France to Denmark April-May 2016

Normandy  |  Normandy 2  |  Monte Carlo - Monaco  |  Ibiza  |  Cartagena  |  Malaga  |  Gibraltar  |  Portimao  
  Lisbon  |  Porto  |  Coruna  |  Cherbourg  |  Rouen Day 1  |  Rouen Day 2  |  Cruising the Seine  |  Belgium  

  Amsterdam  |  North Sea Canal  |  Travemunde/Lubeck, Germany   |  Fredericia, Denmark   


Malaga is a Spanish port city that′s a two-hour drive from Granada where The Alhambra is. The Alhambra is the highlight site of this portion of the cruise, so months ago we had our travel agent reserve a car and driver/guide for our trip there.

We should have known something was up this morning when our car arrived late, after all the buses had gone. (But, compared to what followed, late arrival was the good news in this sorry saga.) After the car finally did arrive but before we even left, the guide asked to see our admission tickets to The Alhambra. We couldn′t do that. It turns out that either Seabourne or A&K (our travel agent) or some combination of them, failed to get Alhambra tickets for us. Tickets had to be purchased in advance. So even if we were willing to, we couldn′t stand in a ticket line at The Alhambra. Visiting that World Heritage site was the reason Carol added a week to the first part of our cruise.

There was nothing we could do. Consolation "prize": a tour of Malaga and surrounding cities.

The first stop was Marbella. Besides Ibiza, this is party–city–central for the jet set. It′s a Riviera–style city sporting a quaint old–town and a newer uber–rich area. To give you a feel for the latter — one of the earlier Saudi kings built a palace, a replica of the U.S. White House (!). In later years, hundreds and hundreds of bedrooms were added. Now the extended Saudi Royal Family has someplace to stay when they go to Marbella each year. Our guide said that every time they visit, they spend many millions of dollars there so the merchants like them a lot.

The old town of Marbella was a pleasant surprise. First glance was kitschy. But the whole place looks historically preserved and it seems to work. The walkways throughout the Old Town (for walking only, no cars) is paved with bricks interspersed with flat round white and black stones set on edge. In the various plazas, the same stones are used to make mosaics (reminiscent of ones we saw in Mykonos). The effect is to make the walkways an endless art piece.

Hanging pots - Tiles StreetsAdded to this is a love of tile art and a seeming need to hang pots of flowers on every spare wall. The streets are narrow and bougainvillea hangs from decorative street lamps across extremely narrow streets. Every fountain and many walls are decorated with artistic tiles. The benches in the City Park are ceramic art pieces as good as any I have seen. However, Marbella is also Tijuana–like in that every shop sells tourist items and much of the merchandise is duplicated in each shop.

The town had a local church (can you imagine in Spain) which was both primitive and more ornate than expected. For example, much of the art in the church consisted of dressed and painted statutes looking more like a wax museum than a traditional church. They were also so well kept that they could have been placed there yesterday.

Bronze sculptures by Salvadore DaliThe walkway from the park to the beach is lined in the middle with a dozen bronze sculptures by Salvadore Dali, probably more than in many museums. As in the park, these sculptures are set in walkways made of yellow marble.

Elephant Shower The shower on the beach was a sculpture of a whimsically pained elephant whose trunk supplied the water. It was about 12 feet high at the shoulder. I think the artist was thinking about Hannibal.

We went from this town to another tourist area, a village called Mijas, which had an overlook that might have given us a view across the Mediterranean but it was so hazy we couldn′t see much.

Bull-RingFinally, we returned to Malaga where our ship was docked. Another fortress city. Rich in history with forts that scavenged (as they all did) the stones of the Romans who built similar structures before them. We were driven to an overlook of this City to look at the harbor and the surrounding city. Below us was the first real bull–ring I have ever seen. I understand that there is one in Tijuana but I have not seen it.

All–in–all, a real lemonade day.

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