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On the Why How and Downloads You can download the parts of the route we cycled. It needs to be unzipped and saved to a directory of your choice. You can then load it into the appropriate applications and GPS.

We spent a lovely three days in Malaga despite the unseasonally wet and cold weather. We were staying in a typically Spanish courtyard apartment in the town centre which is mainly a pedestrian area. We were also very near to the colourful and large covered market which made food buying both interesting and easy.

Being Spain there is a vibrant night life with early 'ramblasing' with the shops open until 8pm followed by eating. We took the opportunity of seeing a couple of films in the local multiscreen cinema. The management likes Spanish cinemas because he can actually see the screen. They don't bother much with raking the seats but just put the screen higher. They also don't bother with trailers and adverts and they charge less than many UK cinemas.

On his wanderings the management found a charity shop, not the most common thing in Spain. For about ten pounds we managed to get a few bits of clothing for the cruise home, hopefully doing some good in the process.

We pushed the loaded bikes to the ship, the management being reluctant to hasten our embarkation. Luckily there was hardly any one else boarding when we arrived. We just wheeled the loaded bikes through security and checked in.

All we then had to do was wheel the bikes along the access routes and onto the ship. They were unable to provide storage for them so we took them in the lift to our cabin. Partially folded they did not take up much space so were not very inconvenient.

The trip home was supposed to include stops in Cadiz, Lisbon, Vigo and La Coruna and include only one full day at sea. It is completely irrational but the management just cannot cope with cruise ships. At best he is difficult and unhappy and at worse disruptive. But using them as ferries sometimes makes sense as on this occasion. At the moment we both think never again but for different reasons.

We finally set sail for Cadiz and had a pleasant time reacquainting ourselves with the city. The ship parks near the centre and we enjoyed walking around the perimeter sea wall and getting lost in the cobbled streets and alleys in the old town.

We had one or two jobs to do including renewing our Spanish railcards. This involved going to the rail station, avoiding torrential thunderstorms which caused quite deep floods. It did eventually drain away but southern Spanish drains were not designed for UK type weather.

The captain came on the Tannoy to announce that because of a bad weather forecast, caused by a storm called Felix,we were staying in Cadiz another day and then stopping in Lisbon only before Southampton. He was ditching Vigo and La Coruna and we would have two days at sea.

This upset the management even more, as if he were not bad enough already. The idea of sailing into a sea state caused by a storm and then two days at sea......... But the good side was that we spent most of the day in Cadiz exploring the Roman remains and the amphitheatre. These were only rediscovered in 1980 and seem to receive very little publicity. They had been built over in the 1800's and the memory of them lost.

While only a fraction of the remains have been excavated, it was once one of the largest amphitheatres outside of Rome and the revealed area is still large. In addition to exploring the auditorium and tunnels there are some good models and explanatory videos. It was a really nice day which we would not have had without the storm.

Fortunately the captain seems to know his job. We did arrive in Lisbon a couple of hours late because he had kept the speed down to make life more bearable for the management. The anticipation was worse than the voyage.

We have been to lovely Lisbon several times before but have never explored it as we did today. We walked off the ship and straight up into the old town. It is even better than Cadiz with innumerable cobbled streets and alleyways. We took every turn with the objective of getting ever higher.

We finally emerged into a tourist area around the castle but decided we would rather plunge back into real Lisbon. With help from Google maps we made for the terminal stop of tram route 28 and took a ride. It is nothing like San Francisco but just as nice in a different way.

We then picked up a local bendy bus and for a tiny number of euros went on a 40 minute ride along the waterfront of the River Tagus, under the edge of the famous 25th of April Bridge which we had gone under on the way in. It is similar though much more delicate that the San Francisco Bridge. It is also overlooked high on a hill by a modern statue of Christ the King, inspired by Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro.

Down on the waterfront we went by the huge modern Monument to the Discoveries dominating the shoreline but of limited appeal to us. We then had a look at the Belém, an ancient and ornate castle built on what was once a tiny island, but which is now connected to the shore.

We returned to the ship by another bendy bus taking the workers home, arriving just before sailing time. Again we had another great day ashore.

That captain was no fool. Like the management, sometimes, he was economical with the truth. He made sure as many passengers as possible had found their sea legs before crossing the Bay of Biscay. He said the sea state was “moderate” but he could not disguise that at times it was blowing gale force 9 nor hide the spectacular seascapes.

We arrived in Southampton and were off after breakfast. We got the train and were home before midday. It was good to be back but it would have been nice to have some spring sunshine rather than a grey day. But then we are the harbingers of spring.