Chris Hutchinson sailed from South America’s Brazil to exciting countries in Europe enjoying both the summer and spring sunshine.
Would the thought of starting a holiday in Rio de Janeiro and ending in Venice, two of the greatest cities in the world appeal to you? It did me.
Plus the Costa cruise itinerary included six places in Brazil then to Europe for visits to five more countries. This had all the ingredients of daydreams but the attractive offer from Thomas Cook turned it into reality.
We joined the Costa Fortuna in Santos, heading north; first stop Rio, sailing into this magnificent city sets your pulse racing in anticipation. Well planned tours take you to Sugar loaf Mountain by cable car and then by train to the top of Corcovado to the imposing monument of Christ the Redeemer embracing the city and the emblem of Brazil.
In contrast to Rio, Ilheus has a number of waterways which dissect this quietly sophisticated city.
A twenty minute drive on its narrow coast road gives you the environmental privilege of golden sand, mango swamps and rain forest.
You pass miles of deserted pristine beaches and arrive at Batuba beach, a natural cove where tiny tributaries from the rain forest weave their pattern across the sand.
Sipping a cold beer costing just 70pence and listening to local musicians ended a perfect day.
“The place where you breathe the history, soul and essence of Brazil” are the words inscribed when you arrive at Salvador.
Women in traditional dress and samba bands playing, intoxicate you into a cultural and vibrant atmosphere. The combinations of African and Portuguese history intertwine in the way of life and architecture.
Next we were experiencing “Cruising Italian Style” with Costa Fortuna providing excellent food and evening theatre shows of a high standard.
Sailing further north; Maceio has beautiful promenades, beaches and excellent shopping.
Local traders offer an abundance of choice, at low prices.
Next stop was Recife and the real jewel here is historical Olinda a UNESCO world heritage site.
Founded in 1535 this is a must to visit, cobbled streets support old Colonial houses and churches which are perched on a hill.
Our final port Fortaleza, a major attraction is a three level indoor market. We were astounded by the choice of merchandise.
Our journey from south to northern Brazil came to an end. We did not want to leave this country.
Two beautiful relaxing days at sea were enjoyed by sailing ‘Italian style’.
Entering La Valletta Malta is an experience in itself; its imposing fortified harbour immediately tells you this is a place of unique history. A 15 minute drive through the country side and you arrive at Madina a former capital perched on a hill. You get lost in its atmosphere of a bygone age. Back in Valletta you stroll through its centre absorbing places of interest.
Corfu, for us was deja vu and Paleokastritsa with its wooded hills, crystal clear bays has hardly changed. On the hill road is a small vineyard where George the owner treated us to sample his wine and olives.
Evenings in the ships’ theatre feature top European artists.
Charming Dubrovnik, Croatia, is set in front of a picturesque hillside. A walking tour is enlightening, cobbled streets, fountains, churches, museums and its Venetian heritage engulfs you.
When you sail into Venice at sunrise and pass a deserted St Mark’s square you know you are in a special place in the world.
This Costa Cruise itinerary leaves indelible memories of a wonderful adventure sailing from a sunny Brazilian summer to a sunny spring in Europe.
Three Things To Do:
1 La Orotaua in the Canaries is a small town and a visit to a typical Canarian Aristocratic house built in 1632 offers you exclusive hand made products. I bought my wife an Olivine ring, this is a semi precious green stone found in the Canary Islands and I’m told a bargain at just over £20.
2Walk through Ipenema village to the lake, which offers you different views of Christ’s statue from ground level.
3Birthing in Malaga, Spain we revisited the village of Mijas which nestles in the Mountainside of the Sierra de Mijas. There we discovered its narrow streets lined with lemon and orange trees and traditional white houses.Quality leather goods are a speciality and again handbags were the order of the day, my wife bought fourw. Well she said “they only cost eight Euros each”. So I bought a leather belt for three Euros!
* 2012/13 Cruises to and from South America are available with 19 day fly & cruise from £1539 pp.
* Costa cruises also offer itineraries in the Mediterranean, Dubai, Far East and Caribbean.
* Contact Costa Cruises on 0845 3510552, www.costacruises.co.uk or book through your local Travel agent.