Sunday, May 5, 2013


My new home for two weeks

Sailing aboard a Holland America ship is certainly different from a student ship like Semester at Sea.  The main focus is body, not mind, with emphasis on food.  Breakfast is available at 6 a.m. and the food circus goes on in many venues till midnight.  I took a tour of the food galleys and it looks like they use as much food in a week as SAS did for a whole semester for roughly the same number of people! In an average week, they use 6,400 pounds of meat, not including poultry and seafood, 12,040 eggs, and 2,500 pounds of butter.  We only have about 550 passengers!   The quality is a world apart also, with beautiful presentations of luscious meat, fish, pasta, salad, and dessert dishes.   They seem happy to cater to whatever you wish, also.  A far cry from the buffet lines of mostly rice, pasta and unrecognizable main dishes in the SAS buffet.  I was not tempted to gain weight there, though.  We will see what two weeks on this cruise does to my waistline.  It is too much, though, and I already find myself skipping meals due to overload!

On the third day we docked in Cadiz, Spain for a day.  Cadiz is the oldest city in the Christian world, with walls built in the reign of Julius Caesar.  The port took in much of the wealth that came to Spain from the Americas from the 15th century on.  The name of the region, Andalusia, means "land of the Vandals," from the Visigoths who displaced the Romans.  There were subsequent invasions from Arabs, Berbers, English and French.

Cadiz, Spain

Fans for sale
I took a day trip to Seville to see the Alcazar, the oldest royal palace in Europe, built by the Moslems in the 11th century.  Adjacent to it is the third largest gothic Cathedral in the world, built in the 15th century on the site of the old mosque.  The tower remains.  The son of Christopher Columbus is buried in the Cathedral, and an honor guard of four statues carries some of the remains of the man himself, although he was buried in Santo Domingo.  His body was apparently moved a few times and lost pieces with the moves.  The idea of being cremated and scattering ashes doesn't bother me, but scattering body parts, or "relics" is pretty gross.

In the 15th century, Seville was the fourth largest city in Europe, after London, Paris and Naples, with a population of 130,000.  In 1649 it lost half the population to epidemics.  There is an old Jewish quarter, but most of them were banished in the Inquisition.  What remains of the old city is a pleasant blend of narrow and windy cobblestone streets, wide plazas, and beautiful parks.  It is very peaceful, but the history has been violent at times.  The city has grown a lot.  Major crops are grapes and cork, an excellent basis for their wine industry.

Gate into the Alcazar palace

As we left town, we visited Plaza de Espana, built in 1929 for the Ibero-american Exhibition.  The surrounding area has many beautiful buildings built by various countries for the exhibition, many of which remain as consulates for those countries.

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