Liverpool, UK

June 21, 2019

Welcome to the summer solstice.  Here in this area of the world, the sun comes up at 4:43 and sets at 9:44!  So at 10 PM it is still pretty light out.

This is the first time that the Insignia has come to Liverpool.  This is a big deal in these ports and the mayor of Liverpool will be coming on board and there will be a big ceremony. Ray says they might even do fireworks as we leave, but since we leave at 7 PM it will still be light out, and we aren’t counting on it.

They are really improving the port for cruise ships here and they intend to become an embarkation port like Southampton.

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Our tour today was to North Wales and Conwy Castle.  We had never been to Wales before so were eager to go.

Our guide was Roberta and she was really wonderful. Very knowledgeable about Wales – she lives there – and she taught us a lot.

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First of all, we sailed in on the River Mersey.  Remember the song – Ferry Cross the Mersey  by Gerry and the Pacemakers – well this is it.  She told us that Liverpool means muddy pool, and the color of the river is how the city got its name.

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Three beautiful buildings are just inside the port, they are called the “Three Graces” and consist of the Cunard Building, the Royal Liver Building and the Port of Liverpool Building. They are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The liver birds – mythical birds that are the symbol of the city – adorn the top of the Royal Liver Building. They are named Bertie and Bella!

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There are a huge number of wind turbines here – as far as the eye can see in many directions.  It is the largest wind farm in Europe and it provides electricity to 400,000 homes and businesses. The UK is very committed to alternative energy sources and wants to reduce the CO2 level by 2020.  They are working on wave power as well.

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Our main destination was the Conwy Castle. We drove through the beautiful Welsh countryside and noted that there are huge numbers of sheep here. Roberta told us about the drovers who took money from the sale of livestock from place to place.  Because it was dangerous to carry money in those days, the drovers were the ones who came up with the banking system so that they could deposit money in one place and withdraw it from another.

Also the road signs and most other signs are in English and Welsh.  Good thing there is English because this Welsh language has us scratching our heads!

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The castle was built in 1283 and is huge and impressive. It is one of the finest medieval fortifications in the United Kingdom and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.   Its two gateways and eight stone towers sit on a rocky outcrop making the castle look impenetrable.

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It is in ruins now,  but it is still striking.  There are two bridges that bring the road and railway into town.  The covered one is the train bridge. 

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From the castle runs the original medieval town wall which is 1400 yards long and has an average height of 30 feet. The wall is largely intact all around the town and has 21 towers and 3 gateways. We did climb up into the tower area and got some nice pictures of the area.

Here are some pictures of the castle, the wall, and the village.

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The smallest house in Great Britain is here!

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We also visited St. Mary’s Church which dates back to 1172 –  and spent some time with one of the volunteers who showed us around.  One distinctive feature of the church is the carved mice in two places in the church.  This was a signature of the artist – Robert “Mousey” “Mouseman” Thompson.

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After our time at the castle and in the town of Conwy, we went on to the village of Betws-y-Coed where we had lunch at the Waterloo Hotel and then had time in the charming village.

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The weather has been practically perfect this whole trip, and today was no exception.  Just over 60 degrees and sunny.  Everyone says how much rain they have had, but we didn’t encounter any at all!

Of course, Liverpool is all about the Beatles, so before we went back to the ship, we went to see the statue of the Fab Four.

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Southampton, UK

June 19, 2019

Yesterday we were at sea and we had a cooking demonstration by 2 guest chefs – a Paul Bocuse chef, Francesco Santini  (on the right in the picture) and the corporate executive chef at Oceania, Franck Garanger.  They made a truffle and beef soup and a floating island dessert, both of which are served in the world famous Paul Bocuse restaurants in Lyon France.  Apparently the soup costs 80 euros in the restaurant, and the dessert costs 40 euros.  We had the dessert in the dining room last evening.  It was delicious, but not sure I would pay 40 Euros for it!!

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And by the way, I always mean to take a picture of the Versace china that is used in the Grand Dining Room, so finally I remembered.  I love the pattern.

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Our excursion today was to Salisbury and Stonehenge.  It is embarkation day for people on the eighth and last segment of this world cruise.  I have said it before, but it is so hard to believe the time went this quickly. When people ask how it is to be on the ship for 6 months, I say it is a lifestyle and we don’t treat it as a “vacation” but more an exploration of the world and its unique people and places.  We will be back to “real life” in just over 2 weeks. 

The day was cool and cloudy. We were hoping for no rain.

Our guide today was Richard Madden.  He was really terrific.  It turns out that he wrote a book in cooperation with the UK National Trust. It is a series of essays about travel including locations and experiences called the Great British Bucket List. 

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He gave us a lot of information about Southampton, which is a big container port and also a cruise embarkation port.  There is a 16 hour double tide here which means that there is 7 – 8 hours of high tide and only 4 hours of low tide in each cycle. It happens because water comes in from both east and west. This makes it wonderful for the shipping industry.

We went to Salisbury first, traveling through the scenic countryside of southern England. Salisbury is a medieval town which is most known for its cathedral whose spire can be seen from many miles around.

The cathedral took only 38 years to build which was almost unheard of back in the 13th century.

We had a short walk to the cathedral – here were some of the sights along the way, including the medieval wall and the gate into the area of the cathedral.

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The author of the Lord of the Flies, William Golding, taught in the brick building.

The cathedral is surrounded by a close, which is the term for a lawn next to a cathedral or a convent. It is the largest cathedral close and cloisters in Britain.  It is unusual to have a cloisters in a cathedral that doesn’t have a monastery associated with it.  The open green space is wonderful, and today they were mowing the lawn, but I managed to get pictures without the huge lawn mower in them.

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The building is huge and just beautiful – built in the Gothic style. It is considered one of the finest medieval churches in Britain.

The building is made of 60,000 tons of stone, 2800 tons of oak and 420 tons of lead and is on a 4 foot foundation in a gravel bed. The bed must contain water for the cathedral to be supported.  More on that later!

Here are some pictures of the outside of this magnificent building.

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The spire is the tallest in Britain at 404 feet and it weighs 6500 tons. We heard that it is the tallest because most of the others have collapsed!

The picture of the statues shows an old one on the right and then some of the newer replacements to the left of it. They are always doing renovation and one end of the cathedral is covered with scaffolding as you can see in the first picture above. There are 140 spaces for statues but only 81 have statues on them – it is unknown whether many were destroyed or the space never had a statue on it in the first place.

The first point of interest is the Chapter House which contains one of the 4 original copies of the Magna Carta and is the best preserved of the 4. The Magna Carta was written in Latin in 1215 with a quill pen on treated animal skin (parchment) and it is assumed that is why it is in such great shape. This exhibit was great and really inspiring.   The Magna Carta stressed that everyone, even the king, had to treat people fairly and that no one was above the law. Its clauses on social justice are as pertinent today as they were in 1215.  It has inspired the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the American Bill of Rights and the constitutions of many Democratic countries.  The 4 original Magna Carta were entered onto the UNESCO Memory of the World Register in 2009.

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You could not take pictures of the Magna Carta, it was in a special secluded section of the exhibit, but you could write a message, which I did, and it was posted on the board with others.  The Chapter House is beautiful – it dates to 1266 and is probably modeled on that of Westminster Abbey.

We moved on to the main cathedral which is amazing. They are currently renovating the building and they have crafts men and women working all the time.  They demonstrate their work in an area of the cathedral.

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This is the world’s oldest working mechanical clock.  It has ticked more than 4.4 billion times since it was built in 1386!

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There are many monuments and tombs in the cathedral.

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They have taken apart the Father Willis Organ to repair it and hopefully return it to its original sound.  There is a whole display with videos that share the story of the organ. Very impressive pipes!

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Here are more pictures of the interior.

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The weight of the tower and spire above has distorted the supporting columns and Christopher Wren visited in the year 1668 and designed some supporting internal columns which you can see in the picture below. You can also see the distortion at the top of the second picture.

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We had the good luck to have a volunteer guide explain the water to us.  He demonstrated how the daily water check is done and gave us the description of why the water level is so important to the survival of the cathedral.  He explained that it is like wet sand vs dry sand.  The wet is hard and able to sustain weight, it is the same with the gravel base that the cathedral is built on.

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The quire stalls are the earliest complete set in the country and the Salisbury Cathedral was the first Cathedral to found a girls’ choir in 1991.

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They have volunteers who make these cushions for the chairs.  Beautiful work.

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We could have spent even more time here.  I did take the time to request prayers for Nora’s recovery (my sister’s mother-in-law)

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We had time to stroll around the lovely town of Salisbury.

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Poundland is like our dollar store!

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After a quick lunch in Salisbury, we went on to Stonehenge. I will try my  best to describe it.  It is one of the most famous landmarks in the UK. It consists of a ring of standing stones, 13 feet high, 7 feet wide and each weighing around 25 tons. They were erected around 5000 years ago! Tourists used to be allowed to go up to and even climb the stones, but in 1977 access was restricted due to erosion and damage by visitors.

A shuttle bus takes you from the parking area/visitor’s center to the site.  The area is fenced off and you can walk all around the site – you get an audio guide to explain it all as you walk. The picture below is what it looks like from above.

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Here is the real thing.

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It probably was a place of burial in early times as there are burial mounds all around it.  But no one really knows and it is a compelling mystery!

The summer and winter solstices are celebrated here, in fact the summer one is just days away.

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The big rock is called the Heel Stone.  At summer solstice, an observer standing within the stone circle, looking northeast through the entrance, would see the sun rise in the approximate direction of the heel stone, and the sun has often been photographed over it.

There is an exhibit of the reconstructed Neolithic houses that show how the people might have lived and also one of the stones that you can try to pull. It is amazing how this was constructed so many years ago.

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We saw one of the volunteers feeding these birds.

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We  had time in the exhibition space and the gift shop before our trip back to the ship.

Our driver, Ian, took us through the New Forest National Park, one of the largest areas of open heathland and forest in the southeast of England.  There are 4000 wild ponies living here. It is said to be the former hunting grounds of William the Conqueror.

There are beautiful homes here, lots of them with thatched roofs.  Richard said that thatched roofed houses used to be for peasants years ago, but now they are highly desired and very expensive.  If something happens to the thatched roof, by law, you must replace it with the same.  And the people who do it are getting scarce.  One of his friends waited 2 years after a fire damaged his roof.

Here are a couple of pictures of the homes in the area and the ponies.

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And here are some of the buildings in Southampton. These are taken from the bus, and as you can see, it had started to rain.  We were lucky that we encountered just a few sprinkles on our whole tour and the rain waited till we were on the bus.

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Next stop – Liverpool where we will take a trip to Wales.

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Bordeaux, France, Day 2

June 17, 2019

It was another beautiful day in Bordeaux.  We went out for an early walk and stopped in at another church.  We were the only people there! Again, it was beautiful inside.  Most of the churches here seem to have similar architecture and were built or renovated in the same era.

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This quote is by St. Francis de Sales and means “all for love, nothing by force.”

We saw this unique book shelf outside of a home!

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And some other sights.

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We couldn’t figure out what was going on with the column here, it seemed to be covered with bark or rust.

We spent a lot of time in the botanical garden. It is so serene and beautiful.  Chris, these pictures are especially for you. And Deb, the duck and goose pictures are for you!

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I had a work related call to do in the afternoon, so we had lunch along the river and headed back to the ship. 

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After the call, I went out to do a bit more sightseeing and shopping.

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As we left for the day, I got some good pictures of the bridge that raises in the middle for us to pass under.  It stays open for an hour for ships to pass, and it is only the smaller ones like ours that can even come to the center of Bordeaux. Here is what it looks like closed and open, and also as we passed under it.

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I took the one just above from inside the ship, how about that yacht with the helicopter on the back of it!

I also got a pretty good picture of the wine museum (La Cite bdu Vin).  Very unusual design.

What a wonderful 2 days in Bordeaux.  We can’t wait to come back.  And, yes, my high school French still helps!

We have a sea day tomorrow on the way to Southampton, UK, where the people who were on for the segment will disembark and we will begin our last (gulp) segment of this glorious around the world adventure.



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Bordeaux, France

June 16, 2019

Last night there was a birthday party for our Around the World ambassador, Steve.  It was a lot of fun and yes, there was a monkey cake.  A bit risqué too. Or perhaps just a misplaced banana.

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It was a beautiful sail in to Bordeaux this morning.  The city is on the Garonne River and our ship is small enough to go all the way on the river to the city itself.  The only other boats there were three riverboats, no cruise ships.

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This is our third time in Bordeaux and we love it.

We were docked right outside the Place de la Bourse, the stock Exchange Square.

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Today we walked all through the historic area, visited two churches and lots of flea markets and regular markets.

Here are the market pictures I love to take.

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These  cream puff type doughnuts were wonderful.  We had a sample and then only bought one to share.  The woman who was selling them encouraged us to buy two.  When we came back later to tell her how good it was, she said “why didn’t you buy two?”  Norm said we are on a ship and there is too much good food.  She said “that’s not my problem.  I need to make a living!!”

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The first church was the Basilique Saint- Michel. This church was built between the 14th and 15th centuries. I lit a candle for Nora again here.

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We also visited Cathedrale Saint-Andre.  It is comparable in size to the Notre Dame in Paris.  Most of the structure was built between the 13th and 15th century.  Mass was still going on when we arrived, so we waited to be able to go in and take some pictures. 

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Both of these churches are UNESCO World Heritage Churches.

We strolled through some of the old squares and past the mostly closed shops – since today is Sunday, many of them don’t open at all. Lots of beautiful sights and adorable kids.

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Along the river there was a market set up which apparently is there every Sunday. We had a stroll through that, too.

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We had dinner last time we were here at a restaurant in the Grand Theatre, the opera house here in Bordeaux.  Lovely memory of time with Beverly and Alan.

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Tonight there is a special event in French Wine Country for the Around the World guests.  It is at the Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte.

It was a great night starting with the drive there through the countryside.  We had wine and tapas outside under tents, toured the wine cellars and then had dinner inside the winery.

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It stays light here until about 10 PM.  But on the way home we had a wonderful full moon.

Great day with one more to come.

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Bilbao, Spain

June 15, 2019

It was our first time to visit Bilbao which is in the north of Spain in the autonomous community of the Basque Country. 

We arrived just before 10 AM and the harbor and the view of the countryside were beautiful.

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Our plan for the day was to visit the world famous Guggenheim Museum and Bilbao.

Our guide was Igor.  He told us that the Bilbao area has 1 million people and 2 million visitors!  They speak Basque and are very proud of their heritage.  Basque is the oldest spoken language in Europe and is totally unlike any other language. 

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We had a bright sunny day which was lucky because they get 220 days of rain a year here.

It was a short ride to the museum and Igor told us the history of the area.  In August of 1983, Bilbao suffered extreme flooding due to heavy rains.  The water rose more than 15 feet and destroyed buildings and bridges in the city. Before this, the city was highly industrialized and many of those industries were devastated.  In the 1990’s the city began a transition to a service economy.  The Guggenheim Museum was a huge part of this transition. The area used to be lucrative with the shipyards using the iron extracted from the quarries – which was once the city’s main source of income – but were now decrepit. Igor said that it was a highly controversial project at the time, the cost to the city was 84 million Euros.  It has turned out to be such a prime tourist attraction that it is the landmark of the city.

The museum was designed by famed architect Frank Gehry and is clad in shimmering titanium. There are nearly 257,000 square feet of exhibition space and it feels cavernous inside.

The building and architecture are impressive on their own.  You weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the museum exhibits.  They were mostly very modern art, some I liked and some I think I might have done myself as a child!!

Here are some views of the outside of the museum and inside the lobby.

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There is a permanent Jenny Holzer exhibit and also a temporary exhibit.  The permanent one is a cascade of words in English, Spanish and Basque.  Her work is all in words and can be quite provocative.  We couldn’t take pictures of the ones inside the galleries but the permanent one is in the lobby of the museum.

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There are sculptures outside the museum and it is right along the river.  It is meant to look like a ship on the water.

Here are some of the outside sculptures as well as the “guard puppy” which is completely made of flowers.  There is also a steam feature near the river.

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The courtyard area outside of the museum is full of activities.  There is a dancing fountain and many activities that delighted kids and adults alike.  Bubbles, music and more.

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We enjoyed the visit and also liked just watching the river activities!

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After the museum visit, we had a tour of the city and ended at the Old Town (or Las Siete Calles – the 7 streets) where we had a walking tour and free time to explore the medieval neighborhood with its hundreds of shops, churches, restaurants and taverns.

Here are some of the sights from our tour around town and then the Old Town.

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The picture above is the Tentro Arriaga – the theater that is modeled after the Paris Opera House.  It was inaugurated in 1890.

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The church below is the Catedral de Santiago, known in English as the St. James Cathedral.  It was built in the 14th century and is the oldest in the city.

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The path of the Camino de Santiago passes here.

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Lots of archways, painted ceilings and beautiful architecture adorn the old city. Many bars and restaurants are under the archways. 

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Yes, there was a Five Guys. We didn’t go.  But we did find gelato. It’s a good lunch, no?

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Our last stop was at the top of the Artxanda Mountain which features a beautiful park and wonderful views of Bilbao.

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Here are some pictures of the beautiful homes we passed on our way back to the ship.

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We got back to the ship past the time we were supposed to be on board, but it was an Oceania tour, so they did wait for us. And we had just a short time until the scheduled Around the World event – tapas and magic.

As usual, chef Mario and his team did a wonderful job.  Sangria and lots of wonderful food.

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Yum…  Last day in Spain and we will miss it for sure.  On to Bordeaux tomorrow.

Posted in Europe, Excursions, Food, June, World Cruise 3 | 1 Comment

La Coruna, Spain

June 14, 2019

Here are a couple of pictures of the new cruise terminal from yesterday in Porto. And last night at the Oceania Club party, our captain, Maroje Brajcic got his 15 year recognition and Ray Carr got his 5 year recognition.

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We went to the Red Ginger night in Terrace Café.  Delicious food as usual.  We loved the Red Ginger restaurant on Sirena, wish they had it here.  But this was second best.

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Today we were in La Coruna. 

Here is the harbor as we arrived.

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It was the third visit for us, so I thought I might find a nail salon for a pedicure.  We found three, but no appointments were available until later in the afternoon, so we visited the gardens and some of the new city.

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And of course, we had to go to the fish market.

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Then we decided to do a city tour with Hercules Tours.  It turned out that we got to see parts of the city that we had never explored and turned out to be a great idea.

Our tour guide was Don.

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The tour featured 10 highlights of the city with extended stops at 4 of them.

As we drove past the pier, Don mentioned the Galleries houses with the windows that reflect sunlight and whose facades were built by fishermen out of wood and glass. La Coruna is often called the City of Glass.  The population is 250,000.

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We had a stop at the San Anton Castle which was built between the 16th and 17th centuries and played a vital role in defending the city from attacks by sea.  It now houses the Archeological and Historical Museum.

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As you can see, it was a beautiful day! We drove on to the Torre de Hercules, an ancient Roman lighthouse and one of the city’s most prominent symbols.  It was built in the 2nd century by the order of the Emperor Trajan. It is the best preserved Greco-Roman structure of its kind and is the oldest lighthouse still in operation.  It can be seen from 32 miles away. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

On the way up to the lighthouse you see this sculpture.  Don says that the sculptor’s father was a fat man and this is his likeness!

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The beaches here are beautiful!  And so are the views from almost everywhere.

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There is a famous tiled statue of an octopus and we had to have some pictures here!

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There is now a panoramic elevator that takes you to San Pedro Mount that is the newest attraction in the city.  It is under repair right now. No problem, our bus took us there.

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From here you have more beautiful views of the city. And some nice flowers too.

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We passed other statues, fountains and interesting buildings as well as parts of the old city walls.

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These two statues are right outside the port terminal building.

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The copper domed building is in Maria Pita Square, the city’s greatest public plaza, named for the heroine who rallied the townspeople against English invaders in 1589.  It is the Palacio Municipal, the ornate town hall and council building.

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Tomorrow is our last port in Spain, Bilbao.


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Porto, Portugal

June 13, 2019

The English word is Oporto, but it is still pronounced Porto.  We see it written both ways. It is the country’s second largest city.  It has a population of 220,000 in the city and 1.7 million if you include the surrounding area. It is the birthplace of port wine and in fact, if the wine is from anywhere else, it can’t be called port.

First of all, here is last night’s sunset as we left Lisbon.  Beautiful days and evenings here.

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This morning we sailed into Porto.

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It is our third trip to this city and today we opted for a tour to Guimaraes. Our guide was Nunu, and he said it is his real name, not a nickname!

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The port building where we docked is quite new and it has 1 million of these white tiles that are placed at angles.
Very interesting.

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As we left the port, we saw a sculpture that Nunu says was placed to honor the 152 fishermen who died in a boating tragedy in 1947.  It depicts the women wailing as they wait for the return.

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The trip to Guimaraes was a  pretty drive through the countryside.  Nunu told us a lot about the country and one thing he mentioned as a problem is the low birthrate – with not enough births to keep the population growing.  He hopes the government will make it easier to provide for families.

It is said that Guimaraes was the first capital of Portugal, but Nunu said that is not true, that it was the capital of a region of Portugal, not the whole country. But it is considered the birthplace of the country. In any case, the city has preserved many of its medieval structures and its historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Some of the buildings we saw as we entered the town.

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We first walked to the castle which is high above the city.

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Next to the castle stands a small Romanesque chapel where the first king of Portugal was baptized.

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The 15th century Palace of the Dukes of Braganza is notable for its unusual chimneys.

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There are many small squares in the city center and we had the time to explore them.  Here are some of the buildings, shops and other sights.

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The symbol above is on the sidewalk and it marks the Portuguese “Way of St. James” (13 days, 260 km).

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Very fun shops and art.

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This pastry is called Tortas de Guimaraes and it is only found here.  Only 2 families have the recipe.  It resembles a croissant, but inside there is a kind of sweetened spaghetti squash. Delicious.

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The old city walls have been incorporated into the buildings.  Most of them can’t be seen, but the one below is an example of one you can see.

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This is the Church of St. Mary of the Olives.  The clock is the mechanism from the bell tower.  There was a man playing the magnificent organ.

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More fun art!

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Lots of bars, cafes and restaurants.

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There were lots of young people doing drawings of the building.  Nunu said that they are architecture students, and he feels sorry for them because there are no jobs available.

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When we got back to the port, we joined Ray, Steve, Tricia, Sukey and Randall at a great restaurant (O Valentim) for lunch. They grill the fish right on the sidewalk outside the restaurant.  Good wine (vinho verde), food and company.

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Lisbon, Portugal, Day 2

June 12, 2019

Today we made plans to have lunch with friends Meg and Mark.  They chose a Lebanese restaurant called Sumaya in the Principe Real neighborhood which is where we walked through to get to the botanical garden yesterday! There is also a great chocolate shop there called Bettina & Nicola.

We decided to take the shuttle bus to the shopping area and went into an unbelievable shoe shop called Seaside.  If you couldn’t find a shoe here, it probably doesn’t exist.  We didn’t buy anything though.  We had both already bought Pikolinos shoes in another shop. Love them.

We again walked up to the upper town and by now recognized the streets, shops and restaurants. This is a building in the shopping area.

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We went into an old church, Igreja de Sao Domingos,  which was badly damaged in earthquakes in 1531 and 1755 and in a fire in 1959.  The columns and walls are badly scorched but there is still a kind of beauty here.  I again lit a candle for Nora and hope she is improving after her 2 surgeries.

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Here are a few more city pictures.

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We had a wonderful leisurely lunch with Meg and Mark and really enjoyed sitting outside in the patio area on another gorgeous day. I didn’t take pictures of the meze plates but just got the desserts before we inhaled them too!

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Tomorrow we head to Oporto, Portugal, then 2 more ports in Spain.

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Lisbon, Portugal

June 11, 2019

What can I say about Lisbon??  It is one of our favorite cities in the world.  In fact, we could easily live here.  While Portuguese is the official language, most people speak English and they are very gracious people.

The city is spread over seven hills north of the Tagus River estuary and in many ways it reminds you of San Francisco. Even the bridge.

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Here are some pictures of our arrival.  We arrived at 1 PM on Tuesday and will be in until 5 PM Wednesday – plenty of time to enjoy this beautiful city.

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Many of the buildings are covered with beautiful tiles, this is typical of many Portuguese homes.

We were planning to have lunch with Ray and the entertainment team so set out to walk to the Time Out which is a market in which more than half has been made into a kind of gourmet food court.  Beautiful weather and lots of sights to see along the way – we walked along the water.

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Time Out is a very unique concept and one that is coming to other cities around the world including Boston and New York.  High end chefs have booths that have smaller versions of the meals they offer in their restaurants.

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I guess we thought it was good!

Time Out is in what is called the Baixa (Lower Town) and we decided to head to the Bairro Alto (Upper Town).  There is a big elevator which we used last time, but this time we climbed the stairs.  By the end of the day our fitness trackers said we had climbed 36 flights!

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There are also trolleys that operate in the city and two that can take you up and down between upper and lower towns.

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Our destination was the botanical garden.  This turned out to be quite a serene place with mostly different kinds of trees including some giant redwoods.  There were some beautiful hydrangeas too. Some very bizarre sculptures which looked like they were just made of junk were found throughout the gardens.

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We found delicious ice cream at this place.

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Here are some of the other sights including the tiled buildings.

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Not sure I am signing up for the Blood wine.  But I guess they like the fried chicken! Me taking the picture!

There is a festival going on and we walked through the music and the booths on our way back to the ship.

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Lots of sangria and grilled sardines.

Speaking of sardines, there was a whole store featuring sardines in cans depicting years.  Not the year they caught and canned the sardines, but perhaps your birth year or other significant year in your life.  This is not how I would choose to memorialize my birth year.  First of all, I don’t like sardines, but it really seemed kind of weird.  Wonder how much of a market there is for these?  Fun shop though.

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Back to the ship in time for a late dinner.  More Lisbon fun tomorrow.

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Cadiz, Spain

June 10, 2019

Last night we had dinner in Toscana and I wanted to have the crab appetizer that the guest chef Michel Personnaz prepared in the cooking demonstration.  With a blink of the eye, Sasa, the maître ‘d had it in front of me. That’s Oceania service.

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While in the restaurant, we passed between the rock of Gibraltar and Morocco.  Here are the pictures.

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Today we are in the port of Cadiz, Spain.  Last time we were here we went on a tour outside the city, so this time we explored the city.

The Oceania Riviera was also in port today, it is one of the two bigger ships in the fleet.  Nice for many crew members to see their friends. And here’s the view as we sailed in.

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Not sure what this lock represents but I thought it was cool.

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The city is very walkable and we took advantage of wandering through beautiful narrow streets.  First we went to the City Hall and noticed the beautiful building and the interior statues and paintings.  We wondered about security – well it turns out we weren’t supposed to be upstairs and someone came and told us to go out!  I did get some nice pictures though.

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Maybe you have noticed that Norm is very intrigued by the knockers!

Here are some pictures of the city.

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The tree above is said to be one of the giant trees brought to Spain from the New World by Columbus!

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The picture below is of a spice shop. I love how they display their merchandise.

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This is the front and back view of the sea gates to the city.

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We visited three churches.  Here are pictures of two of them.  I will save the third for a more full description.

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The second one:

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And now for the most amazing one, the Cathedral on the Sea also known as the Holy Cross Cathedral over the sea or Catedral Nueva.

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It was built in the 18th century in Baroque style and Neoclassical style was added later. It took 116 years to complete. It is huge and is decorated all in stone.  The yellow dome adds a Moorish feel to the building.

There is a 6 Euro entry fee for this church and it is well worth it.  There are many chapels all around the huge interior. I took photos of just a few of them.  The choir section has many built in seats and the organ is quite impressive.

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I tried to take a panoramic photo but it doesn’t accurately portray the size and beauty.


The visit includes the crypt where there are tombs of many of the notable people of the time.

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The crypt is actually below sea level!

We then climbed up to the tower and what a view from there!

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The market here is a beautiful old building, but not too many stalls were open.

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We did some shopping, Norm bought a pair of shoes and I got a couple of tops.  I wanted white jeans which I said I would get when I got home.  Well, the next shop we passed had some that I saw from the window.  And they were perfect!! Viva Spain!

We had lunch at a lovely sidewalk café off of one of the beautiful plazas or squares of the city.  It is always better to find an out of the way place – less crowded and less expensive.  This one was wonderful and the food was delicious.

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It was a great day – we love Spain and each city is special.

Tomorrow and Wednesday we will be in Lisbon, Portugal.



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