Germany Car Tour

Road Trip in Germany, (8/21-24)

A great 5 day road trip with our friends Shaun (for his 50th birthday) and Bryan (the tour operator) through the Bavarian countryside.

 

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Seville, Spain

We took a break from Cloud 9 to take a two day (7/16-18) trip to Seville from Cadiz.  Seville is a beautiful, historical city with a dozen things to see, but we went there specifically to visit the Seville Cathedral (Catedral de Sevilla) and the Alcazar, a beautiful medieval Islamic palace.

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Gibraltar

We spent a week in Gibraltar catching up with some of our cruising friends that we had not seen since the winter in London in 2011. The “Rock” is an interesting small piece of the UK with a little Spanish flair. But if you want to find a pub and get good fish and chips in the Mediterranean, Gibraltar is the place to go to.

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PORTO: the town, the wine and the Rio Douro

Our first stop in Portugal was the beautiful and historic city of Porto. We docked Cloud 9 at the Douro Marina, a new facility on the south side of Porto in Gaia. When we arrived, the area was getting ready for the Festival of S. Pedro da Afurada held by the local fishermen to pay homage to their patron saint. Margarida, our good Portuguese friend in Houston, asked her sister Helena to show us around the city. It was great to have a local guide and we really enjoyed her company as we learned about the town of Porto. After spending several days of touring the town and tasting port wine in the “armazens” (warehouses) in Gaia, we got on a boat to go all the way up the Duoro river to the port vineyards about 50 miles upriver from Porto. A very hot day but a beautiful view through the dry, but lush vineyard’s and a train back to Porto.

 

For more pictures, click here.

 

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Cathedral de Santiago de Compostela and the Tower of Hercules.

One June 18, we took a train from A Coruna to visit the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela . The original church was built in 829 AD and it is reputed to be the  burial-place of Saint James the Greater, one of the apostles of Jesus Christ. Because of the connection of Saint James, it has been a major pilgrimage route since the Early Middle Ages and the city was full of pilgrims who have walked the route, some up to 500 miles. We had the ability to get up in to the beautiful 12th century Pórtico da Gloria which is very hard to see from the outside currently due to the scaffolding. Back in A Coruna, we visited the Tower of Hercules. The lighthouse in this location was originally built by the Romans in the 1st century AD and the original tower was 41.5 meters high. The most recent upgrade of the tower was carried out in 1788 when the facades were added to the original Roman lighthouse and is now 59 meters high. In 2009 it was declared a World Heritage Site.

 

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Balbao, Spain

After a 24 hour sail from L’ile d’Yeu on the coast of France, we arrived in the marina of Getxo to spend several days in Bilbao. Initially when we left France, there was no wind so we motored for most of the day. An expected storm arrived just after dinner and we were ready for the wind and the rain. What we were not ready for was the lightning that came with storm! Luckily, most of the lighting strikes were cloud-to-cloud not cloud-to-sea (or boat). We had not been in a lighting storm for years and it was uncomfortable but luckily the boat and the crew survived with no problem. There is a metro station near the marina in Getxo which takes you into Bilbao in about 20 minutes. Once you are there, it is an easy town to get around in and the top tourist attraction is the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, a great modern building full of incredible modern and contemporary art. The medieval neighborhood of Bilbao, Casco Viejo, has great bars and restaurants and was a wonderful walking area with an amazing fish market right off at the river.

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Sailing from Southampton, UK to Brittany, France

After returning to the boat in Southampton, we spent several weeks getting Cloud 9 ready to sail to the Mediterranean via France, Portugal and the Atlantic coast of Spain. The first step was from Humble River to Brittany with stops in the Channel Islands.

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Crown Princess Transatlantic Cruise (April 13-30, 2013)

Starting in Galveston, Texas, we sailed across the Atlantic to Southampton, England. The 17 day trip was a wonderful, peaceful crossing and the ship was only two-thirds full of passengers so it was not crowded at all. After our first  stop in Fort Lauderdale, we spent 6 days crossing to Ponta Delgada in the archipelago of the Azores. From there, we stopped in Lisbon (Portugal), Zeebrugge (Belgium) and Le Havre (France) before arriving in Southampton where Cloud 9 was berthed nearby.

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Sailing North through the Norwegian fjords.

After leaving the Caledonian Canal, we left Inverness in Scotland to Norway. The crossing was calm with no wind and after motoring for 46 hours we arrived at our first port, Tananger near Stavanger. We sailed north from there, stopping off in many of the beautiful fjords that cover this part of Norway.  Although we only travelled 220 nautical miles directly north from Tananger, we logged almost 700 nautical miles deep into the fjords. We had some of the best weather during the entire season even though it was chilly and you could sense that summer was leaving fast. Now at the end of August, we are nearly back were we started out near Tananger waiting for a weather window to sail south to Denmark.

 

 

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Motoring through the Caledonian Canal

On July 24, we entered into the Caledonian Canal near Fort Williams on the west coast of Scotland to take a short cut and to avoid the sometimes treacherous trip across the northern coast. The canal, with its 29 locks and 10 swing bridges, was an incredible engineering feat when it opened in 1822 and it is still quite impressive. Although the canals are partially man-made, most of it passes through the natural beauty of the Scottish Highlands via the three major lochs along the way; Loch Ness, Loch Oich and Loch Lochy. Although it is possible to transit the 100 km canal in two days, we spent about 6 days before exiting the east coast near Inverness. After a short stay for provisioning the boat, we were off to Norway.

 

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