Up on the Rock

GIBRALTAR. Have you ever heard of the Rock of Gibraltar? For some reason it conjurs up memories of life insurance in my mind! I think there used to be an insurance company with that name when I was growing up.

This is one of the last bits of the British Empire upon which the sun never set, Gibraltar is a quirky mix of Anglican propriety, "God Save the Queen", English bookstores, English pubs, military memories, and tourist shops.

Europe is only eight miles from Africa at this point, and the straits are 36 miles long. Whoever controls Gibraltar and the harbor at its base is in a good position to control the passage between Atlantic and Mediterranean waters. The Rock itselt is 1,396 feet high with a sheer vertical force to the east. Although the military history is rich, I was more interested in the astounding feeling that you had stepped into an English colony.

Gibraltar is less than three square miles and I think Don and I covered it all on foot. We had a full day here so had plenty of time to meander around enjoying the sites. We spent some time in Trafalgar cemetary - a reminder of the colony's English military heritage. Although, I have to admit, my mind was drawn to a dinner scene in Jane Austen's Persuasion wherein The Battle of Trafalgar was discussed.

I enjoyed my 'Fish and Chips' for the first time in the Gibraltar Arms Pub. Yummy!

The actual Rock of Gibraltar was the colony's best sight. We took a cable car ride to the top admiring views of the port and the Emerald Princess the whole way up. The views from the top were stupendous and homo sapiens were not the only admirers of it. There were many seagulls that I enjoyed taking photographs of. And, the quirky apes! Oh my, the quirky apes!

The Rock is home to about 200 apes (actually, tailless monkeys). The males are bigger, females have beards, and newborns are black. They live about 15-20 years. Legend has it that as long as the apes remain here, so will the Brits. We were advised to keep our distance from the apes and to beware of their kleptomaniac tendencies. We witnessed that tendency firsthand when one grabbed a candy bar away from a lady on our tour.

The cable car took us to the summit of the spectacular Rock itself. The large rock mass was nearly a mile long rising 1,400 feet high with very sheer faces. According to legend, this was one of the Pillars of Hercules marking the edge of the known world in ancient times. Local guides say that these pillars are the only places on the planet where you can see two seas and two continents at the same time. Don and I enjoyed the 360-degree view of Morocco, the Strait of Gibraltar and the bay. Awesome views!

Did you get my postcard?


The Alcazar and Nearby

I almost forgot to tell you about my afternoon in Sevilla, Spain visiting the Alcazar!

This was most exciting for me for I love history and the idea of seeing the room where Columbus presented his New World discoveries to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand thrilled me to no end.

Come walk with me through the Alcazar and the streets of Sevilla, Spain...................

Click here to visit my Flickr page on The Alcazar and read more about each photo.


Cast-On ~ May Sockdown

The May challenge for Sockdown Ravelry is to knit a fair-isle pattern. It was difficult narrowing down a pattern but I finally decided on the Windowpane Socks in the summer Interweave Knits magazine. The pattern is designed by Chrissy Gardiner.

I received this lovely Cherry Tree Hill Supersock yarn from my daughter for Christmas. The colorway is one I had requested, Fall Foliage. It was much brighter than I thought it would be. I believe the bright colors will be toned down significantly by knitting it alongside the charcoal gray yarn. At least, I hope the colors will be toned down! I'm no stranger to knitting fair isle patterns; however, knitting fair-isle with double point needles is something I have not yet tried. I knit with both hands typically carrying the background color in my right hand. Having to reposition the thread at the end of each teeny dpn is making my fingers tire sooner than they would have had this been a fair isle sweater. I keep telling myself to persevere for I really love Chrissy's pattern and think these will look great!


Paris Night One Row Scarf

How long is long enough? How long should a scarf be? I am curious to discover how long you make YOUR scarves. The Yarn Harlot's One Row Scarf is between 59-61" long which, when I arrived at that length, seemed a bit on the short side.

This pattern was a mindless knit and perfect for listening to lectures on my Nano. I chose it because both sides of the scarf look the same, there does not appear to be a 'wrong' side or a 'right' side. The yarn, Malabrigo, is simply heavenly to knit with. It lives up to claim to fame of being as 'soft as butter' and it now rises to the top of my worsted weight yarn list as being an all-time favorite.

So, please tell me, what is your favorite scarf length?


CADIZ ~ Spain's Gateway to the Atlantic

Buenos Dias, Cadiz!

When Don and I awoke the morning we were to arrive in Spain, the ship had already docked and we witnessed a beautiful sunrise over Cadiz. We would not be spending the day in Cadiz having booked a shore excursion to Seville, Spain. Seville was about an hour and a half away. The buses were lined up waiting for us to disembark.

Sevilla was lovely! The day was beautiful with glorious sunshine and temperatures in the upper sixties. I had planned three tours in Seville. The first would be a walking tour of Barrio Santa Cruz, a once-thriving Sevilla Jewish Quarter. Then, I had planned to tour the Alcazar, palace of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Lastly, I wanted to tour the Cathedral next to the Alcazar knowing that many famous masterpieces were within. Unfortunately, we ran out of time and did not get to see the Cathedral except from the outside.

Will you now come with me on a walking tour of the Barrio Santa Cruz? You can click the descriptions under the mosaic or you can follow the link to my Barrio Santa Cruz set on Flickr.



Welcome to Funchal, Portugal

Ola, Funchal!

The city of Funchal is named after the fennel which grows on the island. Funchal is the capital of Madeira. The island was discovered in 1419 by Portuguese explorers sent by Prince Henry the Navigator. Madeira's geographical position allowed her to play a pivotal role in European discovery.

Seamen such as Christopher Columbus gained knowledge and experience plying the routes of the island's sugar trade. Christopher Columbus not only decided to stay on the island for a while, but also married Felipa Moniz. After his wife's death, he moved back to Spain with his son. His travels to other places would follow.

Madeira served as a vacation spot for British soldiers and civilians on their way back from India. The island lies on the Gulf Stream, making its climate pleasantly subtropical.

Madeira wine is world famous and there are several different kinds. Don and I tasted some of them in one of the Farmer's Market shops. My favorite was the sweetest of the four types, Malmsey. Boal is a semi sweet dessert wine. Verdelho is a medium dry wine and Sercial is the driest wine and rather like sherry. Do any of you have favorites amongst these?

Another thing the town is known for is it's lovely cutwork hand embroidery. I dragged Don to the Embroidery Museum having done some lacework for my daughters' when they were young girls. I found it fascinating to see old photographs of ladies working in the local embroidery factory. Most of the cutwork lace items were dated from 1860-1918. I wasn't allowed to take photographs so have none to share with you.

I'm not sure how much I like displaying my photos in this slide show. Do you like the mosaic better or the slideshow? If you prefer stationary pictures with descriptions attached you can see them here.

Adeus, Funchal!

Land Ahoy!

Land ahoy! Don and I were more than ready to set foot ashore after six days at sea. The excitement of seeing land after days and days of only seeing ocean was thrilling. It made me appreciate all the more what our ancestors must have felt when it took them several weeks to cross the Atlantic Ocean.

Manuevering into each port was an adventure and we were curious onlookers at each port of call, sometimes rising early in the morning to witness it. This blog post is just to capture the excitement of that part of cruising. My next blog post will be all about the city of Funchal (Madeira) that you see pictured behind me.

1. Land Ahoy!, 2. Love of My Life, 3. Secret Place, 4. Ship Manuevers, 5. Onlooking Hubby, 6. Emerald Princess Anchor, 7. Height Perspective, 8. Portside!, 9. Port Graffiti, 10. Portugese Sea Gulls, 11. Ponta do Pargo, 12. Pirates of the Mediterranean, 13. Walking into Funchal, 14. Don on Emerald Bow, 15. Emerald Princess, 16. Funchal, Portugal


Cast-Off - April Sockdown

I finished my April Ravelry Sockdown Challenge the first day out to sea. Most of the knitting was done on the plane trip down to Ft. Lauderdale. I had finished the first sock prior to leaving. I took my bright pink sock bag with me all over the ship and everytime we went to the Princess Theatre to wait for entertainment to begin or to wait for a movie to start I had a sock to work on. (Note to self: next time don't bring a bright pink sock bag, bring something that looks like less inconspicuous). Knitting socks attracted much positive attention from fellow shipmates who were fascinated. I met a few ladies who had knit Red Cross Socks during WWII - imagine that! And, I sat next to a lady one night who used to knit argyle socks for her men many years ago.

Isn't it always a pleasant surprise to discover that knitting transcends generational barriers, political barriers, religious barriers and race barriers? It warms my heart that our love of knitting bonds us despite all our other differences. Taking photographs when at sea posed a bit of a challenge for me. The ship was in a continuously state of motion and even in the calmest stretches there were still vibrations. Consequently, the following photo shots are blurred a bit - sorry about that!

Pattern: Cascading Leaves by Jeanie Townsend

Yarn: Shibui Knits in Wasabi

Needle Size: 2.25 HiyaHiya circulars

Modifications: none
I discovered something new about the naming of this sock color one night as I was in a buffet dinner line. There was a bowl of bright green sauce the very same color as my socks and it was labeled 'Wasabi'. I asked the chef to explain to me what wasabi was and he informed me that it was similar to horseradish sauce. Isn't that a hoot? I'm sure the people around me were astounded by my excitement over a sauce!


Mediterranean Cruise ~ Sea Days

We spent eight days at sea total - six to cross the Atlantic Ocean, two en route to ports of call. They were days of relaxation. At first I was a little nervous about being out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean but knowing that there was a mini hospital on board helped alot. I really did not get antsy for land until the fifth day at sea. On the sixth day I was more than ready to get off the ship and walk on land. There are many things to do on board a ship this size. The Emerald Princess is definitely one of my favorite ships so far - it's beautiful! We ended up doing the same old things we always do - exercise, read, knit (me) and go to the musical productions and other shows. We saw several movies and one was at the Theater Under the Stars. It was pretty nippy so we only did that one night.

I exercised every day in the enormous spa/gym. There were no less than 24 treadmills equipped with televisions so I timed my exercising to the 'movies' I wanted to watch. I tried to do 5K each session and the movies made it go faster. It was great!

I took my knitting with me to all the shows and knit while waiting for them to start. I also took it on the bus tours in Italy because Rome and Florence were 1.5 hours from port. Don and I also found a special place on the ship that we liked to go sit and listen to our downloaded books so I had knitting in tow for those occasions. I'm really glad that I ended up taking socks to knit on. They were very portable.

If you want to take a closer look at the pictures you will need to click the links below the mosaic.

1. Navigation Deck, 2. Cascading Leaves Socks, 3. Piazza Elevator, 4. Piazza Stairs, 5. Botticelli Dining, 6. Listening to Books, 7. Chameleon Socks, 8. Tucked In, 9. Patter News, 10. Self Photo, 11. Knitting in the Piazza, 12. Got yarn. Ready for Italy., 13. Enjoying the Piazza, 14. My Italian Yarn, 15. Exercise, A Must, 16. Any land out there?


Digital Photography School - Converging Lines Assignment

I am far behind on many things, including my Digital Photography School assignments. Instead of trying to get caught up I'm going to jump right in with this week's assignment on CONVERGING LINES.

Many photographers look for and like to incorporate converging lines in their shots. When you add numerous lines that come together, or close together, you have a tool to lead your viewer's eye into a shot.

I'm not sure my shots are the greatest example of converging lines since I am in the learning stages but here are a few shots that I have submitted for the assignment.

The following shot was taken at the Alcazar in Seville, Spain. I think the grid lines of the pavement guide the viewer's eye to the hedge and then to the arched gateway into the Alcazar courtyard. I also think the converging lines of the walls in the top left corner of the shot guide the eye to the white doorway.

My second converging line shot is of a street in the Santa Cruz district of Seville. Don and I got lost as we were following a walking tour of this beautiful area of the city. The streets were like mazes. In this shot I focused on the foreground having my lines converge there. I blurred the background to give the air of confusion - is this where we are coming from or going to?

The following converging line shot is of a stairway in Cagliari, Italy. The stairs along with the parallel fence and railing channel your eyes up the stairs and to the couple who have just climbed all those steps.

My last converging line shot is of a street in Rome. Our tourguide informed us that many of the oldest streets in Rome are from the Roman Empire days and are shaped in ampitheatre (semi-circular) style. That was a classic Roman shape and is found throughout Rome. I love this photograph and think the parallel curved shapes almost converge in the background and make this little street seem truly curved as it actually was.


Mediterranean Cruise ~ Day 1

It took six days to cross the Atlantic Ocean by ship and twenty-four hours to cross it by plane. I'm home from my relaxing cruise suffering from serious jet-lag. Crossing nine time zones is rough on the body no matter what side of the Atlantic you do it on.

I want to share my adventure with you this next week through photo mosaics. I decided this would be the least boring way for some of you who do not want to be inundated by countless photographs. I took over a thousand photographs on this trip!

If you click the links under the mosaic the photograph will be enlarged and you can read my comments about the photograph.
1. Ft. Lauderdale Airport, 2. Last Arrivals, 3. Plane Knitting, 4. Lido 311, 5. Where is the food?, 6. Destination Europe Sailaway Party, 7. Bon Voyage Drink, 8. Bon Voyage Drink, 9. Sail Away! Sail Away!, 10. Leaving Port Everglades, 11. Muster Station, 12. Lido Deck Sanctuary Area, 13. Seafood Extravaganda Buffet, 14. Piazza Staircase, 15. Lido Deck

Created with fd's Flickr Toys.