May 2019 EBTA - Taking the Magic eastbound across the Atlantic (and bonus non-DCL Mediterranean cruise!) - Update 9/18

  • lilsonicfan

    <font color=teal>The TF knows Canada VERY well!!<b
    Joined
    Jan 20, 2003
    Day 10 - Lisbon!
    Port time: 10am to 4:45pm
    (reminder: DCL's 'all aboard' time of 4:45pm is indeed when you have to be on board, not 30 minutes before)

    Still super busy at work these days so here's a mini update for this thread... the approach to Lisbon!

    I had read that sailing into Lisbon is beautiful and picturesque, so I got myself up early (I *think* around 7am) to go up to the top decks to take some pictures. Obviously, I wasn't the only one with this idea and I feel like I got a tiny taste of what it would be like on Panama Canal day should I ever get to sail the EBPC or WBPC.

    As you sail in down the Tagus River (I think) you get views like this to the port side:


    Most people are there to see the famed 25th of April bridge, which is an iconic bridge in part because of its resemblance to the Golden Gate bridge. I read that it was constructed by a company who built the SF-Oakland bridge, not the Golden Gate, but it does look very similar.


    Getting closer to Europe's longest suspension bridge (also, this is me basically leaning way over the port side on deck 9, or maybe it was deck 10)


    On the port side you can see the Belem district (more later in my pics) - that structure in the middle is the Monument to the Discoveries which honours the Portuguese era of discoveries and exploration in the 15th/16th centuries.





    And the Tower of Belem, a fortress built for protection and being the 'gateway' to Lisbon:


    Getting closer to sailing under it:


    The best part of sailing under the 25th of April bridge is that the ship blows its horn just as we are going underneath. I have a video somewhere of this, but it's not a great one because even though I knew they were going to blow the horn (either from reading before, or from hearing the announcement on deck, can't remember) it was still so loud that I jumped out of my skin when it happened... haha.

    And we are through!


    What a gorgeous city! These next two pics I took from our stateroom (deck 2):


    Lisbon is often referred to as the city of 7 hills, it is indeed quite hilly:


    In my next post, whenever that happens, I will tell you what we did in Lisbon :)
     

    lilsonicfan

    <font color=teal>The TF knows Canada VERY well!!<b
    Joined
    Jan 20, 2003
    Day 10 - Lisbon continued

    I mentioned this already but I am not a big fan of ship excursions. With five of us, the cost adds up quickly. The only tour I was interested in with DCL was a tuk tuk tour which DCL offers here - but at basically $750 USD for five of us - it was a little crazy. Note, you can very likely arrange your own tuk tuk tour for far less. In fact, if you go with the company Eco Tuk Tours it is something like 240 Euros (~$265 USD) for 5 people for 4 hours.

    I considered a plan of exploring Lisbon on our own using public transit, etc. I think if it were just DH and me, this would have been a good plan. But with the kids, I wasn't convinced I could pull this off. Maybe for our next cruise I'll be more adventurous!

    In any event, ultimately I decided that I'd like to do something a tad different. I found some interesting tours through Viator. One that I found was called the Real Lisbon Street Art tour, and I ended up researching this and finding the company that actually runs this tour, they are called Estrela d'Alva ('morning star'). I was able to contact them directly to arrange a more customized and longer tour. We agreed on a tour of 6 hours where they would pick us up at the cruise port at 10am and drop us off at 4pm in a minivan for just the five of us, and we would combine the street art tour with a mix of a city tour and Belem district tour. Total cost: 225 Euros. Not far off the cost of a DCL tour of "city highlights" but longer in duration, and private!

    We started out by meeting our guide, Pedro, right at the cruise port. The Lisbon cruise terminal building is huge, and there is a very large waiting area in the port. A ton of vendors are there soliciting business, and it did take us a few minutes to find Pedro, but I think that was because he arrived slightly after 10am and we arrived a little earlier than expected.

    Pro Tip reminder: Buying a European SIM ahead of time can be so useful! We managed to Whatsapp with most of our vendors if we couldn't find them :)

    Here's the van in which he came to meet us, the artwork is done by Vanessa Teodoro, a local street artist in Lisbon. Her work is very much graphic shapes mixed with bold/contrasting colours. Oh, I found her website!



    I chose this tour in part because it seems to me that in a city where street art/graffiti is legal (within bounds), there's a neat opportunity to learn something about the political and social commentary.

    First art we saw - this very cool mural of Poseidon looking over the sea, I really like how it's a portrait layered over more classic 'graffiti'. Done by PichiAvo, a duo.



    I really, really like this one, done as a collaboration between Portuguese artist Vhils and American artist OBEY (Shepard Fairey). We were told that Vhils' work is mostly (or all?) done by carving directly into the walls. I understand this is a portrait of a Muslim woman with her face covered on the left side but her full face shown on the right.



    Seen along the way, gorgeous tile work again characteristic of Portugal:


    We saw a few pieces done by the artist Bordalo II, who has assembled many depictions of animals using essentially trash. We were told that this is in part the artist's take on the environmental impact that human actions have on animals. This one was originally a monkey but is now being made into an elephant.


    Another one - mostly metals and plastics used:



    At this point and after driving around a bit, Pedro asked if we would mind if he "took a coffee" - which is such a great phrase. Of course we did not so we wandered into a little restaurant and we bought three espressos with milk and a fizzy drink for the kids, all for about 3 euros.




    This restaurant seemed to have a little of everything:





    Yum, prosciutto... and wine poached pears at the bottom shelf:



    Then we were off to explore more of the city's art.
     
  • BadPinkTink

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 13, 2015
    love the photos of Lisbon, Im planning to do a Hop On Hop Off bus tour when I visit in November. Did you manage to try the Portuguese Custard Tarts, they are really yummy. The conference I go to is at Altice Arena. Last year I didnt have much time outside the conference and just had lunch at Hard Rock Cafe and wandered around that area.

    The public transport is easy to use in Lisbon, I used the underground every day last year, from the airport, to and from the conference and to do the little bit of sightseeing. I think it cost me €30 for a 5 day bus and underground pass.
     

    lilsonicfan

    <font color=teal>The TF knows Canada VERY well!!<b
    Joined
    Jan 20, 2003
    Day 10 continued

    We continued our tour of Lisbon by driving to the next set of artwork Pedro wanted us to see.

    I love these purple flowering trees found all over Portugal and Spain. They are called Jacaranda trees. Purple is my favourite colour.


    Were you perhaps curious how Avengers translates into Portuguese?


    Some street art that was commissioned to honour the year of the woman (I may have that slightly wrong, I can't remember)









    Then Pedro asked if we would mind stopping briefly as he wanted to see if he could meet up with Vanessa Teodoro, the artist who designed the artwork of the van we were in. So we went off on a jaunt to find her; she was working on artwork on a pedestrian bridge somewhere in Lisbon; Pedro had a vague idea of where but we weren't exactly certain. It was quite fun just to walk around like locals.

    Eventually we found her, but apparently I only took terrible pics of her, whoops. Anyway, here's the really cool bridge she was working on:










    Really cool to see this bridge get transformed, and Vanessa was super friendly even though she had been working very long hours to get this project done.

    We decided to stop somewhere for lunch, and so Pedro found us a restaurant right below the pedestrian bridge:


    and he also ordered for us which was very helpful as the menu was entirely in Portuguese. He went back to retrieve the van. Inside, I spotted these:



    Universally popular, that Mickey!

    We ate outside to enjoy the nice weather and here's what we got. Everything was yummy although I'm not the biggest bean fan. My kids love rice so we ended up getting one more plate of the beef, rice and potato chips (soooo good).


    After lunch, Pedro met us with the van and we went off to tour a bit more of the city's street art and such. On the way we passed by this building (sorry for the drive-by pics)





    This is Lisbon's bullfighting stadium, Campo Pequeno. If you look closely you can see that it has Moorish style designs on the exterior. Pedro told us that bullfighting is still allowed in Lisbon although it is starting to fall out of favour. Apparently it is "less cruel" than in Spain because the bulls are not put down after the fight and may in fact get to "live a life of luxury" after a fight. However, reading between the lines and hearing what may be his true thoughts, I'm guessing that many Portuguese still oppose bullfighting as it is cruel and the idea that the bulls live in luxury afterward is a rumour. I don't know. I gather the building is also used for concerts, which seems a better use!

    This is a very blurry picture but this street art commemorates the 1974 revolution (the bridge that we passed under bearing the name of the date of the uprising); this is the army captain who helped to lead the revolution restoring democracy to Portugal, which for over 30 years prior to 1974 was essentially led by a dictator (Salazar).


    We passed under a historic aqueduct built in the 1700s to bring water to Lisbon:


    More cool street art:







    After this, we decided to venture to the Belem district for some more sightseeing:


    It was a tad windy at the Belem Tower:



    That's a lot of people lining up!!


    Belem is right on the water, as I mentioned earlier.


    Here we are getting right up to the Monument to the Discoveries - it's massive!


    Up close:




    The entire square is just beautiful, with limestone/tile work depicting a map of the world in the time frame of the discoveries (14th century or so, I think) in the centre of a giant wind rose.




    We then ventured close to the Jeronimos Monastery where we considered going in... but the lines again looked pretty long.




    So instead, we decided to hit up one of the day's biggest attractions: Pasteis de Belem. It's already been mentioned by others, but the pasteis de Belem (custard tarts made in Belem) are one of Lisbon's most treasured and talked about food items. Portuguese egg tarts are very, very popular among Asians, probably in part due to Macau and its proximity to Hong Kong, so in Vancouver these are fairly prevalent treats, but I figured nothing could compare to the original treat. The recipe is hundreds of years old, and Pedro told us that Pasteis de Belem sells upwards of 20,000 tarts a day. On their biggest day they sold 100,000! (I think that was during some sort of soccer event).

    Here's where having a private tour was amazing: Pedro dropped us off close, but suggested he could watch the boys so that DH and I could run across the street and join the lineup. Maybe it might sound crazy that we agreed to this, but if you met Pedro you would agree it was very safe :)

    A picture of me at the end of the line (although in this picture I already have my treats!)


    By the way if you have more time, you can sit down in the restaurant as it is quite large inside with many, many seats.

    Pretty tile work inside:


    The line is long but it does move rather quickly. However, it is really chaotic inside and there isn't much time to decide what you want, so be prepared for that.

    And here's what you see on your way in:


    I ended up buying a dozen, which came in two sleeves like this:


    If only I could recreate the smell and taste of this pure deliciousness:


    Gleefully chomping down:


    Okay this post is getting rather long so I will finish off Lisbon in my next post (or so I keep saying).
     

    lilsonicfan

    <font color=teal>The TF knows Canada VERY well!!<b
    Joined
    Jan 20, 2003
    Day 10 continued and ending (I hope)

    After the Pasteis de Belem, which were amazingly delicious and I wish I could have shipped some home, we finished off our tour by driving through a little bit more of Lisbon. Lisbon is a great city from the bit we saw and I'd love to spend more time there, especially in the Alfama district where it seems you can just wander on foot and see a ton, and ride streetcars and funiculars. Maybe next time we are there!

    When we arrived back at the port terminal, some local police were there to greet everyone (handing out slips of paper telling you how to call emergency while in Lisbon) and the kids got to sit in a police car for a pic.


    The Lisbon port terminal had a couple of shops, so we poked around a bit, but didn't really find anything we had to have as a souvenir. It's really great to approach your ship and think "I'm home!!" I believe there was another ship in port that day, a Marella ship if I'm not mistaken.


    On sailaway I snapped this shot of the Christ the King statue. I understand you can go up the statue (?) and there is a viewing platform. That does sound really cool to get an overhead view of the city.



    Tonight our dinner was at Lumiere's and the menu was Captain's Gala. I thought this menu typically coincided with Formal Night .... or even semi-formal night ... but I am not sure it did on this cruise, maybe on longer cruises the timing isn't always the same.





    (I totally just looked at the menu again as if I were ordering and it turns out my tastes haven't changed since May as I would have ordered exactly the same stuff!) Here's what we got.

    Baked eggplant


    Aged prosciutto


    Oysters Rockefeller (not my thing)


    Oven Baked Lobster Tail - I always enjoy lobster, but didn't fully embrace the "sun dried tomato, lemon potato mash".


    We also split this chicken parmesan fettucini (huge advantage to having a party of 5 - ordering a bunch of things on the menu!)


    Can you guess what DS1 chose as a dessert? That's right, Raspberry Vanilla Creme Brulee. Two, of course. And he consumed both (I snagged a bite)


    And here's my chocolate lava cake before the addition of the ice cream:



    We then rolled ourselves out of Lumiere's and we went to the game show at D Lounge: Who wants to be a mouseketeer? This is a great little game show based on "Who wants to be a millionaire". We had so much fun. First of all the cruise entertainment staff were, again, excellent. There was a moment when a girl had a fairly obscure question like "which of these is not an actual disney movie" and the titles were so strange ... she used a 50/50 to eliminate some choices and then tried to poll the audience but no one in the audience really knew either, so the 'votes by applause' were mixed. So then Gus said, "okay, let's try it again. Tell the audience you'll poll them again". And so she did, but this time he ran into the audience and sat down and when the correct answer came up, he applauded and cheered super loudly. Then ran back up to the stage and asked if she had any idea now what the answer might be? So, so cute.

    DS1 got chosen to participate and this was extremely exciting for him. Funny though because my kids aren't really that knowledgeable when it comes to Disney movies, particularly the older movies. Perhaps due to luck, he actually won. (the kid doesn't even know Lady and the Tramp!!) Lol.



    My youngest got this pin during the game.



    Of course, this meant by the end that oldest DS had a mickey head medal and pin, youngest DS had a pin, and middle DS had nothing. He started to look a bit sad and I told him we would get a pin for him next time, but then he was spotted by one of the cruise staff and she magically had one extra pin ... she said to him "okay sir, give me a good handshake" and so he did - and when he withdrew his hand, he had a pin :)

    I mean, look at that smile.



    At some point in the day, DS3 and I got this picture with Captains Mickey and Minnie. Love that she's in her Captain outfit! Boy, you can't be terribly tall if you're going to be Minnie or Mickey, I am only 5'2"!



    And then at some point we called it a night - I will leave a space here for the Navigator but I will have to add in later if we caught a show - I don't think we did! Eep!

    Next up: Cadiz!
     

    BadPinkTink

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 13, 2015
    Really love your Lisbon day, you have given me some ideas for my trip in November. Im going to a conference so I dont have that much time to see the city but I want to explore a bit.
     
  • SCTigers

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jan 9, 2014
    Same here, we're planning on doing the 2021 EBTA for our daughter's graduation, which is why I've been closely following along; there just isn't a lot of available information on the transatlantic cruises like the other cruises. Also, in the future, curious to hear if there will be any impact on the 2021 EBTA with the delivery of the first new ship later that year, with with the itinerary or ship, if there are plans to keep a ship in Europe full-time.

    We are planning to bring his cap and gown for pictures so maybe we can have a graduate picture! It would be great if there was a group of them!
     

    Mom2m&k

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 23, 2007
    I’m very much enjoying your trip report. I’m glad I didn’t see the comparison between DCL and MSC before we went on our MSC cruise in July. I’m curious to see what your thoughts are. We very much enjoyed our cruise but not certain we would do it with MSC again.
     

    scottishclover

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 16, 2015
    I am loving your trip report. Your boys are so cute! It was great to read and see the pictures from your day in the Azores. It is somewhere we have always fancied visiting, so good to get your insights. I think a private tour was the way to go. It really seemed like you were having fun in the hot pools in Furnas and the tea plantation looked amazing. My teen daughters are real "tea jennys" and would love to visit there. Can't wait to read what's coming up next.
     

    lilsonicfan

    <font color=teal>The TF knows Canada VERY well!!<b
    Joined
    Jan 20, 2003
    Thank you all so much for following, it's been really fun so far to write this as it's kind of amazing to be able to talk about this super great trip we had.... when most of my friends IRL are soooo not into cruising. Lol.

    So I forgot that on our Lisbon day, we did go to see the show - it was Six Appeal, an a cappella group from the US who we picked up in the Azores (I think). I believe the first week's entertainers disembarked in the Azores and the second week's got on there. I would imagine on a long cruise, it can be hard to keep everyone entertained, plus it's probably worthwhile for DCL to bring on a lot of past entertainment. I remember in our social media group that some of the platinum members voiced some displeasure that much of the entertainment was being repeated but I didn't mind too much as this was only our second DCL cruise.

    In any event, I enjoyed the show that Six Appeal put on. They are really super talented. I will say I think shows like these tend to go on a tad too long. Honestly 30 min or so is about enough, it's not a full stage production. Their beatboxing guy is amazing. They definitely tried to engage the crowd, but I didn't get the sense everyone else loved it. My kids were sort of bored... but they are kids :)
     

    lilsonicfan

    <font color=teal>The TF knows Canada VERY well!!<b
    Joined
    Jan 20, 2003
    Day 11 - Cadiz

    For our next port we were going to be in Cadiz, Spain. For this port I didn't book any excursions and instead thought we would wing it, as everything I had read suggested Cadiz is a very walkable port. I found a site called Tom's Port Guides and it was very helpful in getting an idea of each port we were in (though I would suggest cross-referencing, as sometimes the info is a bit dated).

    I did book a timeslot at the Torre Tavira for their "camara oscura" attraction. If you have ever made a pinhole camera, the idea is sort of similar, but writ large. The tower itself is supposed to provide some amazing views of the city. I am quite sure some of the DCL excursions stop here as well. WELL - unfortunately, we missed this. Our timeslot was at 11:30am and we were told we had to be there 15 minutes before or lose our slot. I don't know why, but disembarking in Cadiz was ridiculous. We sat on deck 4 and waited for the lines to clear but I did not realize how many lines there were - DCL had at least 40 groups (as seen by their numbered stickers) to clear out and we really should just have picked a line and gotten into it. By the time we got off the ship it was past 11am (all ashore time was 10am) so we had wasted more than an hour waiting around. The tower is at least a 15 min walk, so we missed our timeslot, and I was very disappointed. We weren't charged in advance, at least, and hopefully someone else got to take advantage of the five spots :(

    It really didn't help that everyone in my family had a bit of a grumpy morning. Blah. Anyway we decided we would just walk around and try to enjoy the city.

    Our stateroom host told us that when the Magic was in dry dock some years back, the dry dock actually happened in Cadiz and the Magic was there for something like 40 days. He told us as a result he was entirely bored of Cadiz and wouldn't mind not getting off the ship. Lol.

    So when we finally disembarked, we made our way over to this monument to the Spanish Constitution of 1812.


    And then a large group of school children walked by in some sort of processional, the origin of which I still have not been able to research:




    Some of the streets in Cadiz are extremely narrow and you'd think they were built solely for pedestrians.


    But we quickly learned that in fact vehicles do often drive down these little roads, and pedestrians are simply expected to leap out of the way. Very interesting! In North America we are basically taught that pedestrians almost always have the right of way - but in Europe I would say the rule is "don't get hit by a car". It's all fine, but with little kids it can be a tad stressful.


    I really loved the architecture of all of the apartments and such that we passed. And generally, the streets were quite clean. I observed that people walking dogs also carried water bottles, so after a dog peed on something, their owner would squirt water on it. I guess without grassy areas, you gotta do something!


    We ended up walking to their main market (Mercado Central) which is sort of indoors and sort of outdoors. Lots to ogle here.




    After looking at all the iberian hams, DH decided that he would really like to own an iberian ham "slicing stand". My DH is the king of single use kitchen appliances. Thankfully we couldn't find one of these things but not for lack of searching, haha. Also, I personally think two beers and a plate of ham at 3-5 Euros is a great price!


    More mercado pics:





    Inside the "indoor" stalls, there is a ton of fresh seafood to be had. I understand you could buy it and take it to a local restaurant or stall outside to have it cooked.







    Look at the size of that swordfish!


    This would make a lot of sashimi.
     

    lilsonicfan

    <font color=teal>The TF knows Canada VERY well!!<b
    Joined
    Jan 20, 2003
    Day 11 cont'd

    To add insult to injury, not only did I somehow manage to miss our Torre Tavira time slot, I also missed the opening hours of the churros place (Churreria la Guapa) that I wanted to go to . Ugh. What a day.

    We decided to get some food and ended up at Freiduria Las Flores which seemed to get decent reviews. In this part of Spain and I guess stretching into the Med, it is super popular to eat deep fried seafood. We got a plate of assorted things to share. It wasn't bad, but was also not as amazing as I had hoped - and also a bit pricey (I think this plate was around 20-22 Euros?)


    Side note: does anyone else find it disturbingly easy to spend cash when you're in a foreign country. At home I'd be like $30 for a plate of seafood, no thanks. In Europe, sure! Lol.


    Feeling somewhat dissatisfied, we then went off in search of something better and found this place instead serving fairly massive iberian ham sandwiches on crusty bread for about 7 Euros. Sooooo good. This is also where my middle son discovered his love for orange Fanta.


    Random sightseeing:


    The main cathedral:




    I think this is the town hall:



    At some point after our wanderings, the kids were visibly bored and complaining, so we walked them back to the ship and checked them into Oceaneer's Club. DH didn't want to waste the day so we headed back out for a walk. I think we decided to play some Pokemon Go to catch some European Pokemon. Talk about a weird sentence, ha ha!

    Cadiz is a fairly old city, I believe it is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Europe. Some of the city walls still remain from medieval times or earlier.




    essentially it's a seawall as the water is right there:




    And then because we were getting used to being European we decided to have some cafe con leche. By the way, my head was spinning after this trip with trying to learn words in several different languages. I can speak a little French, but nothing else. Spanish stuck in my head a bit, Portuguese not at all, and Italian, almost none! But at least the word for coffee is very similar in all these languages. (Even in Chinese!)


    We also found a store to buy an iphone charging cord and some cheap sunglasses for the kids. Oh and we found a cool t-shirt store (I can't remembr the name, but it seems to be a chain) and I desperately wanted to buy this Schrodinger's cat shirt but couldn't find a size! DH bought a shirt with the infinity gauntlet that said "I survived the snap", lol.


    And that was our day in Cadiz. I'll finish up the evening in my next post!
     

    lilsonicfan

    <font color=teal>The TF knows Canada VERY well!!<b
    Joined
    Jan 20, 2003
    Day 11 - Cadiz

    We had dinner at Lumiere's again - this was our 5th time at Lumiere's. I would possibly have preferred a 5th time to be at Rapunzel's, but only because of my love of everything purple!

    Tonight's menu is the "World of Flavours" menu. I really liked this menu for the interesting choices.





    And here are some of the items we got. First up, the Vietnamese spring rolls. Here at home, "spring rolls" are usually the deep fried kind, and these that are wrapped in rice paper are either "salad rolls" or "summer rolls". Anyway. Pretty yummy, but I prefer a peanut dipping sauce (guessing allergies would prevent this from being a good idea).



    Argentinian empanadas: (not bad, bit dry)


    Chicken Kiev:


    USA Prime Rib of Beef - not the most "international" choice for me but how can you really ever go wrong with a giant slab of prime rib!


    And Indian Prawn Curry:


    Time for desserts. This is some sort of baked NY cheesecake, which was delicious:


    Austrian sacher torte (looks tastier than I really found it to be)


    And last but not least, two French Passionfruit Creme Brulees for DS1, lol. Oh, to be young and able to eat whatever you want again. (He's eating the macaron that came on top of the creme brulee. I love macarons!)



    After dinner we found Chip & Dale and had to get another pic.


    The show tonight was Once Upon A Song. I am pretty sure I went by myself because the kids and DH were absolutely not interested. I had mixed feelings about this show. It was sort of nice to hear some of the older less familiar Disney songs, but the 'story' was so unbelievably cheesy that I almost left. I know that's kind of a Disney thing, but it would have been a great show to cut out the cheesiness and just have more songs. Or even the same number of songs. I think it might be that I prefer the story in shows that are themed on movies, but otherwise I find the stories just intolerably bad. What a grump I am.

    Okay time to finish up this post - our next day was Malaga, Spain and we had an excellent excursion booked - but would be leaving the kids on the ship. Stay tuned for how it all went!
     

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