A Travellerspoint blog

Mijas

Wednesday 16th Jan

overcast 15 °C
View 2013 on Claire.Miller's travel map.

We are back on the mainland now in Malaga, Spain. Alicia and I decided to take a tour to a place called Mijas a little down the coast. It was a really nice little tour. We walked srpund the town which apparently is completely a tourist town. It gave great views down to the coast. The town has 'donkey taxis' which apparently came from the times when farmers would take their donkeys up the hill to get home. They found tourists asked them for a lift and gave them more money than they earned on the farm. Hence the tradition was born.  

There is also an interesting little church in the town. Apparently a man came to the town and took about 26 years to build it all by himself. It is quite a small church and the inside of it kind of looks like you are in a cave. We also saw the outside of a bull fighting ring. The guide told us that in some parts of Spain bull fighting is banned, however in this area it would be like banning all tradition so it still exists here.  

We had about an hours free time in the town. Alicia and I were initially planning to have a quick look in the shops and then get some tapas and churros, preferably at the like one cafe with wifi in the town. However, then we discovered how awesome the chops were! They were full of cool jewelry and ceramics and all sorts of other lovely things. Alicia found a clock that looks like it came out of Beauty and the Beast. I fell in love with a ceramics shop there. It was just packed full of ceramics, apparently they are all handmade and sourced from various regions around Spain. I spent quite a bit of time looking at all the beautiful different patterns, I even had to come back twice. I really wanted this tea set they had there as it had the nicest pattern in the store, but the teapot was massive so rather inpractical to travel with and take home. I ended up getting my tea canister for Spain and a small cake platter.  

It truly was a beautiful little town, one of my favourite places so far I think. I slept for the drive back and did very little for the rest of the afternoon. Dinner was salmon and goats cheese rolls, cream of spinach and roasted scallop soup, open ravioli with shellfish and monkfish, lobster, and a baked alaska. It was my first time trying lobster, which I think is quite nice but, to be honest, I think I prefer crab and salmon.  

It was quite funny at dinner, Karen said she wanted nothing for dessert so our two waiters (we have the same two every night) brought her out a plate with the word nothing written, very nicely actually, in chocolate. It was good timing as Karen had had a rather bad day. Karen and Gary were going to go on a cave tour but there was a stuff up and they got put on the wrong bus. Instead they took a tour to some high class resort area... In German. It made the rest of us laugh for pretty much the whole day. What I think made it worse was that there were great shops there with all these sales, but none of them were open in the entire time they were there, it was pretty much a ghost town.  

The excursions office though handled it quite badly. They weren't going to give them a refund for it. However, she ran into the ship inspector who asked her how her day was going and hence got the full story. As a result, a bottle of Moet and an apology were waiting in the room after dinner! So we had some champagne and played some cards. Even managed to get one of the butlers to play the piano, he was very good. Gary had requested him to learn piano man the other night when they discovered he could play, so he had managed to learn a little bit of it for him for tonight. There was another group also there which included a young child. Alicia was obviously tired but refused to go to bed before the kid. Unfortunately for her that kid had crazy amounts of energy! Ended up staying up til about 3am!

Dawn in Malaga and the ship

Dawn in Malaga and the ship

The wind in Malaga

The wind in Malaga

A donkey taxi

A donkey taxi

Inside the church

Inside the church

The outside of the church

The outside of the church

Inside the ceramics shop

Inside the ceramics shop

Posted by Claire.Miller 01:42 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

At Sea

Tuesday 15th Jan

Another day at sea so nothing overly exciting. Did the usual stuff, although it was massively windy so no going outside. The show tonight was Pirates and it was really quite funny. There was a guy who sang 'you raise me up' but as like a pirate version. That basically meant that everyone now and again he would say argh in a line in a piratey voice and then go back to singing it quite formally. It had us laughing for at least an hour. Dinner was bean and pasta soup, ricotta and spinach filled crepes in a white cheese sauce, swordfish and pecorino cheese au gratin, and a pear tart.

The pjama game part 2

The pjama game part 2

Posted by Claire.Miller 01:19 Comments (0)

Funchal

Monday 14th Jan

sunny 19 °C
View 2013 on Claire.Miller's travel map.

Another not too early start if about 10am today. Our second island visit in a row was to Funchal, or funky town as we called it, on the Madeira Islands of Portugal. Really not sure what to expect for this place but, spoiler alert, I thought it was great! Didn't bother with any of the tours as they didn't seem all that great, but instead did a trip on the hop on hop off bus. This took about an hour and a half to two hours for the total trip and it showed use pretty much all of the island. We got to see the second highest cliff face in the world (highest is in Taiwan) which was cool. The trip gave a good intoduction to the island and some good views. There was a big emphasis in the commentary on Madeira wines and how they were amazing and apparently a tasting would change our lives. I particularly like one of the stories they chose as an endorsement to their wines where someone once drowned themselves in a vat of it... Not really sure that will make me want to buy it....  

The island has a cable car up to the top of one of the mountains. This again gave some amazing views over the city. It was interesting, down in the city it was ridiculously windy, but when you got the top it was a great temperature! You can do what they call taboganning up there where you sit in a 2 person basket and slide down the hill with two guys controlling and stopping the basket. Didn't try it though as it was rather on the expensive side! We wanted to have lunch at the top as it was less windy but there were only two places to eat and neither looked too good unfortunately. So just walked around a bit, saw the church and then headed back down. Unfortunately apparently everyone decided to go down then as the line was like 50 people long.  

At the bottom we went for a hunt for a restaurant. Found a nice one down a small lane. It had napkin folding instructions on the walls and everyone failed. The lady pretty much told us we suck and pointed out the easiest one that we should maybe try first. The food was absolutely amazing. We had a honey and orange aperitif which the guy claimed he had drunk all day the last weekend for his birthday and then been fine to work the next day, how he did that I have no idea as those were highly alcoholic! An then the food began... A marinated tuna which was lovely, the softest octopus with onion which has honestly got to be the best octopus dish ever, and then madeiran style chopped meat which had an amazing sauce and came with potatoes and eggplant and fried maize. Gary had the strangest dish, fish with pineapple and banana. It was a very odd taste but surprisingly nice! Probably too sweet for me to eat a whole dish of, but he was happy. That meal was definitely our best off the boat so far and has placed portugese as one of my favourite foods.  

On the way back to the ship I got my second tea canister. Gary said in Barcelona that I should do a thing from every city. Instead I am doing a tea canister from every country, I feel every city would be rather excessive, and hard as I missed some already.  

Back at the ship we were still way too full and skipped dinner. Unfortunately noone told me this and I went to all the effort to get changed for dinner (they have a theme for each night, as in casual, informal, formal and gala. As tonights was informal I wasn't allowed to wear jeans) for nothing!

The second highest cliff face in the world

The second highest cliff face in the world

Funchal

Funchal

Our ship the MSC Divina (left) and Funchal from the cable car

Our ship the MSC Divina (left) and Funchal from the cable car

Posted by Claire.Miller 04:04 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

Tenerife

Sunday 13th Jan

sunny 16 °C
View 2013 on Claire.Miller's travel map.

Not too early start today on the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands of Spain. We had a tour in the morning which took us around to a small village and then up to I think the highest point on the island. We passed by black beaches where the sand is black due to the volcanoes that exist all over the island. Apparently they, that is a local council or something I assume, didn't like them black and wanted them golden and sandy like a normal beach. As a result they carted all this sand over from the Sahara to fill one of the beaches, possibly more I am not sure. More recently, they changed their minds and decide d the black was actually awesome and had to get rid of it all again!   In the little village we were given some of the local produce to try; goats cheese, green olives, bread and a red wine. It was all very lovely and I was very surprised to see we were the only table to finish it all! I wanted to ask for all the cheese from everyone elses that they hadn't eaten.  

The drive up to the top of the mountain was difficult, it was a very windy and thin one lane (shared by both directions that is), two way road for our bus to get up. There were a couple of corners and times we met other buses coming down where it required some tricky maneuvering to get through. All this with a massive drop to the side of the road a lot of the time. Our driver was very good though and made it all seem easy. How you would do it on wetter days where there is less visibility I have no idea.  

The landscape is very pretty, although the mountains are quite scarce in terms of vegetation. According to our guide, in spring it is all covered in colour and butterflies.  

We also went down to a university town on the way back to Santa Cruz by the name of La Laguna. There we had a wander through the local market. Lots and lots of fish, even saw some eel there. Had a look around the town which was quite nice. According to our guide apparently everything in the town was made from 'the wood from the trees of the forest we have driven through' which started to annoy Alicia. I found him annoying because all day he kept on talking about going to the toilet whenever we had a stop, but calling it 'operation lulu' and wouod generally spend 5-10 minutes on the subject of lulu. The really funny thing was though, he was showing us through the town and stopped and gave this big spiel about how clean the town was right infront of the only place in town where I had seen graffiti.  

After the tour we decided to spend the couple of hours we still had there by going into the main port town, Santa Cruz. It was Sunday so by this point nothing was still open, it was like 2 or 3 in the afternoon. But restaurants and cafes were still open! After a short walk we had some lunch of fried cheese with caramelised onion, octopus and potato, potatoes with 4 sauces, and then of course paella. All very lovely. The mussels in the paella were massive though! Unfortunately, as a result I cut one in half to eat, umm I would not recommend doing this to anyone. The inside of a mussel does not look very appetising at all!  

Back at the ship, dinner that night was foie gras on a grilled brioche with fig jam, ginger scented pumpkin soup, beef tournasos with a wine sauce and truffle scented potato (I was feeling a distinct lack of red meat lately so decided a good piece of beef would be great, and it really was, cooked at a perfect medium-rare!), and an awesome chocolate fondant which had this great hazelnut praline bit and lovely thick rich chocolate top. Unfortunately I could only manage about half of it until I felt I would explode.

A beach on Tenerife

A beach on Tenerife

The drive around the mountains

The drive around the mountains

The coastline from the mountains

The coastline from the mountains

View from the highest point on the island

View from the highest point on the island

Another view from the highest point on the island

Another view from the highest point on the island

Fish for sale at the La Laguna markets

Fish for sale at the La Laguna markets

Posted by Claire.Miller 03:45 Archived in Spain Comments (2)

At Sea

Saturday 12th Jan

Another day at sea which meant a nice long sleep in. Spent the morning writing up this blog, watching videos... It was a nice day so had lunch outside and spent about an hour or two sitting in the sun and doing nothing but sip mojitos and champagne. Then it was quiz time, more writing and watching videos until dinner. I have forgotten what dinner was tonight sorry! I believe I had a seafood risotto and blueberry sorbet in addition to a couple of other courses.

Sunset from the boat

Sunset from the boat

Posted by Claire.Miller 10:16 Comments (0)

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