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TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES

We have tried 5 or 6 times to post the pictures from our April 7th visit to PORT LOUIS, MAURITIUS
and the pictures do not upload. We are doing everything as in the past so we are waiting to hear from Travellerspoint if they are having a problem. We are doing the best we can. We have a posting reading for Reunion and may try to put it up to see if the problem is consistant.

Posted by Swenigale 22:50

THURSDAY - APR. 7


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PORT LOUIS, MAURITIUS

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After four full days at sea we reached Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius, the largest city and the main port. Mauritius is one of three islands along with Reunion and Rodriguez which make up the Mascarene group.

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We drove from the port all the way across the island on the main highway to the southeastern coast. There we crossed a short stretch of water and spent the day on Ile des Deux Cocos.

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All of the western Indian Ocean islands had originally been colonized with tea, sugar or vanilla plantations. Our drive today was through acres and acres of sugar cane.

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The small island is a private island resort within the Blue Bay Marine Park. Great snorkeling, turquoise hued lagoon, barbecue lunch, island rum (have to use all that sugar cane for something!), not bad!

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Sailing away at sunset, back on board our ocean home.

Posted by Swenigale 06:01 Archived in Mauritius

FRIDAY - APR. 8


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ST-DENIS, RÉUNION

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Here we are, 500 miles due east of the island of Madagascar, on the French island of Réunion. There are high volcanic cliffs, a range of climates, an ethnically mixed population, and one of the most active volcanoes in the world (“Furnace Peak”;).

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Our first stop was at a vanilla plantation. These are vanillas pods.

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We had an excellent guide and a driver who took us along the coast road and then into the mountains. The rainy start of the day meant a promise of spectacular waterfalls.

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Happy Birthday, Valena! Kisses and hugs from Mör Mör and Opa!

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The Cirque de Salazie was our destination. It is the largest of the island’s three crater amphitheaters and is lined with almost 100 waterfalls.

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The town of Hellbourg is known as “the most beautiful French village” and has many colorful restored Creole huts.

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Here’s one last view of the majestic misty mountains – before we set sail for three days, pitching and rolling in the South Indian Ocean and passing the southern tip of Madagascar on our way to South Africa.

Posted by Swenigale 06:41 Archived in Reunion

TUESDAY - APR. 12


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DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA

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The Republic of South Africa is comprised of nine provinces of which KwaZulu/Natal, where we were headed, is the nation's smallest. As we approached the resort city of Durban a group of us got up before sunrise to see an exciting sight.

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As the sun rose higher, Durban's distinctive soccer stadium, built for the 2010 World Cup, stood out in the early morning light. But that's not what we were waiting for.

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Every world port has rules procedures. A local pilot always comes aboard to guide the ship into harbor. Today the pilots were lowered to the ship by helicopter! It was a sight worth waiting for.

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We took the ship's shuttle bus to where we could catch a city bus - looking back we got a good view of Crystal's moving window washing apparatus.

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The Moses Mabhida Stadium (that's the one we saw on the skyline) has a really steep sky car that we took up to the viewing platform.

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Later, after using the "People Mover" buses some more, we poked around in the Victoria Street Market.

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We took the bus to the beach, part of Durban's "Golden Mile". We had no need to be pulled in one of the colorful rickshaws - a long walk along the beautiful beach front was just perfect.

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Posted by Swenigale 08:16 Archived in South Africa

THURSDAY - APR. 14


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PORT ELIZABETH, SOUTH AFRICA


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Port Elizabeth is 500 miles due east of Cape Town. If you saw our blog from last year, this is where we went to the Addo Elephant National Park with our guide, Jeanette. This year we again had an excellent tour of two small game parks with Jeanette, who owns her own business, IMVELAPHI SAFARIS. In the morning we went to the Kragga Kamma Game Park and in the afternoon we visited Seaview Lion and Game Park. The opportunities to be close to these animals were amazing. I hope we have a chance to show you more pictures in the future - we took hundreds.

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Posted by Swenigale 06:16 Archived in South Africa

FRIDAY - SATURDAY - APR. 15-16


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CAPE TOWN AFRICA

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We rounded the Cape of Good Hope and Table Mountain came into view. The Cape is also called Cape Storm, and as we sailed south on Friday the winds increased dramatically.

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The winds increased from the southeast but the sky remained totally clear and beautiful.

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The rock formation is called the Twelve Apostles.

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Cape Town nestles below Signal Hill and Table Mountain, flanked by Devil's Peak and Lion's Head.

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The winds steadily increased to about 65 miles an hour causing the Port Authority to close the port to all ships.

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The Pilot boat struggled to get close enough for the pilot to climb aboard and then leave after the port was closed.

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We had spent the night comfortably floating in Table Bay and the next morning in the beauty of the sunrise the cloudy "tablecloth" on Table Mountain was tinged with pink.

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This exhausted pigeon flew onto the ship and took refuge from the wind.

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The port was opened as the winds lessened somewhat around noon on Saturday. Crewmen struggled at the bow of our ship to attach a cable to the tug that would help us through the port entrance.

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Posted by Swenigale 09:16 Archived in South Africa

SUNDAY - APR. 17


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CAPE TOWN SOUTH AFRICA

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This is the start of the final segment of the World Cruise. For the next 21 days we will be sailing up the west coast of Africa and then on to Dover, England.

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Some friends had left the ship a few days ago and then rejoined us in Cape Town after they had an exciting overland Safari. They had spent some time in Zimbabwe - .have you ever seen a bill of this denomination? Unfortunately no one wants it, even though it is real.

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Our Palm Sunday service was scheduled for 5pm, so we had time to take a city tour on the Hop-on Hop-off bus. This is St. George Cathedral.

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It is impossible to take a bad picture here.

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At the start of Apartheid, Cape Town's Sixth District was bulldozed and thousands of families lost their homes. Only the District churches were left standing.

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This is Strand Street Lutheran church, founded in 1780. When it was first started it had to be "underground" because only the Dutch Reformed Church was permitted at that time.

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Slaves were permitted to only wear drab clothing, so when they were freed they painted their small houses bright colors.

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We walked through the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront complex. Beautiful shops, restaurants, and exciting tours are all offered there for South Africans and tourists from around the world.

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The view over the waterfront (from a Ferris wheel) - the Lego-looking red guy is made of Coca-Cola bottle crates.

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Beautiful setting sun with one more day yet to come in this wonderful corner of the world

Posted by Swenigale 08:26 Archived in South Africa

MONDAY - APR. 18

CAPE TOWN AFRICA

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We had two major objectives for our last day in Cape Town: First, to see the colony of South African Penguins in Boulders Beach, and then to go to Cape Point, where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet. At Boulders Beach advisory signs protect the little penguins from us humans (no petting the penguins!). Another sign says to check under your car for penguins before driving away.

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We walked into the protected area and were greeted by this welcoming committee. These cute little guys used to be unflatteringly called "Jackass Penguins" because they make a loud braying sound like a donkey.

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The protection of the penguins, the only species that breeds in Africa, appears to be successful. Their numbers are increasing.

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Farther south, we eventually reached the dramatic cliffs of Cape Point.

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We saw a few Cape Baboons along the road (along with numerous warning signs not to feed them as they become aggressive!) as we drove back to Cape Town.

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One final visit to Victoria and Albert Waterfront -Hasta didn't get to pose with the penguins, so he got stuck with the beer.

Posted by Swenigale 04:31 Archived in South Africa

WEDNESDAY - APR. 20


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WALVIS BAY, NAMIBIA, AFRICA

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We set off on a "Desert 4 x 4 Wildlife Discovery". We were told that Namibia is a predominantly Lutheran country and this rock testimony was nice to see as we remember the days of Holy Week all this long way from home.

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Namibia is the 2nd least densely populated sovereign nation on earth (Mongolia is no. 1) - in fact, "Namib" means "place of no people". The Namib Desert spans the entire length of the country along the Atlantic coast. Rain is very infrequent and unpredictable, with moisture mostly provided by the fog that rolls ashore every three days. The average rainfall in Walvis Bay is less than 10 millimeters (3/8 of an inch) per year.

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We had arrived in the early morning amidst rain, thunder and lightning much to everyone's surprise. The unlikely weather let up briefly throughout out tour so that we could venture out of our vehicles in search of rare desert creatures.

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A poisonous young Sidewinder Adder

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A transparent Palmetto Gecko

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A Namaqua Chameleon

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Our Namibian Driver/Guide, Andrew, surprised us with oysters and champagne at the end of our tour.

Posted by Swenigale 08:16 Archived in Namibia

SUNDAY - APR. 24 - EASTER


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BOM BOM ISLAND, SÃO TOMÉ & PRINCIPE, AFRICA

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Our Easter Sunrise Service was well attended by Protestants and Roman Catholics alike. We had separate services later in the afternoon with Holy Communion. It is good to be with folks who pause for worship in excitement of travel.

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Our island port today was an island paradise. Crystal publishes a map for each port we visit – this is Bom Bom Island – for real! It is part of the 2nd smallest nation in Africa. “How'd ya like to spend Easter… on Bom Bom Island?”

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The staff actually hid Easter eggs around the island, but it was just too hot here at the equator for anyone to wear the bunny costume! Happy Easter everyone.

Posted by Swenigale 11:01 Archived in Sao Tome and Principe

TUESDAY - APR. 26


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LOMÉ, TOGO, AFRICA

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Lomé is the capital of Togo, a country that is 370 miles long and only 60 miles across at its widest point. Togo is bordered on the east by Benin and on the west by Ghana. The dancers that welcomed us at the dock are typical voodoo ceremony dancers.

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At the fishing harbor the heavy boats are pulled ashore by the men and boys using one long rope.

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Independence Square commemorates Togo’s break from France in 1960.

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These kids are in an art class at an artisan’s village.

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Little Angela sits patiently in her mom’s textile shop.

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Many wood carvings have been turned out of this shop…

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…but only one had red paint.

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Kids learn to carry buckets of water on their heads at the age of four – it is a skill that remains useful as adults.

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Moms and kids in the shade – we are very near the equator and also the Prime Meridian.

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Togo’s history is long and colorful, encompassing forty different ethnic groups, belief in voodoo, fetish markets, remnants of colonialism, and the slave markets of the past. This is the Akodessewa Fetish Market, dedicated to the sale of ingredients which are used by traditional voodoo healers. We didn’t stay here long, and apparently we were spared the more grisly parts offerings!

Posted by Swenigale 08:26 Archived in Togo

WEDNESDAY - APR. 27


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TAKORADI, GHANA, AFRICA

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Here we are, in Ghana, bordered on the west by the Ivory Coast and on the east by Togo, We sailed into the harbor right through the fishing grounds and the many traditional fishing boats.

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We spent a full day with our Ghanaian guide, traveling for miles through villages, towns, and countryside in what had been the "Gold Coast" because of the trading in gold and slaves.

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It takes many hands and lots of muscle to pull the heavy fishing boats up on shore.

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The Cape Coast Castle, built by the Swedes in 1652, became West Africa's largest slave trading center. President Obama visited here in 2009.

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The dungeons for men and women, the prison cells, "The Door of No Return" through which slaves filed one by one to the waiting ships - seeing these "castles" and hearing about the conditions of the slave trade was chilling.

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Everywhere you look are slogans for God, Jesus and love. Names of boats and shops are no exception - if you can think it up, someone in Ghana already did. Precious Love Barber Shop, Hand of God Automotive Repair..

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The is Wesley Methodist Cathedral, the oldest in Ghana. We were delighted to meet the current pastor.

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In the fishing villages the men fish and the women smoke the fish and sell it.

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In Elmina Township, up the hill from these street vendors, we visited Elmina Castle, built in 1482 by the Portuguese, also part of the region's slave history.

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A family waits for business.

Posted by Swenigale 12:16 Archived in Ghana

SUNDAY - MAY 1


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DAKAR, SENEGAL, AFRICA

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We pulled into port before sunrise, and docked right next to the U.S. Navy! What a wonderful sight.

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Dakar has not been under French rule since 1960, but the influence of three centuries of colonial rule is very evident. This monument honors the Senegalese soldiers who served in the world wars.

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This is a modern African city.

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The Presidential Palace - before 1960 it was the seat of the colonial governor.

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This monument to the "African Renaissance" was completed just last year. It is 161 feet tall. Yes, we climbed up.

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A local art form is sand painting - the colored sands are from all different areas of Senegal.

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A room with a view

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This weaver is proud of his craft, which took him four years to learn. His interpreter was a man who somehow moved himself around through the sand and dusty roads using his arms and hands and his withered legs.

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The three squares in this monument represent three phases of Senegalese history - the center one represents their past slavery history, the middle square their Renaissance, with the female figure urging citizens towards the large square, the future.

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How blessed and how fortunate we were, to be coming back to the showers, clean water and food of the Crystal Serenity.

Posted by Swenigale 07:21 Archived in Senegal

SUNDAY - MAY 1 - LATER


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DAKAR, SENEGAL, AFRICA

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In the afternoon of Sunday, May 1st (Senegal time) we watched the Navy Destroyer leave the harbor in Dakar. We awoke in the morning to hear the news of the death of Osama Bin Laden. Incredible!

Interestingly, General Richard Meyers, the 15th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (2001-2005) is onboard as a Celebrity Lecturer and was scheduled to be shared in a panel discussion this morning (May 2). We have been privileged to meet the General and we are pleased to report that he is an officer and a gentleman!

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Posted by Swenigale 13:51 Archived in Senegal

THURSDAY - MAY 5


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LISBON, PORTUGAL, EUROPE

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We sailed into the River Tagus at sunrise as we sailed into the last touring port on this wonderful adventure. Lisbon was the center of the world's last great colonial empire. (We were glad to hear on the news that the EU is willing to bail out Portugal.)

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The Belem Tower, erected between 1515 and 1520. The early discoverers set sail from this area.

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The Monument to the Discoverers with Henry the Navigator standing in the prow of the caravel

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Independence Bridge

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Christ the Redeemer statue on the opposite bank of the river.

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In the downtown is the Elevador de Santa Justa, designed (by an apprentice to Gustav Eiffel) to carry citizens to an upper level of the city.

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From high over the rooftops we look back to the river.

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In the opposite direction is Rossio Square.

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On the facing hill, above the old Alfama section of the city, is the Castle St. George (we used the zoom - it's not this close).

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The weather was perfect, like a warm Spring day at home. This may our last entry in the blog, unless we add something after we return. Tomorrow will be packing and teary goodbyes. Then up early Sunday morning in Dover and everyone has to leave the ship, as it goes into dry dock for two weeks in Germany. So - thanks for coming along with us on the Crystal Serenity 2011 World Cruise! We'll be home soon!

Posted by Swenigale 15:26 Archived in Portugal

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