Canary Islands Discovery
Day 1 - Lisbon, Portugal 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.
Day 2 - At Sea
Day 3 - Funchal (Madeira), Portugal The Madeira Archipelago, consisting of the islands Madeira, Porto Santo and Desertas, is situated in the Atlantic, about 400 miles from the African coast and 560 miles from Lisbon. Discovered by the Portuguese in 1419, Madeira, the largest of the islands, became of great importance to Portugal for its sugar production and later on for the cultivation of wine. The unusually temperate oceanic climate and extraordinary scenery had Northern Europeans flocking to Madeira as early as the 18th century to spend the winter months. The winning combination of high, rocky peaks, steep green ravines and waterfalls in the interior, with the flowering charm of Funchal still attracts nearly half a million visitors each year.
Day 4 - Santa Cruz (La Palma), Spain The old town is a treasury of 16th and 17th century buildings, and not just churches. Do go inside the fortified-looking Iglesia del Salvador, however, to see its ornate, Islamic-style Mudejar ceiling, one of the best in the islands. A short way outside town is the Sanctuary of the Virgin of the Snows, one of the most important sites on the island. The waterfront is a good place to find ancient houses with elaborate iron balconies, many now converted to restaurants and shops. Many visitors tour the island’s dormant volcanoes, or the odd, erosion caldera called La Cumbrecita, a UNESCO Biosphere Site. An excursion to the village of Mazo rewards with a fine island museum containing examples of local handicrafts and especially the fabulous indigenous embroidery. Just beyond the museum is a handicrafts school, an excellent place to acquire a handcrafted souvenir of your Canary Islands adventure.
Day 5 - Puerto de la Estaca, El Hierro, Canarias, Spain The smallest and westernmost of the Canary Islands, Hierro is a rugged, windswept place believed in Columbus’s day to be the very western edge of the world. Its picturesque, whitewashed capital, Valverde, is unusually located high in the mountains some distance from the sea, and home to just 2,000 souls. The volcanic island was designated a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 2000, and photographers delight in dramatic sights like the Faro de Orchilla lighthouse, the great natural stone arch of the Roque de la Bonanza and the bizarre, wind-twisted juniper trees set against stony slopes. The Canarian artist Cesar Manrique created a spectacular viewpoint and restaurant overlooking the dramatic El Golfo valley atop kilometer-high cliffs.
Day 6 - Santa Cruz (Tenerife) Tenerife is the largest of the seven main islands, which comprise the Canaries. Beyond its quaint whitewashed villages, the Canary Islands' eternal spring keeps flowers, fruits and vegetables growing year-round. From Tenerife, you can travel up through pine forests to Mt. Teide, Spain's highest peak.The Iglesia del Salvador’s Islamic Mudéjar ceiling is one of the best in the islands, and La Palma’s odd, erosion caldera called La Cumbrecita is a UNESCO Biosphere Site.
Day 7 - San Sebastian, la Gomera San Sebastián de La Gomera is the capital of La Gomera, one of Spain’s Canary Islands. The Church of the Assumption has a mural depicting an 18th-century battle, and a museum with religious artwork dating from the 16th century. Nearby, La Gomera Archaeological Museum traces the island’s indigenous cultures through artifacts and scale models. South is the Torre del Conde, a medieval fortification set in a lush park.
Day 8 - Las Palmas, Spain Las Palmas is a large Spanish city, which just happens to be on the island of Gran Canaria. That fact adds the exotic, slightly African and international flavor to the place. It played an important part in the early exploration and exploitation of Africa and the New World, some of which is recounted in the Casa de Colon Museum. Columbus may have slept there, but it was never his house. It was actually the mansion of early governors. Other museums of note are the Museo Canaria with a number of Cro Magnon skulls, and the fascinating Elder Museum of Science and Technology. For shopping, strolling and general local interest, head to La Vegueta, the oldest quarter and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the adjacent Triana high street shopping district. Most visitors are here for the beaches, and the municipal Playa de Las Canteras is a long, clean and safe option if that is your intention. The Canaria in the name of the islands refers to the indigenous Presa Canaria breed of dogs, which are large, strong and made quite an impression on the earliest Spanish visitors.
Day 9 - Arrecife, Canary Islands Lanzarote is the northernmost of the Canary Islands, often known as "volcano island." Its capital is Arrecife, a quiet town of about 30,000 inhabitants. Present day Lanzarote consists of two quite distinct massifs: Famara in the north, and Los Ajaches in the south, where centuries of erosion have sculpted abrupt cliffs and deep ravines, contrasting sharply with the smoothly rounded hills of the island's central region.
Day 10 - At Sea
Day 11 - At Sea
Day 12 - Lisbon, Portugal 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.
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