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Old July 27th, 2010, 11:36 PM
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Smile Oceania Insignia Western Europe August 2011

My wife and I will be flying into Copenhagen Denmark on Monday 8/9/10, we have approximately 36 hours there before departing to Oslo, Norway.

Copenhagen, Denmark 8/9-8/10
Oslo, Norway 8/11
Amsterdam, Netherlands 8/13
Bruges, Belgium 8/14
Le Havre, France 8/15
Brest, Frace 8/16
LaRochelle, France 8/17
Bordeaux, France 8/18-8/19
Biarritz, France 8/20
Bilbao, Spain 8/21
LaCoruna, Spain 8/22
Oporto, Portugal 8/23
Lisbon, Portugal 8/24

We are interested in any local information in Oslo and any of the port cities. All of the excursions seem pretty pricey and we are great wanderers and adventurers. Any and all suggestions or recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks Ron

Oceania Nautica 2006
Oceania Regatta 2008
Carnival Destiny 2008

Last edited by Biker472; July 27th, 2010 at 11:43 PM. Reason: adding info
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Old July 28th, 2010, 04:10 PM
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Wow Ron, what a fantastic itinerary, such a diverse collection of ports.

I can help with some of them, but obvioulsy it will take a while and if I did one long reply it would take forever to read, so I will break the replies down by the ports of call & post them over the next few days.

I hope that is OK with you,

Alan & Katrina
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Last Cruise: Azamara Journey August 2014
Next: Queen Victoria November 2014
Followed by: Queen Elizabeth December 2014 and Minvera April 2015

History :
Golden, Grand(2), Caribbean, Sea(4+1 aborted)
Adonia(4+2), Arcadia, Artemis(2), Aurora(5), Azura(2), Oceana(3), Oriana(11), Ventura(2), Victoria(5)
QM2(2), QE2(9), QV(5), QE, Caronia(2), Minerva II, Fred.Olsen(8), NCL Jade, =X= Eclipse, HAL Ryndam, Aza.Journey
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Old July 28th, 2010, 04:16 PM
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Default Copenhagen, Denmark

The report is written as if you are on your ship, as I don't know if you are onbord overnight or staying in a hotel.

Your ship should dock at an area called Langelinie, with a wall in alongside which contains souvenir shops. On the other side of this wall are some very odd sculptures - but you can get some nice photos of them with the ship in the background. So back on the shipside of the wall, walking along the front, you will come to 2 statues, the first you will notice is of a rather voluptious mermaid, probably complete with people posing as if supporting her (yes we're guilty of that), the other behind the hut of a couple of bears. From here walk over the bridge & round the small yacht harbour. As you reach the water on the other side, continue along the front for about 50 yards and you come to the Little Mermaid statue (yes she IS little). Once you've made this obligatory photo stop you continue along the waterfront, passing a waterfall statue, and arriving at two hexagonal boxes. This is the area where the Royals join or leave their yacht. Continuing along this route, you next come to an imitation of Michaelangelo's Statue of David, and an art college/museum. You should now be able to see a large glass building ahead on the other side of the water - this is is the Concert Hall, when you arrive alongside this take a look to your right - you should find a large Fountain & beyond that a statue of a horse. This is in the centre of Amalienborg Palace, where they change the guards at 12:00. We saw these again in December, and they marched in playing the theme tune to "Monty Python's Flying Circus", and left to the tune "Let it Snow" - which raised a laugh or two. Okay, from here you can either return to the waterfront & continue your walk that way, then turn right at the end, OR, leave the palace grounds towards the waterfront, but turn right & follow the road. Both end up at Nyhavn, which is the old dock area, full of outdoor bars & life. You turn right & walk along here & having had a very nasty shock at some of the prices, continue to the head of Nyhavn, where there is a large plaza.
On the other side of this you will find the main shopping streets, which lead down to Tivoli Gardens (half way down there is a McDonalds with free washroom !!) . Once at the plaza by the Tivoli Gardens you will find the town hall. You may want to have a chat with the shuttle buses when you leave the ship, as they usually pick up at one of these 2 plazas which could save you a walk back - or alternatively take the shuttle in & walk back. There are other ways to walk back which take in other palaces, and an old Fort with moat which is still in use (on any map look just inland from the Little Mermaid).
There are also hop-on/hop-off coaches & waterbuses which we keep looking at, but haven't ever got round to using. We heard that they are quite good.
Hopefully this will at least give you some ideas. You can follow the route quite easily on any of the internet map sites such as maps.google.com which will also give you an idea of distances, and what else is around to see en route.

Alan & Katrina
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Last Cruise: Azamara Journey August 2014
Next: Queen Victoria November 2014
Followed by: Queen Elizabeth December 2014 and Minvera April 2015

History :
Golden, Grand(2), Caribbean, Sea(4+1 aborted)
Adonia(4+2), Arcadia, Artemis(2), Aurora(5), Azura(2), Oceana(3), Oriana(11), Ventura(2), Victoria(5)
QM2(2), QE2(9), QV(5), QE, Caronia(2), Minerva II, Fred.Olsen(8), NCL Jade, =X= Eclipse, HAL Ryndam, Aza.Journey

Last edited by kandajones; July 28th, 2010 at 04:33 PM.
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Old July 28th, 2010, 04:29 PM
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Default Oslo, Norway

The ship will dock next to an old fort, which is not only open to the public free of charge, but well worth exploring, and a great place to take photo shots across the ship. It is a short stroll from here to the city centre, which itself itself has one main street with businesses running off of it. At one end is the main train station, at the other end the Palace. The Palace grounds are open & you can wander freely around them.
Back in the city, there are plenty of shops & large department stores, many of which are unique to Oslo, or the Baltic States. So a good chance to buy mementos of the journey. Halfway down the main drag from the Palace to the Station, you can turn back towards the water passing the Nobel Peace Centre where the ceremony is held & awards given out. Continue down to the waterfront, the ship will be to you left, and to the right are some new looking glass buildings which house boutique style shops, and various waterfront restaurants, well worth a rest to watch the world go by - but remember NORWAY IS EXPENSIVE!!.

Also BEWARE of the trams, they are all around here, in places that you wouldn't expect them & moving quite fast at times. If you like statues (albeit odd ones) there is a tour sold on the ships to Vigelandsparken, but you can easily get here buy using these trams, or walking though it's mopstly uphill & not signposted - we followed the tram tracks ;o).
In December, we took a ship tour to the Viking Ship, Fram, and Kon Tiki museums. This tour included a drive around the city & suburbs as well, pointing out lots of details that would have otherwise gone un-noticed.

Finally the sail in/out of Oslo along the fjord is just sooooo relaxing. The perfect way to end a busy day.

Alan & Katrina
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Last Cruise: Azamara Journey August 2014
Next: Queen Victoria November 2014
Followed by: Queen Elizabeth December 2014 and Minvera April 2015

History :
Golden, Grand(2), Caribbean, Sea(4+1 aborted)
Adonia(4+2), Arcadia, Artemis(2), Aurora(5), Azura(2), Oceana(3), Oriana(11), Ventura(2), Victoria(5)
QM2(2), QE2(9), QV(5), QE, Caronia(2), Minerva II, Fred.Olsen(8), NCL Jade, =X= Eclipse, HAL Ryndam, Aza.Journey
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Old July 28th, 2010, 09:47 PM
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Allen and Katrina,
That would be great. It looks like you have been "everywhere" so I'm sure you have some really great information. Thanks a million. Ron
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Old July 29th, 2010, 05:10 PM
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Default Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam, now this is a good one as the itinerary often says Amsterdam, but when you look deeper you see it is either Rotterdam (for Amsterdam) or more recently Ijmuiden (for Amsterdan), so you need to check that first.

If it turns out to be Rotterdam, let us know as there is a lot to do there as
well.

So let's say that you are docking in Amsterdam, the first highlight is the sail in itself, another lovely Canal (as is the sail-in to Rotterdam) where you can relax & watch the world slip by. As you approach Amsterdam, there is quite often a fireboat leading you in & with any luck they turn on the fire-hoses. A very special feeling.

Approaching the berth at the new terminal you pass the main part of town & this is where you'll stroll back to (you'll notice the word stroll again, it sounds so much more relaxed than 'walk'). There is a tram service from the end of the dock entrance, and you can get a day passes but we would only really reccomend that if it is raining, raining HARD, as you will miss so much.
** WATCH OUT FOR BIKES ** they have more rights than anyone else on the roads or paths & they know it !!

So as you leave the terminal, head down the short street to the main road & turn right, follow the waterfront over the swing bridge to the main railway station on your left & pass through that into the town. This station is easy to find & as all the locals speak English you'll have no problems if you get lost.

Now let's set your bearings. Standing in front of the station facing away from it, think of the view as a clock with 6 o'clock behind you (the station), and 12 o'clock (Victoria Hotel) in front of you over the canal. You can forget everything before 10 o'clock, and after 2 o'clock, there's nothing to see there.

So starting at 11 o'clock you will find the back roads into the famous 'red light disctrict' along with a Gothic cathedral call the Oude Kerk (Old Church). It is rather seedy & grubby area, but very safe and one of those 'got to see' areas of Amsterdam, and has some nice bridge views along tge canals.
Moving around the clock we come to 12 o'clock & the Victoria Hotel, running down the left of this is the Dam Rak which leads to the main square (Dam Platz) which houses the main city hall, lots of large stores, and old buildings.
Just beyond the square, if you turn right onto the main road Raadhuisstrat & follow it to the 4th canal and another impressive church then turn right you will come to Anne Frank's house. You are almost guaranteed to miss it though unless there is a large queue. If you want to find it, pass the church slowly & cross the small square, there is a statue on the corner. The queue will go into the Anne Frank Museum, which is the entrance to the house, and the house itself is a few more doors down the canal on the right. It has a black door & very simple plaque.
Within these boundaries lies the main shopping area, with all your normal high street stores & a few tacky tourist gift shops. The 'coffee shop' drug culture is not as 'in your face' as you might fear, but easily found if you look.
Further afield, & best reached by the tram system, are a range of diamond workshops and art museums including Van Gogh, Rembrandt and the Rijksmuseumm, and guaranteed to raise a smile, or an eyebrow is the Sheep Fart Museum - okay so it's the Scheepvaartmuseum, and houses the history of shipbuilding in the Netherlands, but yes that's how you pronounce it !!
If you want to take a trip on the water, there are a few different companies, most offering the same sort of tours, plus a hop-on hop-off service including commentary for about €20 - for more info see Amsterdam Canal Bus Hop-On Hop-Off

Last time we were in Amsterdam we joined up with a city walk which was not only excellent entertainment, but also Free of Charge - see WELCOME TO SANDEMAN'S NEW AMSTERDAM they work purely for tips, at the end also have discount tickets for events if people want them. There is no hard sell, and you can leave anytime you want with no obligation or guilt to not tipping, but if you enjoy it as much as we did, you will be only to pleased to tip them & keep their services going. We had a Kiwi take us round, he was hilarious, and probably best for an adult audience ;-) The walks meet at the Station then arrive 15 minutes later at Dam Platz before starting the tour.

Well that about wraps up a quick overview of a first-timers guide to Amsterdam.

Alan & Katrina
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Last Cruise: Azamara Journey August 2014
Next: Queen Victoria November 2014
Followed by: Queen Elizabeth December 2014 and Minvera April 2015

History :
Golden, Grand(2), Caribbean, Sea(4+1 aborted)
Adonia(4+2), Arcadia, Artemis(2), Aurora(5), Azura(2), Oceana(3), Oriana(11), Ventura(2), Victoria(5)
QM2(2), QE2(9), QV(5), QE, Caronia(2), Minerva II, Fred.Olsen(8), NCL Jade, =X= Eclipse, HAL Ryndam, Aza.Journey
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Old July 29th, 2010, 06:02 PM
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Default Bruges (from Zeebrugge), Belgium

if you are planning on doing your own thing here, then it is worth noting that the docks are a long way from town, so most of the cruise lines run a shuttle bus service from the ship to a town called Blankenberge, where it dropped you at the start of the town, just across the road from the railway station. Blankenberge is a pleasant town for an hour or so, but you really want to be visiting Bruges or Ghent.
Trains leave Blankenbgerge every hour at 10 past the hour and are very reasonably priced. If you are going to Bruges/Brugge the transfer time is
11 minutes, plus another 15 to walk from the station to the town itself. Remember to take a map, Bruges is a bit of a maze.
If you want to travel a bit further afield, the same train then carries onto the town of Ghent/Gent/Gand where you get off at the station St Pieters/St Pierre (note Belgium has 2 official languages, and if you don't know this then the signs can be a little confusing). If you want more
detail on Ghent, just ask.

Once at Brugge Station, you need to walk directly away from it, over a main road, then either off to the left which takes you to the top of the
town & market place (it's a little longer, but far easier to follow) or straight ahead, which will lead you to the main shopping street. The walk took about 20 minutes or so. In either case, you now turn right & face down the busy road (Zuidzandstraat), and wander down here. You will
pass St. Salvador's Cathedral - just follow the sound of it's bell. Passing this cathedral continue down the road until it opens out into another, smaller, market square. To the right is another & much larger cathedral. This is a very popular place for sitting outside & enjoying a drink, watching the horses & carriages go round. Once you are ready take a look around the catherdral (if that's your thing) passing through it's courtyard and coming out at the far end of it then turn left on this small road, back to a main road. At the main road, turn right (all the shops in this area sell either chocolates or lace work) & follow it for a few hundred yards, and you will pass over a large section of canal.
Turn left & follow the canal for one block - it then turns away again, but stay on the road for another block & you will arrive at the fish market - which will either be incredibly busy, or closed. At the market, turn left & follow along side it back to the canal & bridge.
You are now at the back of the town hall, and, if memory serves me well, should have a lovely archway across the road ahead. You need to cross
the canal & go under this bridge to enter the Town Hall Square. Which is surrounded by, apart from a huge WOW! Town Hall some lovely examples of Hanseatic League buildings with their very distinctive stepped rooves. Another place to sit & relax. Also useful here just after you pass under
the archway is the building on the right - it houses the Tourist Information office & public restrooms.
You will still have plenty of time, but just to give you your bearings once more, if you leave this square diagonally opposite to the archway where you came in, that road takes you back to the smaller market square & Cathedral.
There are so many things to see in Bruges, that I willl not attempt to add any more to this suggestion, other than to say - keep your map handy, and keep an eye on the time. A taxi back to the ship isn't going to be too expensive if you miss the train, but why add the stress and cost to your day.

Have a great time & don't eat too many chocoloates

Alan & Katrina
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Last Cruise: Azamara Journey August 2014
Next: Queen Victoria November 2014
Followed by: Queen Elizabeth December 2014 and Minvera April 2015

History :
Golden, Grand(2), Caribbean, Sea(4+1 aborted)
Adonia(4+2), Arcadia, Artemis(2), Aurora(5), Azura(2), Oceana(3), Oriana(11), Ventura(2), Victoria(5)
QM2(2), QE2(9), QV(5), QE, Caronia(2), Minerva II, Fred.Olsen(8), NCL Jade, =X= Eclipse, HAL Ryndam, Aza.Journey
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Old July 30th, 2010, 10:59 AM
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Default Le Havre, France

Hmmmm how should I put this? do you like the colour grey? if not (and to be honest even if you do) seriously consider the tour into Paris. Le Havre has little to offer the intrepid tourist, most of the city was reconstructred after the war in drab grey concrete, housing a few pleasant bars & bistros - most complete with the stereotyped surly French bar tender.
The call is probably aimed at family of those who lost loved ones during the D-Day landings & ensuing battles.
You can hire bikes & head off to some of the surrounding villages which are far prettier, and the tower of the town hall (Hotel de Ville) is worth climbing on a bright day for a view down towards the beach front.
You can take the train into Paris, but as they take 2+ hours, and with the French reputation for lightning strike action I would not want to reccomend trying it unless you are happy to risk making your way to the next port of call overnight to catch up with the ship. Also to make this option work, you would have to grab a taxi cab from the docks to the station, as it would take about 30 minutes to walk. So by the time you do all that, the cost of the ship's tour isn't going to seem so bad.
If you do decide to stay local, then watch carefully & even take notes of the route that that shuttle bus takes into town, as you can walk back to the ship passing through quiet streets, and over a freestanding 'counter balanced' foot bridge with pleasant views along the working quayside.
If you do book onto a Paris trip, and want to see more than maybe one or two museums, then seriously think about the options, the 'do it yourself' may seem like a great idea, but you will spend so much time jumping from one attraction to the next that you may miss out on all the history & lifestyles of the Parisiens. Following a crown around on an organised tour can be a drag, but for a first time visitor to Paris, I would say stick with it, pick up as much information as you can, and then if you visit again use that knowledge to plan sections of the city to visit.
If you are going there to see the museums, then the Louvre is obvioulsy top of the list, but also look into the Musee D'Orsay - a converted railway terminus which in itself is a piece of artwork. The museum is over several floors & houses all sorts of works, but it's main collections are from artists such as Monet, Reoir, Gaugin, Van Gogh and the like. If the museums do interest you, then make sure you check their websites for opening times, they tend to vary season by season.
Alan & Katrina
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Last Cruise: Azamara Journey August 2014
Next: Queen Victoria November 2014
Followed by: Queen Elizabeth December 2014 and Minvera April 2015

History :
Golden, Grand(2), Caribbean, Sea(4+1 aborted)
Adonia(4+2), Arcadia, Artemis(2), Aurora(5), Azura(2), Oceana(3), Oriana(11), Ventura(2), Victoria(5)
QM2(2), QE2(9), QV(5), QE, Caronia(2), Minerva II, Fred.Olsen(8), NCL Jade, =X= Eclipse, HAL Ryndam, Aza.Journey
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Old July 31st, 2010, 04:30 PM
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Default Brest, France

For Brest there are 3 options that we've either enjoyed or heard great things about in the past. The first is to take the free shuttle bus, it drops you into the centre of this lively town where there are plenty of bistros, bars, and cafes. Before it gets to the town, the bus makes a stop off at the old Fortress, which is still used to this day by the French Navy.
This very impressive fort, where solid seems to take on a whole new dimension, the walls are just so wide, houses the Naval Museum. On the opposite bank of the river stands a single tower, which is now a Museum of the history of the area.
On the return leg from the town, the bus then stops off at the Oceanopolis Aquarium - the ship usually sells this tour (that's option 2), but I've never found out what benefits, if any, you get over using the shuttle bus (or walking) & doing it yourself.
I understand that the Aquarium is one of the largest in Europe, and is certainly worth looking into if you like nature & the oceans.
It would be worth checking with the tours or front desk on whether there will be a shuttle bus, and if so what stops it make - just in case they've dropped the aquarium stop.

Last time we visited the area, we took option 3 - a tour to Quimper. The transfer was lengthy, but the rewards more than made up for the compact French coaches. The coach set down point is outside the Tourist Information office & some 2-3 minutes outside the town.The town itself is quite small, but a truly ancient town with houses in the old quarter seeming to defy the laws of gravity as lean into each other and hand over the river - I don't think I'd be able to sleep at night in them.
There is a vibrant & lively market hall with wooden beamed roof selling fresh seafood and local produce, along with traditional Breton Crepes.
This anvient quarter is connected to the old quarter / town centre by a pedestrianised street with modern day shops. In the old part of town, you have the Cathedral, with a curved aisle !! acoss the main square from the Town Hall with a traditional Carrousel running outside. Dotted all around here are street-side cafes, souvenir shops, and local pottery stores.

Alan & Katrina
__________________
Last Cruise: Azamara Journey August 2014
Next: Queen Victoria November 2014
Followed by: Queen Elizabeth December 2014 and Minvera April 2015

History :
Golden, Grand(2), Caribbean, Sea(4+1 aborted)
Adonia(4+2), Arcadia, Artemis(2), Aurora(5), Azura(2), Oceana(3), Oriana(11), Ventura(2), Victoria(5)
QM2(2), QE2(9), QV(5), QE, Caronia(2), Minerva II, Fred.Olsen(8), NCL Jade, =X= Eclipse, HAL Ryndam, Aza.Journey
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Old August 2nd, 2010, 03:46 PM
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Default La Rochelle, France

You dock a long way from the town of La Rochelle, with a shuttle bus service - note this service will usually be restricted or even halted, for the driver's lunch break !!

If this is your first visit to La Rochelle, then it is certanily worth taking the shuttle bus & looking around the town, from it's markets, to it's harbour with quayside al fresco restaurants, to it's town walls/ramparts with twin towers protecting the harbout entrance, to it's old town with it's imposing high, narrow streets, to it's "over the top" town hall (Hotel de Ville) complete with marble pillars, staircases, decorative roof. Also, in the undustrial side of the town, you will find the Maritime Museum, which had displays showing that the area around La Rochelle seems to have spent more time fighting than at peace, whether throught religion, wars with the English, wars with the Spanish, even wars against France. It was also an important U-boat base for the Germans in WWII. On more peaceful note, Jacques Cousteau's research ship Calypso may be found here - however she may stil be away for restoration work.

A popular alternative to the town is to take a transfer to the beaches of Ile de Re, which is a small island connected to the mainland by the long bridge by the port.

Alan & Katrina
__________________
Last Cruise: Azamara Journey August 2014
Next: Queen Victoria November 2014
Followed by: Queen Elizabeth December 2014 and Minvera April 2015

History :
Golden, Grand(2), Caribbean, Sea(4+1 aborted)
Adonia(4+2), Arcadia, Artemis(2), Aurora(5), Azura(2), Oceana(3), Oriana(11), Ventura(2), Victoria(5)
QM2(2), QE2(9), QV(5), QE, Caronia(2), Minerva II, Fred.Olsen(8), NCL Jade, =X= Eclipse, HAL Ryndam, Aza.Journey
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Old August 2nd, 2010, 03:56 PM
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Default Bordeaux, France & Biarritz, France

Sorry nothing to report for either of these 2 ports, perhaps you can feed whatever you find back to us for our info :-)

Alan & Katrina
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Old August 2nd, 2010, 03:58 PM
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Default Bilbao, Spain

For Bilbao we've been docked in 2 different locations, the first was the industrial ferry port, which has nothing to offer. However, more recently we've been docking in Getxo near the Beachfront / Harbour. If you are moored up here, it is worth coming back to the ship an hour early to take a walk along the promenade to the beach or Getxo town where some very expensive (and very weird) houses are built, it seems that when the wealthy were living there, they weren't going to be outdone by their neighbours.

The ships normally provide a free shuttle bus into the city centre (some 8 miles), dropping you off one of the roads leading from a large, well kept, roundabout to the Guggenheim Museum. Take a few seconds to make a note of which one, as it can be hard to spot the shuttle buses amongst all the traffic.

It is a simple walk downhill to the Guggenheim, which is possibly more interesting from the outside that the exhibits on the inside, with a genereal opinion from people we've spoken to that the ship's tours to the Guggenheim being far too rushed, as they pack in so much, that they would have better off taking the shuttle bus & looked around at their own pace.

Behind the museum is Bilbao's river which runs all the way into the old town & is a pleasant way of getting into town avoiding the busy, uninspiring streets. The waterside areas are usually full of locals enjoying life and many organised events.

Following the river upstream you will get to a very busy junction, where the river turn sharp right as it goes under the roadways. To the left stands a very imposing Town Hall. Crossing the road & continuing to follow the river will bring you to a Plaza full of trees, some entertainment, street merchants & so on. And now for a quick bearings check - Continuing along this plaza with the water below you & to the right you will come to a main road cutting across you, on the other side of this road is a large theatre with flag poles in the forecourt. Ok it is this main road that I wanted to draw your attention to. If you were to turn right here, crossing the river & following the road straight over the first roundabout, you end up back at the very large roundabout where the shuttle bus can be found.

Okay back to Bilbao, if you stand facing the theatre, the old town is to your left. So you need to leave the river behind you & cross the road then head down the pedestrianised road - note I don't think anyone has told the delivery drivers that this area is pedestrianised!! As you walk down this street you will find an alley way on your left leading to a lovely plaza (Plaza Nuevo?) which is surrounded with coffee shops, bistros, lacework shops etc. with some very expensive apartments above them. Once you've taken it all in, come back out the way you entered & turn left again continuing down the street. This will bring you to Bilbao's Gothic Cathedral, which is worth a look around. There is a story about a black door at the back entrance, but I can't recall it You are now in the oldest part of the city, and all around you the buildings lean & warp, many having ornate wooden balconies.
Once you have finished exploring the streets return to the front of the Cathedral & stand facing away from the main entrance. Turn right & follow that street as it takes yo back to the theatre. About half way along, there is an old library on the left, which is worth visiting for 2 reasons. Firstly it has great architecture and ornamental windows, but secondly as they have clean washrooms down the stairs.

And so ends the beginner's guide to Bilbao. There is lots more to see, but hopefully this list will have given you some ideas & provided you with some guidance.

As for organised tours, the best ship's one that we have taken was to Getxo by coach, as this also took in "old Bilbao town on foot", "the hills overlooking the city", and the "old transporter bridge", where we walked over the top & then took the hanging gondola back - see http://www.norbiton.com/ukdave/bilba...ansporterA.htm and 19transporterB.htm for pictures. In fact this website has some 36 images of Bilbao with great descriptive write-ups.

Alan & Katrina
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Old August 2nd, 2010, 04:01 PM
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Default La Coruna, Spain

You dock alongside the town's marina, so wandering in & out is no problem. We usually turn right out of the gates & follow the marina to the end of the ship for a few photos, then continue to follow the path/bike lane towards the breakwater where there is a small fort which houses a museum. If you then follow the road on round & up the hill, you will find the gates to gardens at the top of the hill on the left. This affords some good views over a hotel swimming pool back across the marina & ship. There is a large archway exit from here which leads into the upper part of the town. This is full of narrow streets & amongst them is a large cathedral/church & monastery.

By walking across the front of this this church, keeping it to your right, and wandering through the old streets, past some lovely buildings you head back towards the town. At one point you will come to a small square with another church & cross in it. You need to turn right into the square & left to leave it (i.e. head across it, but leave walking in the same direction as you entered) & you will end up above the main square (Plaza de Maria Pita) & can wander down into this via the stairways. If there are any celebrations going on, they will be at the first Church and/or in this square.

If you enter the square this way, you will be passing alongside the beautiful Town Hall, at the far right hand side of the plaza, you should see a small TI office, with lots of brochures, they weren't great on foreign languages though.

Once you have finished with this Plaza, you should leave on the opposite end to the Town Hall as this takes you back to the waterfron and you ship. However if you are in no rush, then exit via the arches at the far right hand corner, and you will find lots of small authentic local shops. Follow this road for several blocks & you are eventually merged back to the main road. On the other side of this main road, there are more gardens, which house ponds, fountains and water features, statues, laid lawns, cafeterias & so on. On a nice day, it's worth wandering off to the right hand end, then doubling back on yourself to follow the gardens all the way back to the marnia entrance & your ship.

I hope this gives you some ideas. There is a very good map to be found at Plano da Coruña it is actually an advertisement for a local dentist (which I hope you won't be needing) but the map shows all the things I've mentioned, and the maria is pretty much in the centre square.

Alan & Katrina.
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Golden, Grand(2), Caribbean, Sea(4+1 aborted)
Adonia(4+2), Arcadia, Artemis(2), Aurora(5), Azura(2), Oceana(3), Oriana(11), Ventura(2), Victoria(5)
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Old August 2nd, 2010, 04:10 PM
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Default Oporto, Portugal

We've not been here yet, but are going in November this year, so any feedback you have would be appreciated.

Our research so far has shown that our ship docks at a town called Leixos, from where a cheap & frequent Metro service runs from Mercado at the port into Oporto itself.

Alan & Katrina
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Last Cruise: Azamara Journey August 2014
Next: Queen Victoria November 2014
Followed by: Queen Elizabeth December 2014 and Minvera April 2015

History :
Golden, Grand(2), Caribbean, Sea(4+1 aborted)
Adonia(4+2), Arcadia, Artemis(2), Aurora(5), Azura(2), Oceana(3), Oriana(11), Ventura(2), Victoria(5)
QM2(2), QE2(9), QV(5), QE, Caronia(2), Minerva II, Fred.Olsen(8), NCL Jade, =X= Eclipse, HAL Ryndam, Aza.Journey
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Old August 2nd, 2010, 04:53 PM
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Default Lisbon, Portugal

We have been to Lisbon 7 or 8 times now and are still finding different things to do each time. The ships tend to dock in one of three different locations, the best in our view is just next to the road bridge, which is a smaller span version of the Golden Gate bridge. It is a nice walk along the waterfront (away from Lisbon) to the Monument to the Discoveries and a little further on to Belem Tower & Jeronimos Monastery, it takes about an hour to walk each way but all on the flat and a few photo stops along the way. The noise of the traffic going over the bridge is deafening and makes interesting video and pictures

If you take the ship's shuttle bus, you will be dropped off near or at the main square where there are a lot of shops, and wide open plazas. As you walk the main drag from the drop off point, you will find a very strange metal elevator which takes you to a viewing platform & cafe, and a very ornate church, which lost its roof in an earthquake and was never replaced.

Something else which is worth the experience are the trams, and in particular tram no.28. This is an old wooden tram & it's route climbs some steep hills affording you lovely views out over the river & back across the city. This tram terminates a mile or so away a small square full or genuine locals sitting, sipping drinks, and soaking up the sun.
You can buy tram passes for the day, but the booth for these is quite hard to find as it's back towards the main railway terminal - i.e. in the opposite direction to everything else.

The Castle of St. Jorge overlooks Lisbon, and is a steep climb, but well worth the effort if you are in that part of town. We took the tram out to "Se" to look at the Church & Cathedral there, then took the road from the Cathedral BEHIND the side of the church, then turned right & followed the narrow streets & steps up to the Castle.

The only tour we've taken was out to the lovely white walled fortified town of Obidos, which apart from being a wonderfully peaceful, but vibrant town with lovely gardens & ramparts, nut also gave us a great drive out through the countryside and green hills

My sister took a ship's tour out to the stunning town of Sintra & beaches at Cascais, and said that if she went back to Lisbon would definitely go back to this area, it was so beautiful & relaxing.

Alan & Katrina
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Last Cruise: Azamara Journey August 2014
Next: Queen Victoria November 2014
Followed by: Queen Elizabeth December 2014 and Minvera April 2015

History :
Golden, Grand(2), Caribbean, Sea(4+1 aborted)
Adonia(4+2), Arcadia, Artemis(2), Aurora(5), Azura(2), Oceana(3), Oriana(11), Ventura(2), Victoria(5)
QM2(2), QE2(9), QV(5), QE, Caronia(2), Minerva II, Fred.Olsen(8), NCL Jade, =X= Eclipse, HAL Ryndam, Aza.Journey
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Old August 2nd, 2010, 04:55 PM
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Default Closing

Well I hope that you will find some useful ideas amongst all that - it certainly gave me a good excuse to dust off the old text documents & bring them up to date.

If there is anything more that you would like to know about, either in general or any specifics, please let us know & we'll try our best. Also if there are any tours that you are considering, let us know & we'll see if we can advise on our experiences if we've taken them.

Have a great cruise,

Alan & Katrina
__________________
Last Cruise: Azamara Journey August 2014
Next: Queen Victoria November 2014
Followed by: Queen Elizabeth December 2014 and Minvera April 2015

History :
Golden, Grand(2), Caribbean, Sea(4+1 aborted)
Adonia(4+2), Arcadia, Artemis(2), Aurora(5), Azura(2), Oceana(3), Oriana(11), Ventura(2), Victoria(5)
QM2(2), QE2(9), QV(5), QE, Caronia(2), Minerva II, Fred.Olsen(8), NCL Jade, =X= Eclipse, HAL Ryndam, Aza.Journey
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Old August 4th, 2010, 11:54 PM
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Katrina,
Thanks so much for all the information. I'm sure we will enjoy walking all over these cities. I will let you know our thoughts on Bordeaux and Biarritz. Plan on taking a tour to San Sebastian while in Biarritz since we have 12 hours. Will also let you know what we find in Oporto. thanks again, Ron
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Old August 11th, 2010, 12:01 PM
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We just came back from Europe .... we walked from the port in Oslo to the ferry dock buy the Oslo pass at the tourist info at the port they give a discount
..took the ferry over to the Kon Tiki museum, Fram, Maritime museum then took the #30 bus to Viking ship museum you can take the 312 tram to Vigeland
or you can take the HOHO bus right from the dock
Oceania tours are a bit pricey but most ports you can DIY or share a private tour
Look for a ROLL CALL for your ship & sailing date & join others on the cruise
Copenhagen you can walk to a lot of place if you dock at Langelinie pier or take the HOHO or the #26 bus to the city centre

If you have any questions on the ship or ports I would be happy to try to answer
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