Summary : From Oporto’s local Port Houses to the chocolate makers of Bayonne, this voyage is sure to satisfy your appetite for the cuisine and culture of the upper Iberian coast. Explore the splendor of Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, tour a Galician mansion, meander through the local villages of A Coruña and Bilbao, and hike the beautiful Basque coastline. Visit Hercules Tower and the Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum; thrill to the melodies of the gaitas and trikitixas; and savor a Basque-style dinner in San Sebastian. Compare and contrast French and Spanish Basque cultures, and learn about the Celtic influence on the region as well. Satisfy your palette & cultural curiosity on this carefully curated voyage.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Dedicated Solo Cabins
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Arrive in Lisbon, and embark National Geographic Orion. After lunch, relax on the ship or explore on shore. Then take in the view on deck as you navigate the Tagus River at sunset, drinks in hand. (L,D)
Arrive in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Oporto in the late morning. The birthplace of port wine, Oporto straddles a gorge on the Douro River, linked by numerous bridges and filled with medieval architecture. See the famous azulejo tiles of the region and take in the views from the iron masterpiece Ponte Dom Luis. Later, learn the secrets of port-making during a tasting at a riverside port house. Explore with a range of transport modes: vintage tram or auto, tuk-tuk, or on foot.
Anchor in Villagarcía de Arousa and drive to Santiago de Compostela. In the heart of Santiago de Compostela, visit the cathedral that has welcomed millions of pilgrims over the centuries, and enjoy a tapas lunch and a vibrant musical performance at the adjacent Hostal de los Reyes Católicos. Alternatively, you may visit a historic mansion with impressive gardens followed by a wine tasting.
Immerse yourself in the culture. Choose to join fishermen along an estuary as they collect mussels, which your Orion chef will season and prepare. Or, walk in the steps of the pilgrims’ path to the magnificent cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
Cruise into A Coruña, passing the impressive Tower of Hercules in the morning light. Pay a visit to the tower, the only working Roman lighthouse in the world, visit the local market, and learn about the architectural phenomenon that earned the town the nickname “The Glass City.” Take a late morning stroll or a bicycle ride around the area’s picturesque coastal villages before sailing east.
Arrive in Bilbao after lunch. Explore the titanium curves of the iconic Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, learn how it has transformed the city, and have a guided tour of the interior in small groups. Wander through Bilbao’s old quarter, or attend a pintxos cooking lesson in a local cottage.
Explore both the French and Spanish Basque cultures today. In the village of Saint Jean-de-Luz, get an introduction to French Basque culture and cuisine, followed by a journey to the French Basque countryside for a wine and tapas tasting. The second half of the day will be dedicated to exploring Spain’s Basque capital of San Sebastian, where you'll discover the connection to the Celts.
Cider houses rule in Basque Spain, and your guides have planned a special Basque dinner and cultural event in San Sebastian. Grab a glass and do as the locals do, sit at the long farm tables and sidle up to the barrel tap for a cider refill. The musicologist has arranged for a private performance by famous Basque musician Kepa Junkera.
Take a walk through the picturesque old port town of Bayonne and learn about the rich chocolate industry for which this area is so well known. Or, on an excursion to the former imperial retreat of Biarritz, stroll along the coast to the Rock of the Virgin, once used by Napoleon III as an anchoring point. You also won’t want to miss a stop in to Biarritz’s central food market.
Chocolate lovers may attend a demonstration at a small, private French chocolate house.
After breakfast, disembark in Bordeaux and transfer to the airport to catch your flight home. Or, remain in Bordeaux for an added stay. (B)
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips.com is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Reverse Itinerary (Bordeaux to Lisbon): 9/30/2017
Travel with a National Geographic photographer and certified photo instructor—at your side and at your service to inspire and assist you. And, take advantage of talks, presentations, slideshows and “laptop gallery” sharing events. All skill and interest levels are welcome; the expert photographers and instructors can meet you wherever you are on your journey. All you need to participate is a camera— point-and-shoot, smartphone, DSLR, whatever—and a sense of adventure. And you’re sure to return home with amazing photos.
Accommodations aboard ship; meals aboard ship; alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages aboard ship; excursions; special access permits; transfers to and from group flights; use of kayaks; services of expedition leader, National Geographic photographer, naturalist staff and expert guide; services of a ship physician; gratuities; port charges and service taxes. Subject to change without notice.
Air transportation; extensions; passport and visa fees; immigration fees; travel protection plan; items of a personal nature including internet, laundry, etc; fuel surcharge may apply.