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Spain Intensive with Azamara



After three rather wet days in one of the oldest cities in the World, we set sail from Lisbon in late March. Despite the weather, Lisbon is a fascinating city. It was almost fifty years since my last visit. From that visit, I remembered taking the train to Cascais and Estoril which I was keen to recreate. Estoril had changed a little but was still dominated by the Casino that I remembered. Walking along the promenade to Cascais was delightful. Cascais a sleepy fishing village from my first visit was now a very touristy destination with a very smart and expensive looking marina.

A trip to Lisbon would not be complete with a trip to the Torre de Belém and the Monument of Discoveries. But crossing the road to Pasteis de Belem to sample the delightful custard tarts is a must.

Sail Away is spectacular as you sail down the Tagus river under the formerly named Salazar Bridge, renamed Ponte 25 de Abril, 25th of April Bridge after the Carnation Revolution which overthrew the remnants of Salazar's regime, the bridge was renamed for April 25, the date of the revolution. It is also commonly called the Tagus River Bridge. Overlooked by the statue of Christ the King.

Before heading downstream past the Torre de Belém and the Monument of Discoveries. Leaving behind the wonderful city and delicious tarts.


The Guadalquivir is the only major navigable river in Spain. Sailing up the river at night was magical as the sun was setting. The river was diverted around the city, but the old river allows smaller cruise ships like Azamara to dock right in the heart of Seville You must enter through the Seville lock, the only one in Spain and then navigate through a narrow opening bridge to dock right next to the Plaza de Espana. Having explored the gardens, it is a short walk into the city or indeed to walk along the river to the site of Seville Expo 92.


Leaving Seville behind our next port of call was Gibraltar at the entrance to the Mediterranean. A wet misty morning prevented seeing the rock but undaunted we set off on foot to climb the rock.

We made it to the magnificent St Michael’s Cave which was long believed to be bottomless. This probably gave birth to the story that the Rock of Gibraltar was linked to Africa by a subterranean passage under the Strait of Gibraltar the famous macaques were said to have come to Gibraltar through this subterranean passage.


Although the weather did improve in the afternoon the Captain and Cruise Director decided the weather was not conducive to holding the White Party on deck. So, this long-awaited event was held in the Cabaret Lounge which did not quite have the same appeal but was enjoyable all the same.


A storm of Saharan sand had passed through Malaga a couple of days before our arrival, leaving everything with an orange hue. How frustrating for the business owners trying to clean up their properties after the red devil.


Although l have visited Cartagena in Columbia, l had never visited its Spanish counterpart on the Mediterranean coast. Cartagena was founded in 227BC. In 1988 the first remains of a Roman theatre were discovered during construction in the city centre. The archaeological excavations and restorations were completed in 2003. In 2008 a museum, designed by Rafael Moneo, was opened and is a magnificent reminder of the Roman Empire.


The final port of the cruise was Spain’s third-largest city Valencia after Madrid and Barcelona. Truthfully this was not my favourite port of call on this cruise. I imagine this was something to do with the fact that we were not docked downtown as we had been in all the previous ports. Docked in a commercial dock we were not permitted to walk from the ship to the dock gate but had to take the shuttle bus into town. We had chosen to take a tuk-tuk which would dump us in the city after the tour. It was not the best day for a tuk-tuk ride with the wind howling through the three-wheeled vehicle.

The City of Arts and Sciences is an ensemble of six areas in the dry riverbed of the now diverted River Turia in Valencia. Our call there was limited and will warrant a return visit to explore in future.

Our next stop on the whistle-stop tuk-tuk was the beautiful building of the Estación del Norte/. The North Station building is one of the main works of Valencian Art Nouveau and stands next door to the bull ring.

Undoubtedly my favourite place in Valencia was the magnificent Central Market, such a pity we could not shop for everyday supplies of meat, fish and vegetables, but we did indulge in one or two tasty morsels as we explored the wonderful array of local products. A place to revisit on a future trip.

Our whistle-stop Spain Intensive cruise on Azamara Pursuit was a great way to experience the sights, sounds and tastes of Spain and lays the foundation for future visits to this great diverse country.

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