Cruising Europe's West Coast From Portugal to Ireland
The capital of Portugal since its conquest from the Moors in 1147, Lisbon is a legendary city with over 20 centuries of history. Spreading out along the right bank of the Taugus, its downtown, the Baixa, is located in the 18th century area around Rossio. The Alfama, one of the oldest quarters in Lisbon, still retains much of its original layout since it largely survived the earthquake of 1755.
Mix monuments by leading world architects from the past and present, and some fantastic baroque carvings AND world famous sweet wine and a certain British flavor and you have Porto.
If your time is limited you may wish to take an organized city tour or go on a trip down the Douro Valley. You could see the Douro Valley wine country with breathtaking scenery and stop at its wine villages and wineries. You could also see the well preserved treasures including monuments in the Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque and Neo-classical style.
Vigo is a busy commercial port. From atop Mount Castro you can see the estuary, the coastline and the city, a great spot from which to take photos. Visit the Park of Castrelos, Vigo's largest urban park covering over 5 acres. The park houses the Quiñones de León Palace, now the municipal museum, surrounded by beautiful English- and French-style gardens. A huge variety of trees and plants border the River Lagares, and the park features an open-air auditorium, making use of the terrain's natural slope, where concerts and festivals are held in the summer.
Be sure to visit Santiago de Compostela, an hour from the port. View Obradoiro Square and explore the 15th-century Hotel of the Reyes Catolicos, built during the reign of the Catholic Kings with a blend of Renaissance, Gothic and Baroque styles. Just across the square is the impressive cathedral, where at the Jubilee Door pardons are dispensed in Jubilee Year.
El Ferrol, Spain
The sea has been a vital constant in the growth of El Ferrol, first as a fishing village and later as a military stronghold.
This town is full of contrasts, and the charm of its roots as a fishing village lives on in its streets and traditions. Ferrol old town, the Modernist La Magdalena neighborhood, the La Cortina defensive walls (18th century) and the castles of San Felipe and La Palma are just some of its attractions.
In the Finistère department of Brittany in northwest France. Brest is located in a sheltered position near the western tip of the Breton peninsula, to the north of a large, nearly landlocked bay. The city is situated on the slopes of two hills separated by the river Penfeld. The hillsides are so steep that flights of steps ascend from the lower to the upper town, and the second or third floor of one house is often on a level with the ground floor of the next.
During World War II, the Germans maintained a large submarine base at Brest. In 1944, the city was totally destroyed during the Battle for Brest after the Allied invasion of Normandy, with barely more than three buildings left standing. After the war, large parts of the city were rebuilt with utilitarian granite and concrete buildings. The French naval base now houses the Brest Naval Training Center.
Scilly Isles, England
The Isles of Scilly are an archipelago off the southwestern tip of the Cornish peninsula of Great Britian. There are some 55 islets and islands. The current population of all the islands is approximately 2,100. Tourism is a major part of the local economy, along with farming and agriculture. Scilly has been inhabited since the Stone Age and until the early 20th century its history has been one of subsistence living.
Remains of a prehistoric farm have been found on Nornour. The whole of southern England has been steadily sinking (or due to sea rise).
Waterford/Dunmore East, Ireland
Waterford, Dunmore East is strung out along a coastline of red sandstone cliffs full of screaming kittiwakes and concealed coves. In the 19th century, the town was a station for the steam packets that carried mail between England and the south of Ireland. Legacies left include picturesque thatched cottages lining the main street and an unusual Doric lighthouse (1825) overlooking the working harbor.
Dublin/Dun Laoghaire, Ireland
Dún Laoghaire is a town on the east coast of Ireland, about seven miles south of the capital Dublin. Its focal point is a splendid harbor and the town is surrounded by spectacular rolling hills.
Historically Dún Laoghaire has always been a 'Gateway to Ireland'.