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Today a thriving holiday resort, Visby on the Baltic island of Gotland has become famous as 'the town of roses and ruins' - a living relic of a medieval heyday when this Hanseatic port vied in riches and fame with the great capitals of mainland Europe. Now its narrow cobbled streets and ruined churches reside behind the two-and-a-half mile 13th century city wall, a haunting monument to a lost glory. Gotland and Oland are part of the Baltic islands off the southeast coast of Sweden. Gotland is a blend of old and new with its natural beauty and cultural heritage. Hoards of coins and other treasures found on the island indicate its importance in maritime trade as far back as the Bronze Age. Gotland was nominally Swedish as early as the 9th century but long remained autonomous. In the Middle Ages Visby was a rich and important member of the Hanseatic League and had many splendid churches and elaborate fortified walls. Gotland was conquered by Denmark in 1361 and returned to Swedish rule in 1645.
South Queensferry still offers an environment that can transport visitors back to an earlier time more readily than most places in Scotland. South Queensferry offers one of the most interesting collections of buildings anywhere. The oldest is St Mary's church, which dates from 1441. "Black Castle", built on the High Street in 1626 is the oldest house in South Queensferry, which was built for a sea captain who was lost with his ship. The nearby Tollbooth was built in the 1600s, though the tower dates back only to 1720. The High Street itself has an unusual stepped cross section designed to cope with the town's steeply sloping site above the shore. This has led to elevated pavements on the inland side of the street, which add to the atmosphere. For very obvious reasons, plus proximity to Edinburgh, South Queensferry is an extremely popular place. It is worth making an effort to try and catch it at a quiet time: that way visitors can still catch glimpses of the South Queensferry of the 1700s Robert Louis Stevenson featured in "Kidnapped".
The Orkney Islands are different from mainland Britain and reflect the original 9th century Viking settlement. In addition to Norse heritage are remains of prehistoric monuments such as Stenness Standing Stones at Finstown. Steep-roofed stone houses line streets winding around medieval St. Magnus Cathedral. A museum featuring Orkney artifacts is housed in 16th-century Tankerness House. Other attractions include Maes Howe, Britain's best-preserved megalithic tomb, and the stone-age village Skara Brae. Rock circles, cairns, standing stones, ancient tombs and prehistoric villages are scattered about, gaining these islands international recognition. Only the walls and tower of the 12-century residence, Bishop's Palace, stand. The top of the tower affords a great view of the cathedral and across Kirkwall rooftops. Earl's Palace dates from 1600. Its style blends medieval fierceness with elements of French Renaissance architecture - featuring dungeons, massive fireplaces and magnificent central hall. A good mile south of town is Highland Park - the "most northerly legal distillery in Scotland."
As the main town along the Isle of Sky within the stunning Inner Hebrides of Scotland, Portree is quaint and unique, with colorful buildings, a lovely pebbled beach, green hills and a peaceful harbor. As it is a very small village, you can explore it easily by foot or bicycle.
Dún Laoghaire is a suburban seaside town and seaport nestled at the foothills of the Dublin Mountains in Ireland. The port offers opportunities for biking, canoeing, hiking, clay pigeon shooting, sailing and rock climbing. There are also several music and cultural festivals during the Autumn.
Monaco is famous as Côte d’Azur’s playground. With spacious beaches, elegant hotels and lively nightlife, this tiny domain is a jet set favorite and home to some of the world's most expensive real estate. In addition to luxury hotels and beautiful beaches, Monaco is noted for mild climate and magnificent scenery. Monaco and Monte Carlo rank high on every visitor’s must-see list. Monaco-Ville is the old city and seat of Monaco’s government. The 19th-century Romanesque cathedral Prince's Palace contains impressive works of art and the tomb of Princess Grace, while the Parliament building and Oceanographic Museum, under the auspices of the Jacques Cousteau Society, offer additional sights. Monte Carlo spells sophistication, elegance, and glamour. Every year the rich and famous gather here to bask in the sun, gamble at the world’s most opulent casino and attend spectacular parties. The most splendid hotels, several fine theaters, museums and excellent restaurants cater to the elite. Nothing typifies more the elegant lifestyle of the Côte d’Azur than glamorous Monte Carlo.
Civitavecchia is the port city for Rome. Rome has always been and remains the Eternal City. With its splendid churches, ancient monuments and palaces, spacious parks, tree-lined boulevards, fountains, outdoor cafés and elegant shops, Rome is one of the world’s most attractive cities. Among the most famous monuments is the Colosseum where spectators watched combats between muscled gladiators and ferocious animals. Stop to see the remains of the Forum, once a political and commercial center. Rome’s squares were enhanced with such imposing structures as the Vittorio Emanuele Monument and grandiose fountains like the Fontana di Trevi. Awe at Christendom’s most magnificent church, the Sistine Chapel. The busy square Piazza Venezia is easily recognized by its imposing Vittorio Emanuele II Monument. Take a stroll to Rome's famous Trevi Fountain. Vatican City is the site of lovely St. Peter's Square and St. Peter's Basilica, where for 200 years, Renaissance masters worked on its design and created an unparalleled masterpiece. Visit Vatican Museum.
Igoumenitsa has been inhabited since the Palaeolithic period (250,000-9000 BC), initially within the Sideris Cave. This northwestern Grecian coastal city boasts of its rich history dating back to ancient times, and serves as a stop before boat vessels cross the Adriatic. Stroll along the waterfront promenade for views of the sea.
Itinerary subject to change without notice. Please confirm itinerary at time of booking.
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