Saturday, October 18, 2008


Hello folks! I know that it’s been a while since my last post and believe me there are good reasons. Aside from traveling for over twenty-two hours to get to the ship and then being whip lashed into rehearsals and trainings I’ve had my hands full!! I must say, though, that the crew on this ship is so friendly and accommodating! I’ve been dubbed as “Miss Cho-co-lat” by one of the officers on board (after, of course, I told him that not only do I LOVE chocolate but I AM chocolate!). I get a big kick out of that! So I am already having loads of fun, in general. Now on to my devotion (of the hour…)!

Now, keep in mind that I wasn’t able to get off the ship and go exploring for the first few ports of call, which included Marseille, Monaco, Portofino, Florence, Rome and Acaccio. Suffice it to say that I missed most of Italy! However, I know that part of my future belongs to Spain!

Among the ports that I was able to get off the ship were Casablanca (Morocco), Malaga (Spain), Valencia (Spain) and, of course, Barcelona (Spain too!). Not much to say about Casablanca but I am in LOVE with the architecture of all three Iberian cities! We arrived in the port of Malaga on a Sunday, so most of the city’s shops and retail places were closed. However, the city is sooo beautiful that I was almost gushing at every turn. Whoever said that the streets in America were paved with gold never made a stop in Spain at all! The streets of Malaga are divinely paved with bright marble that is clean, clean, clean! Walking down the shopping plaza on a sunny day is like walking through a palace. The little shops and cafeterias are cleanly and snuggly nestled together in an abyss of tapas glory and cheap shoes. Now it ain’t shoe heaven (I prefer Brazilian shoes myself), but it’s pretty close!

Next was Valencia, which took me completely by surprise because I didn’t realize how much of a serious metropolis it really was until we got there. The city reminded me so much of New York City with its streets busy with loads of people coming and going. Traffic was heavy with taxis, public buses, tour buses, and city cars. Vendors and tobacconists abound on every corner, with beggars, Green Peace and Save the Children solicitors. The historical sights like the bullring and the train station in the middle of town were total eye candy, but the best part was the fresh market. I don’t know what it is about a fresh food market that makes you want to get into it, but get into it we did and like a bunch of tourists took some fabulous pictures! Who doesn’t want a picture next to the meats and vegetables? I certainly do! Plus the building, with its domes and geometrical stained glass windows, was so beautiful that snapshots were a must!

Last, but certainly not least is Barcelona! What a city! The large shopping street, La Rambla, is ridiculously gorgeous. The center of the street is a pedestrian walkway, which is paradise. Along this tree lined walkway are numerous open-air cafes, tapas restaurants, newspaper vendors, flower vendors and live animal vendors too! Yes you can get a little bunny rabbit or a little chickie! Plus there were chipmunks, chinchillas, small birds, guinea pigs and small hamsters. However, the most uniquely positioned artists were the statue performers! These folks make part of their living dressing up and painting themselves to look like different statues. One guy was a copper pirate. Another was a golden knight in armor. Entertaining tourists with their ability to appear statue-like they would surprise and delight pedestrians by suddenly making a move to subdue a passerby. People usually responded by taking pictures and giving a little tip into their ever-ready pails. With all of this going on it’s easy to miss the food market and some of the most stunning architecture you might ever lay eyes on. I honestly cannot wait to get back!

The layout of the roads in each city is curvilinear, so you when you look down a street you can only see a short distance. However, this makes a pleasurable view for the architecture-loving tourist, like myself, to see the beautiful designs of the common buildings. It’s as if the city is a lovely lady, dancing and twisting and turning herself to show her most beautiful curves! I absolutely LOVE it! In addition to the kick ass layouts, the cities have the awesome landmark shopping venues El Corte Ingles and ZARA. ZARA is a European version of EXPRESS, one of my favorite stores in the U.S. Corte Ingles is a Spanish department store much like Macy’s. The largest Corte Ingles of the three cities is in Barcelona and it’s a lot like the Macy’s on 34th street in New York City: it takes up an entire city block and has ten floors of retail pleasure! And just like Macy’s, the first floor is devoted to cosmetics, perfumes and accessories! It’s like home away from home!

So now you know why Spain has stolen my heart. I truly believe that there is a future for me in one of these fabulous cities. I promise I will post more pics because luckily we get to visit these ports a couple more times. God has blessed!

Signing off! Marsha