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Published: June 23rd 2011
We like Barcelona a lot. Since they hosted the Olympics back in the 1990s this city has really come of age. The waterfront had a complete makeover and is now a lively and popular destination for locals and tourists alike. This was the weekend of the big soccer match between Barcelona and Manchester and there was a music festival happening. Thus the city was packed with young people. At the same time there was a huge demonstration going on in Place de Catalunya where hundreds of protesters had been camped out for several weeks. We walked up the Ramblas which was as lovely as ever--lined with outdoor cafes, street vendors and artists, flower and bird markets and canopied by towering trees--it is one of the nicest urban rambles you can take.
When we reached the top end we saw that the police had moved into the protesters encampment and were attempting to disband it. They were dressed in full riot gear, the side streets were filled with ambulances and paddy wagons and there were helicopters patrolling overhead. We decided that it might be prudent of us to depart the scene before the showdown turned violent --which it did
later in the afternoon resulting in tear gassing and many injuries and arrests.
We went over to see the famous Gaudi creation, La Sagrada Familia. While it is still a work in progress this cathedral is stunning in its uniqueness. We picked up some chicken and had a picnic in the park across from the church.
We found the subway system easy to use and went to the old fishing village of Barcelonetta which is a happening place now because of its chic restaurants. We hiked into the Gothic Quarter and visited the church where our nephew Mike married Eva, his Catalan wife. This is a traditional style Cathedral with soaring arches and tall pillars.
That evening we had a deck party with dinner and dancing under the stars. Then a local Flamenco group performed on board. They twirled and stomped and danced like toreadors in a bullring.
We arrived in Malaga on an exciting day also. It was Armed Forces weekend and King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia would be in attendance at the parade through town. The harbor was full of military ships with lines of people waiting to board for visits. We had
Gaudi inspired ice cream.
read that on Sunday the Picasso family home was open to visitors for a few hours and it was free of charge. His birthplace has been turned into a museum and was honoring Picasso on this, the 125th anniversary of his birth. They had some interesting examples of his drawings and early works. I think that Picasso never met a breast he didn't like---and subsequently draw!
There was a jet flyover and marching bands for the throngs of spectators to enjoy. We were hoping to get a look at the King. Kevin had lunch with him 23 years ago in Carmel when Pope John Paul visited the Monterey Peninsula. Kevin was in charge of the press relations for the Diocese at that time and they sponsored the luncheon. Since Clint Eastwood was the mayor of Carmel he also attended the star-studded affair. But here in Malaga the security around the King and Queen was so tight we didn't even get a peek of the royalty.
After sailing from Malaga we passed through the Straits of Gibraltar leaving the Mediterranean behind and entered the Atlantic Ocean. We could see the mighty rock on our starboard side and the lights
of Morocco on the port side
Cadiz is one of the oldest cities in Europe having been established by the Phoenicians in 1100BC. It is also a very strategic port for Spain with its location on the Atlantic Ocean. We wandered around the old city and visited the markets and seashore and found our favorite Chinese restaurants in Spain. Being on the Atlantic, Cadiz seems to have cooler weather than the rest of Spain. In one of the town squares we ran into some friends of ours off the Oceania Marina. We last bid farewell to Kenlynn and Peter in Auckland after they had finished a segment of the 2008 World Cruise.
We had a sail-away party that evening while leaving Cadiz. Again the weather gods were with us. It was a perfect spring night for an outdoor party as we made our way northward to Lisbon.
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