Malaga is at the heart of the Costa del Sol – Spain’s Sun Coast. That said, the view coming into port is hardly postcard perfect. Some spectacular coastal mountains but otherwise a picture of dry, industrial nothingness. Of course arriving in any port can give the wrong impression and our short excursion into the town centre confirmed this. The town is an intriguing mix of small alley’s and wide malls with lots of restaurants and tapas bars. Actually I got the feeling that on any given Saturday in Malaga you would be hard pressed to find an empty restaurant or bar and given that there seemed to be 3 of them to every other shop, you get a bit of a picture of the lifestyle we encountered!
Again, cruise stops are short so barely scratching the surface. More importantly, now 5 days into our cruise, we were starting to get into all sorts of adventures onboard the ship.
The Capitan (el Commandante), Giuseppe, invited us for cocktails so we finally had an excuse to dress up. Charity shops from North England to Vienna had been chipping in to assist us in preparation for just such an evening so we looked the part! Giuseppe was a bit light on for conversation so we thought we would mix with other passengers – heck, we even spoke to some of the people from the lower decks!
We ended up sat with two ladies from Dodge City, Kansas. The mother and daughter combination of Rhenda and Shelly soon became a regular part of our social life on the ship. Like us Shelley had been traveling the world this year and was on the cruise as a means of getting to South America. Her Mum had joined her at various points around the world and was hitching a ride on this leg of the journey. As I am typing this from Western Brazil, I can say that these two ladies became a big part of our cruise and that we didn’t leave their company behind when we got off the ship!!
We also met several gentleman (retired most of them) from various parts of the UK, including Gill from Northern Ireland. He was nice enough to take me from rookie to amateur status at shuffle board and was great company for all of us, when he wasn’t dancing with young Brazilian ladies. We did our best to corrupt all of these people with drinks on our balcony, but found they were mostly already corrupted!
And then we met Barbara and Doreen……..or did we meet Doreen and Barbara? Two lovely ladies from England, via Milton Keynes, we recognized their star qualities early on when at the initial briefing to English speaking passengers they were the only two with beers in front of them. Oh, Barbara! You can take the girl out of Essex, but…………
With Molly looking forward to her birthday on board, Julia and I were secretly calculating how our new friends would boost the mystic of the pass the parcel.
After Malaga it was out through the Straits of Gibraltar and into the Atlantic. Plain sailing to Funchal on the Portuguese island of Madeira for a spectacular early morning arrival.
Funchal is a city sprawling up magnificent mountain peaks from a beautiful bay. The architecture in the city is typical old European styling so the town centre is certainly attractive but once again, it felt to us like somewhere that would be better enjoyed on a 5-7 day holiday.
Next day was Tenerife and our number one aim here was to secure final presents in preparation of Molly’s birthday. By now we had met other people from the cruise and unfortunately Dave, Anne and Chris from Derby (via Bournemouth) were very noticeable as we rejoined the ship as they had a lot of attention from the local police. Unfortunately anne had a purse stolen in town and Dave was deep into it trying to find someone from the ship who spoke both Spanish and English to assist him in filing a report! Why the ship doesn’t immediately serve this function I have no idea!?
Tenerife is similarly spectacular to Funchal, with less greenery, and it shares space in the Atlantic with several other spectacular islands that make up the Canary Islands. Leaving them behind was very exciting as we were about to cross the Atlantic, cross the equator and eventually arrive in South America.