A Travellerspoint blog

Ahoy Mateys!

Embarking on the Grandeur of the Seas

sunny 29 °C
View Mediterranean Cruise on Anja Fourie's travel map.

While waiting for the taxi to arrive I sit outside the hotel on the little wall and do some people-watching. Men wear small speedos and women only wear bikinis as they walk down the road. Liberal Europeans are definitely not afraid to show their bodies.

1. I am half-naked on the street and I can, because I am European

At 11am the taxi arrives at the port. I go through the security check and board the ship. I look at the ship map and quickly take the lift up to Deck 9 where the spa is situated. This is where Laraine works. She takes me down to the room, but it is not long before she calls me up again. Having a friend who works in the spa does have its benefits. On the first day of the cruise, they have demonstrations and a tour of the spa for the guests. She arranges that I be the girl who the facials are demonstrated on. Turns out, it's a hot stone massage and I'll only covered with a little towel while guests have a look at the spa. But... it's a free hot stone massage. I'll take it.

The dry, salty air does work a number on your skin. Sometimes your skin feels really dry and sometimes it feels sticky from the sea air. The key on a cruise: Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise!

2. Laraine hard at work in the Spa

3. Some cathedral in Majorca you could see from the ship

4. The ship's centrum (fancy word for the middle open part)

5. More of Majorca from the ship

On the first day I watch the ship leave the harbour and explore the different decks. If you walk in the opposite direction than what the ship is cruising in, it feels like the ship is moving at the speed of light. N At 9pm, the sun is still high in the sky. I also have no sign of motion sickness yet. I have a stronger stomache than I thought.

Next stop: Cannes/Monte Carlo

Posted by Anja Fourie 18:56 Archived in Spain Tagged sunset ship cruise fruit spa cannes ice_cream burger monte_carlo grandeur facial Comments (3)

Cala Mayor, Mallorca

sunny 26 °C
View Mediterranean Cruise on Anja Fourie's travel map.

The little beach town of Cala Mayor is about 10 minutes drive from Palma City, the capital of Mallorca. Here the sun sets at 10pm in the summer, girls tan topless, the Mediterranean feels like a heated pool even at 9pm at night, and everyone is Spanish. Oh so very Spanish. The water is drinkable, but don't...it tastes like soap. Everyone's favourite car here is the convertible CitiGolf.

1. Sunrise over Europe

2. Snowy French Alps

Cala Mayor has one main street where all the shops, cafes, karaoke bars and tattoo parlours are. No architectural wonders here. Cala Mayor's biggest attraction is its quaint little blue flag beach. It is afterall a beach town. If you want to see old style Spanish houses, churches and museums, then you should rather venture into towns such as Petra and Sineu. Unfortunately I cannot testify for this myself, but the pictures in the brochures look magnificent. My hotel, Playa Cala Mayor is walking distance from the beach.

3. Room with a slight view

4. The streets of Cala Mayor

5. Cala Mayor Beach

At 7pm I eat dinner at the Picadilly Cafe. It still feels like the middel of the day as the summer sun here only sets at about 10pm. After this I head down to watch the sun set, but after sitting on the beach for two hours with no sign of a sunset, I head back to the hotel and jump into bed. Still dead tired from the flying, I fall asleep immediately; ready to start my cruise with Laraine.

Next stop: Cannes / Monte Carlo

Posted by Anja Fourie 13:47 Archived in Spain Tagged beach car spain mallorca cala_mayor blue_flag Comments (1)

The Leaning Tower of Visa

overcast 16 °C

Ah, the Visa process. This whole process just installs panic and then some more panic. The word Schengen has become a ridiculously hateful word to me. I want to marvel at some European wonders and spend money in the streets of Mediterranean ports, but all these strict rules and regulations for the application of a Schengen visa just takes the fun out of travel.

For the last few weeks the blue and yellow flag of the European Union haunted my dreams, my nightmares and my daydreams. I’ve never dreaded the results of anything so much. Scenarios’ constantly run through my head of officials enjoying tea over my application and laughing at my photo.

I do not have a criminal record of any sort, but what about my numerous speeding fines? Will they see me as irresponsible and capable of burning down Rome? I should probably hide all my photos on Facebook just in case the Consular of Spain has taken up Facebook Stalking.

What is all the fuss about?

The Schengen Agreement is a lovely treaty signed on the river-boat Princess Marie-Astrid in the middle of the River Mosel near the town of; yes you guessed it, Schengen, Luxembourg. Ten years later in 1995 the Amsterdam Treaty was signed, creating the Schengen-Acquis and shaping European travel as we know it today. Without this stamp, you will not see the inside of the Schengen Area. Attempting a secret swim from Algeria would probably be your next best bet.

With a checklist consisting of eight different requirements, I slowly start ticking them off. The list includes basics such as financial means, itinerary and photos, all with their separate requirements. If these Spaniards do not give me my visa then I’ll have no choice but to.... Ok, I don’t know how seriously threats on informal blogs are taken, but I’ll just stop my thoughts right there. Just in case.

Just thinking about the process tires me out, but in the end all the paranoia and anxious pacing was for nothing. I received my visa with a little note saying: Thank you for your beautifully put together visa application. Well, not really... Who has time to write thank you notes anyway?

Now the final countdown starts. I'll be leaving on a jet plane in 16 days.

Spain: See you in 17 days!
Laraine: See you in 18 days!

First stop: Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

Posted by Anja Fourie 12:04 Archived in South Africa Tagged spain visa preparation european_union mallorca schengen_visa Comments (1)

"The most beautiful colonial town Europeans ever built"

“This cape is the most stately thing and the fairest cape we saw in the whole circumference of the earth.” - Sir Francis Drake (1580)

sunny 25 °C

My heart skipped a little beat when I read the forum post by JUANnOGNEN in this thread: Best European-Influenced City.

According to JUANnOGNEN, "Cape Town is an obvious candidate for the award of Most beautiful colonial town Europeans ever built."

Inside the courtyard of the Castle of Good Hope, with Table Mountain in the background

The view of Cape Town from Table Mountain

Misty day on Bloubergstrand, Cape Town

Baby Lions

If you haven't guessed it yet, Cape Town is my home city. After having lived in the Northern Suburbs of Cape Town for 22 years, this city still continues to give me chills and thrills.

Cape Town, Kaapstad, Kapstadt, Città del Capo, Ciudad del Cabo, iKapa. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but according to me, this is the most beautiful city in the world.

Posted by Anja Fourie 04:09 Archived in South Africa Tagged cape_town south_africa table_mountain Comments (0)

The Year of the Cruise

semi-overcast 22 °C
View Argentina Trip on Anja Fourie's travel map.

On the 1st of April 2006, we enter Republica Argentina. It's the middle of the night. Sleep deprived and a little on edge, my family of four arrives at our hotel. It's my 17th birthday and I just received the first stamp in my brand new passport. The bright lights of Buenos Aires bounce off the Obelisco and I can't be more excited to finally be in South America.
My brother, Etienne and I, at the Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires (3 April 2006).

In the words of Ernesto (Motorcycle Diaries): "How is it possible that I feel nostalgia for a world that I never knew?"

That was my first taste of foreign soil and it fueled my passion for exploring the world. Now, 5 years later, my worldly travels can finally continue.

MMXI, 2011. The Chinese year of the Rabbit. United Nations has designated 2011 the International Year of Forests and the International Year of Chemistry. Pantone predicts Honeysuckle (or Pink) will dominate our colour charts this year. For me, this is Anja's Year of the Cruise. With two cruises in my wake, my worldly travels will be continued on the water and not on land.

As a little girl, I watched Leonardo freeze to death and drown, while Kate desperately clings to a piece of debris. Titanic, the movie that cruise nightmares are made of, never awakened the spirit of cruise ship travel in me. This year I will undertake two cruises and my paranoia about ocean travel has been replaced by pure excitement.

In June 2011, I will be paying a visit to a friend who is a crewmember upon the Grandeur, a ship that is part of the Royal Caribbean fleet. From 26 June to 10 July, this ship will be docking in some of the most amazing ports in the Mediterranean. From Spain to France to Italy. My ticket has been bought and slowly the reality of this solo trip is sinking in. With 3 months to go, my day of departure can not come fast enough and my excitement can barely be contained.

Then, in December 2011, our family of four, will yet again undertake a brilliant holiday. We will be cruising with the MSC Sinfonia up the East coast of South Africa to Mozambique. Departing from Durban, the MSC Sinfonia will stop at the Portuguese Islands and Barra Lodge. This Christmas Cruise will be nothing, but amazing.

Hopefully, the Year of the Cruise, will be followed by the Year of Amazing Travel.

Posted by Anja Fourie 06:37 Tagged cruise flags argentina buenos_aires plaza_de_mayo obelisk Comments (0)

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