After a day at sea from Southampton we arrived at La Rochelle on the Western Coast of France. We took a half an hour complimentary bus from the port into the city with much on offer in the way of attractions and sights. The cityscape is stone with orange slate roofs, and those who don’t mind heights can view the city from a Ferris wheel. A great way to spend a few hours looking at the history of La Rochelle, while getting the fantastic views from 3 different points with a combined tickets around 8 euros is to visit the three towers. Would leave a warning that there are many steps, and some steep but are worth it for the views from the Lantern, Chain and St Nicholas Towers. There is also an Aquarium and boat trips out from the harbour if you prefer or have more time while visiting.
The day after La Rochelle we sailed into Bilbao on a hot day. The main attraction to visit is the Guggenheim museum, and so was nice to get into this cool building for a few hours, where you can spend all day. I had heard of the museum as one the top attractions in the city and was good value for what is on offer, with much modern art to see. I would recommend listening to the commentary which explains every exhibit but in detail. The building itself designed by Canadian born Frank Gehry is worth seeing on it’s own as a masterpiece in my view. The building is titanium clad and fits in well with the historic architecture around it, including the bridge over the river. We also had a walk around the older part of Bilbao and managed to spot the Vizcaya or Puente Colgante (hanging bridge) in the distance from the ship, built in 1900 which carries cars and passengers across the river by gondola like the Warrington Transporter did with train carriages up till the 1960’s.
The next stop on the Cruise was La Coruna near the North Western tip of Spain in Galicia, which has a maritime history going back to the Romans, with the Tower of Hercules lighthouse originally built in the Roman period. It is also known as the Crystal city, with glass fronted buildings, and was the port the Spanish Armada left for England. The Castle of San Anton overlooks the harbour, and was a short walk from the Britannia ship and the centre of the city. Included inside is the museum about archaeology and local history (including Roman and medieval artifacts), which was worth it for the 2 euros entry. There is great views over La Coruna and it’s promenade, and is a fascinating piece of history.
The last stop on our week along cruise with a day at sea after La Coruna, was anchoring off the coast of Guernsey. The trip into the capital was an experience in itself by tender boat from Britannia. The weather warmer was than predicted and we had some time to look in the La Vallette Underground Military Museum, and walk to the secluded Fermain Bay. The museum provides exhibits and artifacts of the time of the German occupation of Guernsey (1940-45) with lots of interesting things to read about, and does make you think. There is also a section on the First World War, and was used as an old bunker for storage of fuel tanks by the Nazi’s with part of it left unfinished as it originally was. We also found time to try some Guernsey ice-cream and look inside a Victorian sweet shop.
We felt lucky with the weather as apart from a little rain in La Coruna, each port was warm and sunny. Definitely would recommend a cruise as a way to visit a number of different places, while having the chance to relax, and enjoy the food and entertainment on board.