On a Reflection

I will not leave South Africa, nor will I surrender. Only through hardship, sacrifice and militant action can freedom be won. The struggle is my life. I will continue fighting for freedom until the end of my days. (Nelson Mandela, statesman)

South Africa never leaves one indifferent. Its history, its population, its landscapes and cultures – all speak to the visitor, to the student, to the friend of Africa. (Tariq Ramadan, writer)

South Africa has all the tools to compete in the new global village – an eager workforce, ready to take on any challenge. (Tom Peters, business leader)

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness. (Desmond Tutu, religious leader)

Nelson Mandela will always be the face of South Africa. The traveler passing through the country will see Mandela’s face almost everywhere he looks. Truly, the man is omnipresent. (Henry Rollins, musician)

If there are dreams about a beautiful South Africa, there are also roads that lead to their goal. Two of these roads could be named Goodness and Forgiveness. (Nelson Mandela, statesman)

Enjoy this reflection by a photographer of a man and a place.

On Exploring an Unexpected Place

Ljubljana, Slovenia is a place on my bucket list.

I know the thoughts racing through the mind of most readers right now …. “Ljubljana, Slovenia? Where’s that? How does one say that place? What the heck is he thinking?” (Was I close?)

First the pronunciation – lyoo-BLYAH-nah. I even discovered that the Italians and Spanish simply say (and write) Lubiana, which I find helpful.

Slovenia is a small country that was part of Austria-Hungary (WW I), part of Yugoslavia after WW II, and part of Italy for 27 years between the two World Wars. It became independent in 1991, and has been part of the EU and NATO since 2004.

It has a small coastline along the northeastern Adriatic Sea, and those who remember my background note that Slovenia is very close (a few miles/kilometers) to my birthplace – Trieste, Italy – so I’ve seen Slovenia in the distance, but haven’t visited.

I recall watching a feature on a Slovenian skier from Ljubljana during the Sochi Winter Olympics, and a Rick Steves episode expanded my attraction for Ljubljana. Yep, I’ve even researched how to get from Trieste to Ljubljana by train – so it’s time to pass along this hidden secret to others. FYI: Trains don’t connect the two cities, but I discovered the way.

Enjoy this short tourism video. For those wanting to do see the Rick Steves episode, here it is. What do you think? Ready to join an aFa tour group?

On the Rest of the Journey

This post is a synopsis of the rest of our trip. Previous post provided info about the most prominent stops. Not that the remaining stops don’t merit their own post, but I don’t want to drone on about this trip.

SpainCruiseShip

Gibraltar (UK)
I thought Gibraltar was a small peninsula with a big rock at it’s point. Wow, was I ever wrong because it’s primarily a rock with 30,000 people living around it’s base. We walked from the dock to the tram (which took us to the top), then we walked down, and back to the ship. Of all our days on this trip, this was our highest count of walking steps – 24,500+.

Gibraltar Whole Rock

Caves, tunnels, views, and monkeys entertained us on the way down. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of the airport with a main road crossing the runways, so see this 1-minute video. The return trip through the strait was at night … and with city lights on each side of the ship, one can tell Africa and Gibraltar are closer than one may think.

Montserrat
We visited Montserrat while in Barcelona. Located about 30 minutes outside the city, it’s a monastery located at the top of the Serrated Mountains. Within the altar is the Black Madonna. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to experience the stunning views because of the lingering fog – but we are glad we went. Because of the fog, here’s a link to a Google Images search to accompany mine.


Cadiz
Cadiz (KA diz) is the closest port to Seville (Sevilla), but getting there is a 2-hour trip in each direction. Given we were only in port 8-5, we first visited Jerez (the next section), then spent the afternoon in the Cadiz’s Old City. To me, Cadiz was the most unexpected surprise of the trip. The Old City was vibrant, and a grand cathedral serves as its hub. Thumbs up!


Jerez de la Frontera (Jerez)
From Cadiz, we took a ship’s tour to Jerez, a 20-minute ride from the port. Walking through it’s main square and past the Alcazar castle of the Moors, the focus of our tour was the Gonzalez Byass Bodegas that produces sherry (wine). We loved both the tour and the sherry samples.


Cartagena
Founded in 227 BC by the Carthaginians, today’s Cartagena is a small city for 200,000+ nestled in a small bay flanked by 5 mountains. The dock is close, so we strolled the streets to the Roman theater, the old bullring, the waterfront, and to the Castillo de la Concepcion for panoramic views of the city.


Palma de Mallorca
Palma de Mallorca, the largest city and capital of the Balearic Islands, was our first stop after leaving Barcelona. It was a Sunday, so many stores were closed and the local free walking tour we wanted wasn’t available. The weather was beautiful, so we made the best of what we could without a map.


Although more posts about this trip may appear over time, the links to past posts from the rest of the cruise are below.

Lisbon Sun Effect

On Exploring Mpumalanga

Nature always wears the colors of the spirit. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. (Albert Einstein)

There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more. (Lord Byron)

If there are dreams about a beautiful South Africa, there are also roads that lead to their goal. Two of these roads could be named Goodness and Forgiveness. (Nelson Mandela)

Mpumalanga, meaning the place where the sun rises, is a province in northeastern South Africa. It’s rivers, mountains, canyons, grasslands, forests, and more are part of nature’s inspiration. Although this name is new to me, I am familiar with Kruger National Park (one of the gems of this region). Upon discovering this video, I knew it was a must use.

I’ve never been to South Africa, but Bulldog, Sylvia, and others have shared touches of its beauty – but it seems to offer much more. Meanwhile, enjoy exploring Mpumalanga.

For more, enjoy this photo gallery at the Mpumalanga tourism site.