Rotterdam — HonfleurStartharbour: Rotterdam
Boarding after: 12.10.2013 00:00
Departure: 14.10.2013 09:00
Port of destination: Honfleur
Arrival: 18.10.2013 08:00
Days on board: 7
RotterdamThe Dutch city Rotterdam is situated on the North Sea coast in the Rhine river embouchment. It is the biggest commercial harbour in Europe. Recently Rotterdam had had the biggest sales turnover in the world until it was overcome by Shanghai and Singapore in 2002. The Rotterdam port is truly dazzling, both from the land and from the sea. An industrial landscape dominated by giant cranes and flambeau lights stretches forth to the horizon. If you drive — it is easy to get lost in the industrial harbour zone for a long time. If you want to judge the size of Rotterdam port from the sea, you can pay for a boat tour — the view is worth it!
The city itself among very little in Netherlands has suffered very much during the World War II. The historical Rotterdam today consists of just several surviving sections, all the other parts were rebuilt becoming the most architecturally modern city in Netherlands. Skyscrapers with no two alike among them, residence buildings like cubes standing on the corner — Rotterdam might disappoint the "fairy tale" old Netherlands lovers, but it has become a real Mecca for the modern architecture styles fans. Building the new city over the ruins the Dutch weren't scared to experiment implementing the most challenging and innovative ideas.
Rotterdam is probably the most "alive" city in the Netherlands and the most multicultural. The city lives in the rythm given by its port, one can hear almost any language and music style here, taste any cuisine.
Lots of ships come here from all over the world, thousands of sea routes start here. It is hard tyo come up with a more logical, right place to start a big cruise, a real sea adventure.
PassageNavigating along one of the arms of the Rhine we will see part of the biggest sea wall, flood gate and storm barrier system in the world - so called project Delta, listed among the modern World Wonders.
Leaving the impressive Delta constructions behind us, we will enter the North sea and having set the sails turn towards the English Channel (La Manche) - a busy sea route between the continental Europe and England.
In its narrowest part that the English name the Strait of Dover and the French - Pas de Calais one can see both English and French coast on the horizon in good weather. This relatively narrow sea channel peacefully traveled by ships under dozens of country flags has been a vicious battle ground many times in its history. These waters have been ploughed by Julius Caesar's triremes, vikings, William the Conquerer's fleet.
For centuries England and France have fought to control it. During the World War II the English aviation fought fiercely against Luftwaffe up above the Strait of Dover. It is hard to even imagine how many ships from different
ages lie on its floor.
Awaiting for the leading wind we might stopm for a little while in one of the European coast ports - Belgian resort Ostende, French Dunkirk which had in its history been a base of the fleets of England, Spain and Netherlands,
or famous for its fish cuisine Boulogne-sur-Mer.
HonfleurIn the beginning of XI century (a thousand years ago) Honfleur was already an important commercial port on the northern European coast. For centuries it has been the main link between the island and continental dominions of the English crown and therefore a titbit for the French corsairs who managed to take over the city several times. They commited daring raids to the English ports on both sides of the Channel from here.
Honfleur is interesting for us not as the sea trade center or Frenc corsair base. In XVI-XVII centuries this city has forever written itself in the history of Great Sea Voyages and geographical discoveries having interrupted the hegemony of the Spanish, Portuguese and English in Atlantic. A French ship "Hope" (L'Espoir) from Honfleur has first reached the Brasilian coast in 1503. Its captain Binot Paulmier de Gonneville was initially headed to the Cape of Good Hope and the final conclusion that the "paradise ground" he discovered was actually the South American coast around the St.Catherine's island was made only 400 years after his arrival, though it does not understate the importance and greatness of his discovery. Also both from Honfleur and Saint-Malo (another important point of our fall voyage) took start multiple French expeditions to Canada that lay foundation for the French colonies in North America. In the beginning of XIXth century the Honfleur harbour grew shallow and the city started a new chapter in its history. The main merchant ship flow moved to the neighbouring Havre.
Economically the city fell to decay however as it often happens this is why it could save its historical image having slowly become a provincial sea resort. Many artists, composers and poets used to spend holidays here, including Turgenev, Pissarro and Renoir. An interesting fact is that in Honfleur there is a monument dedicated to Turgenev's Mu-Mu. During the staging post the Eugene Boudin's museum will be available to attend.
Eugene Boudin was a bright artist, father of the impressionism and Claude Monet's mentor. Also you should absolutely visit the St.Catherine's church - one of the very little remaining wooden temples in Western Europe.
This church was built in the years of prosperity of the "sea" Honfleur - about 400 years ago. It was built by shipwrights inspired by viking traditions and reminds of a ship turned over.