My favourite ports of call
I recently blogged about my experience of sailing on the Celebrity Equinox, during the cruise I visited Rome, Florence, Ville Franche, Ajaccio, Palma de Mallorca, Cartagena and Valencia. Out of all the ports of call visited I would have to say that my two favourites were Ville Franche and Palma De Mallorca. I had visited Palma de Mallorca before but didn’t get to see a great deal of it so had the chance to explore further. Here are some things to see at each port of call.
What struck me the most about Ville Franche was how picturesque it is with it’s cobbled streets and hidden back street bars and restaurants. It’s much more laid back than other Cote d’Azur resort towns like Nice, Cannes and Monaco, Villefranche, whose old town dates back to the 14th century, evokes a romantic, historic feel. For those weary of sightseeing, it’s a terrific port for hanging out and relaxing. It’s a popular port of call for lots of different cruise lines.
Lying snugly at the heart of one of the most beautiful bays in the world, Villefranche-sur-Mer rises like a natural amphitheatre from the sea, whose micro-climate encourages the growth of a variety of exotic flora. Villefrance bears witness to several centuries of different civilizations: the medieval Old Town, the mysterious “Rue Obscure”, the fortified harbour, The Citadel (1557) built by the Duke of Savoy, the Saint Peter Chapel decorated by Jean Cocteau, the outdoor theatre, the conference centre and five museums. A haven of peace untouched by time, this city of art has succeeded in preserving the charm and gentle character of an old-fashioned fishing village in spite of its expansion.
From the Basse Corniche and Moyen Corniche, you can look down across the red tile roofs of the old town, with the distinctive church and bell tower in the centre. Like the medieval villages of the “back country”, the narrow cobblestone and bricked streets slope steeply down towards the sea. There’s quite a medieval feeling here, with many little restaurants to remind you you’re in tourist country. There are also quiet little squares, like the Place Félix Poullan beside the church, and the Place de l’Eglise just below. Tina Turner has a home here.
Boat trips are available This two hour long trip by boat along the coastline will enable you to discover the coast from Villefranche to Monaco. The trips run on Wednesdays from June to September and on Wednesdays and Fridays from July to August. For those who just want to relax you can sit on the harbour front and watch the world go by.
Chapel of Saint Elme
Standing on the water’s edge, overlooking one of the most beautiful bays, the 16th Century Chapel Saint Elme is a classified historical monument.
I prefer to see different ports of call on each cruise I go on however, I wouldn’t hesitate to return to Ville Franche in the future.
Palma de Mallorca offers plenty of tourist attractions, catering to every kind of traveller. Discover the heritage of the city through a wide range of cathedrals, castle ruins, museums and galleries. On the other hand, amazing cave formations, nature parks, golden beaches and botanical gardens put a modern twist on Palma’s ancient past.
One of the most picturesque sights in Palma which can be seen from the Port is La Seu. This is a beautiful and magnificent Roman Catholic Cathedral which radiates the glory of the city. Designed in Spanish levantino Gothic and in southern French Gothic style, the sandstone walls and the flying defences seem to ascend from the sea. Built on an Arab mosque, the cathedral is about 121 metres high, 55 metres wide and 44 metres of nave height. The entrance is through the side door passing by a small museum. Struck by the play of light, the rose window studded with 1236 pieces of stained glass and 12 m wide, is one of the world’s largest windows. The columns are looped with wrought-iron candelabra by Gaudi. The most controversial addition done by Gaudi is the unfinished crown of thorns that is suspended over the altar and shaped with cardboard and cork. Going towards the south front, there is a 15th century door, by Guillem Sagera, that showcases the scenes from the Last Supper.
Palma is a great city for sitting and watching the world go by, it hosts numerous bars and restaurants and has 100’s of shops ranging from designed boutiques to small local shops and market stalls which sell traditional souvenirs. Sampling the local tapas is a must whilst in Palma along with a jug of the famous sangria. Other resorts in Majorca can be easily accessed from Palma if you are fortunate enough to spend more than one day there, there are lots of beautiful beaches within travelling distance from the centre of Palma.
In my opinion both ports of call are well worth a visit, until next time, bye for now.
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Email or call me to discuss your dream cruise: Wendy@cruiseclubuk.com 0161 798 2570