A Travellerspoint blog

The little town of Wagon-House-Cliff

Arniston, South Africa

semi-overcast 25 °C

The first half of our Saturday we spent at Agulhas, before returning to Arniston. At Arniston we went to the hotel to warm up with Hot Chocolate with a beautiful view of this dangerous ocean in front of us. Arniston is a tiny coastal village.

1. The hotel and beach view
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2. Me, being extremely excited about something
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Arniston derives its name from the Arniston ship that sank there in 1815. She was part of the British East Indian fleet and was rounding the Cape to return wounded soldiers home to England from Ceylon. A chronometer was a very expensive instrument at that time. The Arniston didn’t have one, so her Captain had to rely on the other ships in the fleet to know where he was. When a storm separated him from the other ships, he had to rely on his own intuition to navigate himself home. When the captain rounded Waenhuiskrans, he thought that is was the Cape of Good Hope and started to steer the ship north. This meant that he ran the ship ashore onto the rocks at Waenhuiskrans. Of the 378 people on board, only six managed to swim ashore. They started to make their way to Cape Town when they realised their mistake. They were found on the beach by a farmer’s son. A memorial was erected on the beach by the wife of Colonel Giels. Their four children died on that fateful day.

3. Arniston memorial
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The inscription on the memorial reads: Erected by their disconsolate parents to the memory of Thomas, aged 13 years, William Noble, aged 10, Andrew, aged 8 and Alexander McGregor Murray, aged 7 (the four eldest sons of Lieut. Colonel Andrew Giels of H.M. 73rd Regiment) who, with Lord and Lady Molesworth unfortunately perished in the Arniston Transport, wrecked on this shore on 3rd May, 1815.

4. At Arniston you can also do some whale watching
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While at the hotel we decided to take a walk to the nearby cave. Arniston’s other name is Waenhuiskrans. This is an Afrikaans name which literally means “Wagon House Cliff”. The reason the town was given this name is because the cave that can be found here is big enough to house an entire wagon and its oxen. This is a limestone cave and can be found to the right of Roman Beach, which is about 2km south of Arniston. The cave can only be accessed at low tide as the cave is under water during high tide and thus very dangerous.

5. On our way to the cave
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6. Steps down to the cave
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According to the pamphlet we got at the hotel, it is best to plan your trip to the cave at sunset. The reason for this is that the darkness of the cave makes the colours outside even more spectacular which means that sunsets seen from inside the cave must be amazing. When the last ray of sun sinks below the horison, a green flash can be seen. This 2 second flash is caused by the dispersion of the blue light. Unfortunately we weren’t there are sunset, but the cave was still pretty spectacular. It really is as big as described with the prettiest rock formations inside. The roof is spectacularly grooved as a result of the water erosion. At the far side of the cave, the rocks and sand are still wet. Kelp was also lying here and this is proof that the ocean does completely fill this cave at high tide.

7. Almost there
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8. The Cave
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That night we made dinner back at the house and then decided to go out for a drink. Arniston has no pumping nightlife and this we found out on the Saturday night. We wanted to go out for a drink, but finding the hotel closed for a private function, we had no choice but to go home. There are no other bars or restaurants open in this little town that time of the night and it was only nine o’clock!

9. Dinner time
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The next day we decided to explore the white washed and thatched roof houses of Kassiesbaai. This is a 200 year old fishing village and it has been declared a National Heritage site and South African Monument. At some of the houses you can enjoy a traditional meal consisting mainly of fish. An arts and crafts shop is also set up. Most of the residents here still make their living from the sea.

10. On our way
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11. Welcome to Kassiesbaai
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12. Arniston harbour
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13. Cute cousin playing on the anchor outside the hotel
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After that we headed back to Roman’s Beach again for some ice-cream. At this ice-cream stand you can only choose between strawberry and vanilla or a strawberry/vanilla mix. If you don’t like any one of these flavours, then you’ll just have to do without ice-cream.

14. Roman’s beach: path to The Cave can be seen at the far right
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15. Ice-cream on the beach
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16. Soft lime stone at the beach makes for interesting sand art
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After that our weekend at Arniston was finished. After lunch and some careful packing, with me still managing to forget things, we headed back home.

17. A Goodbye sunset
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Posted by Anja Fourie 15:22 Archived in South Africa Tagged food beach memorial ship cave south_africa ice-cream arniston Comments (0)

The Southernmost point of Africa

Agulhas, South Africa

semi-overcast 20 °C

On the South coast of South Africa, about 280 kilometers from Cape Town, two oceans meet at the little town of Agulhas. It is this collision of two very different oceans that creates one of the most dangerous stretches of coast in the world. Divers, explorers and researchers also know this stretch of coast from the Cape of Good Hope to the Eastern Cape as Shipwreck Coast. This weekend we stayed in Arniston which is approximately 40 kilometers and a 30 minute drive away from Agulhas. There are about 4000 permanent residents in this area between Agulhas and Arniston.

Little towns install a different feeling in people. The sky is clearer and bluer and the air cleaner. Life moves at a slower pace than in the city and people practice Il Dolce far niente without ever having heard of it. Il Dolce far niente is an Italian saying which can be translated as “the sweetness of doing nothing”. It describes a pleasant idleness which can only be found when you know the value of doing nothing.

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Driving away from Cape Town, snow can be spotted on the mountains in the distance which could be a sign that we are in for a cold weekend. As we progress through the countryside, the air becomes blue and clear and after a little rain a beautiful rainbow can even be seen.

1. Pre-rain skies
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2. Countryside
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3. Double rainbow outside Caledon
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4. The rainbow seen from the house
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5. The house in Arniston that we stayed in
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On the first night we didn’t do anything, but relax inside the house under blankets in front of the fire. On Saturday we drove to Agulhas. This area was named Cabo das Agulhas by the Portuguese in the 1500’s. It means Cape of Needles, because the Portuguese navigators noticed that Magnetic North coincided with True North in this region. The name can also refer to the jagged edges of the coast. Until the 20th century the area was known as Cape L’Agullas. Today the town is known as L’Agulhas with the area known simply as Cape Agulhas. The name change is a result of French influence in the Cape. To get to the point you drive through L’Agulhas and park close to the lighthouse. The last few meters to the official meeting point of the Indian and Atlantic oceans has to be walked. This official point has been chosen by the International Hydrographic Organization.

6. Walking to the most Southern point
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7. The official meeting point of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans
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After having a quick snack on the benches by the point, we headed back to the lighthouse. The coastline of this area is so dangerous that a lighthouse just had to be built. Numerous wrecks can be found along the coast. Dangerous winter storms and waves which can reach 30 meters high gave this piece of coast its reputation. The very shallow Agulhas bank and very strong winds, combined with the conflicting currents of the warm Agulhas current and the cold Benguela current creates a nightmare for any navigator. One of these ships was the Japanese Meisho Mauro which sank as recently as 16 November 1982. She was carrying 240 tons of tuna on that fatal day. Luckily all 17 crew members managed to swim to shore.

8. The Meisho Mauro on the spot where she ran ashore.
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9. Climbing to see the actual ocean
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10. This is where oceans meet
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These types of waters can sink even large ships. For this reason, the Agulhas lighthouse was built in 1848. Michel Breda, mayor of the Cape at that time, gave a part of his farm, Zoetendalsvalleij, for the lighthouse to be built on. It is modeled after the Pharos of Alexandria. This is the second oldest lighthouse in the country and at the time of its completion it cost approximately £12 000. The lighthouse in Green Point, near Cape Town, is the oldest. L’Agulhas is also the only settlement in South Africa that developed around a lighthouse.

11.The lighthouse
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There are 71 steps to the top of the lighthouse. They are in fact not steps, but straight-up ladders. Going to the top was easy. Coming back down, I was trembling a little. The lighthouse keeper’s house has been transformed into a small museum and coffee shop. The light of the lighthouse was first lit on the 1st of April 1847. They choose a very good day as this is also my birthday! A Frenchman, Le Paute, was the engineer of the optical apparatus for the lighthouse and this was where the French name L'Agulhas was attributed to.

12. Climbing to the top
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13. View from the top
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14. View from the bottom
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15. Hyperventilation time
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16. Fibre glass figurehead of the French ship, Marie Elise, that was wrecked on 6 November 1877P1040764.jpg

After all this stressful climbing, we had some lunch at a nearby restaurant. Next we headed to Struisbaai where there are more shops to buy some things for dinner that night.

17. The most Southern Cafe in Africa
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18. Shopping for dinner
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19. 11356 kilometers away from Tunis, the most Northern point in Africa
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We then returned to Arniston to continue the rest of our exploration of this dangerous coast.

Posted by Anja Fourie 11:54 Archived in South Africa Tagged coast south shipwreck lighthouse storms blue_sky atlantic_ocean indian_ocean eat currents arniston Comments (1)

Gibraltar, United Kingdom

"I am now in Gibraltar. It is a large place and there does not seem to be room in this letter, in which to express my feelings about Moors in bare legs." - Richard H. Davis.

sunny 28 °C
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Gibraltar is a peninsula of mainland Spain and a small strip of land which is dominated by ‘the Rock’. You can see Morocco in the distance, but walking to Europoint, where the lighthouse and the furthest point of Africa is, is a bit of a long walk into the nature reserve and up ‘the Rock’. Instead I walk around town until I finally find the Main Street. This is where everything happens in Gibraltar it seems.

1. First look at the Rock
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Gibraltar reminds me of a little beach town and there really isn’t much to see here. Walking down Main Street, I enter some shops and look at clothes, but there are no 3 Euro dresses can be seen here.

It is interesting to see how most of the price tags in clothing stores are shown in euros, pounds and dollars. The reason for this is that, although a physical part of Spain, Gibraltar is a British overseas territory and citizens are all British citizens. Some shops only indicate prices in pounds, but they accept the Euro as form of payment. Most items only have a price tag indicating the amount in British Pounds. The shopkeepers are either just really good at converting to Euro or they make up the prices as they go along, but they can immediately give you the Euro amount if you ask.

Gibraltar may be a British overseas territory, but its physical connection to Spain cannot be denied. The main currency in Gibraltar is pound, fish and chips shops are around every corner and men drink pints on street corners; but English still seems to fail the people here. Whoever I spoke to or asked for directions looked at me in a blank way and just spoke Spanish. Maybe I just unluckily spoke to the wrong people?

2. The square at the beginning of Main Street
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3. Main Street
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Gibraltar is also famous for the Barbary Apes. According to legend, if the Apes leave Gibraltar then Gibraltar will cease to remain a British colony. In the past this legend was taken so seriously that the British army used to feed the Apes. I didn't see one Ape.

4. Signs that the British were, are and will be here
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5. The Irish part of town
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You would think that the Gibraltarians would choose to be a part of Spain, but this is not the case. When the United Nations forced Britain to decolonise Gibraltar in the 1960’s, the people voted over-whelmingly to stay a part of Britain. Only 44 out of the 12 000 voters, voted against Britain. In 2002 they held another referendum and this time only 187 of the 20 000 voters voted against Britain. Apparently these Gibraltarians love Britain even though they are in no rush to learn English. In 2004 Gibraltar celebrated 300 years as a British territory.

John Galliano, who was the head designer of Givenchy and most recently Dior, is from Gibraltar. John Lennon and Joko Ono got married in Gibraltar on 20 March 1969 and the lyrics of the Ballad of John & Joko by The Beatles reflect this: "You can make it OK, you can get married in Gibraltar." Sean Connery married both his wives at Gibraltar. The Prince of Wales, Charles and Diana started their honeymoon in Gibraltar. Kaiane Aldorino, is also from Gibraltar and was Miss World 2009.

6. Miss World 2009 - A Gibraltar local
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At the end of Main Street, there is not much left to do. I buy an ice-cream and make my way back to the ship.

7. Docked at Gibraltar
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Next stop: Home

Posted by Anja Fourie 11:38 Archived in Gibraltar Tagged morocco pounds gibraltar john_lennon dollars marriage euros joko_ono barbary_apes princess_diana prince_charles john_galliano sean_connery united_nations referendum Comments (0)

Malaga

"I used to sword-fight with my little brother on the terrace of our house in Malaga, with plastic swords." - Antonio Banderas.

sunny 32 °C
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Malaga is located along the southern coast of Spain, which is also known as the Costa del Sol (Sun Coast). It is a beautiful city with a distinctly old European feeling. Together with this you can see the traces of the Moorish Empire who ruled this area from their invasion in 711 until their defeat in 1212. According to the Port Explorer, you should leave your watch at home and settle into the slow and unhurried charm of Malaga. I wish I could do that, but I didn’t want a repeat of the La Spezia incident where I almost missed the ship.

1. Malaga waterfront
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The shuttle bus drops you at the waterfront which is right across from the cathedral. You can see if from the waterfront as the bell tower rises out over the buildings in front of it. The first thing that I love about Malaga is the animated traffic light men. The traffic light signal for pedestrians has a green man who casually walks in his box. Over his head he has a countdown. When the countdown nears the end the little man starts to run faster indicating to the pedestrians that they have to hurry up or be crushed by cars.

2. Horse-drawn carriages
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The Cathedral of Malaga is one of the best examples of Renaissance architecture and was constructed between the 16th and 17th century. The cathedral dominates the tiny space in which it stands and looks a bit squished in here. This probably suggests that the city just expanded towards the cathedral, boxing it in. For this reason I couldn't get a great picture, because you cannot stand back far enough. The cathedral is magnificent on the outside and the inside. In Malaga I experience a real strictness with photography for the first time. In the cathedral I am peacefully taking pictures when I get yelled at for using a flash. Well, it wasn’t a yell; this is a cathedral after all. It was more like a loud whisper. I continued to admire the cathedral in a flashless darkness.

3. Square in front of the cathedral
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4. Outside of the Cathedral
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5. Inside the Cathedral
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6. The cathedral rising out over the buildings
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Malaga is clean and beautiful. There are street musicians on the corners and men playing Spanish guitar make me smile. A Chinese man on the one corner, playing a Erhu (also known as the Chinese violin), does look a little out of place.

A few famous people are from Malaga. Most notably, Pablo Picasso and Antonio Banderas. The Picasso museum is located in a lovely 16th century building down the street from the Cathedral. Here are many Picasso originals that were donated to the museum by his daughter-in-law. The house is in a square shape, but you walk around in a circle. Here they are even stricter about taking photographs than in the cathedral. They are not allowed at all. In every room a security guard watches your every move which means that you cannot even sneak a quick photo. Everything in the museum is very white and calm and a welcome escape from the hot Malaga sun.

One of the places to see in Malaga is Picasso’s birthplace. This is located in an older part of town and when you arrive there you can clearly see that this is a different part of town. When I arrive at the house, two women are fighting on the street corner and a man leers at me from behind a lamp post. Picasso was born here and lived here until he was 14, at which time the Picasso family moved to Barcelona. The thin, tall Picasso house has a few flights, but only two are open to the public. Here there is only one security guard and I quickly take some sneaky pictures. I think she was onto my secret photo-taking as she was following me around a lot. She of course had other people to watch as well and this is where my sneakiness came into play.

Upon exiting the museum, one of the fighting women from earlier, is getting sick on the sidewalk. Not a pretty sight.

7. Outside Picasso's childhood home
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8. Picasso as a child
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9. Inside the house
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Two blocks away is the Alcazabilla, a long street solely for shops and restaurants. The Alcazaba, a Muslim palace, is located on the left of the Alcazabilla and dominates the city as you can almost see it from anywhere. It is situated on a hill which looks out over the ocean. The Arab Empire of Malaga ruled from this fortress and it has amazing views of the city. I walk to the top to get a good view and from here I can exactly see how to walk to get to my next destination, the bull ring. It is much closer than I thought.

10. Optical illusion sheet to avoid buildings under construction becoming an eye-sore
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11. Alcazaba
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12. The view of the city from Alcazaba
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13. Malaga bullring as seen from Alcazaba
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14. The ship as seen from Alcazaba
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The bullring is closed today, but open over the weekends when traditional bullfights are still held. Though I am completely opposed to the torture of animals, it would have been nice to see the inside of the building. The Malaga bullring was built in 1874 and is one of the largest in Spain.

15. The bullring up close
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At this point the heat is getting to me and I decide to head back to the shuttle bus. I walk through the Paseo del Parque which are beautiful gardens next to the waterfront. This takes me back to the shuttle bus and I cannot believe that my day in Malaga is over. It has truly been magnificent. Malaga had the least tourists of all the cities on this trip which makes everything so much more accessible as I didn’t have to stand in any queues. Malaga is so beautiful with an amazing atmosphere.

16. Paseo del Parque
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Next stop: Gibraltar

Posted by Anja Fourie 08:08 Archived in Spain Tagged sun bullfights fortress alcazaba malaga painter bullring picasso musuem antonio_banderas paseo_del_parque costa_del_sol Comments (0)

Fly me high, Ibiza sky

"Woah, we're going to Ibiza!" - Venga Boys (We're going to Ibiza)

sunny 29 °C
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Quite appropriately the island of Ibiza was named by the Phoenicians after their god of music and dance, Bes. The original name was Ibossim. This seems very fitting as this island is know the world over as a party island. And that is exactly what we did. Party. For that reason this will be my shortest post yet.

Four people fit into a taxi which takes you to Bora Bora beach. The beach is lined with bars, but it is too expensive to buy your drinks like that, so we stop at the local supermarket and buy alcohol, juice, water and cups. Down at the beach we find a spot for our big group and everyone strips down immediately. Here, the girls are mostly semi-naked and guys wear tiny hot pants. Most girls just go topless and dance around like that on the beach with everything swinging around. The DJ’s play their music loudly from the bars next to the beach and people are just dancing everywhere.

1. Massvie bottle of vodka
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2. Panoramic Ibiza
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3. Girls on the beach
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The San Miguel yacht was also parked right outside the designated swimming area and they would then send a rubberduck with girls who throw beers to the people who are swimming. This differs from South Africa where we are not allowed to drink on most of our beaches. Here people stand in the ocean with a beer in the one hand and a cigarette in the other. There are absolutely no waves, just little tiny bumps in the water. By 9pm we were still going into the water as the Mediterranean feels like lukewarm bath water even at that time of night.

3. Some more Bora Bora beach
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Eventually the beach started to clear, so we took our bags and moved towards the dancing area. This beach is famous for thieves and a few people have had some valuables stolen here in the past. The dancing area is where the DJ has been playing all day. We just danced into the sunset and eventually decided to make our way back to the ship.

The ship looked beautiful at night and I realised this was the first time that I was seeing it after sunset. I tried to take some photos, but the driver was going so fast that I couldn’t get any. Then I almost got blown off the harbour by some really strong winds which mean that those photos were also blurred.

5. Result of a crazy taxi-driver
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6. Blurry ship at night
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On the ship, we continued the Ibiza party..

Next stop: Malaga

Posted by Anja Fourie 07:28 Archived in Spain Tagged taxi beach ship drink dance music party alcohol ibiza Comments (0)

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