2017 Travels with Gerri - Making our way up the Western Coast of France

Hello Everyone,
For the past 8 days we have traveled on the Atlantic up the western coast of Spain and then France. We have noticed in France in this section there are very few Americans. Many of the ports cannot accommodate a large crew ship. Our ship, the Silversea Silver Spirit, an Italian line, only holds 500 people so we can get into areas others cannot. It seems like the area is not yet discovered by masses of Americans. Very few of the shopkeepers or cafes speak English.

The following is a summary of our journey so far: Our first three days were in Spain, First was Porto, second largest city in Portugal after Lisbon, just another big city not much to say.

Second day we visited the Santiago de Compostela, which is the St James Cathedral at the end of the long pilgrimage walk from Spain and France, and third was The Guggenheim in Bilbao (a fantastic stunning city not to be missed).

Four following days in France so far have been St. Jean de Luz and Lourdes, Le Verdon which is an hour from Bordeaux, tho we just went to the charming beach town of Soulac sur Mer and not Bourdeux, La Rochelle, another charming town with cafes, specializing in mussels, and shops along the river and marina (and where Johnny Depp has a house tho we didn't see him), Belle Ile which is the largest of a small clutch of islands off the coast of Brittany, 12 miles long and less than 4 miles wide.

Santiago de Compostela (Santiago means St James, there are lots of Santiago's all over the world)

Plaza at Santiago de Compostela with the many pilgrims. They can be identified because they wear a clamshell, the scallop is the symbol of the Pilgrim for centuries

This is a drawbridge over the river on Bilbao. But because there are so many ships that come through, it made no sense to be a drawbridge so they engineered it now so that the cars line up, drive onto a platform and are raised up to the bridge and drive across and do the same thing on the other side. Bilbao is an engineering and finance town, it used to be all steel.

The Guggenheim. In the late 90s the area was very depressed as steel mills went out of business. The river was polluted and orange. The city needed to do something. Social activist wanted money given to the poor and those out of work, of which there were many. The city fathers wanted to bring in the Guggenheim museum (a very wealthy family that collected famous art. It was the uncle of Guggenheim who went down in the Titanic, he was bringing in art from overseas). The pro Guggenheim prevailed and city then experienced what is now universally called "The Guggenheim Effect" as everything around it grew and developed and now it's a stimulating area and city. Probably a big version of what the Americana did to Glendale's downtown.

Old Town Bilbao with its shops and festive environment. The shops close a lot in the summer because the people leave to go to the beach areas or just go to the beach and there is not much business.

This is the symbol for the pilgrims to follow as they walk on their way to Santiago de Compostela. We walked 300 yards along the path, it went through the center of Bilbao.

Outside the Guggenheim, the famous American artist Koons Puppy, covered in colorful flowers

Outside the Guggenheim, Kapoors Tall Tree and the Eye

Koons famous Tulips or they also call them Balloons. You can see your reflection each one of them wherever you stand.

View of the three churches one on top of another at Lourdes, and interior below

This is where the spring first started flowing in Lourdes, in the grotto where Bernadette was visited 16 times by Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. There's a lucite panel in front so it's a little difficult to see in the photo.

Enjoying Soulac sue Mer, small seaside town in Bordeaux area.

Mussels for lunch in La Rochelle

La Rochelle on the river

Thanks for listening and coming along.

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