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Subject: OT: Jeff takes a trip east - More Progress Date: 4/8/2013 8:47 AM
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81 01 Apr 2013 Alicante, Spain

Contrary to Italy, Spain is clean, neat and offers little evidence (at least in the southern ports we’ve visited) of financial distress. The exceptions to this calm façade are a fair number of old, weatherworn banners with phone numbers advertising apartments for sale. The next two ports are used as beach resorts during the summer.

The city provides free Wi-Fi to everyone in a number places across the city center, including Plaza del Ayuntamiento, Plaza de los Luceros, Plaza de la Montañeta, as well as at the Santa Barbara Castle, and at the Postiguet beach.

From a tourist standpoint, Alicante offers a cathedral (built on the foundation of a large mosque) and a very nice castle overlooking the town. I’m not sure why we stopped here - unless it was because the Balearic Islands (Ibiza or Palma de Majorca) were too expensive and this was substituted. Actually, on second thought, it’s a nice enough town and maybe I’m just getting jaded by some of the spectacular places we’ve visited over the past few months.

The Castle of Santa Bárbara, sits on the top of Mount Benacantil at a height of 166 meters. It is one of the largest medieval fortresses in Spain, built in the ninth century by Muslims and offers an amazing view overlooking the town and harbor of Alicante. The tower (La Toreta) at the top, is the oldest part of the castle, while part of the lowest zone and the walls were constructed later, on the 18th century. It was the subject of a bitter controversy in 2006–2007 as residents battled to keep it from being changed into an industrial estate. There is an elevator in the core of Mount Benacantil itself. The elevator runs from the ground level near the main road of Avenue de Juan Bautista Lafora and stops at two levels in the castle. It’s not easy to spot the entrance! The easiest route is to follow Postiguet beach to the footbridge, then cross the road and pick your way west along the pavement until you see the sign for the castle and the tunnel entrance. Entry to the castle is free. A round-way trip by the elevator from the ground floor generally costs € 2.40, but since today is a bank holiday (day after Easter), this is also free. The castle plantings are manicured and the overall condition reflects the site’s recent renovation.

The promenade Explanada de España, lined by palm trees, is paved with 6.5 million marble floor tiles creating a wavy form a lovely promenade.

Barrio de la Santa Cruz while somewhat unremarkable is a colorful quarter of the old city, situated on the south-west of Santa Bárbara castle. Its small houses climb up the hill leading to the walls and the castle, through narrow streets.

The town also hosts the Basilica of Santa María, built in the Gothic style (during the 14th-16th centuries) over the former main mosque. The co-cathedral of St. Nicholas of Bari (15th-18th centuries), also built over a mosque, is the main church of Alicante and the bishop's seat.

The old town of Alicante is roughly the triangular area enclosed by the Rambla de Méndez Núnez, the Explanada de Espanya, and Mount Benacantil.

The Rambla de Méndez Núnez is the main commercial street and sports a number of the larger stores (though the large Courte Ingles department stores are about a quarter kilometer to the West of here). Turn West on the Avenue de Alfonso El Sabio, and you'll find the city's main market, the Mercado Central de Alicante. The two levels sell fresh meat, seafood, cheeses, fruit and vegetables. We bought bags of a number of varieties of almonds and olives to nosh on. The basement fish market was both spotlessly clean and interesting with its arrays of a multitude of different fish including the swords of a number of swordfish pointing towards the ceiling (I was offered one to take with me, but I suspect it would stink a bit and upset the US Customs agents a bit). Exiting the market through the back brings you to a number of flower sellers in a small outdoor square.

Tinto Alicante and Muscatel Alicante are the most known local wines, but we still have bottles left from our original stash and are not buying any more..

82 02 Apr 2013 Almeria, Spain

The ship is running excursions to Granada from here. This city, with its unbelievable Alhambra Moorish palace is a city well worth spending a few days in (which we have done a couple of times in the past). Having already seen it, the thought of spending a few hundred bucks to spend a few hours there (and even more driving in a circle) is something we will pass on.

Almería is a city in Andalusia, Spain, on the Mediterranean Sea. The city was founded by Calipha Abd-ar-Rahman III of Cordova in 955 AD. It was to be a principal harbor in his extensive domain to strengthen his Mediterranean defenses. Its Moorish castle, the Alcazaba of Almería, is the second largest among the Muslim fortresses of Andalusia, after the Alhambra (in Granada). In this period, the port city of Almería reached its historical peak.

The Alcazaba, while begun in the 10th century, was damaged by an earthquake in 1522. It includes a triple line of walls, a majestic keep and large gardens. It commands a city quarter of white buildings, dating from before the 16th century. On the top is a destroyed area which previously was occupied by the Grand Mosque. Entrance was free (probably due to it being a holiday week). The gardens and pools of the Alcazaba are beautiful and impeccably kept. The Castle of San Cristobal, now in ruins, is connected to the Alcazaba by a line of walls.

The town’s Cathedral has a fortress-like appearance due to its towers and protected paths, created to defend it from Mediterranean pirates. Originally designated as a mosque, it was later converted into a Christian church, before being destroyed in the 1522 earthquake. In the 16th century it was rebuilt in the Renaissance style, whilst keeping some of its defensive features (including the ability to mount cannons in some of its towers).

While the former Jewish Quarter of La Chanca has been removed and replaced with governmental buildings and city’s “Old Quarter” is unremarkable, the main commercial street – the Paseo de Almeria – is very nice. We found a gem of a small confiteria (pastry/coffee shop) on one of the side streets. “El Once de September 2000” (not sure why the number 2000 because the place was founded in 1891 – maybe new owners in that year?) on Castelar, 3 serves a large variety of sweet and savory (as in filled with stewed tomatoes and celery) pastries and coffees and is worth tracking down if you are in the neighborhood.

83 03 Apr 2013 Tangier, Morocco

Well, the captain made a surprise announcement that the ship is going to maintain its time for this stop even though Tangier is two hours behind us. That puts us docking at 6:30AM instead of 8:30AM and throws all the independent (non-cruise sponsored) arrangements out of whack. Anyhow, things ended working out alright despite this muck-up.

Tangier is an interesting mix of North Africa, Spain, Portugal and France. It is located in northern Morocco, and was under joint international control until 1956. Tangier is separated from Spain only by the 14 miles of the Strait of Gibraltar.

The heart of Tangier is the Medina – the old walled city – with the Kasbah (the old ruler’s fortress – now home to hundreds of families) in its corner. This is an area of maze-like lanes and alleys occupied by “normal” citizens as well as a cast of characters right out of “Casablanca”. Street touts, guys selling fake watches, beggars, snake charmers, prospective guides and salesmen of all sorts follow you around like a tail. If you express any interest whatsoever, you will be stuck with these guys until the sun goes down. Only a firm “la shukran” (“no thank you” in Arabic) gives you any hope of ditching them. Even the guides and taxi drivers who show their fares around have to pay off local thugs who feel that they have a lock on the Kasbah guide services. There are snake charmers, and at night presumably belly dancers in the clubs. Our guide took us to the obligatory carpet shop, metal worker, spice shop, antique silver shop and so on, but the souk offers hundreds of opportunities to haggle and spend money on “stuff” which afterwards has you wondering about your temporary loss of sanity. I ended up with one Euro hat (bought without the Boss’s supervision or permission) which would be suitable for either the West Indies Pride parade or the Gay Pride Parade. I wore it to dinner and had a dozen or so people make their way to my table to look and then compliment my new chapeau – so there! :- ). I also bought an inlaid wooden box which the merchant swore was Moroccan, then when I protested that it was Egyptian, he said it was Syrian. I didn’t bother explaining that it was the same design as one I bought in Egypt a couple of months ago and then gave away to our friend in Lombok, Indonesia. I figure it will make a cool box to give frankincense in.

Besides Arabic and Berber dialect, just about everyone speaks French and at least a bit of English. We saw all children of appropriate age in the Medina and Kasbah in school uniforms with the young ones being led to school by their parents. During the “Arab Spring” of a couple of years ago, there were riots in the Medina aver the price of bread and other food. The Morrocan King quickly threw out the entire government administration and replaced them with reformers. Presumably he opted to (at least temporarily) give up the devils that he knew in order to maintain order in his country (and seemed to be the only North African ruler to be successful in keeping things on a more or less even keel).

Most brass work is made in other towns but is available here. There is a infamous market in Tangier called "casa barata" (the house of cheap things) - there are bargains to be had here but be wary of forgeries and stolen goods (these are sold alongside vegetables, electronics, clothing, shoes, spices, carpets, ironmongery and everything else one can think of!). There are other markets notably the souk in the medina (mainly vegetables, clothes and tourist items) and in Ben Mekada (vegetables). The latter does not cater for tourists at all and is known as one of the "rough spots" of Tangier and back in the 1980's there were bread riots here. Naturally, it was these local vegetable, meat and fish markets that we wanted to see. While it’s possible to take photos of the displays of food, the locals resent having their photos taken.
Anyhow, I expected Peter Lore or Sydney Greenstreet to come out of the woodwork at any moment. I did see some nice carpets and I presume that if you didn’t have to share what you pay with your tour guide and actually knew their value, you could haggle to a good price on them. Similarly, while much of the leather stuff was of poor quality, there were some nice quality items I saw in a couple of shops – but they might not be good values. Colorful leather slippers (called babush) with pointed toes are great gifts to take home and cost about 600D a pair, more if they have soles suitable for walking outside.
There are also very nice, inexpensive handmade ceramics, but these are not easy to take back with you.

There are pebble markers on the streets indicating “the Path of Matisse”, the French famous painter who stayed here between 1912 and 1913. We visited two plazas famous for (in bygone days) espionage, drug deals and the like – the Gran Socco and the Petit Socco, the Old American Legation (we were told that Morocco was the first nation to establish diplomatic relations with the US and exchange ambassadors – I always thought that honor belonged to the French), as well as the Mendoubia building and Gardens (The international administration when Tangier was under-control of 8 European. Of course the Kasbah has a public bakery (where wives can use the oven to bake their own bread), a water supply, a hammam (bath house, steam room) and a mosque – all the proper requirements of an Arabic town. There was also a huge modern villa at the highest point overlooking the see which I was told was owned by a “rich guy” who wanted the view.

Frankly, the Medina and Kasbah felt far more difficult for a single traveler to get around in than the larger, more varied markets we’ve been to earlier on this trip (and in other parts of the world we’ve visited on other occasions). While you might have to share the costs in shops, hiring a local guide might be best here as the riff-raff will hold back if you’ve hired one of the local hooligans. Even our guide retained one who, at the end of his services, said goodbye to each of us and asked us for a tip. I sort of laughed and said that he should ask our guide for his payment.

Our trip also included an interesting drive through the richest area of Tangier’s zone of villas and palaces passing the king's palace and a number of celebrity’s homes (Barbara Hutton, Malcolm Forbs and a couple of Saudi princes). This road led us to Cape Spartel - the northeast western point of Africa and the exact point where the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean meet. From there we went on to visit the Caves of Hercules (dating from the Neolithic, but greatly enlarged as the stone was quarried to make thousands of circular mill stones). There were a handful of camels along the road waiting for tourists wanting to take a ride (or even a photo).

After a short drive return to Tangier with our guide Aziz Ben Ami (info@tangierprivateguide.com), we headed to the Annajma Restaurant (Residence Racha 2, Av. Oujda – Nejma – Tanger) for a fantastic meal of spicy eggplant salad, huge salad Niscois, choice of lamb/chicken/beef tagine and huge fruit platters for desert.
Incidentally, petrol is about one Euro per liter here.

While certainly exotic, our trip has been so varied that Tangier was not a primary highlight. That said, it still beat a number of the stops as an interesting destination and I would encourage those who stop here on a ship, or visit southern Spain (to take the ferry) and see the city.

84 04 Apr 2013 Cadiz (Seville), Spain


Cadiz, the oldest continuously-inhabited city in the Iberian Peninsula and possibly all southwestern Europe, has been a principal home port of the Spanish Navy since the accession of the Spanish Bourbons in the 18th century.

Frankly, I was surprised how small and accessible the city is considering its long history. Cadiz has made an effort to become extremely tourist friendly. Their tourist office distributes a map with four color coded walking tours (Medieval District, Castles and Bastions, Shippers to the Indies and Cadiz Constitution) and has painted a matching stripe along the streets and alleys for each one. There is free Wi-Fi in many of the squares and at the ferry terminal near the port (PW: utecatamaranes).

Traditionally, its founding is dated to 1104 BC although no archaeological strata on the site can be dated earlier than the 9th century BC (Phoenician).

Cadiz is located on a unique site — on a narrow slice of land surrounded by the sea. The older part of Cadiz, within the remnants of the city walls, is commonly referred to as the Old Town (in Spanish, Casco Antiguo). The old town is characterized by narrow streets connecting squares (plazas), bordered by the sea and by the city walls. While the old town of Cadiz is one of the most densely populated urban areas in Europe, and is packed with narrow streets and narrow winding alleys connecting large plazas, newer areas of Cadiz typically have wide avenues and more modern buildings. The city is dotted with numerous parks where exotic plants flourish, including giant trees supposedly brought to Spain by Columbus from the New World.

The Plaza de la Catedral houses both the Cathedral and the Baroque church of Santiago, built in 1635. The Cathedral sits on the site of an older cathedral, completed in 1260, which burned down in 1596. The reconstruction, which was not started until 1776, was supervised by the architect Vicente Acero, who had also built the Granada Cathedral. This largely Baroque-style edifice was built over a period of 116 years, and, due to this drawn-out period of construction, the cathedral underwent several major changes to its original design and it is now a bit of a hodge-podge of styles. Its chapels have many paintings and relics from the old cathedral and monasteries from throughout Spain.

Located next to Plaza de Mina, sits the San Francisco church and convent. Originally built in 1566, it was substantially renovated in the 17th century, when its cloisters were added. Originally, the Plaza de Mina formed the convent's orchard.

In the 19th century Plaza San Antonio was considered to be Cadiz’s main square and the Spanish Constitution of 1812 (in coordination with the Napoleonic Wars) was proclaimed here, leading to the plaza to be named Plaza de la Constitución, and then later Plaza San Antonio, after the hermit San Antonio.

In the 18th century, Cadiz had more than 160 towers from which local merchants could look out to sea for arriving merchant ships or watch for Barbary pirates. These towers often formed part of the merchants' houses. The Torre Tavira, named for its original owner, stands as the tallest remaining watchtower. It has a cámara oscura, a room that uses the principal of the pinhole camera (and a specially-prepared convex lens) to project panoramic views of the Old City onto a concave disc. (It costs 5 Euro to see this gadget and the accompanying museum).

The Casa del Almirante is a palatial house, adjacent to the Plaza San Martín in the Barrio del Pópulo, which was constructed in 1690 with the proceeds of the lucrative trade with the Americas. It was built by the family of the admiral of the Spanish treasure fleet, the so-called Fleet of the Indies, Don Diego de Barrios.

A Roman theatre was discovered in 1980, in the El Pópulo district, after a fire had destroyed some old warehouses, revealing a layer of construction that was judged to be the foundations of some medieval buildings; the foundations of these buildings had been built, in turn, upon much more ancient stones, hand-hewn limestone in a Roman style. Systematic excavations have revealed a largely intact Roman theatre. The theatre, constructed during the 1st century BC, is the second largest Roman theatre in the world, surpassed only by the theatre of Pompeii.

The Pylons of Cadiz are electricity pylons of unusual design, one on either side of the Bay of Cádiz, used to support huge electric-power cables. The pylons are 158 meters high and designed for two circuits. The very unconventional construction consists of a narrow frustum steel framework with one crossbar at the top of each one for the insulators.

Las Puertas de Tierra originated in the 16th century, although much of the original work has disappeared. Once consisting of several layers of walls, only one of these remains today. By the 20th century it was necessary to remodel the entrance to the Old City to accommodate modern traffic. Today, the two side-by-side arches cut into the wall serve as one of the primary entrances to the city.

The Castle of Santa Catalina is a military fortification situated at the end of the beautiful Caleta beach. It was built in 1598 following the English sacking of Cadiz two years earlier. Recently renovated, today it is used for exhibitions and concerts. There is a four star paradore (government owned hotel) here offering reasonable room prices (115-165 Euros per night depending on room and date) with a wonderful view of the sea or a park.

There is a large, pretty amazing park (Parque Genoves) to the far west near the Paseo de Sta Barbara sea wall which has everything from full sized dinosaurs to rows of topiaries.

We ate lunch at the Zapata tapis bar (Cardinal Zapata, 7) which was fabulous. We had deep fried spinach and pinioli (pine nuts) cutlets, battered/fried eggplant sticks with honey, goat cheese with caramelized onions on an orange slice and our friends added potato salad and a Spanish equivalent to prosciutto and aged parmesan cheese sandwiches (all washed down with a bottle of 2008 rioja red wine).

The ship is offering excursions to Seville from here (and of course Gibraltar is also reachable), but again we’ve been there and it deserves far more time (and Cadiz is a lovely small walkable city – though it has been raining on/off all day).

The seas were very rough tonight and the barf bags have been deployed. While this sort of thing doesn’t affect us much, two of our tablemates left dinner early because they weren’t feeling well (one showed up later after taking Dramamine). This is when choosing a mid-ship cabin pays off – I was rocked to sleep like a baby in a cradle while I suspect those with cabins far fore and aft were experiencing something more akin to a Tilt-a-Whirl.

85 05 Apr 2013 Lisbon, Portugal

The ocean swells are still high this morning and the captain was force to turn across them to enter the Rio Tejo towards Lisbon. This bounced the ship enough to send everything flying off tables in the dining room and turn staterooms into chaotic messes of flower vases and wine glasses.

Well, we are back at the penultimate port. In a few days we will be unceremoniously dumped at Southampton and have to drag our tails to London for a few days.

In the meantime, since the last time we stopped in Lisbon it was Sunday and the stores were closed, this gives me a chance to pick up a copper accessory to a hand-made copper still that I acquired decades ago (and sits in my apartment’s living room) from the store where I bought it near the base of the Alfama. So I trekked to Viuva C. Ferreira Pires (www.viuva.com, Rua Santo Antonio da Se, 2-12 – about four blocks down the tram 28 line from where the Alfama portion of the following tour begins) where I found out that it isn’t sold separately anymore. Ce la vie. On the other hand this very old family owned shop is interesting because it continues to sell handmade copper still, cataplans (the clamped copper pot in which southern Portuguese cook their seafood stew – sort of like two woks hinged together), cast iron stoves and similar curiosities.

We were going to opt for the day pass to the transit system (bus, tram and Metro) available at post offices and Metro stations for 5 Euro, but realized that we are only taking a couple of 1.40 Euro trips each (a Benny saved is a Benny urned – as the joke goes). The following is a tram/walking tour journey through Lisbon which, while posted last year, was worth repeating with our friends Jan and Gerard.

At the head of Placa de Commerce (known to tourists as “Black Horse Square”), ask where to find tram number 25 (if you are going to buy tickets on the tram for exact change, you can get this even closer to the ship if you are docked at Doca do Jardin do Tabaco as we currently are). Take this tram westward (for those without a compass, with your back to the river, towards your left). This will take you through some fascinating old neighborhoods on a wooden streetcar built over a century ago. When you get to the church at Estrela (this is near the end of the line, but the # 28 tram can be picked up there as well, so don’t panic if you miss the stop) get off and transfer to the number 28 (also called 28E) tram heading eastward in the opposite direction. The yellow Electro (Tram) 28 (Be careful: the red one is a hop-on-hop-off one for tourists wish costs 18 euros for the day) with their polished wooden floors and vintage quality, might be loud and bumpy as they clang their way along tracks that have been in operation since 1901, but they also track through the most historic and most interesting areas of the Portuguese capital city. A ride on Electrico 28 will take you through the neighborhoods of Graça, Baixa, Chiado, and Bairro Alto (literally “the upper city”, which dates from 1513) and ending in Alfama (the oldest part of Lisbon) where the largest concentration of great sights in Lisbon can be found. On both of our trams we had “hitch hikers” – kids hanging on the rear outside, rather than paying for a fare. These are just two of the turn of the century trams and funiculars in the city. As the tram wends its way through the major streets of the charming Alfama, Lisbon's old quarter, ask the driver to let you off as close to the Castelo de Sao Jorge (the walls of St. George’s castle date to the Moorish occupation of the city in the 10th century) as he can. While walking up to the castle, keep an eye out for a terrace with local landscape painters selling their wares which has a fabulous view (photo opportunity here) of the city below (you’ll need to be able to find this spot on your way back down from the fort). Once we’ve gotten our fill of the castle, we will start our decent through the maze of alleyways and passages which makes up Alfama. These are filled with the normal trappings of Lisbon life – clothe lines, kids kicking soccer balls, old ladies carrying groceries and so on. As we are going to end up at sea level in the end, if you get hopelessly lost (you will get lost, but generally showing these directions to locals will help most of the time and you can get back on track), just keep heading downhill (it’s the direction spit will roll in if you can’t figure out if you are coming or going ?). Anyhow, here’s one interesting route to work your way through Alfama:

1. After taking tram 28 to visit the castle, head to your starting point, the Portas do Sol viewpoint.
2. Next to the terrace is a flight of steps which is Rua Norberto de Araújo, taking you down the hill into the maze of streets.

3. Turn right at Calçadinha da Figueira, where you'll see one of the towers of the church of São Miguel.

4. Go all the way down the stairs (Beco da Corvinha) to Largo de São Miguel. You'll see the side of the church and then a large palm tree in front.

5. Turn left towards Calçadinha de São Miguel and you'll soon see the tower of the church of Santo Estêvão in the distance, but you'll turn left on the first alley, Beco da Cardosa.

6. At the very top of the stairs you'll reach Rua Castelo Picão where you turn right and then right again to Beco das Cruzes, going down the steps and turning left, where you'll see the façade of the church of Santo Estêvão.

7. At the end of the steps, look for the small bakery/salon de tea named Pasteis de Alfama and have a “pasta de nada” (at .80 Euro, these burned caramel topped custard cakes are literally out of this world – we each had three before tearing ourselves away) and a capaccino or café con leche (at 1 Euro). Then turn left towards Largo do Peneireiro where you'll turn right and go up the steps. At the top, turn right towards the church of Santo Estêvão.

8. Next to the church is a terrace with river views. Go around the church, down the steps, where you'll see tiled houses.

9. Continue down, taking the steps Escadinhas/Calçadinha de Santo Estêvão. At the bottom you'll see a tile panel indicating the old public baths, and turn left. At number 2 of Calçadinha de Santo Estêvão you'll see a surviving Manueline doorway (16th century).

10. You'll have reached Rua dos Remédios, turn right and go down the street where you'll see another Manueline doorway on a small church before reaching Largo do Chafariz de Dentro. You may choose to visit the Fado Museum there, or continue heading northwest of the square, where you'll see tables outside a couple of restaurants.

11. Continue into Rua de São Pedro, go all the way down, passing through Fado restaurants and tourist shops before reaching Largo de São Rafael to the left.

12. Go down the hill at Largo de São Rafael and you'll see Rua da Judiaria, the center of the old Jewish quarter. You'll notice some surviving architectural details and will see a fountain with an archway next to it. Go under the archway and you're suddenly out of the maze, close to the riverfront.


13. Turn right towards the street and you'll eventually see a monumental 19th-century fountain which no longer provides water. Continue down the street and a few feet away is Campo das Cebolas with the archway Arco de Jesus to the right.

14. Go under the arch, up the steps by a tiled building, and at the top is Rua de São João da Praça, where you turn left. At number 95 is the popular Pois Café for a refreshing drink or meal.

15. At the end of the street you'll see a tiled building and the back of the medieval cathedral by orange trees.

If you are a glutton for punishment, you can go around the cathedral, up the hill again (Rua Augusto Rosa), you'll see souvenir and antique shops (between numbers 40 and 42 is also the entrance to the free Roman Theater Museum for the story of Roman Lisbon. This place actually crosses the street on the second floor and is a hidden gem), and eventually you reach your starting point, the Portas do Sol viewpoint. At this point you may choose to relax and enjoy the view, or take tram 28 or walk following its tracks to the monastery of São Vicente de Fora or all the way to the Graça viewpoint. If this step is not your cuppa rosie, then simply head to your left along the river (the main train station is a block or two from here with its free Wi-Fi as is the Maritime Museum) or else head to the right and in about 5-10 minutes you will be at the southern end of Placa de Commerce (known to tourists as “Black Horse Square”) having experienced a bit of Lisbon.
While there are plenty of modern shopping malls, many of Lisbon's smaller independent shops can be found downtown in the Baixa quarter and strolling through these streets, it’s fun to look at the unique exteriors of shops such as Luvaria Ulises and Ourivesaria Aliança. There is a value added tax of 19% included in prices and part of this tax can be reclaimed by non-EU visitors when leaving the EU. Visitors wanting to reclaim this tax should ask for a refund check at the point of purchase (at least at participating stores) for more expensive buys. This is then stamped by a customs official on departure. Unfortunately, this is frequently a bit difficult for passengers of cruise ships though (we bought something in Sicily, had the receipt stamped in Spain after a complicated search for the proper customs official and hopefully will get our rebate in Heathrow Airport outside of London).

We were recommended to go to Restaurante Mesa de Frades (at Rua dos Remedios, 139A in Alfama) for fado, a Portuguese style of singing, by a ship’s officer who grew up in Alfama as an authentic place (there are numerous places in the Alfama and Barro Alto areas which cater primarily to tourists). Unfortunately, this place starts their fado at 11PM and we had to re-board our ship by 10:30PM to sail to our final destination in Southampton. When Jorgio, one of the waiters, saw that we were disappointed he took us to another reasonably priced restaurant with great food (As Pretas at Rua do Vigario, 70 in Alfama) and then showed up later to guide us (after an attempt at the Tasca do Xico on Rua Remedios which was filled with locals – it’s Friday night afterall) to a place that put on an earlier fado show (Fora de Moda at Largo Santo Estevao, 9A in Alfama). This place didn’t have a cover charge and the professionally staged show cost us a coffee/tea/beer or whatever. Jorgio showed up during the show to drink a wine and then guide us out of the Alfama to our ship (while discussing comparative politics). You will recognize all of the street names from our walking tour of the Alfama :- ).


Just for the record, we were also recommended two fado places in the Bairro Alto area of the city named A Severa and Adigo do Ribotejo (or Ribolejo – hard to tell from the handwriting). While we have not personnaly gone to either, the information came from the same young lady who gave us the original place in the Alfama area, so they should also be authentic.

Those of you who have read this documentary from the beginning have seen a number of altruistic people pop into the story line in various countries along the way and spend their time making sure we were entertained and enjoyed their countries. While I have done the same on numerous occasions to complete strangers back home, I am always cynical when others make these kind gestures towards me under the theory that “there is no free lunch”. While this attitude has protected me over and over again, I do want to point out that there are those who simply enjoy showing others a good time (wanting nothing in return) and one should prudently allow them to do so as it is a way to see places from the perspective of a local.

Just an interesting note (far from a statistical sampling) was that Jorgio blamed the econopmic difficulties that Portugal was having on the Portuguese people spending above their means, rather than blaming the politicians the way the Greeks and Italians I spoke to did. If, in fact, these attitudes reflect the general feelings of the populations involved (unfortunately, I didn’t speak to any Spaniards about these things, but I expect their attitudes are more closely aligned with those expressed in Portugal), one can project which parts of Europe will be most problematic from an economic standpoint.

Both the Euro Zone crisis and the Arab Spring are related, in a fashion, to the growing unemployment among educated youth. They find it frustrating to see their years of education go to waste and, rather than feel that the situation is beyond their control, have decided to take control. While this assumption is generally optimistic, the disruptions allow otherwise powerless groups to reach towards the reins of power and the consequences can be unexpected.

I stayed awake to watch the sail away from Lisbon with our friend Gerard from the bar on the ship’s top deck (the Crow’s Nest).

86 06 Apr 2013 At Sea

Another slightly bumpy day at sea. Tonight is the last formal night. I guess tomorrow will be a combination of a day for packing and drinking up all the rest of the wine so it doesn’t have to be carried.

87 07 Apr 2013 At Sea

Tried to drink last of the wine we brought, but will be bringing a couple of bottles back with us.

Jeff
(London, UK)
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