A Travellerspoint blog

Cannes

  • CANNES

Date: *20th May 2016

  • Latitude: * 43 degs. 32.0 mins N *Longitude: *07 degs 1.3 E
  • Weather: *Clear blue skies all day, light sea breeze 23c

For this port we had to be tendered ashore, by the ships life boats. It`s all very well organized, you collect a ticket from one of the ships lounges and when your number is called you go to the tender platform and then go ashore.

We were in no particular hurry to go ashore, so it was a latish breakfast, we checked our surroundings from the top deck, and took a few photos, the view we had was magnificent, the sea was so blue and the sun shining on all of the buildings, it looked great. The bay we were in was full of luxury yachts all different sizes, plus another cruise ship the “Norwegian Epic” and a couple of smaller cruise ships. You might ask why all this shipping, well our visit to Cannes coincided with the Cannes film festival.

Our landing point ashore was very near the “Old town”. We were soon passing one of the marinas with lovely yachts everywhere. Heading for the famous “ Promenade de la Croisette” we were passing the temporary tented village for the film festival, I suppose this was where all the Beautiful people would be seen!! Up next is the main festival hall and a lot of activity here, one side of the dual carriage way was closed outside the hall and used as a pedestrian walkway, here there were camera crew and the like some people parading around hoping to be spotted by a film director, it was really entertaining! The security people all around the “Red carpet” was unbelievable. But still it`s something you don`t see every day, now onto the Promenade proper beautiful tall trees which give shade, small
manicured flower beds and a lovely footpath, on the sea side there were beach restaurants with sun loungers and beach umbrellas, a lot of the beach restaurants belong to hotels which are directly opposite. There are several public beaches within the town so everyone can have a bit of the good life.
We continued along the promenade until we were opposite the famous Carlton hotel, it`s a very fine building, but as with all the hotels along the front there were temporary advertisements on parts of their façade because of the film festival. We then swapped sides of the road, away from the beach side promenade and walked back toward the main town along the pavement in front of the hotels where there are many of the top designer brand shops, each with its own security guards on the door.

We decided to stay ashore for some lunch, and we were looking for Cannes old town, it was not difficult to find. Down one of the side streets we found a busy but shaded restaurant, we ended up with a pizza each and nice cool drink, we had plenty of time so we just soaked up the atmosphere of it all. After lunch we strolled along the busy and narrow streets of the old town, one thing to mention here, it`s very difficult to not stop and gaze, but also be tempted by all the fine pastries.

Nearly back to where we had started, we passed by the many pavement cafes by the marina, just a final look at the sea before we boarded our tender to get back to our ship. It was a bit on the lumpy side, as the breeze had got up, it was not a big swell it just happened to be in the wrong direction.

All in all we had a great day in Cannes, so it`s onto our next port of Livorno in Italy.

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Posted by pzack 14:55 Comments (0)

Barcelona

  • BARCELONA

Date:* 18th/19th May 2016

  • Latitude: * 41deg. 21.3 mins N* Longitude: *02 deg.

10.6 mins E

  • Weather: * Cool and hazy the first evening 16 c, Clear blue skies all day 21 c very light winds.

Barcelona has a very long and varied history, starting back with Romans BC , then with Moors about 1000 AD. Catalonia then unified with Aragon in 1137 and that led to trading links with Mallorca, Ibiza, Sicily and Menorca. In 1400 AD the city started to decline with the discovery of the Americas and the port of Cadiz took over as the place to be. In 1714 Felipe V then took over Spain, and Barcelona lost a war along- side the Habsburgs, the Austro Hungarian family, that war was the” Spanish war of Succession”. Following this in 1808 the French occupied the city during the Napoleonic wars. And during the Spanish civil Wars Catalonia the province was after independence and supported the Republican cause, which lost, and General Franco never forgot this and the state felt a backlash from him because of that support. To this day there is a very strong feeling of Identity for Catalonia.

For this port we have an overnight stay as well as a full day, we arrived late in the afternoon so those people who wanted to sample the city by night could. Ourselves we didn`t take that opportunity, preferring just to take the normal day.

Our start was not an early or late one, we had breakfast in the cafeteria on the top deck, it`s a good place to get a feel of your stop and the days weather. There were no issues with either, the terminal building was right alongside with good access, and we had good reports of the weather for the day. After breakfast it was back to the cabin to collect our bags for going ashore. We used a shuttle bus which runs between the ship and a point just at the bottom end of the Las Ramblas.

We had a plan for the day and that was to visit the “Palau De La Musica Catalonia”, which means The Palace of music for Catalonia, it is a world heritage site.

To reach our objective we started our walk through the city on the Ramblas. At mid- morning it was not too busy. Then it was into the narrow streets of the old quarter, where you`ll find small squares with cafes and alleyways going everywhere, not like the majority of Barcelona which is laid out on a grid system, we passed their town hall in a fine square along with some other civic buildings, some fellow passengers saw a wedding which came out of the town hall. We were soon by the cathedral, (not the Gaudi one) with lots of buildings which are associated with it around it. In one square there were some antique stalls, whilst walking the popular routes in the city you are aware of the street sellers with all sorts for sale there is always something new.

We then located our quest for the day, the “Palau” at the moment from the street it has two faces, one the “New” and one the “Old”. The new has a corner tower made out of red brick, and the brickwork is very intricate with a design of trees up its full height, plus one of its sides was plate glass, this glass facade overlooks a courtyard where you can enjoy a coffee. Going onto the “old” it is very much in the “Gaudi” mould, every square inch of front surface is covered with ornate designs. These surfaces might be pillars, arches, domes, a lot them represent the things of
nature. Both Gaudi and the architect for this building Lluis Domenech were from the same period tho they did not work together. Domenechs brief was to create a building suitable for all of the arts, and in building it he used all of those arts to create the marvellous building it is today. You`ll see stain glass, sculptures, iron work, tiles, all used to great effect. If you think the outside is good!! when you get inside it is something fantastic. Today it is regularly used for orchestral concerts, ballet, choirs, flamenco, attracting all the top artists from around the world.

For the inside of the building we took a guided tour, first we were shown a short film of how the building came about and the different stages of its construction. I think I`m right in saying it has a capacity 2,600 with seats on three different levels. While on the lower level all of the different aspects of the sculptures, tile work and the like were explained, the main jaw dropping work is the stain glass centre piece situated in the roof of the hall, at this time we also had a short recital from the massive pipe organ, very impressive. We moved then to the upper level where you got a real close look at the ceiling and its designs. Well, all good things must come to an end and our tour was a good one, but it was a great find, and to think that we had been to Barcelona for a few times now and not known about this Gem, all I can say is if you`re ever here, go see it.

Out now into the daylight and we made our way to the Placa Catalonia, and then down the ` Ramblas, stopping for an Ice cream along the way. I did say earlier that the Ramblas was not too busy, well by early afternoon things had certainly changed, now it was buzzing. Half way down the Ramblas we took a detour into the famous “ La Boqueria” market where you can get any fresh produce, it all looked fabulous.

We caught the shuttle bus back to the ship and had a very late lunch, before retiring to the deck and a sit in the sun to rest our aching feet!

So I will say goodbye for now and hope you join us for our trip to Cannes.

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Posted by pzack 09:15 Comments (0)

Gibraltar

  • GIBRALTAR**

Date: *17th May 2016

  • Latitude:* 36 degs. 8.8 mins N, *Longitude:* 05 degs. 21.9 mins W
  • Weather: * Cloudy at first, clearing later to give long sunny periods 24c

Our visit to the “Rock of Gibraltar” is a half day one, which suits us as we`ve been quite a few times. We arrived at 8 o`clock in the morning and were due to leave at 1.30 pm. With leaving at that time it allows us enough steaming time for our next port of call Barcelona.

Following us into Gibraltar was the “Independence of the Seas” one of the 3 ships that left with us on Saturday. She`s a big ship 3000 or more passengers, so that made for a busy time shore.

There is a good mini-bus taxi service to and from the ship to Casement square, which is at the bottom end of the main street, and a big meeting place. Having been here several times before we took the walking option from the ship into town, it`s about a 15 minute walk at a gentle pace, and all flat. Then it was some window shopping and taking in the general atmosphere. One of the main attractions of this stop, is that the port is a duty free one so there are lots of bargains on jewellery, perfume, electrical goods & drinks etc. As you can see from some of the photos the Main street gets very busy.

On our return trip coming back into Casement square we came across one of the street entertainers the type that are motionless, only this one seemed to be levitating in mid- air, but attached to a motor bike, he certainly was popular. So after our time in the town was up, we again took the walking option and strolled back to the ship.

There is an on-going dispute about the sovereignty of Gibraltar with Spain trying to claim the “Rock”, but it is still *Very *much British. So any visits to any nearby parts of Spain are made difficult by the Spanish border control. But for a small piece of land there are still a few things to do on this stop. Plenty of taxi tours to take you around, and to the top of the rock. At the top end of main street you can get a cable car to the top of the rock where there are great views of the Straits of Gibraltar, and North Africa, this is also the place where the famous Apes can be seen. This place also has a big military history which goes back many hundreds of years, it is because of its geographical position between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic

Back on-board things were being prepared for a deck BBQ, also they have a sail away party on the top deck with a lot of flag waving and the singing of such British songs, as “ Land of Hope and Glory”, which wind the Spanish up.

So it`s good bye Gibraltar and onto our next stop, Barcelona!

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Posted by pzack 13:15 Comments (1)

First few days

  • FIRST FEW DAYS*

Hi all,

Here we go again with a trip from the UK to the Western Med 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 14th, this early start would give us a bit of spare time for any unforeseen circumstances, if needed before our sail away, which was in the late afternoon , but all went well, just a bit of heavy traffic in Salisbury but no great delay.

Embarkation went very well and we were soon on board, with our cases at our cabin when we found its location, I think it`s the quickest we`ve had them during our time cruising. So we had a bit of light lunch, then it was back to the cabin to unpack and familiarize yourself to cabin and get use to our new home for this journey. It`s always a bit of a shock when you see what space you have, where do you put everything!!!!, but you do get there in the end.

Safety procedures all completed we went to the “Crows Nest” lounge to see our sail away down the Solent, with the sun shining, hardly any wind what great site it was, with all types of craft on the water. Also sailing that day were 3 other cruise ships, one was the Cunard ship “ Queen Elizabeth” another the “ Independence of the Seas” and one other who name I don`t know. They had all left before us, but we were all in a line going out pass the Isle of Wight.

We had two days at sea before we reached our first port of Gibraltar. 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 flat calm, so our crossing of the bay was excellent, but the sky was overcast, with an air temperature of12c.

Our next day, again overcast, this time a little warmer at 17c, with the sun trying to come out later in the day and thankfully it stayed that way all day, and with a gentle northerly breeze it was a very pleasant day at sea, with that direction of wind the same way as we were travelling it makes for virtually no breeze across the decks.

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

Posted by pzack 07:15 Comments (0)

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