A Travellerspoint blog

April 2018

Norwegian Breakaway

Le Havre and Honfleur

sunny 58 °F

Last night we zipped across the English Channel and arrive in the major shipping port of Le Havre. While many folks headed off to the Normandy Beaches and Paris, we chose to visit the wonderful little fishing village of Honfleur, right across the Seine from Le Havre.

It is especially known for its old, beautiful picturesque port, characterized by its houses with slate-covered frontages, painted many times by artists, including in particular Gustave Courbet, Eugène Boudin, Claude Monet and Johan Jongkind, forming the école de Honfleur (Honfleur school) which contributed to the appearance of the Impressionist movement. The Sainte-Catherine church, which has a bell tower separate from the principal building, is the largest church made out of wood in France. At the end of the Hundred Years' War, Honfleur benefited from the boom in maritime trade until the end of the 18th century. Trade was disturbed during the wars of religion in the 16th century. The port saw the departure of a number of explorers, in particular in 1503 of Binot Paulmierde Gonneville to the coasts of Brazil. In 1506, local man Jean Denis departed for Newfoundland island and the mouth of the Saint Lawrence. An expedition in 1608, organised by Samuel de Champlain, founded the city of Quebec in modern-day Canada.

Tonight we sail to Southampton, where we head back home tomorrow. NCL did a great job! I look forward to sailing on their new ships again!

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Posted by rpickett 09:41 Archived in France Tagged honfleur Comments (0)

Norwegian Breakaway

Isle of Portland, and Corfe

sunny 55 °F

We sailed across the Irish Sea and moored in the morning at the Isle of Portland, where we decided to take a tour to the town of Corfe and climb to the remnants of the Corfe Castle

Portland is a central part of the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site on the Dorset and east Devon coast, important for its geology and landforms. Portland stone, famous for its use in British and world architecture, including St Paul's Cathedral and the United Nations Headquarters, continues to be quarried. Portland Harbour, in between Portland and Weymouth, is one of the largest man-made harbours in the world. The harbour was made by the building of stone breakwaters between 1848 and 1905. From its inception it was a Royal Navy base, and played prominent roles during the First and Second World Wars; ships of the Royal Navy and NATO countries worked up and exercised in its waters until 1995. The harbour is now a civilian port and popular recreation area, and was used for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Corfe Castle is a fortification standing above the village of the same name on the Isle of Purbeck in the English county of Dorset. Built by William the Conqueror, the castle dates to the 11th century and commands a gap in the Purbeck Hills on the route between Wareham and Swanage. The first phase was one of the earliest castles in England to be built at least partly using stone when the majority were built with earth and timber. Corfe Castle underwent major structural changes in the 12th and 13th centuries. In 1572, Corfe Castle left the Crown's control when Elizabeth I sold it to Sir Christopher Hatton. Sir John Bankes bought the castle in 1635, and was the owner during the English Civil War. His wife, Lady Mary Bankes, led the defence of the castle when it was twice besieged by Parliamentarian forces. The first siege, in 1643, was unsuccessful, but by 1645 Corfe was one of the last remaining royalist strongholds in southern England and fell to a siege ending in an assault. In March that year Corfe Castle was slighted on Parliament's orders. Owned by the National Trust, the castle is open to the public and in 2010 received around 190,000 visitors. It is protected as a Grade I listed building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

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Posted by rpickett 09:21 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged and of corfe portland isle Comments (0)

Norwegian Breakaway

Cobh and Cork Ireland

rain 60 °F

We arrived in Ireland on a typical day rainy and chilly, but by the end of the day the weather was superb and Ireland offered us a great surprise.

We boarded the bus and drove to the city of Cork for a drive around. The city is situated on the River Lee which splits into two channels at the western end and divides the city centre into islands. They reconverge at the eastern end where the quays and docks along the river banks lead outwards towards Lough Mahon and Cork Harbour, which is one of the largest natural harbours in the world by navigational area. Expanded by Viking invaders around 915, the city's charter was granted by Prince John, as Lord of Ireland, in 1185. Cork city was once fully walled, and the remnants of the old medieval town centre can be found around South and North Main streets. The city's cognomen of "the rebel city" originates in its support for the Yorkist cause during the English 15th century Wars of the Roses. Corkonians often refer to the city as "the real capital" in reference to its role as the centre of forces opposing the Anglo-Irish Treaty during the Irish Civil War.

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Our next drive was to the town of Midleton, where John Jameson and sons moved his distillery from Bow Street in Dublin. "For over 200 years we called Dublin home, but in 1975 we moved our ever expanding operation to the green expanses of Midleton, Co. Cork. The big move wasn’t without risk, but the migration certainly paid dividends in the whiskey making department. Our new home provided the space we needed to stretch our legs and our whiskey making ambitions, proximity to barley farmers and freshwater probably aren’t what people typically look for when house hunting, but Midleton seemed to have everything we need as well as the extra space for visitors." Since I drink Jameson, this was a wonderful experience!

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We then drove back to Cobh (Pronounced Cove) where we had the afternoon free. The port, which has had several Irish language names, was first called "Cove" ("The Cove of Cork") in 1750. It was renamed "Queenstown" in 1849 to commemorate a visit by Queen Victoria. No source has been identified for when the name was officially changed to Cobh, but it occurred around the time the Irish Free State was established. Cobh is a Gaelicisation of the English name Cove, and it shares the same pronunciation but has no meaning in the Irish language. After a little Murphy's stout which is brewed in Cork. We then headed to sea under sunny skies!

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Posted by rpickett 08:53 Archived in Ireland Tagged cobh Comments (0)

Norwegian Breakaway

Sea Days 6 and 7

overcast 60 °F

Life continues quietly at sea. The passengers are up and about and are filling the various events on board. No one seems bored or is having a problem finding something to do.

The highlight of the cruise so far is the food. We have eaten at all of the specialty restaurants and with the exception of Le Bistro - the french restaurant, they have been exceptional. Le Bistro missed on the escargot which were dry and the fish stew which only had six pieces of fish in it. The mostly Philippino wait staff is exceptionally attentive. Our cruise director Dan-Dan is also Philippino and is also very good. We went through Ireland immigration today - two officers got a free two day cruise - so debarking tomorrow should be a breeze. We are fog bound today as we are west of the English channel.

Two nights ago we ate at Teppanyaki - a traditional Japanese restaurant, and last night we ate at Ocean Blue - the seafood restaurant

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Posted by rpickett 06:50 Tagged sea and day 7 6 Comments (0)

Norwegian Breakaway

Ponta Delgada

semi-overcast 63 °F

After 5 days at sea, we reached the Eastern Atlantic and arrived at our first port of Ponta Delgada, Azores, Portugal. The origin of the placename, was elaborated by the famous Portuguese chronicler, Father Gaspar Frutuoso, wrote:
“This city of Ponta Delgada is named for its situation located along volcanic lands, thin and not too considerable like on other islands, that lead to the sea, and where later, was constructed the chapel of Santa Clara (Saint Clare of Assisi), which was named the Santa Clara point...”

In around 1450, Pêro de Teive, established a small fishing village that eventually grew into the urban agglomeration in Santa Clara.
The naval Battle of Ponta Delgada (also known as the Battle of São Miguel) took place on 26 July 1582, off the coast, as part of the 1580 Portuguese succession crisis. An Anglo-French corsair expedition sailed against Spain to preserve Portuguese control of the Azores, which had aligned itself with the pretender António, Prior of Crato, thereby preventing Spanish control (it was the largest French force sent overseas before the age of Louis XIV).

We had not signed up for any excursions, so we spent several hours wandering around the city and had a nice lunch in one of the local cafes.

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Posted by rpickett 10:57 Archived in Portugal Tagged ponta delgada Comments (0)

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