still surround nearby Alcazaba and the Castle of Gibralfaro. There is a local story that the second tower was never finished because the citizens sent the money intended for construction to America to support their revolution (not sure if it is true).

The Málaga Old City also features a wide variety of cafes, restaurants and shops.