Crossing west to east in the Mediterranean with 11 port visits in Spain, Italy and Greece.
Malaga is the major coastal city of Andalucia and is a genuine and typical Andaluz city with a gritty individualism untouched by tourism and, to a large extent, the passage of time. The Moors occupied the city until the mid-15th century, after which it grew to become one of the foremost merchant centers in the entire Iberian Peninsula. This illustrious past has left its imprint on the historic center, particularly around La Alcazaba, a fortress which dates back to 1065 and is now a fascinating archaeological museum. Also worth a visit is the nearby castle which was rebuilt by the Moors and is today a traditional parador (state hotel) with superb panoramic views.
During the nineteenth century, Malaga was a popular winter resort for the wealthy famed for its elegance and sophistication. The impressive park on Calle Alameda dates back to this era and is recognized as being one of the most celebrated botanical collections in Europe. Pablo Picasso is the city’s famous son, and there are several galleries showing his work, including the 16th century Museum of Fine Arts, adjacent to the Cathedral. His birthplace in Plaza Merced is today an archive of his life and works and open to the public - free of charge. Málaga's main theater is the Theatro Cervantes, where Antonio Banderas still visits.
As well as being a cultural center, Malaga is also a great place to eat out. The Malagueños love their food and the bars and restaurants here are where the real social life takes place. The choice is unlimited and, on the whole, reasonable, with some bars offering a menu of the day with bread and wine for as little as 700 pesetas. Tapas, small portions of many different dishes is an Andalusian tradition and a wonderfully inexpensive way to try a variety of local food. The best known local fare in Malaga is pescaito frito, an assortment of fried fish, including small sardines and red mullet, best washed down with a glass of ice cold fino at one of the many old fashioned bodegas in town. But it is El Palo, to the east of the city which is a typical fisherman’s village and the place to go if you want that veritable ‘catch of the day’ freshness. Try a tapas and a glass of Malaga wine at Malaga's oldest tapas bar called 'Antigua Casa de la Guardia'. Keep to the north side of the Alameda and find no. 16. Malaga is always closed for the siesta period, so this is a perfect time for a long relaxing lunch.
These days, Malaga prides itself on being a modern city with the heart of commerce dominated by Calle Larios which is the local Bond Street equivalent. This is the recommended place to start exploring the city as it is surrounded by attractive small streets and plazas, as well as the magnificent Renaissance cathedral which offers daily guided tours. Garden lovers won't be disappointed in Malaga either. In the center of the city is the beautiful Alameda Gardens, and just outside on the way to Antequera one finds the extensive Jardines de la Concepcion. Málaga airport is one of the major airports in Spain due to the number of tourist arrivals on charter flights from Northern Europe using Malaga airport as a gateway to the Costa del Sol.
Located on the southeast coast of Spain in a beautiful bay, Almeria was once a thriving Moorish capital said to rival Granada in splendor. It has a 10th-century Moorish castle, the Alcazaba, which is the best remaining example of Moorish military building.
Other sights of interest include a fortified cathedral, built in the 1500´s when pirates terrorized this coast. Also of note is Almeria´s cave quarter, the Barrio de la Chanca.
The Almeria area has many beaches, castles, and quaint villages. For beach lovers, warm weather comes even earlier here than in the rest of mainland Spain, so Almeria should be considered for early or late season beach trips.
While in the Almeria province, also consider visiting the Tabernas Desert, which was used for a number of the ¨spaghetti western¨ movies as well as the film ¨Lawrence of Arabia.¨ Some of the old film sets still remain.
Cartagena is a Mediterranean port city and naval station in the southeast of the Iberian Peninsula. As far back as the sixteenth century it was one of the most important naval ports in Spain. It is a walled town and has a fine harbour defended by forts.
Cartagena has many archaeologic sites. Ruins identified as a temple to Melqart have been uncovered. Throughout the old centre you can find museums with remains of Roman buildings.
Ibiza City, Ibiza, Spain
Ibiza Town, the largest city on the island for those who really want to know and partake in some of the Worlds best – hotels, clubs, restaurants. You won’t be alone as it’s also a hotspot for international celebrities. Beaches are just a ten minute stroll away! – Ibiza Town isn’t short on offerings, by day or night. Taking the best of the Mediterranean and mixing it effortlessly with chic, chilled and super club, for many it is the place to know.
Smaller and quieter than its neighbor Mallorca , Menorca is the second largest of the Balearic islands. Situated just 21 miles from Mallorca , the island of Menorca has many family-friendly resorts and almost as many beaches as Mallorca and Ibiza combined. Peaceful holiday resorts line the south coast of Menorca and a string of quiet fishing villages are along the island s rougher northern shore. There are plenty of tourism and tourist information offices situated in the towns of Menorca , providing current information about local Menorca tourist attractions, beaches, museums, local events and festivals, sightseeing and general Menorca tourist information.
Gozo, Malta is a small island of the Maltese archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. The island is part of the Southern European country of Malta; after the island of Malta itself, it is the second-largest island in the archipelago. Compared to its southeastern neighbor, Gozo is more rural and known for its scenic hills, which are featured on its coat of arms.
Valletta, Jean de la Valette, French Grand Master of the Order of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, built the capital after the epic siege of 1565. It dominates, in one wide sweep, the Island's historic Grand Harbour - one of the finest natural ports in Europe. Within its limited boundaries, the city reflects some of Malta's rich heritage of archaeology, history, architecture, art and culture.
The more important collections covering Maltese archaeology are housed in the Auberge de Provence, Valletta, one of the Inns of the Knights of St John. Collections of prehistoric pottery, sculpture, statuettes, stone implements and personal ornaments recovered from the Maltese megalithic temples and other pre-historic sites are exhibited. Typical examples of tomb furniture of the Punic and Roman periods are also displayed. After two years of refurbishment, the Museum now boasts new
The National Museum of Fine Arts, located in an 18th century palace, houses paintings, sculptures, furniture and other exhibits connected with the Order of St John. Works by Domenico di Michelino, Carpaccio, Perugino, Tintoretto, Reni, Valentin, Mathias Stomer, Preti, Tiepolo, Favray and Vernet are permanently displayed.
St. John's Co-Cathedral and Museum, formerly the Conventual Church of the Order, is historically and artistically one of the most important monuments on the island. It was built between 1573 and 1577 to the design of Gerolamo Cassar (1520-1586), chief engineer of the Order. The "Beheading of St John", Caravaggio's masterpiece, hangs in the Oratory. The museum houses a unique collection of Flemish tapestries, silver objects and church vestments.
Malta has beaches for everyone, from windsurfers to sun loungers. Choose from golden sand, red sand, rocks, blue lagoons and even inland seas. There are family beaches, rocky inlets ideal for snorkellers, and beach sunsets for twilight swimmers. On larger beaches, you’ll find cafes, fruit stalls or snack bars open during the season. With Malta’s climate, beach life lasts well into October. Enjoy water sports and activities like windsurfing, jet and water skiing, and para-kiting. You can hire equipment from beach cafes or shops nearby.
Siracusa, Sicily, Italy
Located near the southeastern corner of Sicily on the Ionian coast, Siracusa (Syracuse) is built on an ancient Greek settlement founded by Corinthians in 734 BC. More than any other modern city in Sicily, Syracuse manifests a visible continuity from its ancient Greek past, both historical and mythological. Its older quarter is an island, Ortegia (or Ortygia, from the Greek for "quail," probably named for that bird's abundance in this area). Ortegia is known for, among many other things, the freshwater Spring of Arethusa. When Artemis changed Arethusa into a spring of water to escape the river god Alpheus, it was here that the transformed maiden emerged. On a more factual note, Syracuse was the city of Archimedes, Pindar and Aeschylus. It was the most important city in Magna Graecia, with a population of around 300,000, and for a time rivaled Athens as the most important city of the Greek world.
Athens, Carthage, Rome. These were the only three cities of the ancient Mediterranean world to challenge the power and prosperity of Syracuse during its Golden Age. Though it was an important city from the time of its foundation, Syracuse flourished unhindered after Hieron's victory (with the help of the Agrigentans) over the Carthaginians at Himera, near present-day Termini Imerese, in 480 BC, and soon became the most important Greek city in Sicily, both economically and politically. It would not be overzealous to say that the history of Hellenistic Sicily is largely the history of Syracuse.
Pylos is a large bay and a town on the west coast of the Peloponnese, in the district of Messenia in southern Greece. It is the capital of Pylia Province. The town of Pylos has 2,561 inhabitants, the municipality of Pylos 5,402 in 2001.
Old Pylos and New Pylos are distinct settlements and castles, several miles apart. Old Pylos is located on the northwest of the bay, while New Pylos is located in the southeast.
Monemvasia is located on a small peninsula off the east coast of the Peloponnese in the Greek prefecture of Laconia. The peninsula is linked to the mainland by a short causeway 650 feet in length. Its area consists mostly of a large plateau some 325 feet above sea level, up to 950 feet wide, the site of a powerful medieval fortress. The town walls and many Byzantine churches remain from the medieval period.
The town's name derives from two Greek words, mone and emvasia, meaning "single entrance". Its Italian form, Malvasia, gave its name to Malmsey wine. Monemvasia's nickname is the Gibraltar of the East or The Rock.
It looks barren and rocky, but the narrow harbor of Hydra hides a surprise, a town of stately mansions all built around 1800 by blockade runners who had made fortunes outwitting the British during the Napoleonic Wars. Many of Hydra's merchants were also celebrated naval heroes during the Greek fight for independence from Turkey in the 1820s. Another surprise is that there are no cars, so if you want to see the spectacular view from the Monastery of Ilias you'll have to ride a donkey to the top.
The Piraeus is the ancient port of Athens and still functions as the chief exit point from the city by sea for destinations amongst the Aegean Islands and elsewhere in the east Mediterranean. Domestic destinations include all of the Aegean islands except the Sporades and some smaller Cyclades and Dodecanese isles that require a connection. International destinations (apart from cruise ships) include Cyprus and the Middle East.