Siracusa, Sicily, November 21, 2016

Today we begin our road trip from Marina di Ragusa to Siracusa, on the southeast side of Sicily on the Ionian Sea.  Noted for its Greek history, culture and architecture, it was founded 2700 years ago by ancient Greek Corinthians and Teneans, when it was one of the major powers of the Mediterranean.  It is the birthplace of Archimedes, an early mathematician and engineer.  It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one can often see Mount Etna in the distance.  Above is the Fountain of Diana in the Piazza Archimede. Above and below is the Cathedral of Siracusa, (Duomo of Siracusa), whose structure is originally a Greek Doric temple, built in the 5th century as the Temple of Athena.  The battered Doric coumns were incorporated into the walls of the current church.  It is now  designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Above and below is the Tempio di Apollo, Temple of Apollo, dating to 6th century BC, therefore the most ancient Doric temple in Sicily. Above and below are pics of one of our favorite open markets!  You can obtain lots of good things here!!  Below is part of a large swordfish! We then walked to the Greek Theatre of Siracusa, built in 5th century BC.   Then to the Ear of Dionysius, a limestone cave carved out of a hill in Siracusa with a similar shape to the human ear, and extremely good acoustics!  It is 23 meters high and was used for water storage. Above and below are pictures of the limestone walls around the Archaeological Park Neapolis near the Greek Theatre.    Above and below is the Basilica Santuario Madonna Delle LaCrime (Sanctuary of Our Lady of Tears).  The Sanctuary was opened in 1994 by John Paul II, in memory of the miraculous tears generated from a small effigy of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (see below).

We then walked over to the Regional Archaeological Museum

One of our favorite places in Sicily!


Marina di Ragusa, Sicily, Italy November 2016

Marina di Ragusa is our winter home for Orontes II.  We are part of a very friendly sailing community here and they have made us feel very welcome!!  We have shared ideas, where-to-shop or explore recommendations, boat tools or suggestions, happy hours, activities and fun times!  This is a great place!  Above the white board is our passerelle, our “bridge” to the dock to get off the boat in our stern-to docking, which is also called Med mooring.  Below, looking east from the marina along the seaside boardwalk.  Great place to walk the beach but water is COOL!! Above is the Catholic church we attend every Sunday, we are in Marina di Ragusa.  They have a very active Scout program for girls and boys, so mass is usually standing room only.  Below, the piazza which is the main gathering place! One of our full moon nights!  Some guys giving us a concert from their boat with our dock side seats!! An enjoyable place for sure!!  We have felt safe and blessed to be here!

Mallorca, October 25, 2016

Walking in Palma, checking out the sights on our way from the marina to the Cathedral! Above are fishing nets airing out near the marina walkways! The Royal Palace of La Almudaina (Palacio Real de la Almudaina Palma), is positioned in front of the Palma Cathedral, where the yellow flag is flying.  Built as an Arabian fort, used by the crown as an official royal residence since the 14th century. Palma Cathedral, below, also called “La Seu”, was started in 1229, completed 1601, in Catalan Gothic style.  It is 121 meters (400 ft) long, 55 meters (180 ft) wide and its nave is 44 meters  (144 ft) tall, second in height to Saint-Pierre de Beauvais, the highest of all Gothic cathedrals, but Palma is taller than Notre Dame!   Above and below are Convent of Santa Clara. Above is Church of Saint  Eulalia of Palma (Esglesia de Santa Eularia) and below is Placa de Santa Eulalia. Above is Bellver Castle.


Mallorca, October 22-24, 2016

Sailed over to Palma de Mallorca, resort city (with resort prices), and capital of the Spanish island of Mallorca, 12th largest urban area of Spain with 401,000.  Below is Palma Cathedral, lit up at night, as seen from our marina! Walking the streets of Palma!   Below, Nagoya restaurant brought back memories of our great trip to the REAL Nagoya, Japan in 2000!!     Flour windmills, from the 16th-19th centuries, are symbolic features of the Balearic Islands of Spain, representing prosperity and engineering acumen, and maintained for tourism. Above, another view of Palma Cathedral!                                                                     Below we spent a very enjoyable evening on Orontes II, with our nephew-in-law (?), John Jose, who is living in Palma, teaching English as a second language.The next day, we enjoyed mass at Parroquia Immaculada Concepcio, Church of the Immaculate Conception, also called Saint Magi.

Saidia Marina with friends, Morocco, October 17-18, 2016

Sailing east along the coast of Morocco, next stop is Saidia, near the Algerian border.  This will be our stopping off point before we head to Mallorca, Spain.  The marina was built with lots of developments and shopping areas, but didn’t look like it was really successful!  Maybe it does better during high vacation seasons! Had a great visit with fellow cruisers for happy hour on our boat!  Their little girl loved watching a movie while the adults visited!  They took us to a wonderful seafood restaurant on Sunday for a great meal!


Marina Smir, Morocco, October 11, 2016

Today we took a taxi from the marina to Tetouan, Morocco.  One of Steve’s favorite stories is riding along with our driver and tour guide in the front seat.  When the phone rings, the driver talks in Arabic for a few minutes and then turns to Steve and says “It’s for you!”  We were dumbfounded!!  Turns out the caller just wanted to get us to reserve a taxi with him tomorrow for another tour!!  LOL! Arrival in Tetouan, one of the 2 major ports on the Mediterranean Sea, 40 miles ESE of Tangier, with about 380,000 inhabitants.  Arabic is the official language, majority religion is Islam.  

The tanneries here turn the hides of cattle, sheep and goats into rich leather, which is crafted into handbags, luggage, shoes, belts, etc.  Yes, there is an overwhelming stench! Views from the upper walls before we got to the markets.  The medina (old town) is on the World Heritage List of UNESCO, filled with homes, craftsman selling their wares and lots of tourists!   Here you can pick the chicken you want for dinner tonight and have it killed and plucked here or take it home to do yourself (below)! Then we walked and drove around the city! Then back to the marina area! A very interesting day!  AND NO, we do not speak any Arabic!


Sail to Morocco, October 10, 2016

Today we crossed the Straits of Gibraltar over to Morocco, to Marina Smir.  Every 18 months, we must leave EU countries to avoid paying VAT (Value Added Taxes) on our boat, so Morocco is a convenient stop to do this on our way further into the Mediterranean! Good bye Rock of Gibraltar and Europa Point Lighthouse!  Hello, Africa!!!