Day 1 — Lisbon, Portugal
Embark Silver Cloud this afternoon and depart on your exciting 12-day Silversea Expedition — Epicurean Europe. This afternoon you will attend a safety drill before leaving port. Later there will be a Sail Away cocktail and you will be introduced to your Expedition Team and our guest lecturers. Tonight we invite you to the first of many memorable dinners in one of the restaurants, specially prepared by the Culinary Experts and our Executive Chef.
Day 2 — Leixoes (Oporto), Portugal
Oporto is located near the mouth of the Douro River and the second largest city in Portugal. During our visit to the city centre (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) where we will visit the “Bolhao” market, the oldest in town. We will see the impressive 14th century St. Francis Church with its magnificent 18th century gold-encrusted interior. Our day in Oporto would not be complete without a visit to a well-known wine cellar for a taste of some world-famous port wine and to learn how over the years, methods of maturing and blending were refined and continue today. 3 different types of port wine will be offered for tasting. We then proceed to Ribeira, its picturesque riverfront quarter made up of narrow, twisting streets lined with brightly tiled or pastel-painted façades.
If history is more your field of interest, accompany us to see Guimaraes –a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the cradle of the nation and first capital of Portugal. Our extensive walking tour will take us to the medieval King’s Castle and the 15th century Palace of the Dukes of Bragança. This palace houses a fantastic museum and a beautiful art gallery. On our walking tour we will see the old town with its narrow cobblestone streets and quiet corners. There will be some free time to browse the local shops.
Our wine lovers will want to see the Douro Valley (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). This excursion will take you to the village of Peso da Regua and the wine lodge “Quinta da Pacheca”. There we will get acquainted with the different varieties of wine grown and will have a tempting lunch of typical Portuguese specialities using products of the Douro region, accompanied by the best-suited Quinta da Pacheca wines.
Day 3 — La Coruña, Spain
A Coruna (La Coruña) is an important coastal town of Galicia and has the oldest Roman lighthouse still in use (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Be out on deck early in the morning to see it while Silver Cloud approaches the harbour.
Today’s excursion takes you to the city of Santiago de Compostela and its famous Obradoiro Square and the Cathedral. You have two options: you can either walk on one of the most beautiful paths into Santiago – normally made at the end of the “Camino de Santiago”- or you can choose to explore the Plaza Obradoiro in depth. In both cases you will have the opportunity to attend the 12 o’clock mass and see the impressive swing of the incense burner (known as the Botafumeiro). You will have some free time before meeting again at the Square, heading over to the impressive Parador de los Reyes Catolicos for a tapas lunch and wine tasting –and watching the performance of a Galician dance group.
Day 4 — Ribadessella, Spain
Ribadesella serves as the starting point for three very different full day excursions: a drive to Oviedo and Gijon will permit you to visit the culturally and historically important city of Oviedo, the modern capital of Asturias and to enter La Laboral, Spain’s biggest building –holding the “City of Culture” and part of Gijon’s university. A traditional lunch will be served in a local restaurant in Gijon.
For nature lovers a visit to the lakes of Covadonga will be of interest. Located within the National Park Los Picos de Europa, beautiful panoramic views of the lakes and surrounding landscape can be enjoyed –as long as fog does not prevent the drive up to the lakes. Covadonga holds a special historical meaning for Spain, as the Reconquista started here in 722 after the first Christian victory over the Moors. Lunch will be served at the Parador de Cangas.
For those interested in architecture, an excursion to Comillas and Santillana del Mar will let you see “El Capricho”, the modernist palace of the Catalan architect Antonio Gaudi, and one of the most beautiful and well-preserved towns in Spain. Lunch will be at a Parador in Santillana.
Day 5 — Bilbao, Spain
From Silver Cloud you will be driven along the estuary down to the Gran Via, which reflects Bilbao’s 19th century mining and industrial prosperity, to the heart of the city. On the way you will notice how the city is redefining itself through modern constructions and buildings. Undoubtedly the most emblematic is the Guggenheim Museum of Modern Art -one of Frank Gehry’s masterpieces in flowing titanium and limestone, with sail-like shapes suggesting Bilbao’s maritime heritage. The Museum in itself is a piece of art. Apart from an outside explanation, we will have a 90 minutes specially guided visit. After some free time we will head for a local restaurant for welcome drinks and miniature cuisine known as “pintxos” (the local Basque version of tapas). Reputed to be the best of Spain, the selection will go from grilled wild mushrooms to spicy stuffed peppers.
During the afternoon we will cross the Bay of Biscay on our way to France and Bordeaux.
Let our food and wine specialists pamper you with more information on delicacies from the Basque region and the Medoc.
Days 6–7 — Bordeaux, France (Overnight)
Silver Cloud will get into Bordeaux during the early morning and there will be many choices to spend the two days in and around Bordeaux.
After breakfast you might want to get ready for a walking tour of this historic UNESCO World Heritage city. We begin with a look at the 18th century Grand Theatre, one of the most beautiful in Europe. Our walk continues through the old Bordeaux district, taking in the Place du Parlement and Place de la Bourse, the cathedral Saint Andre and the City Hall. Our tour concludes in the luxury boutiques district, called “the triangle” by the locals, and the Quinconces square. During our time ashore we will discover some local traditional specialties, such as chocolate, canelé cake, cheese and of course sample some fine Bordeaux wines.
If you think the walking tour will let you gain too many calories, how about jogging through Bordeaux accompanied by an experienced guide –without the tasting of local delicacies?
If you like exercise, yet want to taste some wine –select the biking adventure through Saint-Emilion vineyards (with tasting wines at Chateau La Dominique). You will be driven to St-Emilion where your bicycle awaits you. A 90-minute cycling adventure, pedalling along a combination of flat and hilly roads, will let you enjoy the beautiful landscape and famous vineyards you will pass before reaching Chateau La Dominique. Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon are grown on a 30-hectare terroir.
If you prefer hiking and want to climb Europe’s highest sand dune, then the Pyla sand dune and oyster tasting should be your choice. Driving through the Landes de Gascogne forest, you will be taken to Arcachon Bay and Le Pyla. To climb the 105 metres tall sand dune, wooden steps will make the first part easier. From the top you will have sweeping views of the Landes forest, Arcachon Bay and the sea. Afterwards you will be taken to a local oyster farm, where the owner will share insights into the oyster business before you will get to sample 6 oysters, accompanied with rye bread, butter and dry white wine.
For food and market lovers we have the following choice: to visit the traditional food market of Creon –some 45 minutes southeast of Bordeaux- tasting bread, ham, cheese, and canelé cake (all local produce) during a guided visit.
Silver Cloud will be docked in Bordeaux overnight, and the evening is yours to spend as you please. Enjoy the comfort of Silver Cloud’s many restaurants, ending the evening with a liqueur in one of the lounges and bars or a cigar in The Connoisseur’s Corner. Or take the opportunity to head out and try one of the many local restaurants for a dinner ashore.
Having explored the historical sights of Bordeaux and done some exercise, we then turn to the culinary highlights as well: a French breakfast — how about some fresh local croissants, croque-monsieur, or pain-au-chocolat? — will permit us to be in the best of conditions for a special visit at one of the Bordeaux classified wine estates.
Depending on your choice of excursions you will enjoy a special lunch at some of the most acclaimed Michelin star restaurants of the Bordeaux region on one of the two days in Bordeaux. The excursion will visit acclaimed vineyards where you will get to taste different wines before heading to carefully selected restaurants. The beautiful settings of these restaurants will charm you. There you will appreciate the art of careful selection of dishes from a constantly growing repertoire of recipes; the purchase of local products whose flavours go well together; the pairing of food with wine; the setting of a beautiful table; and, obviously, the smelling and tasting of the items at the table. UNESCO has accepted the French gastronomic meal as an intangible cultural world heritage — and Silversea has the pleasure of offering you a memorable meal in a historical setting.
During the evening Silver Cloud will leave Bordeaux, cruising down the estuary.
Day 8 — Belle Ile en Mer, France
Although one might think that a name like “the beautiful island in the sea” might be a little too poetic, artists and painters have come to love the nature of this largest of the Brittany islands. “Les Aiguilles de Port Coton”, a famous painting by Claude Monet, depicts the wild southern coast and rocks exposed to wind and waves. The island has a ‘soft’ side too. Its northern shore has two ports and long sandy beaches. At the port of Le Palais is one of the historical gems of the island. Mentioned by Alexandre Dumas in his second book about the Three Musketeers, the Citadelle de Belle Ile had great strategic importance as access to the south of Brittany was controlled by Belle Ile and its smaller neighbours Houat and Hoed. The beautifully maintained fort is now a museum. There are other spectacular and unique fortifications along the island’s shore
During the afternoon we will go ashore to explore Belle Ile en Mer and its attractions.
Day 9 — Bay of Douarnenez, France
Today you have the opportunity to visit Locronan, France’s most picturesque medieval village. Once there, you will have a guided visit and will see the church with its 15th century stained glass depicting the passion of Saint Ronan. At Le Guillou bakery you can taste the traditional Breton butter cake known as “kouign amann” before watching a group of Breton dancers in their traditional costumes, introducing you to Brittany’s rich culture and identity.
You can also combine a visit to the medieval town of Quimper with a visit and lunch at a Crêperie in Locronan without the traditional folkloric presentation. In both towns you will have guided walks to see the architectural highlights.
If you like fresh air and handicraft choose to visit Tronoen, the “Cathedral of the Dunes”. Driving through along the “Pays Bigouden” and picturesque villages you will reach Penmarc’h Cap to walk on the coastguard paths. At Pont L’Abbé you will have a local Breton lunch. In the afternoon you will then be welcomed by the renowned embroiderer Mr. Le Minor, who will talk about the embroidery special to Brittany. As a designer-manufacturer his printed and embroidered fabrics, as well as fashion accessories, decorative tapestries are all steeped in the maritime and cultural identity of Brittany.
Day 10 — Saint-Malo, France
Today you have the choice of different excursions: during the late morning we can visit the legendary Mont Saint Michel (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). After breakfast we will set off for this spectacular granite tidal island, situated on the border between Normandy and Brittany. Upon arrival, we will stroll through the narrow streets of the mediaeval village and up to the Abbey. After descending back down to the village you will have free time for shopping or simply enjoying this special place before heading back to Saint-Malo.
If you are interested in a special culinary aspect of the region, you might want to visit a salt meadow lamb farm near Mont Saint Michel. After learning about the salt meadow lamb –considered a delicacy because of the high salinity and iodine content of the pasture- you will be taken to a nearby restaurant where you will be served a gastronomic menu featuring the delightful salt meadow lamb.
Saint-Malo itself invites to be explored. Strolling the quaint narrow streets one can find sites of historical interest, view the castle, walk the ramparts and marvel at the work behind the defensive structures on the surrounding islets dating back to the 17th century.
Day 11 — Le Havre, France
Located at the mouth of the Seine, Le Havre has France’s second most important harbour. Since the town had been heavily bombed during World War II the city centre had to be completely rebuilt. This post-war reconstruction with its systematic use of a modular grid, prefabrication and favouring as material mainly concrete resulted in Le Havre’s central city being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005 for its outstanding example of urban planning. Le Havre is also considered a green city with Monteon Forest and Rouelles Park located within the Upper Town. The Normandy Bridge, the Seine’s bridge closest to the Channel, was the world’s longest cable-stayed bridge when inaugurated in 1995. This bridge facilitates access to the famous landing beaches of D-Day.
Today you have to choose between modern history and medieval times: The two excursions to commemorate D-Day differ in one featuring a visit to Arromanches, a visit to the American Cemetery with its 9,386 marble crosses and a drive to Omaha Beach, while the other will start with the American Cemetery and a small ceremony honouring the fallen, proceeding then to Arromanches before returning to Le Havre.
The “medieval” excursion will head for Rouen and its historical part –the Old Market Place where Joan of Arc was burned in 1431, the modern Joan of Arc Church and the Gothic Cathedral. After having seen the historical highlights, it is time to discover local products visiting a distillery. The Drouin-Coeur de Lion estate is in the heart of the Auge Country. There you will see the process from the apple press to the aging of calvados in oak casks. You will be invited to taste cider, pommeau and calvados, accompanied by three types of delicious Norman cheeses: Camembert, Livarot and Pont L’Eveque.
Leaving France in the afternoon, Silver Cloud will sail for London.
Day 12 — London, England
Today you have a very early morning cruise up the River Thames ahead of you. You will pass the O2 just before crossing the Greenwich Meridian, having a marvellous view of the University of Greenwich, the old Royal Naval College, the National Maritime Museum and Greenwich Park. We will go past the splendidly renovated Cutty Sark and Canary Wharf. As a further highlight Silver Cloud will pass the Tower Bridge and the impressive Tower of London.
During the day you can embark on a panoramic tour showing you the essential highlights London has to offer. The tour will pass St. Paul’s Cathedral, Trafalgar Square with Nelson’s Column, and the National Gallery, continuing on towards Buckingham Palace, St. James’s Park and The Mall. From London’s main ceremonial avenue we travel down to Whitehall and Downing Street before entering Parliament Square. You will see the historic Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and the immense structure of the magnificent Westminster Abbey. The tour then heads back down the Embankment towards Silver Cloud.
In the evening Silversea and the Royal Geographical Society have arranged for a very special reception at the Royal Geographical Society’s headquarter. You will enjoy a reception across the ground floor of the Society, soaking up the atmosphere of the Map Room and Hall. You will then be escorted into the Ondaatje Theatre for a welcome by the Silversea’s representatives, Alasdair MacLeod, Head of Collection & Resources, RSG-IGB, and a guest speaker.
Following the welcome there will be an “Open House” style evening – guests can enjoy private views of the Society’s Collections in the Foyle Reading Room while refreshments will be served in the Fine Rooms of the Society’s historic home. From over two million items in its Collections, the specially curated exhibit will include artefacts, maps, photographs, archival and personal items used by famous Antarctic and Arctic explorers (including Scott, Shackleton, Mawson, Amundsen, Nansen and Peary), plus a selection of iconic pieces from the Society’s wider holdings which document world exploration over 500 years.
Day 13 – London, England
Following breakfast, disembark Silver Cloud.
Expedition highlights and wildlife listed here are possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed. Your Expedition Leader and Captain will work together to ensure opportunities for adventure and exploration are the best possible, taking into account the prevailing weather and wildlife activity. Guest speakers are subject to change and/or cancellation without notice. Expedition Team members scheduled for this voyage are subject to change or cancellation.
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