W. MEDITERRANEAN • OCTOBER 28TH – NOVEMBER 6TH, 2010
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Cruise prices vary from $969 for an Inside Stateroom to $2,899 for a Full Suite, per person. (Cruise pricing is subject to change.) For those attending our PROGRAM, there is a $1,375 fee. Government taxes, port fees, and InSight Cruises’ service charge are $270 per person. Gratuities are $11 per person per day. All prices and fees are detailed on the BOOK NOW page.
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SAVONA, ITALY — Thursday, October 28, 2010
One of the most celebrated former inhabitants of Savona was the navigator Christopher Columbus, who farmed land in the area while chronicling his journeys. ‘Columbus’s house’, a cottage situated in the Savona hills, lay between vegetable crops and fruit trees. It is just one of many residences in Liguria associated with Columbus.
Savona is a city rich in history and enterprise, largely centering on its port. The most important monument in the city in this regard is the Priamar, a castle stronghold near the port and recently restored. This is the site of the city’s first developed community, in 205 BC, described by Roman historian Titus Livius as “Savo Oppidum Alpinum” and evidently an ally of Carthage against Rome. The city fell under Roman rule in 200 BC and, following the establishment of Vada Sabatia (presently called Vado), its importance rapidly declined. After the fall of the Roman Empire and the invasions of the Barbarians, Savona became an important Byzantine settlement. In 643 AD, Savona was destroyed by the Rotarians and the Longobards, while during the 9th and 10th centuries it was the capital of Marca Aleramica. Eventually it became an independent municipality, developing considerable trade with France, Spain, and North Africa. After a long period resisting Genoa (20 miles to the east), it finally relinquished power in 1528 and following the Napoleonic era was annexed by Savoy. Formerly a province of the kingdom of Sardinia, the province of Savona was recognised in 1927.
There are two versions surrounding the origin of the name of Savona’s symbolic monument, the Priamar. According to the first, Priamar derives from “Pietra Sul Mare” (rock on the sea), as the fortress is constructed on a promontory rock facing the Ligurian sea. According to the second version the name derives from “Petra Mala”, a reference to the rock underneath the castle being crumbly. Inside the fortress walls stood a school, two of whose pupils became the popes Julius II and Sixtus IV. It also hosted a ceremony to mark the independence of the municipality, in 1191, after the victory of Ghibelline. In the 19th Century the fortress was used as a prison, where in 1830–1831 Giuseppe Mazzini was jailed. During World War II, the fortress was used as an air-raid shelter and to control Savona’s port.
MALAGA, SPAIN — Saturday, October 30, 2010
The city of Malaga is today a bustling Andalusian tourist centre with a thriving agricultural market for the fruit and wine industries. In centuries gone by, Malaga attracted the attention of some of the Mediterranean’s most powerful forces, including the Phoenicians, Arabs, Carthaginians, and Visigoths. The Arabs considered Malaga the Garden of Eden and built several homes there, which perhaps explains their relatively non-aggressive attitude towards the region. Before them, the Phoenicians, who first discovered the coastline, felt the same sense of tranquillity, building the first village (the origin of the name is the Phoenician “malak”) in the area. For an extensive period, Malaga was then governed by the Carthaginians, eventually abandoning it in the face of invasion by the Visigoths.
Malaga is also the main access to Granada and the magnificent Alhambra Palace, the fortified mediaeval royal city, a masterpiece of Islamic art. The incredible preservation of the Palace, built on a hill 150 metres above Granada, is significantly due to Queen Isabella II who was responsible for its restoration after a period of neglect. The palace fortress, the 11th Century Alcazaba, offers splendid views of Granada from its towers.
One of the highlights inside the palace, Spain’s most visited monument, is Myrtle court, the sultan’s apartments and a masterpiece of Moorish art. It is named after the myrtle bushes surrounding a central rectangle which, with a harem and a court of 12 black marble lions and central fountain, form the heart of the quarters. Set in the gardens of the Alhambra is the Generalife, the summer residence of the sultans. The eastern atmosphere is complemented with high columns, supporting magnificent arcades, a charming courtyard and a central pond with fountains. Its surroundings include orange trees, myrtle and laurel bushes, and beautiful flowers.
Also accessible from Malaga is the sophisticated tourist resort of Marbella on the Costa del Sol, which offers visitors a beautiful beach, historic town centre and some exquisite shops. The cuisine of Andalusia is rich and varied. Specialities on the coast include seafood and spiced meats, accompanied by some of Europe’s best wines.
CASABLANCA, MOROCCO — Sunday, October 31, 2010
The image of Casablanca immortalised by Humphrey Bogart in the 1942 classic Hollywood film is of a city shrouded in intrigue, with a spy around every corner. In fact, Casablanca is a bustling, sophisticated modern city with one of the largest and busiest ports in Africa. Portuguese, Arab, Spanish, and French influences give the city a particular, and unique, charm.
Morocco gained independence in 1955, under the leadership of King Mohammed V, who died within hours of his country’s liberation. Since independence, Casablanca city has developed to become one of the country’s industrial heartlands. With the surrounding area, the population of Casablanca is some four million inhabitants. The oldest part of the city is the ancient quarter of Medina, an intricate network of alleyways built on the remains of the legendary town of Anfa. In the centre of Medina is the Hassan II Mosque, one of the largest mosques in the world and the second most important Islamic centre after Mecca. The charm of old Medina is complemented by the modernity of the surrounding city. Any full tour of Casablanca would not be complete without a journey along the Corniche, a coastal highway through the wealthy quarter of Anfa, a centre of the city’s nightlife with a multitude of bars and restaurants. A short distance from Casablanca is Rabat and the splendid Islamic attractions of the Royal Palace, the Mausoleum of Mohamed V and Hassan Tower, a classical example of Islamic architecture.
Casablanca has much to offer shopping fans, particularly those willing to bargain. Specialities to look out for include Moroccan carpets, leatherwear, ceremonial daggers, mother of pearl furniture, and traditional caftans. And when hunger strikes, traditional couscous will satisfy most appetites, accompanied by a refreshing glass of mint tea.
CADIZ, SPAIN — Monday, November 1, 2010
The Andalucian city port of Cadiz, the region’s Episcopal seat, enjoys a spectacular setting overlooking the Atlantic Ocean at the end of a nine kilometres strip of land and connected to the mainland by bridge. Walls up to 15-metres high protect the city from the volatile sea which averages at least two metres difference between high and low tide.
The Cadiz skyline is particularly attractive, featuring hundreds of white-washed houses with balconies and flat roofs, punctuated by numerous “miradores” — small circular towers — which gave rise to the city’s nickname of “taza de plata” — silver cup. Streets lined with palm trees and various parks add to the atmosphere. The oldest city on the Iberian Peninsula, Cadiz was founded by the Phoenicians and later occupied by the Carthaginians who used the city as a base from which to enter southern Spain.
In the second Punic War, the city fell under Roman rule, reaching its height of power before a bloody watershed in the Middle Ages left it severely diminished. During the first expeditions to America, the Spanish fleet anchored in the bay of Cadiz, marking a rejuvenation of the city’s status. The eventual loss of the Spanish colonies once again diminished its importance, which has only strengthened again in modern times. The city centre features a number of impressive monuments and churches, including Saint Catherine, designed by the architect Murillo who died during its construction. The spectacular Cadiz Cathedral, started in 1722 and completed in 1838, features a nave with two aisles, enormous columns and a huge dome more than 52-metres high. The capital city of Andalucia and the fourth largest city in Spain is Seville. Situated some 87 kilometres from the coast, the city is connected to the sea by a network of canals and by the large Guadalquivir waterway.
Seville has been called the “City of a Thousand Reflections” after its captivating architecture and setting amid orange groves, vineyards and olive trees. Since being founded by the Iberians the city has survived many different regimes, including the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, and Romans. In 461 AD it became capital of the Visigoth empire, then from 712 until 1248 it was under Arab rule, before Ferdinand II of Castille won power and established a residence in Seville. In 1300, Don Pedro el Cruel governed the city before becoming King. In 1493 Christopher Columbus landed in Seville on his return from North America, heralding a golden period for the city which lasted more than a century. In recent years, the city paid homage to Columbus when it hosted Expo ’92 and dedicated the international exhibition to the explorer.
One of the main attractions of Seville is its vast cathedral, built mainly in Gothic and Renaissance style. It is situated on the site of a former mosque erected during the period of Arab rule and the adjoining 93-metre high Giralda bell tower was originally a minaret. It is worth climbing to the top the tower for the splendid views over the city. Among the many treasures inside the building is a monument to Columbus. Another celebrated building of Seville is Alcazar, a splendid palace of the Arabic period originally built in the 12th Century and subsequently expanded under King Pedro el Cruel. It was later restored and altered several times, notably after an earthquake in 1755 and a fire in 1762. The palace is decorated in magnificent arabesque designs and ‘azulejos’ wall tiles. Outside the palace are delightful Moorish gardens and fountains.
LISBON, PORTUGAL — Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Lisbon, capital of Portugal, is one of the most charming cities in Europe. Rich in examples of the 16th Century Portuguese Manueline architectural style, with numerous museums and charming buildings, the city sits on seven low hills at the estuary of the Tagus river where it meets the internal, so-called Straw Sea.
According to legend, Ulysses founded Lisbon on one of his journeys described in the Odyssey while he was returning to Ithaca. According to historians, Lisbon was a Phoenician colony until 205BC when it became a Roman province with the name of Felicitas Julia. It was subsequently invaded by the Visigoths and by the Moors, who named it Lischbuna and erected several buildings, forming the basis of the present-day city. The Moors were eventually chased out of Lisbon by Alfonso I, who made it his capital city, heralding a period of growing power and influence through the 15th and 16th centuries. But Lisbon’s progress came to a tragic and dramatic halt on November 1, 1755 when the city was almost destroyed by an earthquake, killing more than 40,000 people.
A period of intense reconstruction followed, led by the Marquis de Pombal, whose plans stayed as faithful as possible to the original city design. Lisbon city centre extends north-west from Praca de Dom Pedro IV, commonly known as Rossio, to the neo-Manueline railway station. In the other direction it extends to Praca de Comercio on Rua Augusta I, an elegant 18th Century quarter designed by the Marquis of Pombal. This is political and administrative centre of the city. The most elegant street in Lisbon is Chaido, where baroque buildings and churches are found amid luxurious shops. Notable structures of Lisbon include the Sao Roque Cathedral, the country’s most important Christian building. Designed by Filippo Terzi, the cathedral was initially built in 1570, before further construction in 1755 after an earthquake. The interior includes a number of baroque masterpieces, including, St John Chapel, built in 1742 by order of King Joao V, and enriched by mosaics and precious stones by M. Maretti. To the right of the church is a museum with extraordinary examples of religious art.
One of Portugal’s best-known monuments is the impressive Manueline masterpiece, Belem Tower. A merger of Romanesque and Gothic art with Renaissance and eastern influences, the tower stands by the Tagus river at the point from which Vasco de Gama left for the Indies. The city’s Expo 98 centre recently celebrated the 500th anniversary of Vasco de Gama’s historic journey. Nearby to Lisbon at Queluz is the summer residence of the Portuguese Royal Family, including some beautiful works of art and exquisite gardens.
Portuguese cuisine reflects the country’s multinational influences and offers a wide range of specialities, particularly fish dishes, as well as game and ham. The country also produces several internationally-renowned wines.
VALENCIA, SPAIN — Thursday, November 4, 2010
Valencia represents a perfect example of what Spain has achieved over the past twenty-five years: highly significant progress in the spheres of both business and tourism. The city has been completely revolutionzed in terms of its services, structures, and infrastructures and in a certain sense its very attitude, which is more open than ever to the flow of tourism.
The city represents the extraordinary joie de vivre of its people, expressed in its refined yet wholesome food, in sport, and music: the city centre boasts many places offering round the clock food, drink, and live music. Let’s start our analysis of the Valencian good life with the local cuisine, which is natural, simple, and traditional. The best-known dish is, of course, paella, the typical rice, fish, meat, and vegetable concoction that has become the very symbol of the city throughout the world. But we should not forget the meat specialities, like Arroz al Horno or Arroz a Banda that is accompanied by a large platter of fish. Fideua is a delicious variation of paella that features spaghetti instead of rice.
The cuisine is elevated yet higher by the extremely refined choice of wines: whites, such as Alto Turia and Serranda or the typical reds from the areas of Requena, Utiel, and Campo de Lliria. The Valencian menu is rounded off by a rich and incredible selection of desserts: rosetones, arrop talledetes, and arnadi are the highlights of a truly magnificent regional dessert trolley.
However, you shouldn’t hole yourself up in a restaurant for your entire stay in Valencia (even though those who do so will find it very difficult to forget the region’s delicacies): Valencia’s historical roots have given it a cultural and architectural heritage that makes it an absolutely splendid city. Valencia is the capital of the autonomous province of the same name and is situated at the mouth of the Turia River. It was first colonised by the Romans during the time of Augustus and embellished with many splendid palaces and buildings. Attacks from the North, and the Visigoths in particular, were immediately supplanted by the advent of the Arab culture: the city was conquered by the Moors in 714, following which Valencia enjoyed a period of extraordinary splendour, capitalising on the agricultural development of the entire region.
After the fall of the Arab Empire, Valencia came under Aragonese rule, during which it became an independent kingdom. Valencia grew larger and richer, becoming a city with an enlightened government and a highly developed culture and legal system. Many traces still remain of these times: it is no coincidence that Valencia was home to great scholars and literary figures such as Joanot Martorel, who was probably the first European novelist, Ausias March, Roig de Corella, and Isabel de Villena.
A cosmopolitan metropolis that is nonetheless built for people, open to change and international relations and free from prejudices or impediments of any kind. An extraordinary city with great potential that has inevitably become a cultural and tourist landmark for Spain.
BARCELONA, SPAIN — Friday, November 5, 2010
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain with three million inhabitants, a dominating port in northern Mediterranean with one of the most renowned and important universities in the world. The city is a very rich commercial centre, where industrial operations crucial to the Spanish economy take place.
In fact, Catalans have always considered their region unique compared with the other Spanish regions and we can find its roots in the power exercised by Barcelona for four hundred years at least on Spanish monarchy and on European commercial events.
Similarly to Genoa and Venice, the city developed its fortune in the Middle Ages thanks to its port. The first Spanish shipyards were built in Barcelona, banks and Catalan merchants flourished and for a long time remained the most powerful in the Old World. For Barcelona the sea is very important. Catalan attorneys drafted the first code of European maritime laws. Despite some momentary economic crisis, Barcelona confirmed its economic leadership last century with the creation of large industries and arriving at end of the millennium in a position of great advantage compared with other Spanish cities, confirmed by the recent Olympic Games which involved investments and structures amounting to hundreds of billions in Catalonia.
Barcelona has also become one of the most active cities in culture in the Mediterranean. In the streets, particularly in the famous Ramblas, there is a true cult for art in the street. Decorators, “madonnari” (painters of Madonnas), craftsmen and engravers manufacture in just a few minutes their personalised craftwork according to the customers’ taste, often tourists. The university centre has attracted many young people and accordingly underground art, music and bars open all night. A true cosmopolitan city offering a very wide range of tourist attractions.
Views of Barcelona from the surroundings are extraordinary. Montjuich Hill gives a beautiful view of the city and the famous Formula 1 racetrack and a large part of the Olympic Village are situated there.
In the port, cargo traffic averages 20 million tons, and it is very close to the centre where it can be reached through the typical ramblas. The Cathedral, dedicated to Saint Eulalia, the city’s patron represents the most important religious centre, even though the most famous church is undoubtedly the Sagrada Familia, started in 1882 and never completed by the great architect Antonio Gaudì who conceived it as a large architectural structure with three façades representing the Nativity, Passion and Death of Christ. The Barrio Gotico is the most ancient part of the city, dominated by the Cathedral. The Carrer de Montcada Picasso Museum is here, the richest in the world as to number of masterpieces. Park Guell is also very beautiful although incomplete, designed by Gaudì and meant to become a residential garden town.
Speakers have confirmed their intent to participate; however, scheduling conflicts may arise.
Edna and I LOVED [Evolution Emanation]. The speakers and topics were fantastic.
Downey Price, M.D.
<downeyprice at hotmail.com>
[Evolution Emanation] was a highly intellectually stimulating experience ... such splendid speakers. So appreciative of all that you and Theresa did to make this possible for all of us who attended. Thanks, Neil.
<edna.price at hotmail.com>
We have just returned from the Bright Horizons #2 cruise and want to commend you and your staff for putting together an absolutely first rate combination of cruise line, destinations, program and speakers. We were particularly impressed with Max Tegmark, both as a lecturer and as a person. Please convey our gratitude to all the speakers. Thanks again for a perfect cruise. Let us know what else you are planning.
Dick and Elizabeth Santoro
<dicklib9 at aol.com>
I thoroughly enjoyed the Bright Horizons #2 cruise and must confess that the content of the cruise and the speakers far exceeded my expectations. Of the 26 excellent lectures, and I didn't miss a single one, I found each one equally as challenging and informative as the next. You and Randal did a magnificent job of attending to every detail and I only heard compliments of the highest order from every guest. I hope to join you on a future event cruise, so please keep me on your email list. Should you schedule another astronomy/cosmology intensive cruise, I will most certainly join you.
<perrywalton at embarqmail.com>
The conference fee is $1,375 and includes all seminars below. Classes only take place when we’re at sea, between 8:30am and 7:30pm.
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