www.fredolsencruises.com 145PAPEETE - PORT STANLEyPapeete, TahitiThe very name conjures up images of Gauguin paintings, palm trees, golden beaches and blue seas. And Tahiti does not disappoint - this really is a near perfect Polynesian island. The town of Papeete has some fine buildings, including a number of interesting religious buildings: the church plays an important part in Tahitian society. Papeete also has the world's only Pearl Museum, tracing the history and mythology of pearls, as well as lots of examples of black, white and pink pearls. The other visitors' favourite is the daily market. Le Marché is the heart of the city, packed with stalls selling fruit and vegetables, oils and scented soaps, jams and pickles, clothing, hats, bags and shell necklaces. It's spread out over two floors and the sumptuous displays of flowers - Tahitian homes are considered incomplete without flowers everywhere - simply have to be seen to be believed. Parintins, Amazon, BrazilParintins is on an island in the Amazon River - and the site of the annual Bois Bumbas folk festival, the biggest in Brazil after Carnival in Rio. The port area has a flea market and a colourful floating market with dozens of boats jammed together, selling fruit, vegetables, fish and souvenirs. The town itself has a few interesting buildings, including a brightly painted cathedral in Portuguese colonial style, with an ornate interior.Philipsburg, St MaartenThis tiny island - less than 100 sq km - was divided between the Dutch and French in the 1600s, as a bastion against the Spanish. The division was supposedly made by someone from each country walking round the coastline in opposite directions until they met up again. Two historic forts were built around this time: Fort Amsterdam, built in 1631, was soon captured by the Spanish, who abandoned it a few years later. Some of the original walls remain, and the site gives fine views over Philipsburg. Fort Willem, built by the British during the Napoleonic War, also offers a panoramic view over the town. Front Street, Philipsburg's long main street, has lots of shops, but the alleys and courtyards down to Back Street are also worth exploring. There are some stylish restaurants as well, but the Lo-Lo huts, which sell grilled chicken, fish and cakes from home-made barbecues, are great for a cheap snack of authentic Caribbean food.Phuket, ThailandThailand's largest island, Phuket is connected to the southern tip of the country by a couple of short road bridges. The island is surrounded by clear blue waters and the beaches - edged by palm trees - are soft, clean and sandy. Offshore there are other islands, many uninhabited outcrops of tall limestone crags rising out of the sea. In Phuket Town the Thalang National Museum has fascinating displays about the island's indigenous culture, as well as the history of southern Thailand. There are a couple of Hindu Temples on the island, as well as a number of Buddhist shrines, including the Wat Chalong temple, which is the centre for worship on Phuket. Piraeus (for tours to Athens), GreeceMost of classical Athens was created around 400BC, but it became an insignificant village until Greece's independence in 1833. A newly aroused interest in the classical period led to the rediscovery of the glories of buildings such as the Acropolis and the Parthenon. In recent years, particularly as a result of the 2004 Olympics, Athens has undergone a further renaissance, with over 15km of streets pedestrianised and a magnificent Archeological Promenade created to link ancient sites, while taking in outdoor cafés, superb galleries and magnificent modern buildings. Athens is virtually the only ancient city to mix antiquities so casually (and effectively) with the excitement of modern life. Many new galleries have been created, including the breathtaking new Acropolis Museum. The Parthenon is still the main attraction, but there is also the Erechteion, with columns in the form of statues of the Caryatids, and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, a theatre with space for 5,000 spectators. Just behind is the Dionysus Theatre, where the tragedies and comedies of Ancient Greece were first performed. The National Archaeological Museum is the place to see wonderful pieces discovered over the years, including frescoes from Santorini and idols from the Cyclades.Ponta Delgada, AzoresThe main town on the island of San Miguel, Ponta Delgada has a very cosmopolitan atmosphere, combining modern facilities in a traditional environment. San Miguel itself is lovely, with lakes, mountains and lush valleys, together with fine sandy beaches surrounded by the deep blue ocean. Ponta Delgada dates back over 500 years and it has many fine buildings - a reminder that this was once an important staging post between Europe and the Americas. Intermingled are parks, narrow cobbled streets and squares, a modern marina, restaurants and waterside cafés. Portas da Cidade, the City Gates, once stood in front of the harbour and are now in Gonçalo Velho Cabral Square, dedicated to the Portuguese navigator who discovered the Azores. There is an interesting church here - Igreja Matriz - with a splendid clock tower, one of a number in the town. Port Blair, Andaman IslandsLargest city of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands group, Port Blair is busy, cosmopolitan and friendly, with plenty to do and see. The Museums of Anthropology, Fishery and Naval Marine are all small but interesting, while the Mini Zoo, recently moved to a new location, has some species that are unique to these islands. The Cellular Jail is now a pristine national monument with a peaceful garden, in contrast to its use as a place of brutal imprisonment in previous centuries. Port Elizabeth, South Africa'The Friendly City', Port Elizabeth is both a significant sea port and an important tourist destination. The climate is mild all year and its location on the shores of Nelson Mandela Bay make it a haven for water-sports enthusiasts. There are strong traces of the city's British heritage - the Port Elizabeth Cricket Club and the Bowls Club are the oldest in the country. There are several museums dedicated to different aspects of the city's past: it was founded in 1820 and named after the wife of the Governor of the Cape Colony. The town's aquarium has grown considerably over the past few years and now has a collection of sealife from the surrounding oceans. Also worth a visit is the Victorian Feather Market, recently restored as a multi-function hall. There's also a splendid Victorian library and a statue of Queen Victoria herself.Port Louis, MauritiusFounded in 1735, Port Louis has a natural harbour that's sheltered by a horseshoe of mountains. The town retains much of its past grandeur from its time as an outpost of the French empire, with many fine colonial buildings around the Place d'Armées. Government House, the Municipal Theatre, Anglican and Catholic cathedrals and the Supreme Court building all date from the 18th century. There are breathtaking views over the city from Fort Adelaide, also known as The Citadel, while the noisy and colourful covered bazaar is a great place to see Mauritian life up-close. There are some interesting museums - one of the most unusual is the local Stamp Museum, while Company Gardens is a great place to stroll and relax. Along the waterfront there are shops, restaurants, cafés and pubs, including boutiques selling brand-name clothes and jewellery.Port of Spain, TrinidadTrinidad, and in particular the capital Port of Spain, is culturally very diverse. Here there are museums and art galleries, street theatre and parks, fine shops and delightful cafés, ornate mosques and baroque churches. It's a great city for walking. The lovely open spaces of Queen's Park lead to Queen's Royal College and the nearby rows of Edwardian mansions. From there, walk to the splendid shops of Frederick Street, before heading out to the 100 hectares of the Asa Wright Nature Centre and bird sanctuary. The National Museum and Art Gallery, established over a hundred years ago, celebrates the history of the islands, its national festivals and the earliest settlers, the Amerindians. There are two smaller branches at Fort San Andres, on South Quay, and the Police Service Museum at the Old Police Headquarters. Port reunion, Reunion IslandMore than 8,000 labourers were "imported" to build the docks here and many of these Portois stayed on, in the shacks they'd lived in while building the port and its railway. The city of Le-Port was inaugurated in 1895, but it had a precarious existence for several years - as recently as the 1950s over half the houses had no mains electricity or water. Now, thanks to massive investment by the French Government (and the impact of tourism) there is a modern container port, new housing, green spaces, and the creation of a superb boulevard - Ocean Avenue - linking the old Port (which will become a marina) with the city. Laid-back, friendly and cosmopolitan, Le-Port is a delight to explore, especially for the wide variety of restaurants, many run by descendants of the original pioneers.Port Saguenay, CanadaAt the head of the great fjord of Saguenay, surrounded by dome-shaped hills covered with forests, is the recently-created town of Port Saguenay. The town grew up to exploit the natural resources of the region - including timber, electricity generation and bauxite - but it has become increasingly important for the many leisure activities on offer. Quebec City is only 200 miles away and the Quebecois come to Saguenay for hiking, kayaking, ice fishing, dog sledding or whale-watching. The river is only 20m deep at the mouth of the fjord, and the relatively warm water attracts billions of krill, small shellfish that are the staple diet of whales, who are regular visitors to the region.Port Said, EgyptOriginally a camp for men working on the Suez Canal, Port Said had become a major port by the end of the 19th century, all the maritime powers had consulates here. It's still an important staging post for big ships passing through the Canal, but the Victorian architecture in the town centre speaks of a wealthy colonial past.The National Museum has objects from Egypt's past going back to prehistoric and pharaonic eras. It also has Islamic and Coptic textiles, manuscripts and coins. The Military Museum has displays of Egypt's conflicts over the years, including early Islamic wars and more recent conflicts with Israel. Port Stanley, Falkland IslandsNamed after Edward Stanley, Secretary of State for War and the Colonies when the settlement began in 1843, Port Stanley became the capital in 1845. It is home to the world's most southerly cathedral - Christ Church. The arch in front is said to be the most photographed sight in the islands: it is made from the jawbones of two blue whales. The Islands Museum has extensive displays on the 1982 conflict with Argentina, as well as exhibits about the islands' history, flora and fauna. A stroll outside the town gives the chance to experience the stunning scenery and wildlife. The unpolluted air makes it possible to see even distant mountains clearly and the wildlife - penguins may come to inspect you - is astonishing in its variety. And after the walk there should be time for a drink in one of the two pubs in town.
146 Telephone 01473 742424 or contact your travel agentPORT VILA - REyKJAVIKPort Vila, VanuatuThe delightfully relaxed capital of the Republic of Vanuatu, Port Vila was established - as Franceville - by French settlers in the 19th century. Formerly the New Hebrides Condiminium, the islands were unique in being jointly governed by the British and French governments until independence in 1980. The town is still very French, although the population also includes British, Australian and Vietnamese, as well as French and indigenous Vanuatuan. It is worth seeing the Parliament House, the National Museum and various colonial government buildings from the Victorian era. To punctuate the walk, there are French-style pavement cafés with a South Pacific twist. Portimão, PortugalPortimão is the centre of the Algarve sardine fishing and canning industry, and in every local restaurant grilled sardines are on offer - along with a selection of other local seafood. There are no great monuments or museums, but it's a delightfully relaxed town. Strolling through its pretty streets and gardens, visitors will find shops selling local products, especially pottery that's often made on the premises. Down on the side of the Arcade River, relax at one of the many small bars and cafés that line the old harbour area. Here you can enjoy the ubiquitous sardines, roasted over charcoal braziers and eaten simply with fresh-baked bread, salad and a carafe of the local wine. Porto Novo, Cape Verde IslandsPorto Novo is the main town on the island of Santo Antão and the most westerly point in Africa. At the back of the town is the 2,000m-high Topo de Coroa, which is a fairly easy climb and has magnificent 360-degree views from the top. Around the town, family-owned farms grow fruit and vegetables which are sold at regular markets in the town. There are some old churches from the Portuguese era, as well as a couple of elegant squares with pleasant bars and cafés, from which to watch the world go by - a favoured local pastime. Praia, Cape Verde IslandsThe capital of the Cape Verdes, Praia de Santa Maria is the main port on the island of Santiago, the largest of the Cape Verde islands. The main part of town sits on a small plateau above the natural harbour and the sandy beach. This makes the town very pleasant to explore. Albuquerque Square sits in the centre, with open-air cafés and bars in which to enjoy the warm sunshine. The 19th century Presidential Palace is an elegant building that was once home to the Portuguese governor, while the Ethnographic Museum tells the story of these islands and of their colonial history. There's a section devoted to the navigator Diogo Gomes, who discovered the island of Santiago in 1460. There's a fine monument to him outside the museum. Praia da Vitoria, AzoresPraia was the capital of the Azores until the mid-15th century and the historic centre still has many colourful old houses as well as a couple of interesting churches. Santo Cristo da Misericórdia, has two magnificent high altars, one for each of the holy orders of Santo Cristo and Misericórdia, who could not agree on anything! The town, indeed the whole island, is dotted with Impérios - temples to the Holy Ghost - which are colourful and highly decorated. Praia was originally heavily fortified and parts of the old town wall can still be seen, along with the Fort of Santa Catarina, built to protect the natural harbour. There was once another fort on the opposite side of the bay: it is now a belvedere offering superb views over the town, the bay and the Serra do Cume mountains. XXXPuerto Caldera (for Tours to Puntarenas), Costa RicaThe small port of Puerto Caldera has long played an important role in Costa Rica's export trade, but the main attraction for visitors is the unspoilt natural beauty of the region. The rainforest starts on the edge of the town and the Carara National Park and Monteverde Cloud Forest are within about 20km. Just above the town are towering cliffs offering fabulous views over the Pacific: hang-gliders launch from them to sail out over the sea. It's also possible to parasail from the beach near the town.Puerto Chacabuco, ChileSurrounded by ice-clad mountains, Puerto Chacabuco is a busy port, but it was only built in the 1990s when the natural harbour at Puerto Aisen, further up the coast, became unusable. There are local tours available of lower Patagonia and the Andes Mountains, as well as through the Rio Simpson National Reserve. The Aikén del Sur Park is privately owned but can be visited: it is a haven for wildlife, especially of wetland birds. Punta Arenas, ChileJust 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 RicaAn 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, GreenlandQaqortoq 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. Quebec, CanadaBoth parts of Quebec's compact Old City - Upper and Lower - are packed with interest. It's the only walled city in North America, the fortifications enclose narrow cobbled streets lined with lovingly preserved 17th and 18th century buildings. There are panels and plaques on many of these, explaining the history of Quebec and the significance of each street or building. Parts of the Notre-Dame Basilica date from the mid-17th century, but it has been regularly damaged and rebuilt: the interior was recreated after a disastrous fire in 1922. Don't miss the massive Citadel, a magnificent star-shaped fortress outside the walls, standing above the Heights of Abraham. Nearby is Château Frontenac, a hotel built in the form of a Loire castle by the Canadian Pacific Railway. In the lower Old Town is the Museum of Civilisation, which has permanent displays about the St Lawrence River, the history of Quebec and the aboriginal tribes who lived in the region before Europeans arrived. There are also regular temporary exhibitions.rangiroa, Tuamotu IslandsA 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 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. recife, BrazilThe 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, IcelandReykjavík 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,