Day 1 | Bilbao
Arriving independently in Bilbao, we’ll meet our group and staff for an afternoon guided walking tour of Bilbao’s Old Quarter which dates back to the 700s. Since 1979, the Old Quarter has been a pedestrian precinct, offering 240,000 square metres of shopping, architecture, and historical sites. The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry is widely considered an architectural masterpiece.
In the afternoon, we’ll embark the Ocean Endeavour and begin our journey down the Bilbao River, headed for the Bay of Biscay!
Day 2 | Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve
The Urdaibai Estuary is home to a vast salt marsh, making it an important stopping place for migratory birds. More than 245 bird species have been sighted in the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve, which is also home to hundreds of varieties of trees and plants, and numerous land animals. We’ll visit the marshland for birdwatching and sightseeing.
Day 3 | Getaria
The old fishing and whaling village of Getaria is considered one of the Basque Country’s most charming port towns. Maritime traditions run deep here in the hometown of Captain Juan Sebastian de Elcano, who completed the first world circumnavigation after Magellan’s death midway through, the voyage.
We will have the option to visit local archaeological sites or explore vineyards overlooking the village.
Day 4 | San Sebastian
The historic city of San Sebastian is framed by sandy beaches and a backdrop of green-clad mountains. Here you’ll find wonderful architecture and fabulous food. A tour of the Parte Vieja (Old Quarter) leads to an opportunity for pintxos, the tapas-like snacks that are the heart and soul of Basque food culture. We’ll also visit the Albaola Sea Factory Museum and the replica of the San Juan, a Basque whaling ship discovered sunk in the harbour of Red Bay, Labrador.
Day 5 | Astigarraga
Only a few kilometres up the Urumea River from San Sebastian, Astigarraga is famed for its cider. We’ll visit a family of cider-makers who have five centuries of experience producing cider in the region. The Astarbe family were cultural contributors on a Basque-focused tour of Newfoundland and Labrador. They are keen to host us and showcase their unique connection to the land and history of their region.
Day 6 | Iparralde
Just across the Bidasoa River from Spain, Iparralde (Northern Basque Country) offers a more intimate and rural experience than its urbane Spanish counterpart. We will visit the town of Espelette, famed throughout Europe for its peppers and its picturesque Basque architecture of whitewashed facades and red roofs. Sare, a tiny village at the base of the Pyrenees, offers an option to travel by rack railway to the summit of Larrun Mountain, a sacred place in Basque mythology standing square on the border of Spain and France. From there we cross the border back into Spain to Zugarramurdi, in the mountains of Navarre. Known as the site of the Basque witch trials, we’ll visit the prehistoric caves where the witches’ sabbaths were alleged to have taken place. This day provides excellent opportunities for hikers and cyclists.
Day 7 | Bordeaux
The wine capital of the world, Bordeaux, France has so much to offer visitors: cuisine, wine, markets, architecture, museums and more. Passengers will have the opportunity for a guided tour of the Old City, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. We’ll be alongside overnight to allow passengers to savour food, drink, and nightlife in fabled Bordeaux!
Day 8 | Le Teich Ornithological Reserve
The Ornithological Reserve at Arcachon Bay contains dunes, marshes, reed beds, and meadows, providing habitat for as many as 260 bird species year-round. The reserve is also an important migratory stopover and wintering ground for a wide variety of species. Both long and short walk options are available, with blinds and raised viewing platforms that offer excellent bird-watching opportunities for all.
Day 9 | Belle-Île, Brittany
Brittany’s largest island at 17 by 9 kilometres, Belle-Île is known for its plant life. The island’s flora includes eucalyptus, exotic gingko, mimosa, fig, and oleander.
There is excellent hiking and biking along coastal pathways and roads, many offering secluded beaches. Rock pyramids known from Claude Monet’s paintings form an intriguing geological attraction.
Day 10 | Brest
Heavily bombed during the Second World War and rebuilt in the fifties, Brest has been an important naval port for hundreds of years. The Maritime Museum here is in an 11th-century medieval castle remodelled by Vauban, who also oversaw the construction of the Citadelle at Belle-Île. Also, of interest is the Motte-Tanguy Tower, dating to the 1300s, which now houses the Museum of Old Brest.
This morning we bid farewell to the Ocean Endeavour and transfer to the airport, or passengers can independently stay to enjoy Brest and travel onward.