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Windstar - Cruising The Mediterranean - Part 1

27 May 2011

Travellers

What if for one week you could cast away your cares and run off to the sea – the Mediterranean to be precise.

Privileged to be part of a group of travel agents, on the 27th of May 2011, I set out on an amazing trip, experiencing not only Europe for the first time, but also having the opportunity to cruise in the Mediterranean on one of the yachts of Windstar Cruises. Our vessel was called Wind Surf.

Wind Surf is a 14,745 tonne, five-masted yacht. She carries 312 passengers who are catered for by 190 staff. All of the 123 staterooms, 31 suites and two bridge suites have an ocean view, private facilities and all modern amenities and fittings. The five masts all at 164 feet carry seven triangular self furling computer operated sails, with 26,881 square feet of Dacron surface area. Wind Surf is powered by engines consisting of four diesel electric engines and two electric propulsion engines. Prices on board are all in US dollars .

My journey started in Nice and over a five day period I visited Calvi in Corsica, Monte Carlo in Monaco, Vllafranche in France, Porto Vecchio in Corsica and lastly into Rome. Nice was a really charming start and introduction to the spirit of the Cote d’ Azure. Warm weather, flower-lined streets, paved alleys, markets, and the interesting museums, Musee Chagall & Musee Matisse were highlights of my 24 hour stay. Embarkation on Wind Surf was a breeze, formalities took about 15 minutes, and as we headed off to our cabins, we were all greeted by staff who already knew our names off by heart. Departing Nice gave us amazing views of the coastal villages with the sun setting against them, sounds of sail-away music and the unknown excitement of what was to come.

Day 1: Corsica-Calvi – with famous rumours for the beginnings of Christopher Columbus’s past and birth place. Corsica is positioned between Spain and Italy, in very close proximity to Sardinia. We instantly fell in love with the Quai Landry, which is the beachside main line of restaurants, shops, bars and hotels, which connects the marina to the port along a beach walkway. Calvi tourism offers escorted walks and island coach and jeep tours. I ventured onto the three hour coach tour which gave me an introduction to the Balagne desert, Cirque de Bonifato, a pine and evergreen oak forest bordering Corsica’s highest mountains. The scenic route had us on roads that were narrow and winding with gigantic boulders on one side and very steep drops on the other, albeit down to the most amazing deep blue clear seas I have ever seen.

 Princes Palace, Monte Carlo

Day 2: After Calvi we set sail for Monte Carlo. The Grand Prix had taken place a couple of days earlier and was still really evident with grandstands still erected around the famous circuit and souvenirs on offer everywhere. A visit to the Prince’s Castle, home of the late Princess Grace, was high on most of our minds when we arrived here, along with the Cathedral where Grace Kelly married Prince Ranier. But what really set this place apart from anything I have seen was the opulence and jet set glamour that was  everywhere. Boats in the harbour, labels in the shops and the famous Monte Carlo Casino. It was well worth the 20euro entry fee, to just be inside and see the gilt edged ceilings and ornate frescoes. 

.....continued on in Part 2

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