Summer Solstice Voyage
Day 1 - Lisbon Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world. Its magnificent harbor made it a logical trading port as far back as the Phoenicians, as well as a departure point for 15th century voyages sponsored by Prince Henry the Navigator, patron of Portuguese explorers. The city is rich in architecture, from Romanesque and Gothic to Post Modern, and criss-crossed by monument-studded grand boulevards. Today it is seeking a place on the world stage by hosting, in addition to its own active cultural calendar, film festivals, art, fashion, and design shows, book fairs, marathons, and rock concerts.
Day 2 - Leixões (Porto), Portugal At the mouth of the Rio Douro lies the city of Porto, known mostly for its port wine trade. With origins dating back to the 5th century, there is plenty to see in this town that was named European Capital of Culture in 2001. Stroll the Ribeira neighborhood along the river, explore the Cathedral area, or tour the port lodges of Vila Nova de Gaia across the river. Savoring a taste of tawny port, tripe, and seafood while here is highly recommended.
Day 3 - At Sea
Day 4 - St. Peter Port Guernsey is a self-governing British Crown Dependency off the coast of France, British by virtue of the Norman invasion of England in 1066, and the subsequent merging of the two territories. St. Peter Port overlooks the harbor, with rows of brightly painted houses, and terraced gardens. The island is ideal for rambles along cliffside paths and through the bucolic interior. While traditional fishing, flower growing, and dairy farming are still important, Guernsey's favorable tax climate has of late brought an influx of offshore banks and insurance companies, with their attendant bistros and boutiques.
Day 5 - Honfleur Honfleur is a lively town and a bustling port, where fishermen can be seen hauling in the daily catch. The maritime influence is everywhere evident; even the handsome church of Sainte Catherine has an oak ceiling that resembles the hull of an overturned ship. The charming square surrounding the church gives way to narrow cobbled lanes of half-timbered houses, elegant manors, and tall, narrow town houses. The quality of light has long attracted artists, including a particularly illustrious group, among them Monet, Corot, Turner, Courbet, Millet, Seurat – all of whom stayed at a little thatched inn called the Saint Siméon, now Honfleur's most luxurious hotel.
Day 6 - Bruges In Bruges you can lose yourself in another time, wandering the maze of winding lanes or drifting along the canals of its medieval core, the whole of which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. You can also have a wonderful time discovering the fascinating stories behind the products for which Belgium is famous, in an unexpected array of museums. For sparkle visit the Diamond Museum, and for exquisite artistry the Lace Center. At Choco-Story, learn all about chocolate’s origins and production. And for lots of fun and more tempting tastes, don’t miss the Frietmuseum, dedicated to Belgian Fries, and presented with no doubt as to who actually invented this universally adored snack.
Day 7 - Amsterdam Amsterdam has a personality all its own, including a long time reputation for tolerance. You'll be thinking of tulips and wooden shoes, perhaps Heineken beer, and some of the city's past inhabitants: Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Anne Frank, who wrote her famous diary hidden in a canal-side house. But do you know that Amsterdam has more canals than Venice (connecting a jigsaw puzzle of 90 islands), joined by some 1280 bridges (many illuminated by fairy lights at night)? Or that it boasts the oldest stock exchange in the world?
Day 8 - Amsterdam Amsterdam has a personality all its own, including a long time reputation for tolerance. You'll be thinking of tulips and wooden shoes, perhaps Heineken beer, and some of the city's past inhabitants: Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Anne Frank, who wrote her famous diary hidden in a canal-side house. But do you know that Amsterdam has more canals than Venice (connecting a jigsaw puzzle of 90 islands), joined by some 1280 bridges (many illuminated by fairy lights at night)? Or that it boasts the oldest stock exchange in the world?
Day 9 - Kiel Canal This is the world's busiest artificial waterway, linking the North Sea with the Baltic, and cutting 250 miles off the journey by eliminating the need to sail around the Jutland Peninsula. Operating since 1895, it was widened to accommodate larger vessels in early 20th century. Still narrow enough to keep ships close to the shore, and with no locks, it is basically a gentle cruise through the backyards and gardens of the local folk, whom you may see riding their bicycles, or picnicking on a fine afternoon. Be sure to return their waves of welcome.
Day 10 - Copenhagen Copenhagen is known as a city of spires: the skyline of its medieval core is punctuated only by the steeples of churches and towers of palaces, though a modern building boom has overtaken other parts of the city. Today's Copenhagen is known for its excellent quality of life and environmental consciousness - with many parks, it is green both literally and in today's sense of the word. It is also bicycle-friendly, with bike paths lining almost every major street. After a ride or wander through the old town, stop for a local repast of Smørrebrød, traditional open-face sandwiches, or a mouthwatering Danish pastry.
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