Christmas time vacation

For all of you who don’t keep up with me on Facebook, or didn’t have time to catch all the photos, here’s a day by day rundown of the vacation and links to the photos on Google Photos.

December 18th – travel from Doha. After arriving, I walked to the plaza behind the gothic Cathedral and walked through the Christmas market. Lots of mistletoe for sale in bundles along with a little log figure, called a ‘Tio de Nadal.’


December 19th – Morning in Barcelona. Tour of the Sagrada Famalia along with a walk up the tower of the Passion Façade of the basilica. Great views of the street below!

Boarded the Norwegian Cruise Line Epic

December 20th – at sea

December 21 – Tangier, Morocco. The African side of the Strait of Gibraltar and historic home of pirates and slavers… L The cave of Hercules (who apparently separated Africa from Europe) has an outlet to the Atlantic Ocean, which in silhouette looks like the continent of Africa.

December 22nd – at sea

December 23rd – Las Palmas, Gran Carania. Walked about this beautiful resort community and on the beach came across a sand sculpture display of the Nativity. Entrance to the display was free J and the sculptures were at least 2m high. The artists that created the display were from around the world.

I then popped on the Hop-on-hop-off (HOHO) bus to see more of the city. Poinsettias everywhere.

December 24th – Tenerife, Canary Islands. Toured the city of La Laguna, a UNESCO Heritage site. The architecture is beautiful classic Spanish design. The streets are paved with cobblestones made from the lava of the Tenerife volcano. La Laguna also has an interesting history in Spanish colonialism as it was the stopping point for ships returning with their bounty of silver and gold from Mexico. As a Spanish island, it accounted for all the gold and silver (ounce by ounce) coming from the colonies and going to the Spanish crown.

The market we visited was full and busy. Check out one of the pictures in the market showing bundles of baby potatoes. It was here in the Canary Islands that potatoes first made their appearance from South America. It wasn’t until hundreds of years later that potatoes become routinely eaten in Europe.

December 25th – at sea

December 26th – Malaga. What a beautiful city! And too bad it was only the gateway/port city for access to Granada and the Alhambra. Our tour of the Alhambra started in the gardens – Generalife. Even in December, there was so much that was still green. Pomegranate trees were everywhere as were Seville Orange trees. Trellises everywhere showed the stalks of roses that had been trained to wind around.

We then entered the Alhambra and the beautiful architecture and history of the palaces. Kings and Sultans all.

December 27th – at sea

December 28th – we returned to Barcelona and after dropping my bags at my hotel, jumped on the HOHO bus to re-acquaint myself with the city. I settled on exploring Gaudi again and after the 2 hour tour, went to the Guadi museum and spent most of the afternoon there before meeting up with friends for supper.

December 29th – Went to Montserrat, 90 minutes by train North Northeast of Barcelona. The first leg of the journey was a commuter train, similar to the Go Train in Toronto. I grabbed the first train of the day at 7:30 am. For the first hour of the journey, we travelled under the city of Barcelona and it’s suburbs before coming above grade. At the entry to the Montserrat area, I changed trains to a ‘Rack Rail’ train, designed specifically for climbing steep grades. The Rack Rail takes you right into the mountain top village. Montserrat is a beautiful Benedictine Monastery that is itself a complete village. After orienting myself, I took one of the funiculars further up the mountain to a retreat centre and some hiking trails. The hike sure felt good in that cool mountain air!

December 30th – departure day back to Doha

I collected up some pictures of street scenes in Barcelona that were meaningful to me. Maybe you too can figure out why I took each of those pictures 😉