Grand European Passage. What a wonderful itinerary we are having aboard the luxury ship, Regent Navigator. We’re half way through an itinerary that began in Amsterdam and has included ports in Belgium, France, Spain, and will take us through Portugal later this week, ending in one of my favorite places, Barcelona. Grand indeed!
Basking in Bilbao’s Beauty
Bilbao is a city of contrasts; urban combined with country style living.
One of the most popular attractions in Bilboa is The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. The bright red arches of the La Salve bridge and the stark white Zubizuri footbridge offer an amazing view and showcase the contrasting nature of the city.
You could spend weeks exploring all the nooks and crannies Bilbao has to offer. The old fish markets combine with hidden high-end boutiques. However, the best part of Bilbao might be that the city is largely untouched by tourists. It’s the kind of place where you’ll rarely hear English, or even Spanish, spoken. The natives speak Basque, the oldest living language in Europe, and even the most touristy parts of the city are rarely crowded.
On a cruise, with limited time to explore, you can enjoy soaking in the local color as you wander through Mercado de la Ribera gazing at all the fresh produce, meats, pastries and flowers. The space is located next to the river, in the Casco Viejo neighborhood, which is Bilbao’s oldest, medieval part of town.
Almost as magnificent as sailing the Grand Canal into Venice, is the sail into Ferrol through a canal roughly 200 meters wide lined with steep hillsides passing the castles of San Felipe and la Palma and into the dock located at the center of town. Another port on the Grand European Passage you’ll love!
Travel Trivia: Ferrol has a reputation for being ugly. A local, anonymous graffiti artist has taken it upon him/herself to painting little yellow characters (emojis) around the town with the words “Ferrol Mola”, which translates to “Ferrol is Cool.”
As with many port cities, Ferrol was first a fishing village and then a military stronghold. The Old Town of Ferrol, the Modernist La Magdalena neighborhood, the La Cortina defensive walls (18th century), and the castles of San Felipe and La Palma are the man attractions. Interestingly, Ferrol has received the International Tourist Interest designation because of its Holy Week celebration; being the only city in Galacia to celebrate the Holy Week of Easter.
Historic Neighborhoods to Explore
The Co-Cathedral of Ferrol, named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985, in the historic center is the reported burial spot of St. James the Apostle. To locate the starting point, follow the promenade to Magdelena. This neighborhood, in and of itself, is an important area due to its neoclassic design. Built during the period of enlightenment, it is a great example of urban planning during that period being a perfect rectangle made up of six streets which intersect nine times. The neighborhood was built when King Ferdinand VI made Ferrol the largest arsenal in Northern Europe.
In 2008, Edurado Hermida rescued another important neighborhood, Canido, which sits near the mediaeval walls. The area had become impoverished and, in an attempt to bring the chance of prosperity and happiness to Canido he decided to paint using the painting “Meninas” by Valequez as his inspiration. Other artists have followed his lead and the color appears everywhere throughout the neighborhood. Their efforts have helped transform the neighborhood from a “state of death” to one of the trendiest neighborhoods in the area.
Other points of attraction in Ferrol are the Gardens of Herrara, the Naval Museum, The Aresenal, The Palace of the Captain and the Shipyards.
And now, it’s time to explore! You might find me enjoying one of the beaches in the area — Doninos, Esmelle and St. George’s Beach are the most popular. The beaches are sandy, the waves are big and listening to the surf might be the perfect way to spend my time in Ferrol.
Up next, I’ll be doing a transatlantic crossing on the Queen Mary 2. Hasta la bye bye!
Dee Serkin is a travel writer who specializes in destinations, culture, travel tips and advice. She is dedicated to inspiring travel in all and loves to share her adventures with others. Contact her at [email protected] or visit her site at https://travelovers.us