Posted on Thursday, September 6, 2012 by Peter Knego
Peter Knego continues his eight night voyage to four western European ports from Southampton aboard Star Clippers’ four masted barquentine STAR FLYER with a visit to Brest and a day in the Bay of Biscay.
All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2012 unless otherwise noted.
Monday, September 3, 2012
I crawled out of bed shortly after STAR FLYER reached the placid shelter of outer Brest harbor. Soon, we would pass a large French military vessel and enter the commercial port. Shortly before noon, Captain Müller-Cyran was on the bridge wing along with the local pilot, maneuvering the STAR FLYER into her berth.
Before heading out on our self-guided tour, we enjoyed a delicious lunch, appropriately highlighted by a flawless veggie French onion soup.
Sated, we debarked the ship and headed inland towards the fortress wall that has guarded Brest since the 13th Century. Just beyond, the city of 142,000 is a pleasant, if not terribly scenic, place but we managed to find a few interesting nooks.
We walked to a cemetery overlooking the city, where there were some fascinating crypts, gravestones and statues.
On the road back into the town center, we stopped for some Nautamine (a dramamine derivative), a fabulous pain au chocolate…
…and a potent cappuccino.
On the edge of the Penfeld River, there was a nice view of one of Europe’s largest drawbridges, Le Pont de Recouverance.
A sprawling castle is among the few vintage structures left in Brest, which was bombed into ruins by the Allies seeking to destroy its strategic German naval base. The castle houses Le Musée National Marine de Brest, a lovely maritime museum with paintings, carvings and exhibits detailing the history of the maritime city.
From the castle walls, there are interesting views of the harbor and the Penfeld River.
One display featured exquisitely carved Roman gods (Neptune and Mars), a nymph (Amphitrite) and a goddess (Minerva) that were once displayed in a shipping line office.
On our way back to the ship, we walked through a verdant park, Cours Dojot. which overlooks the waterfront. It is dominated by a tall granite monument honoring the U.S. and French naval forces of World War Two.
We descended Escalier de 1857, which was built to connect the city with the commercial harbor. by Napoleon III. It was prominently featured in the film “Remorques”, starring Jean Gabin and Michele Morgan. I would return later in the day for a run up the stairs and through the park for a pre-dinner workout.
From the adjoining quay, there were some nice views of our gorgeous ship, which was clearly Brest’s “star” maritime attraction that day.
In the bar each evening, several of the upcoming dinner courses are put on display along with the daily wine pairing suggestions.
Rob started off with a succulent salmon sashimi.
And I countered with a savory phyllo, eggplant and leek tartlet before launching into a fillet of swordfish seared in olive oil.
No better ending than a little chocolate “something”.
With 22 new French guests on board, there was a lively, post-dinner game of “Name That Tune” where, in addition to guessing correctly, one had to be the first to ring a bell and possibly even do a jig.
Onward into the night we sailed, for a two-day encounter with one of my old foes, the Bay of Biscay.
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
At 11:00 AM up on Sun Deck, Captain Müller-Cyran hosted his daily “Captain’s Talk”, where he shares seafaring tales and explains navigation and the operation of sailing ships.
Thus far, the notorious Bay of Biscay had been only moderately rough, allowing the captain to order engines off and sails up. I popped another Nautamine and enjoyed it in a hazy blur.
As usual, lunch was delicious and the star attraction of the Caribbean-themed feast was the best chicken gumbo I have ever tasted. Two bowls, please….
Right on cue, a pod of dolphins breached outside the dining room portholes.
Later, in the Bar, as I sat with a cup of piping hot mint green tea, a rather more terrestrial being swam past the skylight portals.
There would be some challenging deck games in the afternoon, quite a bit of catching up on these blog posts, dinner and a lulling night of sleep as STAR FLYER sailed on a leisurely southbound course.
End Of STAR FLYER To Iberia, Part Two
Much More To Come…
Very Special Thanks: Buck Banks, Martin Cox, Rob Di Stefano, Julie Ellis, Klaus Franz, Captain Jurgen Müller-Cyran