146 Telephone 01473 742424 or contact your travel agentPUNTA ARENAS ? ROSEAU Punta Arenas, Chile Just below Punta Arenas is a small monument that marks the " end of the Americas" although Chile lays claim to a small part of Antarctica as well. But for all its claim to be a frontier outpost, the town is remarkably cosmopolitan. There are fishermen mixing with pilots from the Chilean air force base, sharp- suited businessmen sipping wine in hotels and travellers hitching a ride out to Tierra del Fuego. The nearby penguin colonies are fascinating, while in the town itself there are several interesting museums. The Museo del Recuerdo has collections of antique agricultural and industrial machinery, including a reconstructed sheep- shearing hut. In the library is a display of historical maps. The Naval and Maritime Museum has exhibits on naval history, as well as a replica ship, complete with bridge, maps, charts and radio room. Palacio Mauricio Braun is a fabulous mansion built by a wealthy pioneer sheep farmer at the end of the 19th century. It was given to the Chilean state by one of Mauricio Braun's sons. It displays Braun's original furnishings, including French chairs and tables, inlayed wooden floors and Chinese vases. Puntarenas, Costa Rica An important seaport for hundreds of years, Puntarenas is one of the biggest cities in Costa Rica. The local fishing fleet still lands a wonderful variety of fresh sea food every day, often selling it directly from the wharf. There are some lovely beaches nearby, as well as national parks and nature reserves, but the city itself is lively and attractive. The Paseo de los Turistas is a tree- lined avenue packed with popular cafés, bars, restaurants and shops. There are many beautiful old buildings in the city, including a charming Portuguese church. Qaqortoq, Greenland Qaqortoq was founded by Norwegian traders in 1775, and it retains some beautiful colonial buildings from that time. The town is very proud of its ancient fountain - for many years it was the only one in Greenland - which has carvings of whales spouting water out of their blowholes, and the names of all of the town burghers in brass letters around its base. The Stone and Man project is also fascinating, featuring natural rock that's been carved by local artists into abstract shapes and figures. The charming Church of Our Saviour, dating from 1832, is found in the town centre, and the two local museums are also worth seeing. The ancient but well preserved Hvalsey Norse ruins are just outside the town. Hvalsey is mentioned in the Icelandic annals, the Flateyjarbók, and the site has the extensive and substantial remains of dwellings dating back over a thousand years. Rangiroa, Tuamotu Islands A ring of more than 240 islands, Rangiroa is over 70km long and almost 30km ( 16 miles) wide. The lagoon is a magnet for divers, with beautiful coral, clear waters and an astonishing range of marine life. This is especially so at the main openings into the surrounding ocean at Tiputa and Avatoru. And there are plenty of ways to get close to this undersea world, with snorkelling, scuba diving and trips in glass-bottom boats or semi- submersible craft all available. The lagoon is a haven for every kind of dolphin, as well as hammerhead sharks and humpback whales which migrate through these waters each year. There's also a black pearl farm built out into the lagoon which is open to visitors. Rarotonga, Cook Islands The island of Rarotonga has a mountainous interior, with fertile green valleys stretching down to the beaches and the lagoon, which is enclosed by a coral reef. Avarua, the largest town and capital of the Cook Islands, is compact and picturesque. Most of the shops are on Marine Drive, which follows the XXX waterfront between the two harbours. Here, and in the town itself, are family restaurants and small cafés in which to relax. The restored 19th century palace of Queen Makea Takau Ariki, set in shaded parkland, is worth seeing - organised tours are sometimes available. Opposite is the Cook Islands Christian Church: the whitewashed coral- block building is unremarkable, but the surrounding graveyard has some fascinating memorials to former residents. The small Cook Islands Library and Museum has an excellent collection of local artefacts and archaeological finds, including the bell and compass from the Yankee, a world- famous yacht that was wrecked on the reef in 1964. Recife, Brazil The Dutch established Recife in the early 17th century, building a harbour as well as dykes and bridges to link the islands that make up the town. Old Recife still has buildings from this era, as well as those built by later Portuguese colonists. One of these is the baroque Concatedral de São Pedro de Clérigos, which is fronted by a broad square lined by small, brightly painted shops. The Kahal Zur Synagogue, which was built on the foundations of the first synagogue in the Americas, is worth a visit, as is the Malakoff Tower. This former observatory, modelled on the tower of a Norman castle, offers great views out over the town and harbour. In the Santo Antônio district, reached from Old Recife by the Dutch- built Buarge de Macedo bridge, there is a delightful neoclassical square, once the private estate of a Dutch prince. Nearby are 19th century buildings, such as the Palácio da Justiça and the Capela Dourada, that make it a real pleasure simply to wander round the streets and squares. There are open- air cafés to punctuate the walk and street musicians to provide entertainment. Reykjavik, Iceland Reykjavík is the world's most northerly capital city, and the current home of the Altþing, said to be the oldest parliament in the world, having been established in AD930. Parliament House - Altþingi - is on Austurvöllur Square. This is an important national symbol for the Icelandic people, with - in the middle - a statue of Jón Sigurðsson, a hero of the country's independence from Denmark. His birthday, June 17, is celebrated as National Day when locals gather round his statue - which is also the focal point for political demonstrations from time to time. Behind Parliament House are delightful gardens, with a traditional, formal layout round a circular lawn, while nearby is the elegant cathedral, with its mix of neoclassical and baroque. It's worth seeking out the quirky Monument to the Unknown Official, a sculpture dating from 1994 of a bureaucrat, holding a briefcase. With Iceland's natural wonders on Reykjavik's doorstep, a tour to the Golden Circle, which includes the Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss waterfall and the original Geysir, is a must. Rijeka, Croatia The main port of Croatia, Rijeka is the gateway to the Opatija Riviera, which has long been the country's most popular holiday destination. A strange claim to fame is that Rijeka was the birthplace of the torpedo and traces can still be seen of the Torpedo Factory, including the launch ramp where they were first tested in 1866. The city's links with the sea are seen in the Sanctuary of the Trsatian Madonna, built 135m above the sea 700 years ago to guide home seamen who brought offerings to her. On the ridge of the Sveti Kriz hill, on the site of a Second World War fortress, is the Astronomical Centre, with an observatory and planetarium. The City Museum is fairly new but has interesting finds from the local area, especially from its maritime history. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Rio de Janeiro was the capital of Brazil for over 200 years and is a breathtaking mixture of historic buildings, gleaming skyscrapers, fashionable boulevards and elegant squares. There are also day-long traffic jams, lots of music, tiny shops and cafés in which to relax and watch the world go by. Overlooking the city is the 30m high statue of Cristo Redentor - Christ the Redeemer - arms outstretched, on top of the Corcovado mountain. There's a tram that goes almost to the top, where there are wonderful views across the city. Equally appealing are the views from the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain, especially those of the bay area - take a cable car to the summit. For many visitors, a must- see in Rio is the fabulous Copacabana beach: more than four km of clean white sand, packed with locals enjoying the sun and strutting their stuff. The other beach is the Praia da Ipanema, made famous by the song " Girl from Ipanema", a worldwide hit in the 1960s. Road Town, Tortola The bay on which Road Town lies is deep and narrow. Hills come down to the water's edge and the town stretches upwards on all sides. The capital of the British Virgin Islands, Road Town has a history rich in symbolism: it was here at the Sunday Morning Well that the Emancipation Proclamation - which gave slaves their freedom - was read in 1834. Near the port is Wickham's Cay and Main Street, an attractive old area of shops, some with authentic red tin roofs, restaurants and cafés. Down on the waterfront is a collection of brightly coloured tents where a wide variety of products are sold, including batik, textiles, paintings, rugs and ornaments. There are also grills offering freshly cooked fish and meat, beers and soft drinks and plenty of cafés in which to relax. Roatan Island, Honduras Surrounded by a rich coral reef, Roatan Island is a genuine tropical paradise, with wonderful swimming and scuba diving in the clear turquoise waters. And there is more than enough to do on dry land, with gardens, butterfly and iguana farms, and white- sand beaches fringed with palm trees. For non- swimming visitors wishing to explore the marine life, there are trips round the island on glass- bottom boats or small submarines, and there are excursions into the interior as well. The harbour is at Coxen Hole and there is a great flea- market and craft fair, with dozens of stalls selling handicrafts and souvenirs. In the centre of town there are more usual boutiques and clothes shops, as well as some nice bars, cafés and family restaurants. Roseau, Dominica The colourful old town of Roseau has some interesting buildings made in stone and bleached wood and everywhere there seems to be music - from shops, bars and cafés. The Old Market Plaza was once the slave- trading centre, but is now a shopper's paradise of boutiques and souvenir shops selling wood carvings, leather goods, woven and lace items, rum and local artwork. On most days there is a farmer's market selling fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers. Nearby is the small but interesting Roseau Museum, housed in the Old Post Office and tracing the history of the town. St Patrick's Roman Catholic Cathedral, dating from the 18th century, is a major landmark in the town and well worth a detour, as is St George's Anglican Church. The Dominica Botanic Gardens, among the most beautiful in the Caribbean, should not be missed. They were devastated by a hurricane in 1979, but have recovered remarkably well. A yellow school bus ( which was empty) was crushed beneath a fallen Baobab tree: the bus is still there underneath the still-growing tree. There are also orchids, bottle palms and dozens of other plants, trees and shrubs.
www. fredolsencruises. com 147 ROUEN ? SANTO DOMINIGO XXX Rouen, France Few cities are as proud of their heritage as Rouen. In its historical centre - now largely pedestrianised - there is history round every corner, from the stunning Notre Dame Cathedral to the Renaissance- style St Maclou Ossuary. At 151m, the Cathedral was once the tallest building in the world. Some of its stained- glass windows are a special cobalt blue from Chartres. The Gros Horlage bell tower was built when Rouen was granted city status - it gave the right to ring its own bells. It's a fascinating combination of Gothic belfry, a Renaissance vault and a classical fountain. Elsewhere there are several important museums devoted to fine art, antiquities, ceramics, natural history, education, the port of Rouen and - of course - Joan of Arc, who was burnt at the stake here. The modern church of Saint Joan is built to represent the pyre on which she died. The Jardin des Plantes is a fine botanical garden which originated at the end of the 17th century. Saaremaa, Estonia Saaremaa is the largest island in Estonia, and it retains much of the traditions in architecture, costumes and even the local dialect. The only town is Kuressaare, where the 14th century bishop's castle is among the best preserved medieval buildings in the Baltic. The beautiful and well preserved old town is also well worth exploring. It's said that Saaremaa is famous for windmills, black rye bread, and strong beer. Once every farm had its own mill, and although many have fallen into disuse, some are now being restored. The flour from the mills was once used for the many types of local bread, which is still made and enjoyed, as is the bottled beer from Saaremaa's brewery - notably the strong Tehumardi and the Christmas beer that warms up winter evenings. Safaga, Egypt Safaga was a working port for many years, but has now become a popular holiday resort. The clear seas and black- sand beaches are popular with divers, windsurfers and those who just want to relax in the sun. The sea water here is very saline, rich in minerals and is said to have curative properties. Offshore, tuna, sharks and manta rays can often be seen around the towering reefs of Abu Qifan. Safaga is often used as the start point for an exploration of the Eastern Desert and the granite quarries of Mons Claudianus. Salalah, Oman Capital of Oman's southern region, Salalah has long been famous for the trade in frankincense and it's now an important container port. One of the most eye- catching sights is the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, completed towards the end of the 20th century and one of the biggest in the world. Built from polished Indian sandstone, it has a 90m- high main minaret and the second- largest carpet in the world, covering the floor of the praying hall. The Al- Husn Souk is a large outdoor market with dozens of shops and stalls selling gold and silver products, incense and perfumes. There is another market - the Haffa Souq - in the old city. This is the place to buy local hand- made wood and leather products as well as genuine frankincense resin. Salaverry, Peru Dating only from the 1960s, Salaverry was built as a commercial port to serve northern Peru and in particular the city of Trujillo, some 15km away. The northern coastal area has many important architectural sites, including Chan Chan, the ancient Chimu capital dating from 1300 AD. This is the biggest pre- Columbian city in the Americas and the largest mud city in the world. Trujillo, the second-largest city in the country, has a walled central area of gracious old houses, churches, squares and elegant avenues. Salvador, Brazil The original capital of Brazil and its oldest city, Salvador was founded in around 1550 and retains many perfectly preserved buildings from the 16th and 17th centuries. A lift - the Art Deco Elevator Lacerda - goes 80m up from the port to the upper town, saving a fairly arduous walk. At the top is the Tomé de Souza square, flanked on one side by the glass- sided city hall and the other by the neoclassical Palácio Rio Branco. This is the oldest part of the city, Pelourinho, where pastel- shaded houses line cobbled streets and elegant squares. The main square is Terreiro de Jesus, dominated by the 17th century Catedral Basílica. Alongside is the former Faculty of Medicine which now houses the Afro- Brazilian Museum, explaining the origins of Brazil's rich ethnic mix. Nearby is the Igreja de São Francisco, finished in the 1720s. The outside is fairly standard baroque, but the richly carved interior is literally covered in gold - more than a hundred kilograms of it. Salvador was strategically important and the Portuguese colonists built several forts here, of which the most distinctive is the perfectly round Forte de São Marcelo which has been recently restored. South of the old town are Forte de São Diogo, which has a scale model of Salvador's fort system, and Forte de Santa Maria. Both are interesting to visit, as is the biggest fort, Santo Antônio, which dates from 1583. San Sebastian, La Gomera San Sebastián de La Gomera is also known as " Isla Colombina" for its historic links to Christopher Columbus. Legend has it that he stopped here on his way to America and throughout the town there are buildings linked to him. The Casa de la Agunada has an interesting exhibition on La Gomera and the discovery of America by Europeans and the Casa de Colon - where he is supposed to have stayed - has more Columbus artefacts, including a collection of ceramics. The most famous building in the town is the perfectly preserved Torre del Conde, a military tower built in 1447, while the oldest church is Ermita de San Sebastian, parts of which date back to 1540. San Sebastian is a lively town with some excellent festivals throughout the year, from the Fiesta de San Sebastian in January to Fiestas Columbinas which lasts over a week during September. Santa Cruz, La Palma Conquered by the King of Castile in the 15th century, Santa Cruz de La Palma became an important trading post between Spain and the Americas. This wealthy past has left its legacy in palaces, colonial buildings and sumptuous merchants' houses in the Old Quarter of the town. The Town Hall was built during the reign of Phillip II, whose image has pride of place on the façade, while the inside has fabulous coffered ceilings. There are also magnificent religious buildings, including the Renaissance- style Church of El Salvador, with a tower of volcanic stone, and the Church of Santo Domingo, which houses a superb collection of Flemish paintings. Around the town are cafés and bars offering local dishes, many made with tiny potatoes, cooked in their skins and served with different sauces. Santa Cruz, Tenerife Santa Cruz de Tenerife is built around boulevards and wide avenues that link elegant squares and parks. Two excellent museums are the Museum of Nature and Man, which celebrates Tenerife's ecology and culture, and the Museum of Fine Arts, which specialises in work by Spanish and Flemish painters. Much of the city's architecture is modern, but there are some splendid older buildings, such as the baroque La Carta Palace, and the Guimerá Theatre, with a classical exterior and an interior decorated with frescoes. San Juan, the best- preserved castle in the islands, is known as the Black Castle after the volcanic blocks used in its construction. Nearby is the Maritime Park on the old docks, a great place to stroll and relax for a while. García Sanabria Park has the Museum of Open Air Sculpture, where work by artists ranging from Miró to Henry Moore is sympathetically displayed among exotic trees. Santarém, Brazil One of the most astonishing sights in Santarém is not in the town itself but in the river. It's on the banks of the Tapajós, where it joins the Amazon: the two rivers flow side- by- side without mixing, creating two distinct bands of different- coloured water. In the centre of town the Mercado Modelo - city market - has bigger stores, boutiques and other shops. The Museu de Santarém has displays of local historical art, including ceramics and portraits of local personalities such as mayors of the city. Museu Dica Frazao is an unusual museum with exhibits of clothes and fabrics made with natural fibres from grasses, shrubs and trees. The cathedral is worth seeing: it was built in 1761, on the site of an earlier church from the 1660s. Santiago de Cuba, Cuba Cuba's second city was the country's capital until 1553 and Diego Velázquez, who founded Cuba's first seven towns, built his mansion in Santiago de Cuba. It can still be seen in the Parque Céspedes, along with other wonderful buildings. These include the Ayuntamiento - the Town Hall - which was built in 1515 and refurbished in the 1950s after earthquake damage. Across the park is the Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción. This huge ornate basílica is the latest of several churches to be built here: previous ones were destroyed by various disasters including fires and earthquakes. Casa Velázquez, the palace built by Diego Velázquez, is a Moorish design with a splendid carved wooden ceiling. Santiago de Cuba has dozens of fine museums, including Museo Emilio Bacardí, one of Cuba's first museums, with excellent displays covering the time from the Spanish conquest and the Wars of Independence. The Museo del Ron - Museum of Rum - is also a must for anyone interested in Cuba's national drink, as is the El Morro fortress, built to guard the bay from the top of a rocky outpost. The formidable structure is a mass of walls and gun platforms, with wonderful views on all sides. One of its main roles was to combat pirates - and it now has a Museum of Piracy. Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic This is the oldest city in the New World, founded by Bartholomeo Columbus, brother of Christopher, in 1496. Santa Domingo's long history is reflected in the various influences - including French, Portuguese, Spanish and Haitian - on its character. The old colonial city is the ideal place to start exploring. Between Independence Park and the Ozama River are traces of the early city, including Calle de Las Damas - the first street in the Americas - and various ancient buildings such as the Alcázar, a palace built for Diego, the son of Bartholomeo Columbus, the governor of the colony from 1509. Visitors can explore more than twenty rooms filled with paintings, period tapestries, and 16th century antiques. Also in the walled city is the fabulous Cathedral Basilica Santa Maria la Menor, the oldest cathedral in the Americas. It has a gothic/ baroque façade in coral- limestone, while its treasury has a lavish collection of ancient woodcarvings, furnishings, silver and jewellery. The Amber Museum has an extensive collection of objects made in this petrified resin. The most unusual is a piece with an encapsulated lizard. There are literally dozens of other museums, most in the Plaza de la Cultura, including the Museums of Modern Art, History and Geography and Natural History.