Lisbon Pre-Voyage Extension
$3,300 per person
From Porto’s local port houses to the Basque country markets, this voyage is sure to satisfy your appetite for the cuisine and culture of the upper Iberian coast. Explore the splendor of Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, visit a Galician fishing village, meander through the villages of A Coruña and Bilbao, and navigate the winding streets of Bordeaux. Visit the Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum; thrill to the melodies of the gaitas and trikitixas. Then head deep into Basque country in both France and Spain, exploring markets, villages, music, and cuisine.
Sample fine port wines on a tour of their birthplace, the UNESCO World Heritage site of Porto
Spend a day discovering Galicia, collecting mussels with local fishermen, listening to traditional music, and visiting a splendid Galician estate
Join a pilgrimage to the medieval cathedral at Santiago de Compostela, consecrated in 1211, and enjoy local music
Discover an array of iconic architectural masterpieces—from the Roman Tower of Hercules in A Coruña to Bilbao's stunning footbridge by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava
Explore Bilbao's Guggenheim Museum, with its iconic billowing metal sheets, designed by Frank Gehry
In St. Jean de Luz, taste Basque tapas and wines and hear the chords of a traditional instrument called the trikitixas
See less highlights
From $6,870 per person
(does not include flight)
FREE BAR TAB AND CREW TIPS INCLUDED
$750 AIR CREDIT
BRINGING THE KIDS
TRAVELING AS A GROUP
Europe & British Isles, New and Noteworthy
We will cover your bar tab and all tips for the crew on all National Geographic Resolution, National Geographic Explorer, National Geographic Endurance, and National Geographic Orion voyages.
Book by November 30, 2021 and receive a $750 air credit per person. Valid for new bookings only, subject to availability, and may not be combined with other offers. Credit will be deducted from cabin fare, prior to any additional applicable savings. Call for details.
Certain offers may be combinable, up to two savings opportunities, except where noted otherwise. For example, travel with a group of 8 or more on back-to-back expeditions, and take advantage of both savings.
We believe sharing an expedition with your kids or grandkids is a life-enhancing experience. So take $500 off for each child under the age of 18.
Save 10% on any consecutive journeys taken on board one of our expedition ships. This savings is applicable on voyage fares only, and are not valid on extensions or airfare.
Save 5% when traveling as a group of 8 or more people. Take advantage of these great savings, while enjoying traveling with your friends and family. This savings is applicable to voyage fares only, and is not valid on extensions or airfare. Deposit, final payments, and cancellation policies for group travel vary from our regular policies.
$3,300 per person
National Geographic Orion
Clinging to the steep banks of the Douro River, Oporto is Portugal’s second largest city. Oporto is also one of Europe’s oldest metropolises, dating back to the Roman Empire. Situated strategically between Europe, Africa and the Mediterranean Sea, this northern city of Portugal ended up being a convenient place for sailing ships to catch the easterly trade winds towards the North America. For centuries, the waterfront of Oporto was a major hub of global trade, providing the locals with a constant supply of commodities such as wine, sugar, spices, oils and exposure to the cuisines of foreign cultures. A major export of Oporto was a special fortified wine known as Port, and it is still produced exclusively in this region. This morning, National Geographic Orion sailed up the Douro River as far as the port of Leixoes, one of Oporto’s principal harbors, and we had a full morning exploring the streets by coach and by foot. Among the highlights of the day was a stop at the Lello Bookshop, (which was one of J.K. Rowling’s inspirations for the famous Harry Potter book series), the Sao Bento Train Station to view the huge painted tile entry hall, and a final stop at the Calem Port House to taste some world class port wine. In the afternoon, National Geographic Orion sailed for Lisbon. Tonight we will celebrate our voyage with the Captain’s Farewell Party! Tomorrow we must actually say farewell, and hope that we all meet again someday on another great Lindblad/National Geographic expedition.
National Geographic Orion
It was still dark half an hour into our drive through the “mysterious” (the guides here are very fond of that adjective) Galician countryside on the way to the pilgrimage site of Santiago de Compostela. Galicia is in the northwest corner of Spain, sitting on top of Portugal on the map. However, because it is in Spain, it doesn’t share the more logical time zone of the other European nations this far west like Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Portugal. Mad dogs and Englishmen can go out in the middle of the afternoon and still be sure to catch the midday sun. Why so mysterious? Galicians speak a Romance language very closely related to Portuguese but they never felt at home in either Portugal or Spain and have developed a fondness for Celtic roots that give them, apparently, an affinity for superstition and bag-pipes. Certainly, they share high rainfall totals with their distant Celtic cousins on the Atlantic fringes of Western Europe . Today we were very fortunate; darkness lifted and was replaced, after some early morning mist, with glorious sunshine. For some, the destination was Santiago de Compostela, the third most important pilgrimage site in Christendom after Jerusalem and Rome. St. James the Apostle was reputed to have come on mission to Spain and after dying back home in Jerusalem his body was returned to the mission field. His relics are the object of pilgrimage in the great cathedral that bears his name high inland in Galicia. A vision of St. James inspired the Reconquista , the medieval movement that culminated in the expulsion of the Moors and Jews from Spain in 1492 under the Catholic monarchs, King Ferdinand, and Queen Isabella. A popular image of St. James shows the saint on a white charger slaying a Moor, a thoroughly anachronistic and hardly politically correct image today. The image is known as Santiago Matamoros, St. James the Slayer of the Moors. Some attended mass in the Cathedral and witnessed the swinging of the botafumeiro, the giant incense burner that once fumigated the church during the pilgrim mass. The scallop shell established itself early on as the badge of pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela. Those of us who did a small section of the camino acquired shell and staff as souvenirs. Others who followed an alternative itinerary during the day visited the ria coastline, drowned river valleys where scallops, mussels and other splendid seafood abounds. We saw mussel production first hand, and had tastings of the local gastronomy washed down with the local albariño wine that makes such a perfect accompaniment to seafood.
National Geographic Orion
After saying goodbye to the wonderful Basque country we spent the morning at sea while sailing west towards A Coruña on the Galician coastline. Our historian, David Barnes, gave an informative and lively talk called “The Spirit of Spain.” We learned that there is a lot more to Spain than simply sunshine, beaches, and sangrias as he covered the various religions and borders that have influenced the culture throughout the centuries.
National Geographic Orion
As the National Geographic Orion entered the Port of Bilbao, a mysterious foggy and dark morning remembered the old decaying and polluted industrial city that it was in late 20th century. The old British freight docks and steel factories, having begun to tap into its immense iron deposits in the 19th century and then quickly becoming the shipbuilding center for over half of the entire Spanish merchant fleet, were closed down in the post-Franco economic restructuring. It gave an opportunity to start thinking on a new modern city, and therefore, a long process of urban renewal and reinvention was planned to present the city and the Basques as a modern people of vision and taste, with an eye to the future. The impressive Guggenheim Museum of Contemporary Art, designed by the Californian architect Frank Gehry and opened in 1997, started this ambitious process marking an important turning point of the history of Bilbao. The museum, built in titanium, steel, and limestone alongside the Nervion River that runs through the city to the Atlantic Ocean, is one of the most admired works of contemporary architecture in the world and it was a huge success in gaining international recognition. That was called “the Bilbao Effect”, which is essentially the attention that something grandiose and entirely different brings to a location. The transformation of the city from a grimy, economically stagnant backwater into a scintillating modern city of culture is one of the new millennium’s most heartening urban success stories. Nowadays, Bilbao is the beating heart of the economical activities in the Basque Country, as well as the region’s largest and most cosmopolitan city.
National Geographic Orion
Intermittent rain threatened to dampen our visit to the French Basque resort town of Saint-Jean-de-Luz. But the town's charms shone through the drizzle. The last French town before the Spanish border, the relaxed vibe of Saint-Jean-de-Luz belies its exciting history. As a longtime base for corsaires, pirates authorized by the French government, the town's wealth was built on the plundering of the ships of competing nations. It was here on June 9, 1660 that French king Louis XIV married Maria Theresa of Spain, sealing the treaty between the two countries. The town was an important underground base for French resistance efforts against the Nazis in World War II, and numerous people were smuggled out of occupied France across the nearby mountain passes. Today, not much happens in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, which is why so many people come here to lay on the beach, eat the delicious macarons, Basque cake, and other local delicacies, and surf the enviable waves along the coast. During our morning visit we wandered along the beachside boardwalk, strolled down the active shopping street, visited the colorful market, and checked out the church where the famous royal wedding took place. After a short repositioning, we arrived in the Spanish Basque city of San Sebastian. A short bus tour took us up to a fantastic viewpoint. The grey skies did not diminish the view, just gave it a mystical quality. Later, we visited the old town and were soon set loose to explore the plethora of pintxos bars. Every counter was loaded with delectable looking snacks: red peppers stuffed with baby eels, ham-wrapped artichoke hearts fried in batter, slices of blood sausage topped with egg and mushroom. The selection was endless and daunting. From there, we headed to a traditional Basque cider house on the outskirts of town, where we enjoyed a fantastic concert by accordionist Kepa Junkera and his all-female backing band Sorgiñak, which means "The Witches" in Basque. Junkera is a superstar virtuoso of Basque music, and the four young "witches" supported him with angelic voices, excellent hand percussion chops, and limber dance moves. It was a fantastic show, made even better by the voluminous hard cider and rich, country-style food we consumed throughout the evening. At various points, Kepa demonstrated unusual local instruments such as the alboca , a horn played with circular breathing, and the txalaparta , a xylophone made of wood or stone that is directly connected to the cider making tradition. It was a magical end to a magnificent day, and we stumbled back to the ship filled with cider, steak, and good memories.