Canary Islands Idyll I
Day 1 - Lisbon, Portugal The great period of "the Discoveries" accounted for phenomenal wealth brought back from India, Africa and Brazil by the great Portuguese navigators. Gold, jewels, ivory, porcelain and spices helped finance grand new buildings and impressive monuments in Lisbon, the country's capital city. As you sail up the Tagus River, be on deck to admire Lisbon's panorama and see some of the great monuments lining the river. Lisbon is one of Europe's smallest capital cities but considered by many visitors to be one of the most likeable. Spread over a string of seven hills, the city offers a variety of faces, including a refreshing no-frills simplicity reflected in the people as they go unhurriedly through their day enjoying a hearty and delicious cuisine accompanied by the country's excellent wines.
Day 2 - At Sea
Day 3 - Casablanca, Morocco Casablanca, located on the Atlantic coast, is with 4 million inhabitants Morocco's largest city, and at the same time the largest port in Africa. Built on the site of ancient Phoenician Anfa, it remained a small fishing village for many centuries until the French arrived in 1912. Since then Casablanca has become a vast modern city, ever on the increase since Morocco's independence from France in 1956. A successful blend of oriental-style, white cubic dwellings with modern Moroccan quarters gives the city an interesting flair. Lovely beaches and attractive hotels make for a popular year-round holiday resort. To help understand Moroccan culture a visit to the Medina, the quaint old Moorish quarter, is a must for all visitors.
Day 4 - At Sea
Day 5 - Arrecife, Canary Islands Lanzarote is the northernmost of the Canary Islands, often known as "volcano island." Its capital is Arrecife, a quiet town of about 30,000 inhabitants. Present day Lanzarote consists of two quite distinct massifs: Famara in the north, and Los Ajaches in the south, where centuries of erosion have sculpted abrupt cliffs and deep ravines, contrasting sharply with the smoothly rounded hills of the island's central region.
Day 6 - Tenerife,Canary Islands Tenerife is the largest of Spain’s Canary Islands, off West Africa. It's dominated by Mt. Teide, a dormant volcano that is Spain's tallest peak. Tenerife may be best known for its Carnaval de Santa Cruz, a huge pre-Lent festival with parades, music, dancing and colorful costumes. The island has many beaches (with sands from yellow to black) and resort areas, including Los Cristianos and Playa de las Américas.
Day 7 - Puerto de la Estaca, El Hierro, Canarias, Spain The smallest and westernmost of the Canary Islands, Hierro is a rugged, windswept place believed in Columbus’s day to be the very western edge of the world. Its picturesque, whitewashed capital, Valverde, is unusually located high in the mountains some distance from the sea, and home to just 2,000 souls. The volcanic island was designated a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 2000, and photographers delight in dramatic sights like the Faro de Orchilla lighthouse, the great natural stone arch of the Roque de la Bonanza and the bizarre, wind-twisted juniper trees set against stony slopes. The Canarian artist Cesar Manrique created a spectacular viewpoint and restaurant overlooking the dramatic El Golfo valley atop kilometer-high cliffs.
Day 8 - Las Palmas, Spain Las Palmas is a large Spanish city, which just happens to be on the island of Gran Canaria. That fact adds the exotic, slightly African and international flavor to the place. It played an important part in the early exploration and exploitation of Africa and the New World, some of which is recounted in the Casa de Colon Museum. Columbus may have slept there, but it was never his house. It was actually the mansion of early governors. Other museums of note are the Museo Canaria with a number of Cro Magnon skulls, and the fascinating Elder Museum of Science and Technology. For shopping, strolling and general local interest, head to La Vegueta, the oldest quarter and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the adjacent Triana high street shopping district. Most visitors are here for the beaches, and the municipal Playa de Las Canteras is a long, clean and safe option if that is your intention. The Canaria in the name of the islands refers to the indigenous Presa Canaria breed of dogs, which are large, strong and made quite an impression on the earliest Spanish visitors.
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