Get Away With Fran

June 10, 2010

Seabourn Sojourn visits Torshavn

Filed under: Cruise,International — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 11:43 am

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Q: Where is Toshavn? A: In the Faroe Islands. Q: Where are the Faroe Islands? A: In the general area of the North Sea and North Atlantic.

So why would a cruise ship like Seabourn Sojourn visit here? Because the scenery is absolutely beautiful. Plus it’s on the way to Iceland.

We docked right near downtown Torshavn, capital of the Faroe Islands, and population about 19,000, where we were greeted with an all male choir.

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Admittedly, since I had work to do, I promptly headed off in search of an Internet cafe. Friendly locals – including the choir guys – pointed me towards the hotel – it was easy to find as it was one of the tallest buildings in town and marked “hotel” – where there was a nice, contemporary coffee shop with free wi-fi. I parked myself there for much of the ship’s afternoon visit.

And let me mention everyone I talked to spoke both Danish (the Faroes being part of Denmark) and perfect English, even here, really in the middle of nowhere.

Others went off on the various excursions offered by Seabourn to explore this land of the Vikings, including a President’s Choice hike, which on this visit was actually attended by the line’s President and CEO Pam Conover, onboard for the ship’s maiden voyage.

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My foray into downtown didn’t stop me from seeing views, which at times reminded me of New Zealand. With the Midnight Sun – we’re pretty far north – it only gets dark briefly this time of year. As the Sojourn passed close to little islands and rugged cliffs, we’d see a house here or there, and wonder what it’s like to be so isolated.

 

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I should mention that up until Torshavn, and through the night as we cruised towards Iceland, the seas where very still, almost to the point of distraction. However, we did wake up today doing a little rock ‘n’ rollin, in a small storm. I was glad I had prepared with a patch behind my ear.

Yesterday evening, I did some further exploring of the ship. So if you’ll indulge me, I’ll add to my favorite spots the two-deck spa, where a relaxation room has an unusual footbath to get your blood circulating – you walk in cold water than hot then cold then hot, etc., and then rest on heated loungers.

Upstairs at the spa, there’s also a quiet, open-air relaxation area. You can enjoy both on a $30 day pass.

And the Observation Bar on Deck 10 is a great spot for socializing at night – it’s done up in contemporary furnishings and blue lights and kept kind of dark so you feel like you’re in a trendy club. During the day, it’s also a wonderful forward-facing spot to take in the views. And with an open deck area in front, you can grab your camera and easily take photos of those views as well.

June 8, 2010

Seabourn Sojourn makes first port call at Invergordon, Scotland

Filed under: Cruise,International — Tags: , , — admin @ 2:02 pm

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The beautiful  Seabourn Sojourn, on its maiden voyage, made its first port call today at Invergordon, Scotland. There was even a bagpiper to meet us. We didn’t get sunshine but the rain held off for at least the morning.

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The town itself is a former navy base, now known for the repair of oil rigs. It’s not the prettiest town in the world. But still, locals have added flair by painting murals on several of the buildings on High Street.

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But I was most impressed with the friendliness of people here. Getting off the Sojourn, which was docked only a few blocks from the center of town, I asked at a visitor information booth if there was wi-fi to be found anywhere. Quite a discussion ensued. One fellow said, in a wonderful thick accent “Ooh, let’s see. There’s one at the museum.” And another older fellow chimed in “Ooh, and one at the church.”  And a third guy, with a wink in his eye, opined “And the church is free, but the museum isn’t.”

As it turned out there wasn’t Wi-Fi at the museum, but there were computers to use.

I explore the town in about a half hour. Walking back I noticed some souvenir shops near the pier. From one I purchased several tartan wool scarves – only about $20 each, so how could I resist? And the shopkeeper made my day, when he handed me my change with a “Thank you, lass.”

While I was exploring, my pal Jennie went off to see one of the castles for which the northern Highlands are famous (she also got to see countryside and sheep). Jennie reports the tour of Cawdor Castle (see photo at top), the 14th century castle that inspired”Macbeth” was excellent, with a well-informed guide and a Seabourn crew member on the bus as an escort. The guide though didn’t give the juicy version of the castle’s history, which very much involves sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.

Back on the ship, there was a performance in the Grand Salon of Highland dance and song, and a bagpiper was involved.

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Impressive. Among the other things that has most impressed about the Sojourn is the food. Jennie and I last night sampled Restaurant 2, which is the Sojourn’s specialty dining venue. Let me report it was awesome, seven extravagant courses, and each course had multiple tastings.

Okay, for you foodies out there, we had a crisp little bite of foie gras, lobster roll with yogurt caviar sauce, a bacalaito fritter with avocado and tomato salad, seared salmon with white bean salsa, Shiraz braised oxtail soup with manchego potstickers (my personal favorite), drunken turbot with porcini and swiss chard and Tuscan braised veal with mascarpone mashed potato, limoncello tiramisu foam over marinated oranges, dark chocolate ganache, espresson panna cotta and condensed milk ice cream, followed by a night cap of a Kahlua frappe.

And yes, we could walk afterwards, sort of. And I apologize for not having photos. I was too busy eating.

Food on this entire cruise has been amazing, so the fact there is even a specialty restaurant seems superfluous. But I still love it.

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