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Lisbon to London (Tower Bridge)

13 days with Silversea   Rating: Deluxe

Itinerary
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Day 1 Lisbon, Portugal
Spread over a string of seven hills north of the Rio Tejo (Tagus River) estuary, Lisbon presents an intriguing variety of faces to those who negotiate its switchback streets. In the oldest neighborhoods, stepped alleys whose street pattern dates back to Moorish times are lined with pastel-color houses decked with laundry; here and there, miradouros (vantage points) afford spectacular river or city views. In the grand 18th-century center, calçada à portuguesa (black-and-white mosaic cobblestone) sidewalks border wide boulevards. Elétricos (trams) clank through the streets, and blue-and-white azulejos (painted and glazed ceramic tiles) adorn churches, restaurants, and fountains. Of course, parts of Lisbon lack charm. Even some downtown areas have lost their classic Portuguese appearance as the city has become more cosmopolitan: shiny office blocks have replaced some 19th- and 20th-century art nouveau buildings. And centenarian trams share the streets with "fast trams" and noisy automobiles. Lisbon bears the mark of an incredible heritage with laid-back pride. In preparing to host the 1998 World Exposition, Lisbon spruced up public buildings, overhauled its subway system, and completed an impressive second bridge across the river. Today the former Expo site is an expansive riverfront development known as Parque das Nações, and the city is a popular port of call for cruises, whose passengers disembark onto a revitalized waterfront. Downtown, all the main squares have been overhauled one by one. In its heyday in the 16th century, Lisbon was a pioneer of the first wave of globalization. Now, the empire is striking back, with Brazilians and people from the former Portuguese colonies in Africa enriching the city’s ethnic mix. There are also more than a few people from other European countries who are rapidly becoming integrated. But Lisbon's intrinsic, slightly disorganized, one-of-a-kind charm hasn't vanished in the contemporary mix. Lisboetas (people from Lisbon) are at ease pulling up café chairs and perusing newspapers against any backdrop, whether it reflects the progress and commerce of today or the riches that once poured in from Asia, South America, and Africa. And quiet courtyards and sweeping viewpoints are never far away. Despite rising prosperity (and costs) since Portugal entered the European Community in 1986, and the more recent tourism boom, prices for most goods and services are still lower than most other European countries. You can still find affordable places to eat and stay, and with distances between major sights fairly small, taxis are astonishingly cheap. All this means that Lisbon is not only a treasure chest of historical monuments, but also a place where you won’t use up all your own hard-earned treasure. Though Baixa, or downtown, was Lisbon’s government and business center for two centuries until the mid-20th century, the most ancient part of the city lies on the slopes of a hill to its east. Most visitors start their exploration there, in Alfama. All but the very fittest ride the antique 28 eléctrico (streetcar) most of the way up to Saint George’s Castle (or take the 737 bus or a taxi all the way up). The views from its ramparts afford a crash course in the city’s topography. You can then wander downhill to absorb the atmosphere (and more views) in the winding streets below. There are several museums and other major sights in this area, so give yourself plenty of time. Baixa itself is interesting mostly for its imposing architecture and its bustling squares, as well as an unusual cast-iron elevator that affords yet more panoramic views. But a new design museum is what persuades most visitors to linger. On the slope to the west is the chic Chiado district, traditionally the city’s intellectual center, with theaters, galleries, and literary cafés. A little farther uphill is the Bairro Alto. Originally founded by the Jesuits (whose church is among Lisbon’s finest), it was long known for rather sinful pursuits and today is a great place for barhopping. Both neighborhoods are great places to shop. Modern Lisbon, meanwhile, begins just north of Baixa. The city’s tree-lined central axis, the Avenida da Liberdade, forges up to the Praça Marquês de Pombal roundabout, with a rather formal park beyond. Dotted around the area north of here are major museums and other sights. West of Baixa, along the river, former docklands such as Alcântara are now home to stylish restaurants and nightclubs, as well as the odd museum. Farther west is historic Belém, which boasts yet more museums—and some famous pastries. On the city’s eastern flank, the Parque das Nações has family-oriented attractions and green spaces.
 
Day 2 Oporto, Portugal
Lively, commercial Oporto is the second largest city in Portugal after Lisbon. Also called Porto for short, the word easily brings to mind the city's most famous product - port wine. Oporto's strategic location on the north bank of the Douro River has accounted for the town's importance since ancient times. The Romans built a fort here where their trading route crossed the Douro, and the Moors brought their own culture to the area. Oporto profited from provisioning crusaders en route to the Holy Land and enjoyed the riches from Portuguese maritime discoveries during the 15th and 16th centuries. Later, port wine trade with Britain compensated for the loss of the spice trade and the end of gold and gem shipments from Brazil. In the 19th century, the city went through a period of new prosperity with the rise of industries. In its wake followed the building of workers' quarters and opulent residences. Since the declaration of Oporto as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the city aims to build up a cultural reference that will provide it with a new image, based on deep historical roots. Among the attractions that make Oporto such an interesting place are its graceful bridges spanning the Douro River, a picturesque riverfront quarter and, most notable, its world-famous port wine lodges. Although Oporto is a bustling centre and home to many different businesses, the source of its greatest fame is the rich, sweet fortified red wine we know as port.
 
Day 3 La Coruna, Spain
La Coruña, the largest city in Spain's Galicia region, is among the country's busiest ports. The remote Galicia area is tucked into the northwest corner of the Iberian Peninsula, surprising visitors with its green and misty countryside that is so much unlike other parts of Spain. The name "Galicia" is Celtic in origin, for it was the Celts who occupied the region around the 6th-century BC and erected fortifications. La Coruña was already considered an important port under the Romans. They were followed by an invasion of Suevians, Visigoths and, much later in 730, the Moors. It was after Galicia was incorporated into the Kingdom of Asturias that the epic saga of the Pilgrimage to Santiago (St. James) began. From the 15th century, overseas trade developed rapidly; in 1720, La Coruña was granted the privilege of trading with America - a right previously only held by Cadiz and Seville. This was the great era when adventurous men voyaged to the colonies and returned with vast riches. Today, the city's significant expansion is evident in three distinct quarters: the town centre located along the isthmus; the business and commercial centre with wide avenues and shopping streets; and the "Ensanche" to the south, occupied by warehouses and factories. Many of the buildings in the old section feature the characteristic glazed façades that have earned La Coruña the name "City of Crystal." Plaza Maria Pita, the beautiful main square, is named after the local heroine who saved the town in 1589 when she seized the English standard from the beacon and gave the alarm, warning her fellow townsmen of the English attack.
 
Day 4 Bilbao, Spain
Whether it’s the flow of its boundary pushing architecture, delights of its finger food tapas, or sweeps of gorgeous shoreline nearby, Bilbao is a city that places a premium on aesthetics. The relentless drive to all things beautiful may be a reaction to the city’s industrial past, but it has led this Basque city to emerge as a new beacon of artistry. American architect Frank Gehry’s masterpiece of flowing metal is the shining standout here, a perfect harmony of smooth titanium and glass, and a thrilling piece in itself. Inside the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, world-class exhibitions are exhibited in the bright, expansive interior - which practically begs you to explore more. The city has gorgeous historical presence too. Casco Viejo - the medieval area - is its historic core, and home to the original seven streets and cathedral, dating back to the 14thcentury. Tall banks of coloured buildings rise either side as you walk, dwarfed by a tide of pretty facades, overflowing flower boxes, and intricate rail balconies. Plaza Nueva is Bilbao’s neoclassical square, with a procession of arches all around you. Morning flea markets regularly overtake it, offering opportunities to pick through piles of coins, dusty books and rusted antiques on the hunt for bargains, in this most elegant setting. The titanic Mercado de la Ribera market looms tall by the river. Explore to eat your way through an endless pile of Basque pintxos – the local take on tapas. Cocktail sticks will quickly stack up as you gorge on plump olives, organic cheeses, and feather thin slices of curled hams, while orbiting Europe’s largest covered market. Described as a perfect blend of beauty and function by UNESCO, the Vizcaya Bridge is an unusual but spectacular piece of industrial architecture. The world’s oldest, gigantic transporter crane is still in use today, swinging cars and passengers from one side of the gaping Nervion River’s mouth to the other.
 
Days 5-6 Bordeaux, France
The name alone conjures images of sun-ripened grapes, splashes of refined flavour, and the joy of clinking glasses. Bordeaux is synonymous with quality and prestige, and the promise of endless opportunities to sample the city’s famous, full-bodied red wines makes a visit to this elegant French port city one to truly savour. Sprinkled with scenic, turret-adorned mansion castles, which stand above soil softened by the Atlantic and winding flow of the Garonne River, the vineyards of Bordeaux consistently produce revered wines, enjoyed right across the globe. Explore France’s largest wine region, walking through vineyards where dusty clumps of grapes hang, before descending into cellars to see the painstaking processes that make this region a global wine centre. The acclaimed, sensory experience of Cité du Vin wine museum lets you put your own nose to the test, learning more about the craft involved in producing world class vintages. Brush up on your wine knowledge, with our blog [insert You’ll Fall in Love with Wine in Bordeaux]. Bordeaux itself is an intoxicating blend of old and new – a fact perfectly illustrated by the Water Mirror. This living art installation has reinvigorated one of the city’s most important historical sites, and it feels as though you’re walking on water, as you step through the cooling mist of Place De La Bourse. The moisture generates a glorious mirrored composition of the 300-year-old elegant palatial architecture in front of you. Water also flows freely from the magnificent Monument aux Girondins statue, where horses rear up to extol the values of the Girondin revolutionaries. Marche des Quais – the city’s lively fish market – is the spot to try this wine capital’s freshest lemon-drizzled oysters and juicy prawns.
 
Day 7 Belle Ile, France
Lovely Belle-Île-en-Mer is the largest of a small clutch of islands off the coast of Brittany. Just twelve miles long and less than four miles wide, this verdant atoll benefits from a mild climate, which contributes to the abundant flora found here. Fragrant eucalyptus, exotic gingko and mimosa trees, bountiful figs and colourful oleanders are all part of the lush landscape. Secluded, small beaches along coastal paths and quiet roadways are perfect for hiking and biking. Le Palais, the island’s main town, boasts a 16th-century citadel standing guard near the harbour. Monet painted the charming village of Sauzon during a stay in 1886 and Sarah Bernhart owned a home on the island for several years. No doubt you too will be enchanted by the isle’s charms. Pier Information The ship is scheduled to be anchor off Le Palais pier, located a 5-minute walk from the town centre. Taxis are not normally waiting on the waterfront but may be located in the surrounding streets. Shopping Your best buys are typical Breton products such as woven or embroidered fabric, brass and wooden goods, puppets, dolls and souvenirs. Many shops close for lunch between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. The local currency is the euro. Cuisine Britanny is particularly famous for its crepes, served with either sweet or savoury fillings. Accompanied by a glass of local cider or wine, they are a light, inexpensive meal. Fresh fish and seafood - shrimp, crayfish, crabs, oysters and scallops - are always a good choice. Other Sites Port Coton Monet painted these offshore “needles” 36 times in as many different weathers and in as many different lights as possible. Goulphar lighthouse stands 90 feet (82 metres) high and looks over the sea. The view from it base stretches out from Lorient to Croizic. Notre-Dame de l'Assomption The oldest church of the island, situated in Locmaria. Private arrangements for independent sightseeing may be requested through the Tour Office on board.
 
Day 8 Nantes (Britanny), France
The gateway to the Atlantic Ocean and the country’s seventh largest city, Nantes is located on the north bank of the Loire River. Although officially no longer the capital of Brittany since Nantes was included in the Pays de Loire administrative region, many of the city’s inhabitants regard themselves still an integral part of Brittany. During medieval times, much of the city’s prosperity resulted from colonial expeditions and the slave trade. Today Nantes is the most important commercial and industrial centre in west-central France, and appears as a particularly well-managed city with fine museums and carefully tended parks and gardens. One of the museums is dedicated to Jules Verne, born here in 1828. The Loire, foundation of Nantes’ riches, has dwindled from the city centre. As recently as the 1930s the river crossed the city in seven separate channels. However, they were filled in after World War II but, fortunately, left the area’s 18th-century mansions intact. They once were the trademark of rich merchants who made their fortunes from the slave trade. French influence was brought to Nantes by the Loire and its trade from the end of the 18th century when the city became known as "Little Paris." The Place Royale and the Place Graslin were first laid out during that time. One of the most impressive landmarks is the Chateau des Ducs, most of which is preserved in its original form built by the last two rulers of independent Brittany, Francois II, and his daughter Duchess Anne, born here in 1477.
 
Day 9 At Sea
Days at sea are the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. So whether that is going to the gym, visiting the spa, whale watching, catching up on your reading or simply topping up your tan, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to busy days spent exploring shore side.
 
Day 10 Saint Malo (Brittany), France
Thrust out into the sea and bound to the mainland only by tenuous man-made causeways, romantic St-Malo has built a reputation as a breeding ground for phenomenal sailors. Many were fishermen, but others—most notably Jacques Cartier, who claimed Canada for Francis I in 1534—were New World explorers. Still others were corsairs, "sea dogs" paid by the French crown to harass the Limeys across the Channel: legendary ones like Robert Surcouf and Duguay-Trouin helped make St-Malo rich through their pillaging, in the process earning it the nickname "the pirates' city." The St-Malo you see today isn’t quite the one they called home because a weeklong fire in 1944, kindled by retreating Nazis, wiped out nearly all of the old buildings. Restoration work was more painstaking than brilliant, but the narrow streets and granite houses of the Vieille Ville were satisfactorily recreated, enabling St-Malo to regain its role as a busy fishing port, seaside resort, and tourist destination. The ramparts that help define this city figuratively and literally are authentic, and the flames also spared houses along Rue de Pelicot in the Vieille Ville. Battalions of tourists invade this quaint part of town in summer, so arrive off-season if you want to avoid crowds.
 
Day 11 Honfleur, France
Honfleur, the most picturesque of the Côte Fleurie's seaside towns, is a time-burnished place with a surplus of half-timber houses and cobbled streets that are lined with a stunning selection of stylish boutiques. Much of its Renaissance architecture remains intact—especially around the 17th-century Vieux Bassin harbor, where the water is fronted on one side by two-story stone houses with low, sloping roofs and on the other by tall slate-topped houses with wooden facades. Maritime expeditions (including some of the first voyages to Canada) departed from here; later, Impressionists were inspired to capture it on canvas. But the town as a whole has become increasingly crowded since the Pont de Normandie opened in 1995. Providing a direct link with Upper Normandy, the world's sixth-largest cable-stayed bridge is supported by two concrete pylons taller than the Eiffel Tower and designed to resist winds of 257 kph (160 mph).
 
Day 12 At Sea
Days at sea are the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. So whether that is going to the gym, visiting the spa, whale watching, catching up on your reading or simply topping up your tan, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to busy days spent exploring shore side.
 
Day 13 London (Tower Bridge), England
London is an ancient city whose history greets you at every turn. If the city contained only its famous landmarks—the Tower of London or Big Ben—it would still rank as one of the world's top cities. But London is so much more. The foundations of London's character and tradition endure. The British bobby is alive and well. The tall, red, double-decker buses (in an updated model) still lumber from stop to stop. Then there's that greatest living link with the past—the Royal Family with all its attendant pageantry. To ice the cake, swinging-again London is today one of the coolest cities on the planet. The city's art, style, and fashion make headlines around the world, and London's chefs have become superstars.
Map
All This Included
The tales and tastes of a region infused with a rich past with a colourful future. Savour the flavours of Portugal, Spain, France and Britain as you travel up the Atlantic coasts on an epicurean adventure. An overnight stay in Bordeaux will have you tasting wine like an oenologist and discover why the pretty Brittany port of Belle Ile carries its name very well. An overnight in London needs no introduction.
  • 1 night hotel
  • Guided Zodiac, land and sea tours, and shoreside activities led by the Expeditions Team
  • Enrichment lectures by a highly qualified Expeditions Team
  • Spacious suites
  • Butler service in every suite
  • Unlimited Free Wifi
  • Personalised service – nearly one crew member for every guest
  • Choice of restaurants, diverse cuisine, open-seating dining
  • Beverages in-suite and throughout the ship, including champagne, select wines and spirits
  • In-suite dining and room service
  • Onboard entertainment
  • Onboard gratuities
Accommodations
Cruising: Cabin onboard Silver Cloud
Notes
  • Cabin upgrades are available.
  • Expedition highlights and wildlife listed here are possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed. Your Expedition Leader and Captain will work together to ensure opportunities for adventure and exploration are the best possible, taking into account the prevailing weather, wildlife activity and ice conditions. Expedition Team members scheduled for this voyage are subject to change or cancellation. 
  • Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
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* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.