www.fredolsencruises.com 147Rouen - Santo DominigoXXXRouen, FranceFew 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, EgyptSafaga 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, OmanCapital 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, PeruDating 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, BrazilThe 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 GomeraSan 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 PalmaConquered 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, TenerifeSanta 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, BrazilOne 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, CubaCuba'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 RepublicThis 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.
148 Telephone 01473 742424 or contact your travel agentSantos - st George'sSantos (for Sao Paulo), BrazilThe biggest city in South America, São Paulo is also one of its most cosmopolitan, with European, Asian and African influences in the art, architecture and the people who live there. In the centre of the city is the Parque do Ibirapuera, with over 200 hectares of green space; nearby are some superb museums and galleries. Museu de Arte Moderna is small but has excellent displays of paintings and sculptures, with a delightful sculpture garden outside. Next door is the Museu Afro Brasil, devoted to the heritage of Brazil's African population, the largest outside Africa. The displays include art, carvings and historic photographs. Close by is OCA, an art gallery in a fantastic futuristic building by Oscar Niemeyer, who designed Brasilia.Niemeyer was also the designer of the Memorial da America Latina, a modernist concrete plaza surrounded by perfectly placed pavilions. These include an Art Gallery and a Hall of Creativity dedicated to Latin American folk-art. At the other extreme is the imposing Catedral da Sé, a blend of Byzantine and Gothic styles, with 14 towers. It was started in 1911, but not finished until 1954. Outside is a sundial, originally said to be the centre of the city: all distances are measured from this point. São Paulo Zoo, set in 80 hectares of the Parque do Estado, has more than 3,000 animals, many facing extinction in the wild.Sassnitz, Rügen Island, GermanyThe island of Rügen juts out into the Baltic Sea, and its largest town, Sassnitz, is a magnet for visitors and holidaymakers who enjoy the constantly changing sight of luxury yachts, trawlers, passenger ferries and pleasure boats. The harbour wall stretches almost 1.5km out to sea, and the old part of the town sits at the northeast end of the harbour. Just past the harbour, close to a disused ferry terminal, is a U-boat museum featuring, perhaps strangely, the British submarine HMS Otus, which was rescued from a scrapyard in Portsmouth and towed here. The island has an astonishing number of museums - over 40 in all - covering everything from local history to underwater archaeology. There are also many monuments, churches, palaces and stately homes, including graves and tumuli from the island's historic past, and the Ralswiek Palace and Granitz hunting lodge from the 19th century.Scarborough, TobagoThe largest town in Tobago, Scarborough was established - in 1654 - as the Dutch port of Lampsinburg. It's a lively, bustling little town dominated by the 18th century Fort King George perched high on a hill, with superb views out over Scarborough and the sea. Some of the fort is in ruins, although there are parts which are well preserved and the old guardhouse is now the excellent Tobago Historical Museum. There are fascinating displays on the history of the island (it has changed hands over 30 times over the years) as well as weapons, old maps, photographs and pre-Columbian artefacts. There's also a fine-arts centre within the fort.In Scarborough there are some attractive Georgian buildings, such as the House of Assembly and a colourful market in the lower town. It's compact and friendly: away from the new cruise ship complex there are some delightful places to shop, eat or just relax a while and enjoy the sun.Scrabster, ScotlandOne of the most important fishing ports in the north of Scotland, Scrabster Harbour lies in a sheltered position on Thurso Bay, about one kilometre from Thurso town itself. As early as 900AD, the Vikings had established a settlement at Thurso - the name comes from the Norse for Thor's River - and even after they left, the town continued to exploit the extensive XXXfishing grounds. There are few traces of those early years, although the ruins of Old St Peter's Church, dating from 1220, can be seen in the town. Just outside Thurso is the roofless shell of Thurso Castle, once a Norse earthworks fortress, then a stone tower, which was incorporated into a baronial mansion in the 19th century. This was partly demolished in 1952. Thurso New Town was built around the turn of the 19th century, with wide streets in a rectangular layout and the original pattern of building can be seen in both the old and new towns. Seville, SpainSpreading either side of the Guadalquivir river, Seville is a glorious mix of grand boulevards, narrow streets, cobbled alleys and pretty squares. The Moorish occupation of Iberia, which lasted until 1248AD, left its mark on the town. The 100m Giralda clock tower of Seville Cathedral was originally the minaret of the Almohad Mosque. The biggest Gothic building in the world - and the third-largest church in Europe - the Catedral de Sevilla has the tomb of Christopher Columbus, as well as some quite wonderful works of art. Opposite is the Alcázares Reales, a royal palace that also has Moorish origins and that now blends in Renaissance and Mudéjar styles: the upper parts are still used as a Royal residence.The spectacular Parque de Maria Luisa has wonderfully mature trees, and is surrounded by fine mansions, many of which have been turned into museums. Nearby is the former Royal Tobacco Factory where Carmen (as in the opera) worked.Sharm el Sheikh, EgyptWith a clear blue sea in front and a stunning desert vista behind, it is small wonder that Sharm El-Sheikh has become one of the most popular holiday destinations in the whole of the Middle East. There is, however, much more to the town than sun, sea and sand. The old town is delightful - and largely unspoilt by tourism. The authentic Old Market is packed with stalls from which it is possible to buy just about anything and there are small family shops and charming cafés in which to relax. A more modern entertainment centre is Soho Square, which includes a range of attractions, including Culturama - a journey through Egyptian history. About 90km north is Mount Sinai, where Moses is said to have received the Ten Commandments. The 2,200m summit can be reached by the 4,000 steps of the Path of Moses. At the foot of the Mount is the Monastery of St. Catherine which has the remains of St Catherine of Alexandria, as well as a priceless collection of religious artefacts. Sihanoukville (for Phnom Penh), CambodiaSituated at the junction of the Mekong, Tonle Sap and Bassac rivers, Phnom Penh is a thriving city, largely devoid of the skyscrapers that are filling up many other Asian capitals. Once part of French Indo-China, much remains from those days, including wide boulevards and beautiful colonial buildings. On the other hand, the Royal Palace is classic Khmer architecture, a complex of buildings and pavilions set in serenely beautiful gardens. The Silver Pagoda is a royal temple within the palace grounds: It houses the green-crystal Emerald Buddha and a life-size Golden Buddha, encrusted with 9,584 diamonds, dressed in Royal Regalia. The National Museum provides an overview of the Khmer Empire's history, with artefacts dating back over hundreds of years. In a former school, once the torture headquarters of the Khmer Rouge, is the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, a memorial to the thousands of people murdered by the regime. The images and displays are disturbing, but it is a place to remember the victims of Cambodia's tragic recent past.Singapore, SingaporeA unique blend of cultures, rich in contrasts and colour, Singapore is bursting with energy and packed with interest. In the space of a five-minute walk one can pass a Chinese temple, Muslim mosque, Hindu temple and Christian church, not to mention orangutans, businessmen and trendy teenagers. Eating out is a unique experience. Boat Quay, alongside the river in the refurbished old harbour, has a dozen or more bars and restaurants, selling every kind of food, while the hawker stands that are everywhere in the city sell fast food and cold beers. Fort Canning Park, an oasis in the middle of the city, is where to get away from the noise and the bustle, while Raffles Hotel is the place to sit and sip a Singapore Sling in the Long Bar where it was created. The world famous Singapore Zoo has over 300 species - many of them endangered - kept in spacious "open" enclosures, separated from visitors by moats. For sightseeing with a difference, Sky Tower offers views from 131m above sea-level, right out over Malaysia and Indonesia, while at 165m, the Singapore Flyer observation wheel goes even higher.Skjolden, Sognefjord, NorwayBeautiful Skjolden is a place for superlatives. It sits at the end of the world's longest fjord, overlooked by the Jotunheimen, northern Europe's highest mountains, and by Jostedalsbreen, the biggest glacier on mainland Europe. It's also home to Urnes Stave Church, the world's oldest of its type: it was built some time around AD1130, although the lovely carvings on the north door are from an older church.Ludwig Wittgenstein lived and worked in Skjolden in the early 20th century. Considered by some to be the greatest philosopher of his era, Wittgenstein continues to influence Western thinking in logic and language, ethics and religion, and he wrote many of his most influential works when he stayed here. Not to be missed are Feigum waterfalls - the most spectacular in Norway - and the delightful reindeer farm on the outskirts of town.Split, CroatiaThe Roman Emperor Diocletian built a magnificent palace here in which to retire and the town of Split grew up around it. The Roman heritage is still evident in the Old Town, close by the waterfront, which has the remains of Diocletian's Palace. It's actually a collection of buildings, with four monumental gates and later gothic and Renaissance buildings that blend in perfectly. Within the palace walls is the Cathedral of St Domnius, which was originally Diocletian's mausoleum and was converted to a church in the 7th century. Given the brutal way in which he persecuted Christians it's perhaps unsurprising that his body was removed when it became a church. The mausoleum is now a reliquary for the bones of many Christians slain by the former Emperor, whose own remains have disappeared. The City Museum is in a 15th century gothic house, and has a rather disparate collection of objects from the town's history. The Archeological Museum has a more comprehensive display, dating back to the times of the Illyrians and Greeks. It's Croatia's oldest museum and is just north of the Old Town. Down on the waterfront are cafés and bars where local people meet, chat and catch up with friends.St George's, GrenadaThe bulk of Fort George commanding the harbour entrance is a reminder of the colonial heritage of St George's, but the sights, sounds and smells are all Caribbean. The colourful and noisy Market Square has been the focal point of civic life for 200 years and every morning stalls are set up selling every kind of local produce, as well as clothes, jewellery, pottery and souvenirs. Round the square are cafés and restaurants. There are more on the waterfront, from where the 100m Sendall Tunnel, built 300 years ago,