A Travellerspoint blog

Lisbon

  • LISBON**

Date: *30th October 2014

  • Weather: *Clear blue sunny skies, 24C wind very light.

Our approach to Lisbon by sea was up a long estuary , where the river
Tagus runs out into the Atlantic. Our berth was 18 miles up into the estuary where the city lies on the northern banks. The sail into Lisbon is always a very enjoyable sight with plenty to see on your way in. Ours started with daylight in its early stages, and the early sunlight catching some of the shoreline. As you enter on the north side you pass the towns of Cascais and Estoril, then the first of some noteable buildings which
were “ Torre de Belem “ a five- storey stone fortress which was built in 1515 to guard the approach to the city water, this building was later used as a prison. Next up is the “Monument to the Discoveries” erected in 1960 to commemorate the early discoveries of the Portugese explorers , a fine white stone monument in the shape of a sailing ship bow with the explorers carved onto the ship all looking forward.

Always visible as soon as you enter the estuary is the “ Bridge” on the lines of the San Francisco bridge, with the same colouring. It has a central span of over 1,000 yards and a total length of double that. When you pass underneath it has a buzzing or humming sound which is made by the traffic going across it, this is because of the open metal work design.

Right next to the bridge on the south bank is a statue of “ Christ the King” resembling the one in Rio de Janeiro, but a lot smaller, it was paid for by the women of Portugal in thanksgiving for the fact that their menfolk were not actively involved in WW11. This is a fine sight stood on a plinth some 215 feet high.

As we arrive at our berth very near the main city centre the river Tagus is still a massive river with the south bank shore some distance away, and with lots of ferry traffic which serves the commuting public from the town across the river.

Our plans for today were to do our own thing and explore some more of what the city has to offer, we`ve been here a few times before so we knew the general layout of the place. After some late breakfast we made our way to the quayside to pick up a shuttle service which took us to the city
centre. We did have one objective for the day and that was to take one of the old electric trams to the “Alfama” district. The trams are very much a work horse for their respective districts well used by locals and loved by the tourist. They seemed to be a bit unloved but that all adds to the character. The Alfama area is a working class area with narrow streets and alleyways going everywhere. After some unusual twists and turns in the tram track we arrived at an open square with cafes local shops plenty and of people. The edge of the square was terraced with fine views of the river and the rooftops spread out below. So after taking in all what was on offer we waited for the next tram which took us back to the city centre, this particular route is a circular one, and you can jump off at many different stops to explore lots of points of interest.

We decided to find a pavement café with the dual purpose of having a rest and finding one that also had the Custard tarts for which all Portuguese places are famous, and that was soon done! we sat for quite a while, and the sun was warm so it was a nice break. We then went for a walk to remind ourselves what the city looks like again, there are many fine buildings and monuments dotted around. The Baixa district is the main commercial centre of Lisbon and is laid out on a grid system but the whole city is very easy walking.

After having our fill of the city we made our way down to “ Black Horse “ Square to where there is a fine monument, this square is right on the waterfront with a nice view over the river. From this position we decided to make our way back to our ship which was only a short walk along the waterfront and this we did, stopping to see some more fine buildings along the way.

We had a light lunch and then retired to the deck for a sit down with a view of Lisbon, finishing our stop here very well pleased.

An early evening sail away with the last of the daylight seeing again all those views we saw earlier in the day . Thank you Lisbon, now we head for Gibraltar.

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Posted by pzack 09:25 Comments (0)

First Few Days

  • FIRST FEW DAYS*

Hi All,

Here we go again with a short trip from the UK to the Iberian Peninsula and back to the UK.

We started our journey from Cornwall by car to our home port of Southampton early in the morning, of the 27th, this early start would give us a bit of spare time for any unforeseen circumstances, if needed before our sailaway time which was in the late afternoon , but all went well.

Embarkation went very well and we were soon on board, with our cases not far behind, so we were able to unpack and familiarize to our cabin and get use to our new home for this journey.

Safety procedures all completed we went to the “Crows Nest” lounge to see our sailaway down the Solent , with the fading daylight and a new moon just coming out it was a great picture. Also sailing that evening was another cruise ship the “ Breamar “ ,she sailed just before us so her ships lights in the evening light added to the scene.

We had two days at sea before we reached our first port of Lisbon, in Portugal. The first of those days we were to cross the notorious “ Bay of Biscay “ renowned for its rough waters, but for us we did not have to worry, for on this occasion the weather was kind to us with virtually no wind and the sea state was just a gentle low swell, so our crossing of the bay was excellent.

Our next day we woke to a clear blue sky, and thankfully it stayed that way all day, and with a gentle southerly breeze it was a very pleasant day at sea. With an air temperature of 19c the sundecks were well supported with the occasional person in the swimming pools, ( the pools on this ship are all openair), but still it was all very nice.

So, I`ll say goodbye for now and hope that you`ll join us again.

Posted by pzack 09:55 Comments (0)

Antigua

ANTIGUA Date: 3rd March

Weather: Mostly overcast, some rain before arrival, very warm 26c, humid

Position: Latitude 17 deg. 7.2 min N Longitude 61 deg. 50.8 min W

They call Antigua “a beach with an island in the middle” for it is a good way to describe this charming island, with its little sisters Barbuda and Redonda, it forms the largest and most developed of the four British Leeward islands. Roughly circular, the island is about 12 miles in diameter and has some of the finest beaches in the Caribbean, more than 350 of them.

Some points of its history are, it was fought over by the French , Dutch and Spanish, but the British prevailed, as by the mid-1600s British planters from St Kitts colonised Antigua and used African slaves on the sugar plantations.

During the 18th and 19th centuries Antigua was the headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief of the Leeward Islands Station and the principal British naval base in the Eastern Caribbean during the Napoleonic Wars. Admirals, Nelson, Rodney, Hood and Jarvis all made the dockyard at English Harbour their headquarters, and it was from here the Rodney sailed to the Battle of the Saints. It was also here that Nelson re-fitted his ships during his chase of the French Admiral Villeneuve, which ended at Trafalgar.

Alongside us at our berth in St Johns, which is the islands capital, was the cruise ship “Celebrity Eclipse” and we then discovered as we walked down the quay that beyond the Celebrity ship there were two other big cruise ships, one a Thompson ship which was for German passengers, and the MSC Majesty . So Antigua was going to be a busy place that day. We joined our friends Marilyn and John with the idea of a taxi tour, once outside the quays gate there were plenty of options for this, most of the taxis are the people carrier type, and our driver Alwen wanted 6 people, so we were linked up with a Scottish couple who were from the Celebrity ship. As the day went along all six of us plus Alwen got along very well. ( Alwen was a real card!) Just outside the quayside gates, there were many colourful waterfront buildings with shops etc. with a board walk along the front of them, it set the hole harbour front off really well .( something we thought we`d look at later)

The biggest tourist attraction on the island (apart from its beaches) is Nelson`s Dockyard in English Harbour, so that was going to be our first port of call, it took us a bit of time to clear the town of St John`s and our route took us across the island. As we neared our stop we had lovely view of a marina, and that was Falmouth Harbour, for us who come from Cornwall ( UK ) it’s a very familiar name as we visit Falmouth quite a lot. The whole complex of Nelsons Dockyard and English Harbour is a national park, so an entrance fee is necessary to get in. But that fee is well worth it, for they have a fine asset, the whole dockyard fell into disrepair, so in 1951 a Friends of English Harbour association was set up, and the results are there for all to see. A lot of the old original buildings are still there, such places as Admirals house, Old Guard house, and a Copper and Lumber store, inside each of the buildings was a small museum of that particular function of the yard. It was a real dockyard with all the trades associated with ship repair in it. We only had a short time there just ½ hour, speaking to people later aboard ship everyone wished they had more time there. From the English Harbour we drove to a nearby viewing point called Shirley Heights, in the heyday of the harbour, at this viewing point there was a fort to protect the harbour. You could see many miles of the coastline and much of the island, one older local taxi driver could remember when he was a boy, that much of what we could see of the island was used to grow cotton, which was then sent to England to be processed, but now that same view was what looked like scrub land with the occasional building on it.

Moving on we took in another part of the island, it`s what they called their rainforest, it was certainly more lush with many high trees and banana plantations but not the dripping forest we had seen on other islands. Now our route took us to the coast and we had some great views of many fine beaches, from one of those beaches Alwen pointed out the island of Montserrat, I don`t know how far it was but at a guess 15 miles, the volcano is still puffing out a plume of smoke, which hung over its crater.

Occasionally Alwen would break out into song with some of Bob Marley hits and we would all join in, it made for a good atmosphere. Buy this time we had nearly completed our tour as we were on the outskirts of St Johns, when we were dropped off we had a quick look at the colourful shops we’d seen earlier. So I think we had had 3 ½ hours of what was the best about Antigua, so we can go away with some good memories of Antigua and of course Alwen.

We were the second of the four ships to leave, but it was a great sail-away with flat calm seas and another great sun set. So we`re off to our last port of call Ponta Delgada in the Azores.

Sorry for the delay in posting this blog, just relaxing at sea after our 8 islands in the Caribbean.

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Posted by pzack 06:11 Comments (0)

Ponta Delgada

  • PONTA DELGADA**

Date: *9th March 2014

  • Weather:* Sunny but cool 13c, warmer out of the breeze
  • Position: *Latitude 37 deg. 44.3 min. N Longitude 25 deg. 39.8 min. W

The Azores, or the Western Islands are a Portuguese archipelago in the North Atlantic , consisting of nine islands which are in three groups. These three groups are all on different tectonic plates, which meet at that particular point in the Atlantic. They are all of volcanic origin, with the last eruption of Capelinhos in 1957.

The Azores have a temperate climate, due to the Gulf stream, with an annual mean temperature of 18 degrees Celsius, in winter the lowest would be 11c and a high in summer of 26c, these weather conditions being temperate means practically anything will grow and flourish. Our island for the day, Sao Miguel is known as The Green Island, with land commanding a high price because it can produce three or four crops every year. One of its important products is the dairy industry, where cattle can graze in the open all year round, but also beef on the hoof, which is exported to Madeira and Portugal. Another big industry here, is the Pineapple with several producers.

Sao Miguel is the largest and most important island of the whole group, with more than half the total population, which is 260,000. It is 35 miles long and 9 miles wide, with Ponta Delgada as the capital.

Our first view of the island, was of mountains and hills from a few miles offshore, we`d arrived ready for our docking a little bit early, so we had to wait for the pilot so we could proceed, the captain had informed us being a Sunday he was probably having a lie in. The town of Ponta Delgada was fully visible, the place itself was quite large, we were expecting something a lot smaller. Our berth was inside a guarding breakwater, shaped like the letter " T "with the upright of the T connected to a promenade and Lido, first impressions were, the place looks very nice. We also learnt later, that housed on this berth were many shops and cafés, and also a terminal building. In the waters around the berth was an open swimming area one side, and a yacht marina the other.

The plans we had for the day were to just explore the place, we had been here before so we had a fair idea of what to expect, so it was a late breakfast, then out onto the top deck to get our bearings again, and we were trying to decide what to wear ashore because the weather forecast for the day was for it to be mostly sunny with a temperature high of 13c. These last couple of days we have seen a big temperature drop, from low 20s to low teens. For me also it was the first time for a while, that I wore long trousers, it`s getting a bit chilly for shorts!.

So now ashore we strolled along the promenade, and it was at this time that the sun decided to come out, leaving a clear blue sky. It seems that a lot of the Portuguese cities use a black and white natural stone to make their tiled pavements, and this place was the same, for as we walked around it seemed that each road or street had its own design. But in general there were very few buildings with any colour, you may say how boring when the dominant colours are black and white, but actually they looked very nice. The streets we walked were tidy, and some of the smaller side streets with tiny iron balconies looked very quaint.

After a while you got the feeling that it was a place which was out of season, not that it would be a great tourist destination anyway, because of its remoteness, being in the middle of the Atlantic, and also it was a big disappointment that being a Sunday must of the shops were closed. After walking for a while and following our map, we found a square, where the café culture was in full swing, so we joined in, for this was a planned move, and the reason for that move was custard tarts, we`ve had them here and in Lisbon before, and they are a Portuguese treat, (we did also have a pot of tea). They are not huge, maybe the size of a Christmas mince pie, and these were still warm, Very yummy! While in the square we did notice that there was a tourist horse and carriage, also an open top bus went by earlier, so there must be a demand for these things.

Having done quite a big loop of the town, we found ourselves back on the main front road, where there is a wide promenade, and on the promenade we noticed a group who were doing what looked like some traditional dancing. We then made our way back to the ship, but while we were in the town we could see that most places have WI FI, and you must admire our crew, because no matter where you are in the world, they just seem to know where you can get connected to the outside world.

So for us this last sail away was quite a sad occasion, this being our last port of call, the next port, will be our home port of Southampton. So I hope all those of you who have followed us on our travel blogs, have enjoyed what we have experienced in the flesh. For us it has been a great journey, even now when we go back and look at some of our early photos,
the memories come flooding back. For us the Caribbean has been a first ( apart from our two stops in Barbados) so to have seen some of its Islands and experienced diverse cultures has been great, and to have shared some of our memories with our friends Mike & Sue and John & Marilyn, has really added to the trip.

So we will say goodbye for now, just keep on looking at "pzack.travellerspoint" for future episodes. From Colin & Angie

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Posted by pzack 10:41 Comments (1)

Antigua

  • ANTIGUA**

Date: 3rd March *

  • Weather: * Mostly overcast, some rain before arrival, very warm 26c, humid
  • Position: * Latitude 17 deg. 7.2 min N Longitude 61 deg. 50.8 min W

They call Antigua "a beach with an island in the middle" for it is a good way to describe this charming island, with its little sisters Barbuda and Redonda, it forms the largest and most developed of the four British Leeward islands. Roughly circular, the island is about 12 miles in diameter and has some of the finest beaches in the Caribbean, more than 350 of them.
Some points of its history are, it was fought over by the French , Dutch and Spanish, but the British prevailed, as by the mid-1600s British planters from St Kitts colonised Antigua and used African slaves on the sugar plantations.

During the 18th and 19th centuries Antigua was the headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief of the Leeward Islands Station and the principal British naval base in the Eastern Caribbean during the Napoleonic Wars. Admirals, Nelson, Rodney, Hood and Jarvis all made the dockyard at English Harbour their headquarters, and it was from here the Rodney sailed to the Battle of the Saints. It was also here that Nelson re-fitted his ships during his chase of the French Admiral Villeneuve, which ended at Trafalgar.

Alongside us at our berth in St Johns, which is the islands capital, was the cruise ship "Celebrity Eclipse" and we then discovered as we walked down the quay that beyond the Celebrity ship there were two other big cruise ships, one a Thompson ship which was for German passengers, and the MSC Majesty . So Antigua was going to be a busy place that day. We joined our friends Marilyn and John with the idea of a taxi tour, once outside the quays gate there were plenty of options for this, most of the taxis are the people carrier type, and our driver Alwen wanted 6 people, so we were linked up with a Scottish couple who were from the Celebrity ship. As the day went along all six of us plus Alwen got along very well. ( Alwen was a real card!) Just outside the quayside gates, there were many colourful waterfront buildings with shops etc. with a board walk along the front of them, it set the hole harbour front off really well .( something we thought we`d look at later)

The biggest tourist attraction on the island (apart from its beaches) is Nelson`s Dockyard in English Harbour, so that was going to be our first port of call, it took us a bit of time to clear the town of St John`s and our route took us across the island. As we neared our stop we had lovely view of a marina, and that was Falmouth Harbour, for us who come from Cornwall ( UK ) it's a very familiar name as we visit Falmouth quite a lot. The whole complex of Nelsons Dockyard and English Harbour is a national park, so an entrance fee is necessary to get in. But that fee is well worth it, for they have a fine asset, the whole dockyard fell into disrepair, so in 1951 a Friends of English Harbour association was set up, and the results are there for all to see. A lot of the old original buildings are still there, such places as Admirals house, Old Guard house, and a Copper and Lumber store, inside each of the buildings was a small museum of that particular function of the yard. It was a real dockyard with all the trades associated with ship repair in it. We only had a short time there just 1/2 hour, speaking to people later aboard ship everyone wished they had more time there. From the English Harbour we drove to a nearby viewing point called Shirley Heights, in the heyday of the harbour, at this viewing point there was a fort to protect the harbour. You could see many miles of the coastline and much of the island, one older local taxi driver could remember when he was a boy, that much of what we could see of the island was used to grow cotton, which was then sent to England to be processed, but now that same view was what looked like scrub land with the occasional building on it.

Moving on we took in another part of the island, it`s what they called their rainforest, it was certainly more lush with many high trees and banana plantations but not the dripping forest we had seen on other islands. Now our route took us to the coast and we had some great views of many fine beaches, from one of those beaches Alwen pointed out the island of Montserrat, I don`t know how far it was but at a guess 15 miles, the volcano is still puffing out a plume of smoke, which hung over its crater.

Occasionally Alwen would break out into song with some of Bob Marley hits and we would all join in, it made for a good atmosphere. Buy this time we had nearly completed our tour as we were on the outskirts of St Johns, when we were dropped off we had a quick look at the colourful shops we'd seen earlier. So I think we had had 3 1/2 hours of what was the best about Antigua, so we can go away with some good memories of Antigua and of course Alwen.

We were the second of the four ships to leave, but it was a great sail-away with flat calm seas and another great sun set. So we`re off to our last port of call Ponta Delgada in the Azores.

Sorry for the delay in posting this blog, just relaxing at sea after our 8 islands in the Caribbean.

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Posted by pzack 17:56 Comments (1)

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