Europe 2016 Trip Day 11 – Lisbon Portugal pics

Photos from the ship and around Lisbon. This was the first of 5 ports in a row with no sea days in between.

Europe 2016 Trip Day 11 – Lisbon Portugal

It was a two day trip from Bilbao Spain to Lisbon Portugal. On sea days we had seminars and plenty of free time to visit the spa, pools, restaurants, casino, and the nightly entertainment; life is never boring on board. One of the great things about a cruise is going to bed at night and waking up in a new city.

We had signed up for a city tour of Lisbon, which lasted only 3 hours, giving us the remainder of the day for strolling around Lisbon on our own. This was one of the ports where the cruise port we were docked in was very near the city center, so it was easy to walk back and forth from the ship without having to hire a taxi. It was during one of these walks that we discovered what a great bottle of wine could be had for only 3 Euros. The problem with shopping for wine is that none of the labels are familiar, so it is always a crap shoot. But we guessed well and brought a couple of bottles back on board at the end of the day to enjoy on our veranda.

Europe 2016 Trip Day 9 – Bilbao Spain

Pictures from our day in Getxo, Bilbao, Hondarribia, and San Sebastián Spain.

Europe 2016 Trip Day 9 – Bilbao Spain

I actually knew very little about Spain’s Basque Country prior to this trip, but it is much different and greener than the rest of Spain and Basque separatists have been trying to gain independence from Spain for a long time.

We were docked in a container port in Getxo, near Bilbao. Bilbao has an attractive Guggenheim Museum and other scenic features, but we decided instead to take an 8 1/2 hour excursion to the coastal resort town of San Sebastián, a little more than an hour away. Renowned for its San Sebastián International Film Festival, the city was quite beautiful.

We had a lovely lunch paired with a couple of very nice local wines and then spent a few hours walking the streets and seeing the sights. Finally, we drove to the top of a nearby mountain for a truly fantastic view of the city below. All too soon we boarded our bus to return to the ship.

Europe 2016 Trip Day 7 – Bruges

Our first port was Bruges Belgium (we actually docked at a container port in Zeebrugge, about 10 miles away from Bruges). Bruges is one of the best preserved medieval towns in Europe and the city center has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We were allowed only about 4 hours to explore this beautiful little town, which was not nearly enough time, but we accomplished all of our goals in that time (except eating Belgian waffles) even though we were a bit rushed.

We savored the view as we walked through town, sampled chocolates in every shop (or at least it seemed like it), stopped for lunch of mussels and frites and the local brew with friends, and took our required horse and buggy ride through the cobblestone streets.

All too soon we were back on the bus for our return trip to the ship and a 2-day journey to our next port, Bilbao in the Basque Country of Spain.

 

Europe 2016 Trip Day 7 – Bruges pics

I had bought a new DSLR for this trip but had not used it until our visit to Bruges, opting instead for my lighter pocket camera. The Canon EOS Rebel SL1 is definitely big, heavier, and more clumsy to carry, after using it for a day I kept the pocket camera in my pocket most of the time from then on.

Europe 2016 Trip Day 6 – Starting the Cruise in Amsterdam pics

Our cruise started in Amsterdam, 13 days of lazy crazy fun!

Europe 2016 Trip Day 6 – Starting the Cruise in Amsterdam

We love cruises; this is our second cruise in the Mediterranean and it is a joy to go bed at night and wake up in a new city, all laid out in front of us and ready for our exploration, without having to pack our bags, shelp them into a train or plane, or check into a new hotel. On a cruise we unpack once and it is done for 10 or more days – pretty sweet. But we also figure that that few number of days is not long enough to make the long flight to Europe worthwhile, so we like to add a week or so on our own onto each end of the cruise. So after 5 days in Paris and Amsterdam, on day 6 we boarded our ship for the next part of our trip.

We spent the next 13 days onboard and traveled from Amsterdam to Rome with stops in many varied ports along the way in Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, and Italy. While onboard we enjoyed the many varied amenities of the ship (restaurants, spa, pool, casino, bars, and much more) and also participated in nearly daily excursions into the port cities and other nearby destinations.

Upon awakening in Amsterdam we could see our ship (Celebrity Silhouette) moored our window. After a leisurely breakfast we checked out and walked over to the cruise port next door. After we checked our bags, the lines to board the ship were comparatively short and we quickly made many new friends, people we would hang with during the cruise, our new homies. We quickly checked in and boarded the ship, all set for another kind of adventure. Ah but life is sweet!!

Europe 2016 Trip Day 5 – Amsterdam pics

A fun day seeing the sights in the center of Amsterdam.

Europe 2016 Trip Day 5 – Amsterdam

After a restful night in one of the nicest hotels of our entire trip, we had a nice breakfast and were ready to roam around Amsterdam. We had pre-purchased another hop-on hop-off combo ticket, so we planned to spend much of the day on the bus and the tour boat, not to mention having a few more of those Heinekens and another of those great falafel sandwiches.

Of course Amsterdam’s history and architecture are certainly much less dramatic than what we had seen in Paris, but Amsterdam does have a great deal of charm. Bicycles are much more abundant rather than the streets being clogged with cars. And many of the streets are lined with canals lined with houseboats, something not seen in too many other places.

The canal tour was much more fun than the Seine river cruise in Paris and we were able to cover much more territory than we would ever have covered on foot. After the tour we walked back down to the red light district for drinks and to enjoy the the energy of the crowds. Later we walked back to our hotel, which was located adjacent to the cruise port. We could see a cruise ship docked where we expected our ship would be docked the next morning and we packed it in for the night.