Shore Ex­cur­sions

Exclusively British - - CRAFTSMANSHIP -

ONE OF THE MAIN at­trac­tions of go­ing on a cruise is, para­dox­i­cally, the itin­er­ary of fab­u­lous des­ti­na­tions you have the op­por­tu­nity to visit. While some pre­fer a more DIY ap­proach, we opted for pre-or­gan­ised shore ex­cur­sions of­fered by Bri­tan­nia - we felt their ex­cur­sions of­fered ex­cel­lent value for money – with ex­pe­ri­enced and tested guides.

Naples: Sor­rento and Pom­peii

This was my per­sonal favourite ex­cur­sion from the hol­i­day. Sor­rento and Pom­peii was an 8-hour ex­cur­sion, tak­ing us first to ex­plore Sor­rento's charm­ing flower-filled streets, ar­ray of bou­tiques, sou­venir shops and at­mo­spheric out­door cafés. Set high upon a cliff over­look­ing the sea and rich in Mediter­ranean beauty, I was cer­tainly charmed by Sor­rento, a lovely, re­lax­ing town. Fol­low­ing a de­li­cious lunch at a lo­cal res­tau­rant we headed to Pom­peii for the af­ter­noon. Pos­si­bly the most fa­mous ex­ca­va­tion in the world, Pom­peii, a flour­ish­ing civil­i­sa­tion, buried for thou­sands of years, has been re­vealed again. Twenty feet of ash and pumice stone cov­ered Pom­peii for al­most 1,700 years. Now, much of the de­bris has been re­moved to un­cover rem­nants of everyday life, mak­ing this an­cient city one of Italy's most pop­u­lar tourist at­trac­tions. The plas­ter casts of the vol­cano's vic­tims are par­tic­u­larly poignant and emo­tion­ally mov­ing – to­gether with the views of Ve­su­vius, whose erup­tion was re­spon­si­ble for the dev­as­ta­tion, back in A.D. 79 - mo­men­tous re­minders of the events that brought life in Pom­peii to an end, all those years ago.

Barcelona City Tour

With so many fab­u­lous ex­cur­sions and sites in Barcelona, it was a very dif­fi­cult choice how best to spend our time. We opted for a tour of the works of An­toni Gaudi, a lo­cal ar­chi­tect, who be­came posthu­mously fa­mous for his in­cred­i­bly or­nate, mag­nif­i­cently wacky build­ings, which can be seen around the city. It was April 23rd, when the city cel­e­brates St Ge­orge's Day, and it was very busy! We first vis­ited Gaudi's fa­mous La Ped­era (or ‘stone quarry', as it is in English) fol­lowed by Casa Batllo, a re­model of a pre­vi­ously built house, lo­cated in the cen­tre of Barcelona - which was at the time cov­ered beau­ti­fully in red roses to mark the oc­ca­sion. Our af­ter­noon fin­ished with a leisurely stroll down La Ram­bla, en­joy­ing the street en­ter­tain­ers and yet more tapas.

Gi­bral­tar: The Rock Re­vealed

A lit­tle piece of Bri­tain in the Mediter­ranean, here we were keen to take a trek up the Rock, an ex­hil­a­rat­ing climb – tak­ing us along the snaking in­clines of the Up­per Rock Na­ture Re­serve, past World War 11 bunkers, gun bat­ter­ies and pre­his­toric caves – even­tu­ally reach­ing the 1398 ft sum­mit. From here we had a su­perb view, which we shared with the most fa­mous res­i­dents, the per­sis­tent Bar­bary apes, which roam freely around the slopes, over the Straits of Gi­bral­tar to the coast of Africa.

Cadiz: Glit­ter­ing Rip­ples

The won­ders of Seville are not far away but we chose to leave the city of Cadiz be­hind and head for one of the pret­ti­est coastal towns on the Costa de la Luz, Conil de la Fron­tera – and I am so pleased we did. We had a mag­i­cal af­ter­noon strolling through the nar­row cob­bled streets of this very pretty and quaint white-washed vil­lage fol­lowed by a cou­ple hours on the white sandy beach, stretch­ing 16 kilo­me­tres along the coast.

Civ­i­tavec­chia: Gate­way to Rome

We chose to Roam Around Rome, which was a fab­u­lous op­por­tu­nity to see many of the city's most fa­mous sites - in­clud­ing the Colos­seum, the Pan­theon, the Vat­i­can and the Trevi Foun­tain - while still find­ing time to en­joy a spot of lunch at Pi­azza Navona. We spent a fan­tas­tic nine hours ex­plor­ing Rome, mar­vel­ling at the in­cred­i­ble ar­chi­tec­ture and epic mon­u­ments of this re­mark­able city – but still feel­ing as though we were only re­ally scratch­ing the sur­face.

PIC­TURED ABOVE: The bal­conies of An­toni Gaudi's 'Casa Batllo' were dec­o­rated with roses on Saint Ge­orge's Day, also known as The Day of the Rose, in Barcelona.

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