May 1, 2016 – Travelling is one of my big passions. I love seeing new places, experiencing new things, and tasting new foods. My travel bucket list is as long as or longer than any of my other lists – and I’d rather go on a fabulous adventure somewhere than buy fancy new “stuff”.
One of the items on my travel bucket list for years has been a Mediterranean cruise. Almost ten years ago, my husband and I did a fabulous trip to Greece, part of which included a few days of cruising around the Greek isles. Ever since then, I’ve wanted to go back.
This is finally the year. As I type this first post of our great Western Mediterranean adventure of 2016, I’m sitting on the balcony of our stateroom on the Celebrity Equinox, looking out at sunny skies and blue seas for as far as the eye can see. It couldn’t be a more perfect, more relaxing day.
Our trip started a few days ago in Barcelona, where we arrived after a long overnight flight from Toronto and a thankfully much shorter but also much less enjoyable connecting flight from Zurich. We had a scant and jet lagged 24 hours in the city – the lovely view of our hotel room showed us two of the city’s more well-known sights, the interestingly-shaped Torre Agbar building and the famous Gaudi church Sagrada Familia in the background:
The Celebrity Equinox is considered a mid-sized cruise ship in today’s world of ever-bigger vessels, with room for 2850 passengers and 1250 crew members on its 19 decks.
Our first stop was the island of Mallorca, the largest of the three Balearic Islands that are part of Spain, and a popular holiday destination with German and British tourists in particular. Our pre-booked shore excursion was inexplicably cancelled (due to operational reasons, whatever that means) so we ended up taking a short bus ride into the old town of Palma, Mallorca’s capital and largest city, to explore a bit on our own. Its airport is the fourth busiest in Spain, apparently – and I don’t doubt it as we watched plane after plane after plane land there on Saturday morning.
Palma’s skyline is dominated by the massive Santa Maria cathedral that was built over the course of 400 years, and its immediate next door neighbour, the Almudaina, an old Arab fortress converted into a royal residence. And on a hilltop overlooking the city is Bellver Castle, a medieval fortress.
The old town is typical of many European towns and villages – narrow, winding cobblestone alley ways lined with small shops and sidewalk cafes. Many of the small shops sold leather goods (shoes and handbags in particular – what’s not to love??) as well as local delicacies including the famous Spanish jamon (ham) and olive oil.
As we headed out to sea, the sunset over the Mediterranean was nothing short of breathtaking.