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Two miles distant from its ancient seaport of Leith lies Edinburgh, Scotland’s national capital. The Scottish capital since the 15th century, Edinburgh is comprised of two distinct areas – the Old Town, dominated by a medieval fortress, and the neoclassical New Town, whose development from the 18th century onwards had a far-reaching influence on European urban planning. The harmonious juxtaposition of these two contrasting historic areas, each with many important buildings, is what gives the city its unique character.
Always favored by geography, Edinburgh is ideally situated on the Firth of Forth, an inlet from the North Sea, and built on extinct volcanoes surrounded by woods, rolling hills and lakes. On a clear day, there are glorious vistas from each of these hilltops. Looming above the city is the striking fairy tale castle built on the site of a 7th-century fortress. Towards the Middle Ages life within the fortress spilled onto the long ridge running to the foot of Arthur’s Seat, which crowns Holyrood Park. The city’s most legendary citizens are the arch Presbyterian John Knox and Mary Queen of Scots, who dominated the Edinburgh of the late 16th century. Edinburgh’s delightful city center is a joy to explore on foot. Every alley reveals impressive steeples, jagged, chimney-potted skylines, or lovely rotund domes.
Located on the easternmost point of mainland Scotland, Peterhead has always been linked to the sea. It was founded in the late 16th century as a fishing port, and its harbor dates from 1593. The folkloric nickname for the town is the Blue Toon, supposedly because local fishermen traditionally wore blue worsted stockings. Fishing is still an important industry, although the historically important whaling trade is gone. Scottish whalers plied the seas from Greenland deep into the Antarctic, and many place names in the South Atlantic recall the Scots’ intrepid exploration of the region. Falkland, McMurdo, Weddell, the South Shetland Islands, Scotia Sea and dozens more bespeak the heritage. They sought whale oil to lubricate the Industrial revolution back home. Today petroleum from offshore wells fuels the economy of Scotland’s northeast, and supports tens of thousands of jobs in the region. The Maritime Heritage Centre recounts the story up to the present. Aberdeen, called the Granite City, is Scotland’s third largest city. It is a place of majestic stone buildings, gothic-turreted and spired, hewn from the local stone so richly laced with mica that it glitters like silver in the sunlight. The University of Aberdeen was founded in 1495 and is still one of Britain’s finest. The city’s parks and gardens have consistently secured it a place in the annual Britain in Bloom awards. Whether you choose to explore the beautiful old city, the spectacular natural splendors of Aberdeenshire or the area’s many traditional whisky distilleries, you will doubtless find plenty to enchant you on Scotland’s northeastern coast.
Patras is the largest city in the Peloponnese as well as the capital of Greece’s Achaia region. Dominated by the castle at the top of a hill, Patras is divided into two parts. The older section, at the foot of the castle, features a number of appealing neoclassical houses, while the lower city offers numerous mansions which house the Municipal Theater and the Odeon among them.Perhaps foremost of the city’s attractions is the Cathedral of St. Andrew, rising majestically over the lower city. Less secular in nature are the many delightful cafes, pastry shops and tavernas to be found along the busy streets.
Karlskrona is a locality and the seat of Karlskrona Municipality, Blekinge County, Sweden with 66,675 inhabitants in 2018. It is also the capital of Blekinge County. Karlskrona is known as Sweden’s only baroque city and is host to Sweden’s only remaining naval base and the headquarters of the Swedish Coast Guard.
An historic Irish castle built along the River Corrib in 1121 grew rapidly into the city of Galway. There are two main squares in the city, Eyre Square and the Spanish Parade. At the center of Eyre Square is John F. Kennedy Park, erected in honor of U.S. President Kennedy’s visit here in 1963. A carved bust of the president was affectionately placed by the people of Galway at the exact spot where Kennedy stood to deliver his speech. Spanish Parade is the site of the Spanish Arches, two stone arches that made up the historic wall that once surrounded Galway. Remnants of medieval town walls lie between shops selling handcrafted rings, books and musical instruments. In addition to the many traditional Irish pubs, are the picturesque ancient neighborhoods of The Claddagh and Salthill. The Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven, built in 1965 in the Renaissance-style, is the last great stone-walled cathedral to be built in Europe, while Galway Cathedral is much older, dating back to 1320.
Plymouth, the largest city in Devon, has a long maritime history. Construction on the Royal Naval Dockyard was begun by William III in the late 17th century, and the site continues to serve as a naval base today. Excellent views of Plymouth Sound, with its many bays and inlets, may be enjoyed from the grassy esplanade known as the Hoe. Although heavy bombing destroyed much of Plymouth during World War II, a fascinating part of the past may still be seen in the Barbican, the oldest surviving section of the city. The Mayflower Steps mark the spot from which the Pilgrims sailed for the New World in 1620. You may wish to take a look inside the massive Royal Citadel, built by Charles II in 1666. The city houses Europe’s premier oceanography institute with an unrivalled aquarium. An excursion into the lovely Devonshire countryside should prove a most pleasant diversion.
Guernsey, the second largest of the Channel Islands, offers the visitor a mild climate, breathtaking scenery and a peaceful, unspoiled ambiance, all of which combine to make it a popular destination for British and French vacationers. Besides tourism, the island is notable for its highly successful agricultural industry, producing flowers, strawberries and millions of pounds of the coveted “Guernsey Tom,” a juicy succulent tomato.
Crossing the English Channel from continental Europe to Great Britain, the first view of England is the milky-white strip of land called the White Cliffs of Dover. As you get closer, the coastline unfolds before you in all its striking beauty. White chalk cliffs with streaks of black flint rise straight from the sea to a height of 350’ (110 m).
Numerous archaeological finds reveal people were present in the area during the Stone Age. Yet the first record of Dover is from Romans, who valued its close proximity to the mainland. A mere 21 miles (33 km) separate Dover from the closest point in France. A Roman-built lighthouse in the area is the tallest Roman structure still standing in Britain. The remains of a Roman villa with the only preserved Roman wall mural outside of Italy are another unique survivor from ancient times which make Dover one of a kind.
London is one of the great entertainment, financial and fashion centers of the world. It dates back to ancient times when the Romans made it a hub of their road system and built the first London Bridge. There are actually two separate cities – the City of London and the City of Westminster – and they function side by side. The City of London is mostly a place of business and finance, while Westminster (the West End) is the locale of the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace, as well as theaters, clubs, parks and myriad shops. *Please note that embarkation and/or disembarkation in London, United Kingdom requires the use of a tender.
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