Casablanca, Morocco and The Canary Islands

So I’m catching you up on our latest stops. We stopped in Casablanca for the day, so we did the Hassan Mosque which is the 3rd largest one in the world, behind Mecca and Dubai. It is HUGE. It is quite interesting and the inside is beautiful. It is done in natural mute tones which is a lot different from some of the other mosques we have been too. It holds 5k people which is a whole lotta people. Our guide explained to us that the 3 balls (well they look like balls to me) on top of the mosque represented the following religions, first the large one is the Muslims, the middle one is Judaism and the last one Christians, I found this to be very interesting. He also told us the mosque we visited is the only one that allows non Muslims to visit in Morocco. We were their before prayers were to begin so we had a lot of time to see the inside. He showed us the washing room and explained to us how they do the washing and where they start (hands, face, neck, arms and then feet) in these washing rooms there is a separate washing room for the females and the males also inside the mosque it is segregated very similar to the Jewish religion we have discovered in our current travels.

Casablanca is a interesting city. You see lots of French writing and French also being spoken. I’m not really sure it is a city I would revisit on my own, however, I wish we had more than a day to visit so we could go out into the country side up to Rabat and Marrakech, however these places are like a 3-4 hr drive from Casablanca.

Our next stop was Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain. This island was solely created volcanically and the most recent eruption was more than 100 years ago. The original settlement of the Tenerife people dates back to 200BC until it was taken over by Spain in the 15th century. The major economic draw is tourism and it is a nice clean island. We visited a small local village and I discovered a wonderful little spice shop and picked up some different spices for some of the cooks in the family. We also visited a pyramid park which was discovered in the late 1970’s. The pyramids which there are 6 of but they aren’t that big are built in a similar style to the ones located in South America, Mexico and Guatemala. I’ll have to locate the stuff I collected on the gentleman who helped to discover this pyramid and who was instrumental in its uncovering and maintaining of the park.

I’ll work on getting some pictures posted. We are off to Madeira for 2 days. Our captain has mentioned we may have some weather to deal with so we are keeping our fingers crossed that we don’t miss this port. Then after Madeira we will have 7 days for our Atlantic crossing before we land in Florida and then fly home. I’ve met some fellow knitters and we have been meeting up on our sea days, doing puzzles, checking out the nightly entertainment, catching some movies, cooking demos, wine sampling and I’ve been going to see the violists on board so we are not board by any means. Oh yes trying to catch up on some reading as well.

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Revisiting Rome and Barcelona

Sorry about going backwards but after posting what we did in these 2 fantastic cities realized that a lot of people haven’t been to one of these 2 cities. So here are recommendations.

Rome: its a beautiful history religious city, so much to do and you definitely need more than the 1 or 2 days you get visiting with a cruise ship. We’ve been lucky to go back and revisit Rome a couple of times now. Our first time there in 2010, we did the Vatican, the Coliseum, their History museum and the Pantheon. We were chased out of the Basilica as the French Prime Minister was visiting the pope. So when we were there last year we spent 5 days there and we redid the Vatican and spent a lot of time in St. Peter’s Basilica. We also did a Angels and Demons tour, which was so much fun to do. There is so much to do there it’s hard to explain what are some of the best things to do. With being there for a longer stay, we used the hop on/hop off as our means of transportation around the city as we were staying out near the Vatican. So we tried out local restaurants and had some good laughs at our lack of Italian with the servers. You must also realize you are not rushed at dinner like we are back home in the states. If you want to sit at your table for 2-3 hrs you can to do it. This is what when we came back we wanted to do something outside of Rome.

Barcelona-this is one of my favorite cities. It’s vibrant and so full of life. When we did our independent land travel in Spain and Portugal back in 2015 we spent a couple of days in Barcelona. We visited their Maritime and Catalonia History museum. Both worthwhile. The Main Street is always full of people walking and the mimes who make their living sitting or I should say standing ever so still but do want some euros to have their pictures taken with you. This time as I mentioned before we did the Gaudi cathedral again and a lot of the scaffolding is down so it has really changed how it looks now. Of course you must take in the Tapas and the wine. And don’t forget to do the fabulous market in Barcelona, it is so large and you are just overwhelmed as you walk through it.

As with both countries, Italy and Spain, their wines are fabulous and very reasonably priced.

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Pics from Rome

From our visit to Ostia Antigua

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Rome, Italy

Yep, we came back to Rome on the cruise ship. It is a place where people got off and new people came on for our next voyage which we will doing a little bit of Spain, Morocco, Canary Island, Madeira and then 7 days on the Atlantic to come home.

As we had been to a Rome before we decided to check out Ostia Antica and we are so glad we did. If you’ve been here in Rome before you must check out this place. The town dates back to 4th century BC. It used to be the main commercial port and military base with about 100k people who lived there. Because of Bavarian invasions and malaria it led to the decline of the city and eventual total loss of its people living there. It is a pretty well preserved given the weather elements and all and it is huge. The Mosiacs are pretty well preserved and the employees of this site cover them in the winter time to protect them against the rain and other winter elements.

We learned there are no fewer than 18 temples dedicated to the Persian god Mithras and also a Jewish synagogue dating from the 1st century BC and a Christian basilica.

As I took a lot of pics on my iPhone I’ll posts some of those on a separate posting.

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Rough Seas and Barcelona

After leaving Rome we headed out to Barcelona and what a ride we had. We had sea winds of about 65mph and we were rocking and rolling pretty good. At one point as we were eating lunch up in what is called the Lido restaurant we had about a 15% list and there plates and food sliding all over the place. It sure made for some walking. Luckily none of us got sea sick.

We arrived in Barcelona with some very calm seas and beautiful weather. We took in the Gaudi as Dennis and Cathy had not been there before and it was nice to visit again. It’s a beautiful Cathedral inside compared to the outside and oh so different. It’s been under construction since 1888 and consecrated in 2010 as a basilica by Pope Benedict XIV. The city of Barcelona is hoping to have it completed by 2017 on the outside and some of the inside.

We will be doing another Sea Day tomorrow and then the port city of Malaga.

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Today was a kind of down day. We did the hop on hop off bus and enjoyed some very good pizza. We’ve been to Naples before and had already visited Herculaneum and Pompei, plus our very first trip to Italy we spent a couple of days on Sorrento along with doing Capri and driving the Amalfi coast.

We thought we might get some rain but we lucked out and had some pleasant weather.

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Messina, Sicily

We spent the day in Messina and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We aware way up in the mountains visiting Castelmola and Taormina. A whole lot of hair turn curves but it was worth it. Also did a bit of shopping and had some wonderful pistachio gelato.

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Souda, Greece

Well I’m back and trying to get myself all caught up. We visited our last port in Greece, Souda. Had a very nice day checking out what else a Monastery up in the mountains called Arkadi and then the port town of Rethymnon.

The monastery is completely dependent upon donations and local villagers who work with maintaining the monastery.

We enjoyed sone free time in the port town and found a place to enjoy some snacks and a beer.

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Getting myself caught up as I’ve fired up the iPhone as we are in Rhodes today. Yesterday we ported in Limassol, Cyprus. Such a nice place to visit. We learned quite a bit on the history of Cyprus, it’s rulers, independence and some of the issues they deal with today. So I’m going to do some copy paste on their history as I found it to be quite interesting.

The Russo-Turkish War ended the Ottoman control of Cyprus in 1878. Cyprus then came under the control of the British Empire with its conditions set out in the Cyprus Convention. However, sovereignty of the island continued to be maintained by the Ottoman Empire until Great Britain annexed the island unilaterally in 1914, after it declared war against the Ottomans during the First World War. Following World War I, under the provisions of the Lausanne Treaty, Turkey relinquished all claims and rights on Cyprus.

Under British rule the island began to enjoy a period of increased free speech, something which allowed further development of the Greek Cypriots’ ideas of enosis (unification with Greece).

In 1878, as the result of the Cyprus Convention, the United Kingdom took over the government of Cyprus as a protectorate from the Ottoman Empire. In 1914, at the beginning of World War I, Cyprus was annexed by the United Kingdom. In 1925, following the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, Cyprus was made a Crown Colony. Between 1955 and 1959 EOKA was created by Greek Cypriots and led by George Grivas to perform enosis (union of the island with Greece). However the EOKA campaign did not result in union with Greece but rather an independent republic, The Republic of Cyprus, in 1960.

The 1960 constitution put in place a form of power-sharing, or consociational government, in which concessions were made to the Turkish Cypriots minority, including as a requirement that the vice-president of Cyprus and at least 30% of members of parliament be Turkish Cypriots. Archbishop Makarios III would be the President and Dr. Fazıl Küçükwould become Vice President. One of the articles in the constitution was the creation of separate local municipalities so that Greek and Turkish Cypriots could manage their own municipalities in large towns.

Today, as our tour guide mentioned to us, the people of Cyprus get along it is the country of a Turkey that worries them.

We visited a UNESCO site whose theater is still used for plays and festivals today. The tour explained to us about the acoustics with this theater and some of the people in our group walked down in the middle of the stage and either said some words or sang a verse, it was amazing how we could hear them. Later in the morning we drove up and visited the village of Omodos. We had a great time visiting the town and enjoyed some local beer after we did some shopping.

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