Thursday, December 24, 2015

At Sea – Heading Home
This is the last blog post from our wonderful cruise vacation.  It’s difficult to think back on all the wonderful things that we saw, but we certainly had enough time to do so as our ocean crossing took us 8 days.  How wonderfully relaxing it was, and there were some lovely sights to see, even out on the open seas…..or maybe because we were out on the open seas!
Squall Approaching
I’m not going to say something about any of the other images, but I did want to comment on this one.  One afternoon, as we stood out on our veranda (ship speak for balcony!), we watched as a squall approached.  The amazing thing about this was that only a few minutes before this, the sky was as blue as can be, with the sun shining down on us.  And, suddenly, this is what we were heading for!  It seemed to fill the sky.  However, our captain maneuvered so that we sort of passed right by it, with only a couple of sprinkles to show for it.  And, then, the blue sunny skies were back!
The rest of these images are sunrises and sunsets from our 8 days.  Not every day is represented, but the last image was our farewell sunset to a wonderful trip with memories that will last a lifetime!





Paintings of Cadiz
There were a number of different sights along our explorations that simply begged to be converted to photo paintings, and I just had to oblige…..
Park Along the Sea Wall
In addition to the large Banyan trees in the park, there were lovely walkways just lined with greenery and streetlights, with lovely tiled walkways beneath our feet.
End of Summer Bloom
As I mentioned before, it was the beginning of November, so a lot of the flowers that were in the botanic garden in the park were no longer in bloom.  But this one lovely pink beauty was still showing off!
The Red Boat
Along the beach by the Spa, I spotted this little red boat.  I couldn’t resist capturing an image of it and making a painting of it.  Makes you just want to run down, climb inside and take it out for a row around the bay, doesn’t it?
Little Dingy
This little boat had more of a lonely feel to it, I thought.  Still, it does create a peaceful feel, just floating out in the shallow water close to shore.
La Palma Spa Beach
Here’s the beach scene that I mentioned in a previous blog post.  It really was a very peaceful beach, probably because it was at the end of the season, altho it was still quite warm out.  I imagine the people down at the beach found it easy to forget the city behind them as they gazed out at the sea and sky.
Boats Along the Shore
And, finally, here’s a shot of the boats just outside the walls of Castillo de Santa Catalina.  Peaceful times now, but not in the past.

Animals Along the Cadiz Sea Wall
Both Jeff and I were surprised by the number of animals that lived alongside all the tourists and residents of Cadiz.  I suppose it probably isn’t all that different from other cities, but somehow, it just entertained me!
I can’t remember which animated movie I saw that had seagulls in it (Finding Nemo?), and in the movie, the cry of the seagulls was always “Mine!  Mine! Mine!”.  I couldn’t help but think of this when I saw this one seagull with what looked to be a ball of some sort in his beak. If he could talk, I’m sure he’d be saying “Mine!”.  Of course, if he talked, he’d lose it!
Relaxing Kitty
There was one section of the sea wall that had more cats living between the sea wall and the sea than we could count.  This little guy was close enough for me to capture his image, and smart enough to find some shade to relax in!  Altho it was the beginning of November, it was really summerlike in terms of temperatures – at least, what I think of as summer!
Who Me?
This calico kitty just seemed to like to watch me watching her.  I loved her wide-eyed gaze at me.  I wonder….was I supposed to toss her something to eat?  I doubt it, as I’m sure there was plenty of fish nearby!
Castillo de Santa Catalina
One of the interim sights along the sea wall walk was the Castillo de Santa Catalina, build in the 13th century.  It now houses historical exhibits about Cadiz, altho we really just explored around it and enjoyed the views.
Sentry on Duty
Before we even entered the castle, I enjoyed seeing this little sea gull, acting as a bit of a sentry, looking out to sea.
Castillo de Santa Catalina Walkway
At first, we weren’t quite sure that the castle was actually open to the public.  The walkway to enter it felt a bit like crossing a moat!
Chapel Inside the Castillo de Santa Catalina
As we walked thru the arched entryway, we found ourselves in the middle of an open square, facing this wonderfully simply styled chapel.  I could just imagine people gathered in front of it both before and after services.
Looking out of the Castillo
As we walked around the outer wall of the castle, we could look out and see small boats in the bay right outside the wall.  I imagine back in the day, there were cannons or other weapons that filled these openings.
Inside the Castillo
It was like a little village inside the walls of the castle, with various buildings that I imagine were homes to the people who lived there.  Was all the greenery and flowers there back then?  I’d like to think so….

Roman Theater
After we walked around the sea wall, on our way back to the ship, we did manage to figure out where to find this Roman Theater.  It is believed this theater was built in the 1st century BC, and it is believed to have been one of the largest in the Roman Empire.  Unfortunately, much of it is still not excavated, so we were only able to see a relatively small portion of it.
Part of the Roman Theater
When we first came across it, this is what we saw.  It was interesting in that we had to walk around a block or two, around some recent buildings, and down a narrow street that seemed more the size of an alleyway to get to the entrance. 
New Build on Top of the Old
This is why so little of this theater can be seen.  What would happen in ancient times is that when one army conquered a city, they would tear down the buildings of the conquered people and build their own buildings on top of the foundations.  Here you can see that the Roman Theater runs right under what is a newer building.  The white portion is the newer building.
Seats in the Theater
Here you can see some of the seats that surrounded the arena portion of the theater, and what seems to be an entrance from the outer hall to the seating area.
Stadium Seating
This is actually a better view of a seating area.  It’s quite a bit rougher than other ruins we had seen on our trip, but this theater is still in the process of being excavated.  In fact, we were behind a barrier and couldn’t walk among these ruins like we had been allowed to for other ruins.
How it Fits
I know this seems like an odd image, but to me, this really told me a lot about what it means to work on an excavation.  The two white pieces are actual pieces of the column top that have been excavated.  The outlined area is what the archeologists have determined (guessed?) the column top looked like, and how the found pieces fit into the overall design. 
Cadiz, Spain – A Walk Along the Sea Wall – Part 2
Toward the end of the walk along the sea wall, there were a few more interesting sights to see.  I’ll cover the “in between” sights in the next couple of posts, but for now…..
La Palma Spa
When one has a “spa day” in Cadiz, it’s really something special!  We didn’t go inside, but the low white buildings, the walkway out toward the water, and the round domed building at the end all seem to be part of the spa.  The area below it is a popular beach that you’ll get a better view of in another post.
Cadiz Cathedral
Altho we didn’t have time to explore the inside of this cathedral, it houses a museum inside containing jewels from the New World.
Moorish Influence
Here’s a closer view of some of the towers of the Cathedral, with the Moorish influence evident.  It is possible to climb up to the top, altho we were warned NOT to time any such climb so that we’d reach the top at noon…..for obvious reasons, as the bells still toll!
Cool Architecture
I just loved the look of the dark streetlights and the white of the cathedral tower, against that fabulous blue sky!  We were very lucky in that most every day (except one), the weather cooperated wonderfully with us!
Bell Tower and Colorful Roof
I had to share this very cool bell tower with you!  I just loved the pattern and colors of the roof of the tower!  It almost seemed whimsical when compared to the formality of the cathedral it was next to!

Cadiz, Spain – A Walk Along the Sea Wall (Part 1)
Our last port of call on the cruise was the city of Cadiz, Spain, a lovely seaside city that dates back to approximately 1104 BC.  This was the one port that we did not schedule any excursion.  Instead, we thought we’d just explore it on our own.  This was a great choice, as the city was right there at the bottom of the gangway off the ship.  It was a lovely day for a leisurely walk around the sea wall that practically surrounded the oldest city in Europe…..
Early Morning “Mountains”
As we entered the port in the early morning hours, we were both struck by the silhouette of the suspension cables that held up a bridge that crossed part of the waters almost surrounding Cadiz.  They looked rather like mountains.
Center of Cadiz
When we exited the ship, we walked a block or two into the city to see the Plaza de Espana where this monument was dedicated to the signing of the first Constitution of Spain in 1812.  I loved the look of the white stone against the blue, blue sky.
Streetlights on the Sea Wall
As we walked along the sea wall, these streetlights lined much of the way.  I loved the intricate design of them – it was quite a nice contrast to how casually elegant this part of the city was.
Massive Tree
There were several of these trees (banyan trees) along our walk.  One of the things that was particularly lovely was how the sea was on our right as we walked, while on our left was a lovely park-like setting, with tiled walkways and seats under these enormous trees.
Banyan Tree
One of the reasons I was so fascinated with these trees was that they appeared to be several smaller trees sort of wound around each other to form one big tree.  Maybe that’s what they really were – I don’t know!  What I do know is that they provided some fabulously detailed images and great shade!
Cadiz Bell Tower
This was our last city to visit in Europe and this was the one of the last bell towers that I would see on the trip, so of course, I had to  capture the white and copper gold of it against that wonderfully blue sky.
Interesting Use for Old Cannons
I’ll end the first part of our walk with this interesting use for old cannons.  They are no longer needed along the sea wall to protect the city, so some of them are used as sort of decorative pieces along the corners and flanking the entryway to this building.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Mountain Villages
We visited a few other mountain villages on our excursion from the port of Malaga.  I didn’t really catch the name of two of the villages – and frankly, they were so tiny, I’m not sure there was any sort of sign identifying them!  Still, there was plenty of charm to go around!
Mountainside Village
When I look at this image, the village that I just said was so tiny, looks like it’s a fairly decent size.  I can’t explain it – all I can say is that when we drove down the only road in town that was large enough to handle a vehicle, we got thru it in probably less than a minute!
Little Burro
As we stood in the village and looked over a fence, this little burro peeked out from the small barn in the farm yard.  What was interesting about this farm yard was that it was practically vertical climbing up a very steep section of the mountainside.
Decorative Village Street
The narrow streets in the village (no car could possibly fit!) were quite charming, winding with flowers and plants lining them, and this one with decorative stonework as the actual street.
Welcome Home
Just off one of the streets were some steps leading down to a very welcoming lower courtyard.  The image just seemed to beg to be converted to a painting, and I obliged!
Private Entrance
Even if the streets didn’t have steps, they did incline up in a somewhat steep rise.  Again, I love the plants (and trees) lining the street, and the wonderful wooden door of the private home entrance.
Competa Pub
A second village that we visited was, I believe, called Competa, and we stopped at a pub in this village/town.  We had a small wine tasting and enjoyed some tapas there.  As we sat there, I loved the feel of the pub, with people wandering in and out, visiting with friends, and sometimes sharing a brew (or glass of wine)!  Converting it to a painting made the scene even more charming!

The Village of Frigiola
Our next to the last stop on our cruise was in the port of Malaga, Spain.  We opted for the excursion that took us in a 4WD vehicle to see some small mountain villages in the area.  Now, it was the tamest 4WD ride Jeff & I had ever had, but it was nice to see the villages.  The first village was Frigiola…..
Shop Sign
One of the first things I noticed was this extremely cool shop sign and entrance.  The sign was actually pretty straightforward, but the wall d├ęcor was very charming and colorful.  The potted plant alongside the entryway added just the perfect touch!
Beer Table Top
One of the shops that served refreshments had a couple of cute mosaic table tops – the one above favored beer and the one below (which was next to the beer table) favored wine!
Wine Table Top
White Buildings
There was an interesting commonality among all the villages we visited – all the buildings were white.  Our guide spoke very broken English, but we did finally figure out that the reason for the color of the buildings was that it got very, very hot there in the summer, and white reflected the sun and helped keep the buildings cooler.  I thought it made for some charming streets.
Decorative Streets
This street was incredibly striking in Frigiola.  And, yes, this was a street, altho it wasn’t wide enough for any cars to drive on.  They also kept the streets very clean, which allowed the beauty of the decorative tile to shine!