Often little more than a gateway to the Costa del Sol for sun-seeking vacationers, Malaga is a most interesting city in its own right. First settled by the Phoenicians, Malaga was held by virtually every ruling power in the Mediterranean at one time or another. Two Moorish fortresses, the 11th-century Alcazaba and the 14th-century Castillo de Gibralfaro still stand sentry above the harbor. Malaga was the birthplace of Pablo Picasso as well as the Malaguena style of flamenco. During your time here, you may wish to sample some of the sweet Malaga wine and excellent tapas for which the city is noted.
To taste the true flavor of this ancient port city, one should stroll its seaside promenade, pausing to rest beneath the huge banyan trees. The narrow, winding streets of the old town fan out from the port, leading you to sunny, palm-lined plazas. Visit the Catedral Nueva (New Cathedral), begun in the early 1800s but not completed for 116 years. Its dramatic, golden dome rises over a striking interior. For those who enjoy people-watching as much as sightseeing, the seafood restaurants along the eastern edge of the port provide the ideal setting.
From the bustling city center to the sandy beaches that seem to form a halo around this Floridian playground, Fort Lauderdale is alive with activity. The waterways are dotted with luxury yachts from harbors around the world, and exclusive homes line the waterfront. The posh boutiques on Las Olas Boulevard cater to the sophisticated sun-worshipers who enjoy "the season" in Florida.
The Principality of Monaco is the epitome of Riviera chic. This tiny enclave of 370 acres surrounds a sheltered harbor that draws yachts from around the world to enjoy the beautiful scenery, mild weather and elegant casino. Glamorous Monte Carlo is one of Monaco's four quarters, which also include La Condamine, the business district; Monaco-ville, the capital; and Fontvieille, an area built on reclaimed land. Ruled by Prince Albert II, Monaco has a population of over 32,000, of which about 16 percent are citizens, or MonÃ©gasques.
The great period of "the Discoveries" accounted for phenomenal wealth brought back from India, Africa and Brazil by the great Portuguese navigators. Gold, jewels, ivory, porcelain and spices helped finance grand new buildings and impressive monuments in Lisbon, the country's capital city. As you sail up the Tagus River, be on deck to admire Lisbon's panorama and see some of the great monuments lining the river. Lisbon is one of Europe's smallest capital cities but considered by many visitors to be one of the most likeable. Spread over a string of seven hills, the city offers a variety of faces, including a refreshing no-frills simplicity reflected in the people as they go unhurriedly through their day enjoying a hearty and delicious cuisine accompanied by the country's excellent wines.
With Spain to the north and Morocco to the south, Gibraltar is the famous promontory dominating the narrow entrance to the Mediterranean. Its position led to its seizure by the Moors in 711 as a prelude to the conquest of Spain. The Moorish influence includes the name Gibraltar, a corruption of "Jebel Tariq" (Tariq's Mountain), named after the Moorish commander Tariq who built the first fortification. In ancient times Gibraltar was regarded as one of the two Pillars of Hercules, which marked the western limits of the known world. Known commonly as "The Rock," Gibraltar is full of natural caves and manmade tunnels. The Rock itself, composed of limestone and gray marble, is geographically part of the Iberian Peninsula. Politically, the British have controlled Gibraltar for over two centuries. This tiny self-governing British Colony welcomes you to enjoy its historical sites, magnificent views, beautiful beaches and duty free shops.