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Cruise Diary: ‘Bucket List’ Ports of Europe

Mariners Jan and Dick Yetke recently sailed on Eurodam throughout Europe, and the ship called at some interesting, off-the-beaten-path ports that aren’t often found on cruise itineraries. Similarly, Nieuw Amsterdam’s Hotel Director Marco van Belleghem and Future Cruise Consultant Joanne Gardner snapped some memorable photos at the unique port of Kotor, Montenegro. Enjoy “visiting” these unique and interesting cities. What ports are on your “Bucket List?”

Bergen, Norway, through Jan’s eyes:
Bergen, Norway, is a lovely city. We have been here before but thoroughly enjoy it. Today we got off the ship, walked around the harbor into town by the Fishmarket, and got on the CitySightseeing red double-decker bus for the tour. The city is built in and among 7 hills so the tour is up and down many of the hills going by some very nice viewing points, most of the museums, the aquarium, and the stop for the Mt. Floyen funicular station.

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At the end of the bus tour, rather than getting off by the cruise terminal, we rode back to the fishmarket area and had a leisurely stroll back to the ship.

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There were the very interesting row of old wooden buildings that you could go into and it was like a shopping area of little shops in there. At one end of these buildings they are sinking a little so there are major poles up against the building where they are trying to boost up the foundations.

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Reykjavik, Iceland, through Jan’s eyes:
Situated on the western shores of Iceland lies the capital and largest city of the country, Reykjavik. We have been there before, summer of 2009, and taken an all day tour. So, this time we had decided to rent a car and go around on our own. It turned out to be a good idea.

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We got the car and headed down to the Blue Lagoon. We had not seen this on our last trip and had always heard so much about it. It is one of the major tourist sites when visiting Reykjavik. Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa with water temperatures of 98-102F. The lagoon holds six million liters of geothermal seawater, which is renewed every 40 hours. National Geographic says this is one of the 25 Wonders of the World. We went to the Cafe and had a light lunch sitting at a table overlooking the lagoon. We then walked out to touch the water and walked over a couple of the bridges. We did not actually do a swim in the lagoon. It certainly was a really neat sight to see!!!

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Jan touching the healing waters of the Blue Lagoon.

Jan touching the healing waters of the Blue Lagoon.

After going a ways across the south shore, we headed north to go up to the Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir hot spring, and Haukadalur geothermal area. These areas are part of the Golden Circle Tour outside of Reykjavik. The geysir was really interesting.

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Then we went to the Gullfoss (Golden Waterfall) waterfall which was magnificent. It is actually two separate waterfalls – the upper one is a drop of 11 meters and the lower one is 21 meters. Together they make Europe’s largest waterfall which plunges 32 meters into a steep-sided canyon.

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After seeing these sights, we headed back west thru the Pingvellir National Park which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is the original site of the longest-running parliament in the world, a place where one can visualize the North American and European continental shelf plates being torn apart.

Nanortalikn, Greenland, through Jan’s eyes:
Nanortalik is a small island near the mouth of the Tasermiut Fjord at the very southern tip of world’s largest island, Greenland. The name translates to the “place of polar bears” and the city’s settlement dates back to the late 18th century with Norsemen first setting foot on the land.

We walked around and saw a small church, a community center, a school and a sports center. We also went into a fish market and saw them cutting up and selling all the fresh fish, including whale meat. It’s an interesting place to visit.

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KOTOR, MONTENEGRO:
When ms Nieuw Amsterdam made its final call at Kotor, Montenegro, for the season, Hotel Director Marco van Belleghem sent some spectacular photos.

Our last time at Kotor, Montenegro, and I decided to climb up to the fort from where you have spectacular views over Kotor. The weather was beautiful and it was not too hot making it more comfortable, even though it is still a steep hike up the mountain. Montenegro is a gorgeous country and sailing through the Bay of Kotor is an experience you only believe when you see this wonderful landscape in front of you.

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As for Noordam’s Future Cruise Consultant Joanne Gardner, this is what she had to say about the ship’s call at Kotor:

It was a brutally hot day and we wanted to make the climb of 1,350 stairs each way to the fortress at the top of the mountain backing up the city. We waited until after 6pm to start and although it was still hot, the sun went behind the hills which made it easier. I didn’t plan on making it to the fortress but only on hiking to the church but we made it so quickly that my competitive nature took over and up we went.

The views were certainly worth the 3 euro price of admission. Seeing Noordam in the harbor sitting aside the red roofed buildings was a delight. The ship didn’t sail until 10:30 p.m. which made it possible to have dinner in town.

It is not an easy hike but it is also doable for people even such as me with my bad knees. Take your time and bring lots of water although you will note there are suppliers along the way selling liquids from a cooler. Entrepreneurs are everywhere. The town is lovely and the setting is picturesque whether you stay on the horizontal plain or choose the vertical challenge.

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Joanne on her hike.

Joanne on her hike.

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Gorgeous views are just one of the many things you can bring home from your cruise. But if you’d like to purchase one of Marco’s photos or another souvenir that reminds you of your Holland America Line cruise, visit the line’s online store: www.shophollandamerica.com.

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