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Vigo, Gijon, Bilbao, Le Havre - tips please!

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    Vigo, Gijon, Bilbao, Le Havre - tips please!

    Just booked on a cruise with RCS in October visiting:

    Vigo, Bilbao, Gijon and Le Havre.

    We usually do a mix of organised excursions and 'our own thing', so would like some ideas of either in these ports of call.

    Was wondering how long the journey to Santiago de Compostela is, as this is somewhere I've always wished to go.

    Also, is it worth booking an excursion to the Guggenheim in Bilbao, or is it do-able on your own?

    Cheers

    I used to travel in a campervan until I discovered cruising
    sigpic

    www.campervantraveller.weebly.com

    #2
    In my opinion, Vigo itself is a rather dull port. Any excursion to somewhere else is worth considering!

    Le Harve does not have a lot to offer either. Some may disagree?
    See my cruise blog: HERE

    Comment


      #3
      Very funny Malcolm!

      Just realised that Le Havre is the place Impressionism was born.

      Monet's 'Impression, Sunrise' was painted there

      Have been googling, but there's nothing like word of mouth advice as to what it's possible to do in the few hours on shore!
      I used to travel in a campervan until I discovered cruising
      sigpic

      www.campervantraveller.weebly.com

      Comment


        #4
        I have to tell you that Santiago de Compostela was a big disappointment to me. The crowds were terrible and the prices in the shops were ridiculous. I don't mean that you shouldn't go, just that it may not be what you expect. Try to get into the cathedral after lunch, it is much quieter.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by Cooke, Ashby View Post
          I have to tell you that Santiago de Compostela was a big disappointment to me. The crowds were terrible and the prices in the shops were ridiculous. I don't mean that you shouldn't go, just that it may not be what you expect. Try to get into the cathedral after lunch, it is much quieter.
          Yes - often these places are not quite what we expect You could hardly move when we went to The Hermitage, but had no choice of what time we went there

          How long did it take to get to Santiago de Compostela from the cruise terminal? Not sure which one it's closest to - maybe Vigo?
          I used to travel in a campervan until I discovered cruising
          sigpic

          www.campervantraveller.weebly.com

          Comment


            #6
            For Bilbao, ships usually dock at Getxo which is 20 kms from Bilbao. I've always taken the ship's shuttle bus to Bilbao. It normally stops close to one of the main squares and from there it's a short walk to the Guggenheim. In my opinion, the Guggenheim is the highlight of Bilbao. The riverside area at the rear of the Guggenheim is very attractive.

            If your ship charges for the shuttle bus, you could consider catching the metro from Getxo, it is six stops to Bilbao.

            It is best to be aware that petty crime, as in most major cities, is prevalent in Bilbao. Two passengers from the ship had their handbags snatched.

            I took the ship's tour to Santiago de Compostela, the coach took about one hour. Other passengers took the train from Vigo station, the journey took approx.90 minutes. Having spoken to them on their return, they wished they had taken the tour, as they found the walk to the station was a bit of a trek. However, the independent trip was much cheaper.

            Comment


              #7
              We a similar itinerary on Indy in May

              Le havre; was better than we expected. We had planned to go to honfleur but decided to explore le havre instead.
              There are tourist info people handing out maps as you go ashore. Using this we walked out of the port which was a 5 minute walk. We then turned left and walked along passed the marina to the beach. There was a children's park, skateboard park and outdoor swimming pool. We walked on passed the beach and turned right back into town. We walked to the impressive town hall building and found the shopping mall which was decent and included a supermarket where we stocked.up on drinks and snacks. We then walked back to the ship over a steep foot bridge. All in we walked approximately 5 miles and were out for a few hours. We were very surprised at le havre and enjoyed our time there.

              Bilbao; we stepped off the ship in the pouring rain took a 5 minute walk out of the port,passed a small aquarium. We then turned left and walked to the beach along the prom which was scattered with a few bar and restaurants. We only got off to stretch our legs as the weather was awful.

              Gijon; rci dock on the new harbour still being constructed 6km from gijon itself. On seeing this as we sailed in, I ran down to guest relations and booked the shuttle which took 10 minutes to get to the centre.
              Gijon was beautiful a real surprise. The shopping was fab ( purchased a lovely new handbag). In the sun the beach would be gorgeous and the bars on the sea front I expect would be heaving. I'd like to visit gijon again in nice weather. It was very green and quite pretty once you got out of the massive dock area.

              Vigo; can't really think of anything good to say I'm afraid.

              Comment


                #8
                Hi Allie.
                We sailed on the Azura last year and had pre-booked a trip to Santiago de Compostela with P&O whilst we were docked at La Coruna. Unfortunately the trip was cancelled due to insufficient numbers but they offered us the same tour from Vigo instead. As Santiago de Compostela is closer to La Coruna than Vigo it took a little longer to get there. We visited both the old and new town and had a great day. We found the tour was well worth doing.

                Cheers OSD
                Our cruising days are over now.................

                Comment


                  #9
                  We are planning to catch the train to Rouen when we go to Le Havre on Celebrity Infinity in September. It looks quite easy to do and we have never been before. I will let you know if it is worth a visit when we get back.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by allie, Isle of Wight View Post
                    Just booked on a cruise with RCS in October visiting:

                    Vigo, Bilbao, Gijon and Le Havre.

                    We usually do a mix of organised excursions and 'our own thing', so would like some ideas of either in these ports of call.

                    Was wondering how long the journey to Santiago de Compostela is, as this is somewhere I've always wished to go.

                    Also, is it worth booking an excursion to the Guggenheim in Bilbao, or is it do-able on your own?

                    Cheers

                    On the opposite bank of the seine to Le Havre is Honfleur, and on our recent Azamara cruise it was one of the unexpected treats of the whole trip. It really is beautiful, and being October I imagine it would be slightly less busy (it's very popular with the French).

                    Well worth a 1/2 day trip at least.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Thanks everyone for those posts.

                      We've done a lot of France by car, but it will be good to take a proper look round Le Havre - last time it was a blur when we dashed off the ferry!

                      I found my Normandy Michelin guide: there's a fantastic Gallery FULL of Impressionist paintings, so I know where I'll be spending a few hours during our stopover


                      Looking forward to the Guggenheim, so thanks for that info Blondie.
                      I used to travel in a campervan until I discovered cruising
                      sigpic

                      www.campervantraveller.weebly.com

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Santiago de Compostelo was a disappointment, thought there is Parador there for a good meal, if nothing else. Maybe because it was cold and wet that it proved less than appealing but the drive there was the most interesting part of the tour.

                        I echo the sentiments about Honfleur though, a delightful place to visit.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          We loved Bilbao the shuttle drops you in the middle of the City a short walk from the Guggenheim .
                          This is a picture from behind the museum





                          And the flower dog in front of the Museum


                          Plenty of nice shops there if thats what you want...Taffy
                          ​Taffy

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Some facts that I have gathered.

                            Vigo

                            The ship will berth right in the town a short walk away from an excellent shopping centre, so no need for a shuttle. If you are visiting Vigo for a short while, then don’t waste your time hanging around the port, all the best places are in town.


                            It’s best to get a map or at least a plan of the central part ofVigo before you go anywhere. There is a tourist information kiosk as you come off the ship, by the large head and shoulders statue. This is also where the tourist bus goes from.
                            The bus gives a two hour tour of Vigo and the surrounding area. It’s good value at just €7.50 and leaves from outside tourist information at 10am. 12noon, 4.30pm and 6.30pm. Although it is hop on, hop off you need to be aware that there is just one bus – so it’ll be 2 – 4 and half hours before you can hop back on!


                            The Old Town has elegant fountains, monuments. You can climb up La Guia Hill for the fabulous views of the city and the Rande Straits.


                            There are plenty of shopping opportunities in Vigo, as it has an abundance of pretty little shops, as well as large shopping centres. Wander up to El Corte Ingles then stroll backthrough the town and down to the harbour front which is a nice little walk.


                            If you would like to go to the beach in Vigo, you would have to take a regular bus (number 10 from the street across the pier) or a taxi that would cost you about 10-15 Euros to the nearest beach, Samil or La Fuente. There are boats and catamarans to Cangas, just across the bay, that run every half an hour from 7 am till 10 pm. It costs about 3 Euros per way, you can buy the tickets right at the pier where your cruise arrives. The boat ride is just 15 minutes and you can get a great overview of the harbour from it. Sometimes, there are even dolphins swimming along the way. Once you get to Cangas, there is a nice big beach to the right of the pier called "Rodeira" it can get a bit crowded during themonths of July and August but it is still a nice place to lay in the sun.


                            There are also some boats going to Cies Islands, however check you have enough time if you are just stopping over from a cruise but it is a very beautiful place to visit, the main beach at Cies Islands has been named the "most beautiful beach in the world" by the newspaper The Guardian.


                            Further Afield:


                            About 60 miles outside Vigo is the world-famous shrine of Santiago de Compostela.This shrine is one of the important places of pilgrimage.

                            Bilbao

                            Bilbao has a good mix of the old and the new. A DIY to the Guggenheim museum. Even if you not the arty type it is well worth a visit.


                            For great Aerial photographs of the Guggenheim Museum and the city then take the Artxanda Funicular up to the Artxanda view point. There is not much at the top except fantastic views over city. From the Guggenheim Bridge follow the cable car signs along the river on the opposite side of the Guggenheim, down a small side street and the entrance is there in front of you. A very easy walk, 20 mins. Tickets only cost 96 cent, (2013) and it takes about five minutes to get to the top. Trains are normally every 15mins.


                            Afterwards walk around the harbour and see the swinging bridge followed by a stroll by theriver and a walk back to the bus transfer stop.


                            The old town, Casa Viejo, for tapas, bars and restaurants.


                            Le Harve


                            Le Havre, is one of the largest ports in France, only second to Marseille and isnormally used as a gateway to other destinations like Paris.


                            If you don’t want to travel afar you will be surprised with just how much Le Havre has to offer. There is a small information centre for disembarking passengers which provides practical information with free travel guides, a small shop, plus taxi and tour services. The city of Le Havre is a 25 minute walk from the ships dock and most cruise lines usually offer a shuttle service intothe centre of town.


                            The city was completely destroyed in World War II and although some may find the rebuild bleak and uninventing, there is still lot to admire about the Auguste Perre’s audacious modern architecture, which earned the city UNESCO WorldHeritage status in 2005. Le Havre is dubbed the birthplace of Impressionist style of painting and is home to the Malraux Museum which boasts the largest collection of Impressionist painting in France, outside of Paris.


                            If you happen to be visiting Le Havre in the summer you might want to visit the mile long beach where water sports enthusiasts can sail, windsurf or canoe. Ninety-six parks are spread throughout the city, including the Saint-Rochgardens, nearly five acres of British-style gardens in central Le Havre. The Le Havre tourism office provides itineraries for walking tours of Le Havre, which highlight attractions throughout the city.


                            Stores are generally open Monday through Saturday 9- 7, but many close for lunchtime usually between 12-3. During July and August shops stay open for longer and even on Sundays. Museums open 10-5, but most are closed on Monday or Tuesday.


                            There is a lovely coastline North of Le Havre around Etretat, where the Impressionists painted and there's also the beaches used in the Normandy landings which would involve a longer day. It is amazing to go there though and you will find yourself getting very emotional if you go.


                            Paris


                            Although cruise lines advertise Le Havre port as the gateway into Paris – the city is over 2 hours away and can even take up to 3 hours depending on the traffic. To see the best of Paris you will need more than one day and the time it takes to get there and coming back and the cost involved it really isn’t worth it. However, if you are adamant to see Paris it is suggested you use the cruise line shore excursions as the traffic can be horrendous at the best of times so you will have the security that the ship will wait for you, if you are delayed.


                            If you wish to do Paris by yourself then there are hourly trains available, which will take you into Paris St Lazare. If tickets are purchased in advance from SNCF : Voyage, Transports et Logistique they will cost £30 one way for a journey that lasts 2 hours.

                            Hope that is of some use and enjoy your cruise.
                            Last edited by Peter D, Wrexham; 3rd July 2014, 03:36 PM.
                            Peter D


                            Link to my Photo Albums:

                            http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/PeterJD01

                            Comment


                              #15
                              As mentioned, just to the left of your ship where you dock in Vigo is the ferry to the Cies Isles. This trip ranks as one of our better excursions....but check ferry times both on the board and by asking the staff on the ferry.
                              Ferry staff on our last trip to the Isles told us that they also run the ferry across the river to the beach at the other side, and assured us there are shops and restaurants there. They said it was a 30 minute journey, but we've yet to try it.
                              Jo.

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