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knoxclone

Trade Routes of the Middle Ages direction?

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Looking to replace our cancelled 2020 cruise by booking the 'Trade Routes of the Middle Ages" in ' April 2021.

Any suggestions or preferences  starting Bergen vs. Barcelona? Air travel will require  least 2-3 stops regardless of either destination. 

Any additional comments or reviews info on this itinerary would be appreciated as well. 

Thanks!

 

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Viking offers pre & post cruise extensions to Oslo and Madrid. Both those cities may offer better air connections. We did Madrid and recommend it. Also, Viking offers optional excursions to Kerkenhof tulip gardens when you’re in Amsterdam. The gardens are open only late March through May - good opportunity.

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Sadly, coming from E. Tennessee,  an additional flight to a hub city is needed unless we drive to Nashville or Atlanta...  We did Homelands in 2018 and did fly home from Oslo - but still three flights. I lived in Madrid in the late 70s - just after Franco died - so definitely interested revisiting Madrid.

 

Did Kuekenhof - last year - agree it was fabulous.  

 

Can't tell from itinerary if you actually pass through straits of Gibraltar during daylight hours either direction? Does anybody know?

Thanks

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2 hours ago, knoxclone said:

Sadly, coming from E. Tennessee,  an additional flight to a hub city is needed unless we drive to Nashville or Atlanta...  We did Homelands in 2018 and did fly home from Oslo - but still three flights. I lived in Madrid in the late 70s - just after Franco died - so definitely interested revisiting Madrid.

 

Did Kuekenhof - last year - agree it was fabulous.  

 

Can't tell from itinerary if you actually pass through straits of Gibraltar during daylight hours either direction? Does anybody know?

Thanks

 

Call Viking. They can give you exact information.  We flew home from Bergen and it was 3 flights.  Stayed in Bergen a couple of extra days and did NIAN round trip.  In BArcelona 2 years ago and it was wonderful.  Three extra days before the cruise.  Two different cruises.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, knoxclone said:

Sadly, coming from E. Tennessee,  an additional flight to a hub city is needed unless we drive to Nashville or Atlanta...  We did Homelands in 2018 and did fly home from Oslo - but still three flights. I lived in Madrid in the late 70s - just after Franco died - so definitely interested revisiting Madrid.

 

Did Kuekenhof - last year - agree it was fabulous.  

 

Can't tell from itinerary if you actually pass through straits of Gibraltar during daylight hours either direction? Does anybody know?

Thanks

 

When we went, we flew Seattle-Amsterdam-Bergen, and flew through Barcelona-Paris-Seattle on our way home.  Luckily, only 2 flights each direction.  I do appreciate now living near an international hub, it wasn’t always that way.

We went Bergen to Barcelona last Oct and did not pass through the straits of Gilbraltar in daylight.  Maybe the other direction?  

Edited by Mich3554

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We did this cruise in October of 2018, and while the weather was not co-operative, we did love the itinerary. We usually do a mix of included excursions and some optional ones, and we did so on this trip as well. I can offer a few suggestions based on what appealed to us. Of course, you might make  other choices based on your preferences and travel history.

 

We strongly recommend that you choose one of the optional excursions from Zeebrugge to get to Bruges, a charming city that is very walkable. From Le Havre, we chose another optional excursion. We went to Honfleur, a nearby fishing town that we really enjoyed. There were several other interesting options too. We might have taken the included all day trip to Paris if we had never been there before, but it is a long day with a good bit of travel time and not as much as you might wish in Paris. Still, it is Paris!

 

From Malaga, one of our travel highlights of all times is the Alhambra in Granada. However, the Alhambra limits admission and only so many tickets are available to Viking, and the excursion frequently sells out. Some guests schedule visits with outside vendors. We chose to remain in Malaga, as we had visited the Alhambra on a land based tour previously. Malaga was a real delight. We used the included walking tour as a start, and remained behind to continue our visit before using the free Viking shuttle back to the ship. We climbed to the top of the hill to visit the Alcazaba, an 11th century Moorish palace/fort. (There is elevator if the hike is intimidating.) It actually reminded me of the Alhambra, but smaller.

 

Bergen is charming, and the ship docks right within walking distance. We loved Porto, and would have remained after our included excursion and used the shuttle back if it hadn't been pouring down rain. We missed Falmouth because of weather, and Barcelona is one of our favorite cities in the world. We

 could spend days there!

 

I do hope you get to go in April 2021, as that might mean our schedule trip from Istanbul to Athens for the same time will be a go also!

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Thanks  for the suggestions - have spent a fair amount of time in Paris for business, but very little time in the french countryside - so Honfleur sounds interesting. The other option is to take small group tour to visit some of the WW2 sites - which my DH is leaning towards. 

 

Did you stop in Portsmouth?  

 

I was at Alhambra 40 years ago as a high school exchange student, so hope to be able to visit it this time with a much better appreciation of the architecture & history!  Have never been to Barcelona, so hoping to extend a few days.. any suggestions other than the Gaudi. Sagrada Familia? 

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23 minutes ago, knoxclone said:

Thanks  for the suggestions - have spent a fair amount of time in Paris for business, but very little time in the french countryside - so Honfleur sounds interesting. The other option is to take small group tour to visit some of the WW2 sites - which my DH is leaning towards. 

 

Did you stop in Portsmouth?  

 

I was at Alhambra 40 years ago as a high school exchange student, so hope to be able to visit it this time with a much better appreciation of the architecture & history!  Have never been to Barcelona, so hoping to extend a few days.. any suggestions other than the Gaudi. Sagrada Familia? 

 

Haven't visited with Viking, but in Le Havre, the Normandy Beaches & Museum is a great day and in Portsmouth, I suggest the Dockyard or Stonehenge.

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1 hour ago, Heidi13 said:

 

Haven't visited with Viking, but in Le Havre, the Normandy Beaches & Museum is a great day and in Portsmouth, I suggest the Dockyard or Stonehenge.

When we took this cruise in 2018, in Portsmouth the included excursion was to the Naval Dockyards. We really enjoyed the chance to go on board Admiral Nelson's flagship from the Battle of Trafalgar. Quite amazing to see what conditions were for those sailors! The current excursions are somewhat different from the ones available on our cruise.

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April vs October?

 

The big question is: when is Holy Week/Easter and will you be in Spain at that point?  Schools will be out; families will be traveling. There will be religious processions in the cities (an interesting experience if your timing is right).  Lots of local color. Or if you are there right after Easter, you may run into one of the post-Easter ferias -- the Spanish version of a state/county fair. For some, this may be an added enticement, and for others, something to avoid.

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1 hour ago, Heidi13 said:

Have never been to Barcelona, so hoping to extend a few days.. any suggestions other than the Gaudi. Sagrada Familia? 

 

DEFINITELY!! Give yourself four or 5 days to tour at leisure. Just for starters: Museo Nacional del Arte Catalan on Montjuic (MNAC). Huge collection of Romanesque Art. Other art museums include Miro Foundation and the Picasso Museum. Take the train to Monserrat. Guided tour of the Palau de Música. Wander around the Barrio Gotico and the Cathedral. From MNAC, walk down the steps to Plaza España and the old bull ring that has been turned into a shopping center. Find a place that serves a good paella--not in La Boqueria Market--it was way too salty. Buy azafran in the supermarket or in La Boqueria Market (on Las Ramblas) or in the market in the basement of El Corte Ingles (P/Catalunya).

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On 5/2/2020 at 7:36 PM, knoxclone said:

Looking to replace our cancelled 2020 cruise by booking the 'Trade Routes of the Middle Ages" in ' April 2021.

Any suggestions or preferences  starting Bergen vs. Barcelona? Air travel will require  least 2-3 stops regardless of either destination. 

Any additional comments or reviews info on this itinerary would be appreciated as well. 

Thanks!

 

We booked Barcelona to Bergen (June 2018) and we loved the direction. We spent more time in ports. We booked our own flights. We flew Lufthansa to Barcelona one stop (3 days before cruise) and Iceland Air one day after the cruise also one stop. Sometimes it’s better to book your own air.

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These are great suggestions on Barcelona...  Easter is early April in 2021, and we are looking at 21 April departure. 

 

One of my favorite things to do while traveling is to go to a "normal" - not touristy grocery/ supermarkets ( DH thinks I am nuts!).  

 

Any hotel suggestions? 

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My wife and I did this trip in October, 2019.  We would absolutely do it again.  Bergen to Barcelona.  One change of planes in Frankfurt.  Lufthansa A380 from Miami to Frankfurt, change to an A320 for Oslo.  FRA may not be a good change point for people with mobility issues.  Long walks, many escalators, tram ride, immigration lines, bus ride to the plane, etc.  Was supposed to be a change in Vienna, but Viking changed that.

 

Took the Oslo extension + train ride.  Very enjoyable, and would consider this again if the Munch Museum has opened. Olympic Center / Viking Museum package, and we returned by local ferry.

 

We elected the Salisbury Cathedral plus Stonehenge tour out of Portsmouth.  Liked both, would like to concentrate a few days on Salisbury, Stonehenge is one and done.  Our scheduled stop in Falmouth was cancelled due to high winds. Poldark fans were very distressed.  October is the end of hurricane season, while rare, they can be an issue.  We bounced around as the ship made its way to Oporto.

 

Barcelona has fine service to Miami, Viking put us on an American Air 767.  When I priced out a new trip in January, both Air Maroc and TAP Air Portugal had rock bottom fares to BCN from MIA.

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Posted (edited)

Some random thoughts having never done “your” cruise but having been to some of the places you will be going. 
 

1. We have sailed through the straits of Gilbraltar three times (twice from the west) and it has always been at a late hour. Typically midnight or later-and they turn the lights off of the rock at some point 😢

 

2. In Barcelona, we really enjoyed a concert at the Palau du Musica. This is a beautiful Art Deco-ish building in the Gothic Quarter that we just happened upon while walking from Sagrada Famila back to the ship one day. (long wall but we stopped for a Spanish lunch at our favorite Barcelona restaurant (Elza y Fred) along the way. One can take tours of the Palau as a PP suggested or for about the same price, you can see a show and wander around before to see the building. 
 

3. If you’re in Barcelona on a Sunday late afternoon/early evening be sure to go to the Cathedral to see locals dancing their Catalan folk dance. It’s great fun and if you want to join in, you will be welcomed!

 

4. If you are stopping in Porto, and have time, try to make it out to the coast. It’s flat (which after the hills of Porto are a blessing) and there is great seafood and views along the walkway. The Porto subway goes out that way and if you’re a walker, you can walk back along the concrete walkway all the way back to downtown. There is also a bus that runs this route if you get tired of walking. 
 

5. We have stayed at the Hotel Rec and liked it a lot. But be warned it’s a tiny room (cruiseship size) but modern and a bit funky. If you can catch them when they are offering a promo that includes breakfast, it can be a really good deal. We like their location near the Arc d’Triomph. We have also stayed at Hispanos7Suiza Apartment Hotel next to Sagrada Famila. This is a GREAT option if you need a second bedroom and enjoy doing any cooking. 
 

6. If you can get to Miami, Washington, New York, or Boston cheaply, TAP has great fares to Spain and allows a free (Up to 5 day) stopover in Lisbon or Porto  So you can spend more time in One of our favorite countries. 
 

Have a great cruise!

Edited by Clay Clayton

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On 5/2/2020 at 10:18 PM, knoxclone said:

Sadly, coming from E. Tennessee,  an additional flight to a hub city is needed unless we drive to Nashville or Atlanta...  We did Homelands in 2018 and did fly home from Oslo - but still three flights. I lived in Madrid in the late 70s - just after Franco died - so definitely interested revisiting Madrid.

 

Did Kuekenhof - last year - agree it was fabulous.  

 

Can't tell from itinerary if you actually pass through straits of Gibraltar during daylight hours either direction? Does anybody know?

Thanks

We did the Bergen to Barcelona last October and went thru the straits at about midnight.

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On 5/2/2020 at 7:36 PM, knoxclone said:

Looking to replace our cancelled 2020 cruise by booking the 'Trade Routes of the Middle Ages" in ' April 2021.

Any suggestions or preferences  starting Bergen vs. Barcelona? Air travel will require  least 2-3 stops regardless of either destination. 

Any additional comments or reviews info on this itinerary would be appreciated as well. 

Thanks!

 

If  you decide to try Atlanta, try airportparkinginc.com. You can park your car at a participating hotel and use their shuttle system to get to and from the airport at a much cheaper rate than the airport or surrounding lots. We flew to Oslo as we were doing the precruise to take the train to Bergen (very much worth the trip) and had one stop in Amsterdam; our return flight from Barcelona was non stop. If you do the train trip, do the one that leaves the day after you land so you have more time in Bergen. On the train, sit on the right side if when you board you are facing to back of the train; the left side if you are facing towards the front of the train. 

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Did anyone do Trade Routes from Barcelona to Bergen?  We booked this direction and have a cabin that will face the rock when we go through the Strait of Gibraltar. According to the itinerary on our statement, we leave Malaga at 7PM. By my estimation, we should pass the rock at a reasonable time- and it remains lit until midnight. Did anyone experience this?

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On 5/4/2020 at 10:30 AM, knoxclone said:

Any hotel suggestions? 

 try the NH hotels in Barcelona..great place to stay..we were in the one on Numancia..

also include a trip to view the magic fountain and the visit to the Olympic rings and stadium.

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6 hours ago, Squawkman said:

Did anyone do Trade Routes from Barcelona to Bergen?  We booked this direction and have a cabin that will face the rock when we go through the Strait of Gibraltar. According to the itinerary on our statement, we leave Malaga at 7PM. By my estimation, we should pass the rock at a reasonable time- and it remains lit until midnight. Did anyone experience this?

 

You won't see much in the dark.  It is only a few hours from departing Malaga at 6pm until you get to where you can see the Straits. It was the big disappointment of our January "Iberian Explorer" cruise and a big oversell on the Viking website.

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17 minutes ago, Peregrina651 said:

 

You won't see much in the dark.  It is only a few hours from departing Malaga at 6pm until you get to where you can see the Straits. It was the big disappointment of our January "Iberian Explorer" cruise and a big oversell on the Viking website.


We have 2 things going for us you didn’t have: daylight savings time and a later sunset; and (supposedly) lights are on until midnight beginning in April. Regardless, I assume you were given an approximate time you pass it? We’ll be on the correct side to see anything on the Spain side from our cabin, so I guess we’ll try, but won’t be disappointed. Thanks for the heads up.

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Posted (edited)

For our spring 2018 TA, there was absolutely no official notification for the passage. We heard varying times depending on who you asked. For our 2019 trip, a number of us asked regularly and the Captain kept us posted and made efforts to get there before they shut off the lights. Unfortunately, it appears that the scheduling of traffic through the strait isn’t as well organized as through the Canal so it was after midnight when we got to the Rock. It was just a shadow. 
 

Good news was that this time Viking appeared to have learned and they made the passage an event. Sparking wine in the Explorers Lounge, plenty of waiters, etc. such a change from 2018 when there was one bartender and two waiters trying to serve the 200 or more folks packing the lounge and the outside balcony. 
 

Here’s hoping you get to see more than we did.  I would suggest mentioning your interest to any of the officers you meet. Sometimes the squeaky wheel gets greased!  
 

I’m hoping to do a cruise someday that actually ports in Gilbraltar 🤞

Edited by Clay Clayton

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Thanks, Clay. It's almost 2 years away, so hopefully we'll see something. I was planning to ask the brass at the Meet & Mingle - great minds think alike!

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So bummed to hear that most ships passed Gibraltar late in the evening. Hopefully Viking will continue to make the passage through the straights an "event".  I will make sure I ask onboard -   have no problem being the "squeaky wheel"  - politely of course 🙂 

 

Will look up Elza y Fred restaurant. 

 

I am interested in visiting Stonehenge, but with limited time in Portsmouth,  wondering if that is better left to a land trip.

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3 hours ago, knoxclone said:

So bummed to hear that most ships passed Gibraltar late in the evening. Hopefully Viking will continue to make the passage through the straights an "event".  I will make sure I ask onboard -   have no problem being the "squeaky wheel"  - politely of course 🙂 

 

Will look up Elza y Fred restaurant. 

 

I am interested in visiting Stonehenge, but with limited time in Portsmouth,  wondering if that is better left to a land trip.

 

It certainly wasn't an event when we passed through. We were given an estimate of the time and that was it.

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