Summary : An adventure for Epicureans! This journey is a must for gastronomes and culture lovers alike. Attend culinary seminars, enjoy Oporto’s eponymous drink and savor the exquisite flavors of Bordeaux wine. A private cocktail at the Bilbao Guggenheim is surely not to be missed while a visit to the beaches of Normandy is both impressive and evocative.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Triple/Quad Cabins
$999,999,999 to $0
Embark the Silver Explorer this afternoon and depart on your exciting 11-day Atlantic Europe’s Epicurean Journey. You will be introduced to your Expedition Team. Tonight attend a special Welcome Aboard cocktail party.
Oporto is located near the mouth of the Douro River and is the second largest city in Portugal. During our visit to the city center (a UNESCO World Heritage site), see the Castelo Queijo and the impressive 14th century St Francis Church with its magnificent 18th century gold-encrusted interior. Proceed to Ribeira, its picturesque riverfront quarter made up of narrow, twisting streets lined with brightly tiled or pastel-painted façades.
Your 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. The history of port wine dates from the 17th century when British merchants doctored the wine with brandy to prevent it from turning sour while in transit. It was found that the stronger and sweeter the wine, the better flavor it acquired. Learn how over the years, methods of maturing and blending were refined and continue today in the port wine lodges.
Bayona is one of the most important coastal towns in Galicia because of its harbor and fishing fleet. Originally it was set in what now is the Monterreal Castle, whose remaining walls are still visible from the shore and date back to the 16th century. This village was where the caravel Pinta, led by Pinzon, made its first landfall, having finally arrived back in Europe after Columbus’ first voyage of discovery into the Caribbean, three days before Columbus landed in Lisbon. The center was declared a “Historically and Artistically Interesting Area”, with narrow streets and all houses made of stone.
You will have a little free time to walk around before going up along the walls of the Castle of Monterreal to reach the Parador de Bayona. There you will taste various different local wines and a variety of seafood tapas and other special tapas from Galicia.
In the afternoon, travel to the nearby Cíes Islands – a true natural paradise of exceptional ecological interest. Here go ashore by Zodiac together with your local guides to explore the hills and cliffs of these three islands. Once well known as a hideout for pirates, the area is now a nature reserve and home to over 15,000 nesting seabirds, most of them Yellow-legged Gulls. Unless you want to walk on your own, you will either be guided on an easy walk to a lookout on the north-western side or a more moderate hike to a lighthouse towards the south. Apart from the seabirds you will see robins, blackbirds, Dunnocks, and Coal Tits, while woodpeckers are usually only heard. The water here is exceptionally clear (and cool), and the islands are a favorite place with the locals – the beach next to the landing site was voted one of the nicest beaches of Spain.
Gather in The Theatre to attend culinary seminars and hear your expert guest speakers talk about wine and cheese. Enjoy a cooking class by our culinary training Executive Chef David Bilsland, or Rudi Scholdis, the Culinary Director. Enjoy a special lunch in the Restaurant that will celebrate the local cuisine of the area we are traveling through.
A special lecture will be given about Frank Gehry and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, an architectural masterpiece, since one of your reasons to visit Bilbao is its outstanding museum.
Today visit the noble city of Bilbao, founded in 1300.
From Silver Explorer 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. The Guggenheim Museum of Modern Art is 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 and, apart from an outside explanation, you will have a 90 minute specially guided visit. A special cocktail with pintxos (local delicacies) will be served after your visit.
Afterwards visit the Casco Viejo, or Old Quarters, located on the right bank of the river Nervion. Many of the streets are now pedestrian and you will see the 14th century Gothic cathedral, the Arriaga Theatre, and the Plaza Nueva.
During the afternoon cross the Bay of Biscay on your way to France and Bordeaux.
Let your food and wine specialists pamper you with more information on delicacies from the Basque region.
Silver Explorer will get into Bordeaux during the early morning and after breakfast get ready for a walking tour of this historic UNESCO World Heritage city. See the Chartrons riverfront where the wine trade had its beginnings, and at the Quinconces Square, view the monument to the Girondins of the French Revolution. Your tour takes you next to the beautiful Grand Theatre, built by Victor Louis in 1773, before you enter the old Bordeaux district with its Parlement and Bourse squares.
Silver Explorer will be docked in Bordeaux overnight, and the evening is yours to spend as you please. Enjoy the comfort of Silver Explorer’s Restaurant, ending the evening with a liqueur in the Panorama Lounge 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.
While your first day in Bordeaux centered on the historical sights, your second day will be devoted to culinary highlights: a French breakfast – some fresh local croissants, croque-monsieur, or pain au chocolat will permit you to be in the best of conditions for a special visit to one the classified wine estates in the heart of the Medoc. Close to the biggest forest and largest estuary in Europe, the vineyards stretch across a gravely hillock producing elegant and powerful wines.
Finally enjoy a special lunch at some of the most acclaimed Michelin star restaurants of the Bordeaux region. Their beautiful settings 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 flavors 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.
During the late afternoon Silver Explorer will leave Bordeaux, cruising down the estuary, heading back to the Bay of Biscay.
After the visit to Bordeaux and the surrounding wine country, relax and prepare yourself for your next port of call, St Peter Port, and the somewhat different specialties of the Channel Islands.
Attend a lecture or one of the culinary events highlighting foods and wines tasted so far or yet to be savored. The culinary experts are looking forward to entertaining and enlightening you.
The Historian might talk about the importance of World War II for the Channel Islands and Normandy.
Spend the morning on Guernsey – the ‘Island of Flowers’. During the years 1940 to 1945, the Channel Islands were under German occupation, and many of the massive concrete towers, gun emplacements and bunkers remain today. Visit the German Occupation Museum, which includes a life-sized street, bunker rooms, an armory of weapons and communications equipment, as well as files of local propaganda newspapers. Drive around the winding coastal road to see one of the many WWII gun casements and visit the charming Little Chapel before returning to St Peter Port.
Alternatively, guests may choose to visit Guernsey’s lovely Sausmarez Manor. Enjoy a guided tour around the house and subtropical gardens, which are the delightfully informal setting for his enviable collection of over 200 sculptures from over 90 international artists and the largest display of sculptures for sale in Britain. Return to Silver Explorer feeling utterly charmed by Guernsey’s hospitality.
During the afternoon head back to France, to visit Saint-Malo, one of the first sites to obtain World Heritage listing. In the meantime you can join experts for more lectures, classes or special recaps, or simply enjoy moments on the Sundeck, at the Pool Bar or in the comfort of your suite.
Arrive at Saint-Malo in the evening, docking right outside the city gates, allowing some time for independent exploration of the bustling privateers’ walled city. Crêpes and moules will certainly be offered by the many local restaurants inside the walled city.
Today you have the choice of two different excursions: during the morning you can visit the legendary Mont Saint Michel.
After breakfast set off for this spectacular granite tidal island, situated on the border between Normandy and Brittany. Upon arrival, stroll through the narrow streets of the medieval village and up to the Abbey. During your guided visit, learn that the abbey was founded in the 8th century as the result of a dream vision and how it changed through the centuries, becoming the religious center during medieval times.
The other option involves less of a drive: A visit to the Bretagne on a culinary expedition would not be complete without tasting oysters or crêpes. On this excursion you will have a chance to sample both! To do so, leave Saint-Malo and drive along the coastal road to the picturesque fishing village of Cancale. There, thousands of oysters are farmed in “banc d’huitres” (oyster beds) until they are ready to please the gourmet’s palate. Taste three different varieties of oysters accompanied by white wine at “La Mère Champlain” before heading over to the “Crêperie du Port”. At this certified “crêperie gourmand” you will appreciate the flavor of the traditional galette (Crêpe de Sarrasin) served with local farm cider.
During the morning Silver Explorer will continue along the coast, entering the locks for the channel parallel to the river Orne, heading for Caen. The videographer/photographer will take this opportunity to show his/her Voyage-DVD.
After an early lunch you will have the choice to either visit the famous Bayeux tapestry and nearby World War II sites or explore Caen on your own.
After visiting Bayeux’s Tapestry Museum and admiring the world’s most celebrated piece of needlework, relating to William the Conqueror and the Norman conquest of England, head for Arromanches and the Musée du Débarquement (the Invasion Museum). See exhibits regarding the D-Day landings and the prefabricated Mulberry Harbours, which enabled some 2 ½ million allied soldiers to land in France. The landings on the beaches of Normandy involved the largest military operation in history. Also visit Omaha Beach and the American Cemetery and Memorial.
If you prefer to stay in Caen you might want to visit Caen’s castle, which was built before William the Conqueror left for England. It is one of the largest medieval fortresses of Western Europe and houses not one but two museums.
Following breakfast, disembark Silver Explorer.
Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to ice and weather conditions - and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition.
Ship accommodation; onboard meals and entertainment; butler service; complimentary beverages (select wines, champagne, spirits, bottled water, specialty coffees, juices and soft drinks); onboard gratuities (except spa and salon); Silver, Medallion, Grand and Owner's Suite guests receive laundry service and dinner at Officer's table; 1 hour of internet access per guest/per day for passengers booked in Adventurer, Explorer, View, Vista, and Veranda Suites; unlimited internet access for passengers booked in Medallion, Silver, Grand, and Owner’s Suites. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; government fees and taxes; transfers and luggage handling; passport and visa expenses; travel insurance; items of a personal nature; Wifi; fuel surcharge may apply.