Part 2: A secret paradise
From Bermuda, we sailed northeast for four days, landing at two islands in the Azores. Located in the mid-Atlantic, 900 miles from Portugal, the Azores consist of nice islands tied together with an independent government and Portugal as the guardian.
The language is Portuguese and the currency, the Euro. The countryside is comprised of many little farms, from two to ten acres each. A volcanic stone fence, averaging three to four feet high, borders them. Many farms have cattle and sheep, while others grow various crops. The soil here is so fertile that up to four crops can be harvested a year. Tea, oranges, bananas, tobacco and cereals all prosper.
More than 200 years ago, Japanese pines were imported and now we can enjoy large forests of these beautiful trees.
The Azores are actually volcanic peaks rising from the depths of the Atlantic and the islands continue to show volcanic activity with hot springs. Beautiful lakes are present; some set in the mountains, which rise some 3,000 feet.
We visited Horta for a day and another was spent in Ponta Delgada.
Horta has a population of about 10,000, while Ponta Delgada is 45,000. The city and villages are all very Portuguese. Population on all the islands is 300,000. They get daily direct flights from Lisbon. You can see small European-style hotels, but I didn't notice any large resorts.
This is a real "sleeper" as a vacation destination. I could spend a quiet week here just wandering through the towns and driving through the lush countryside. I understand there are also direct flights to Ponta Delgada from Boston.
Following three more days at sea and more Maritime Memories sessions, we docked in Harwich, England on May 16. Here, the cruise line transferred us to London to enjoy a two-night stay. Sightseeing was also included in the package, which treated us to the major important points of interest in the historic city.
May 17 was my birthday, and as a gift to myself I decide to take a day trip to Edinburgh, Scotland. I arrived at Kingscross rail station very early to board the famous Flying Scot train to the ancient and important city of Scotland. The train travels at 125 miles per hour and the 400 or so miles are covered in four hours, twenty minutes. Lush farms and countryside were viewed from the fast-moving train.
We arrived late morning in the center of the city and I simply walked the downtown area taking photographs and enjoyed the people and old buildings. For lunch I stopped at the Royal Princess hotel and feasted on baked salmon with all the trimmings.
Mid-afternoon I boarded the Flying Scot again for the return trip London, arriving there in time for a late dinner.
On Friday, May 18, I flew back home in British Airways nonstop 747. The flight took 11 hours, giving me time to view four feature films at my seat and enjoy two fine meals.
This was a memorable trip for several reasons. I want to sincerely recommend considering a vacation on the Discovery. It cruises all over Europe, South America, the Antarctic, South Pacific and more -- and always offers a fantastic experience.
You can request a free brochure by calling Discovery World Cruises, 1-866-623-2689.
Have a great time!
Part 1 of "A cruise to remember" appeared in the June 6 Rim Review.