Olympics Overboard

July 12, 2012

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Get golden cruise deals this summer…

The Olympics are coming. Many will be enthralled. And some will be clawing the walls, looking for any form of escape. Airports are probably going to be a nightmare so, if escape you must, then why not do the sensible thing, and run away to sea for a week or two?

Forget the marathon check in and ideas of pole vaulting through security. Simply turn up at Southampton, or any of the many regional ports now offering round trip no fly voyages, and off you go. Pack and unpack once, settle down and drift off into bliss mode as the crowds and crippling ticket prices disappear astern.

Norwegian Fjords

Norwegian Fjords

You can go where the mood takes you. Summertime in the Norwegian fjords remains perennially popular; and little wonder. With more than twelve thousand miles of jagged, indented coastline chock full of soaring mountains, tumbling waterfalls and glass calm, silent waters, Norway is like a kind of balm for the fevered brow. Throw in the almost endless summer sun at the farthest point in northern Europe, and you have the ultimate chill out itinerary.

The Baltic is another obvious choice. Here, a string of fabled, almost fairy tale cities fringe the edge of the sea like a conga line of sparkling, diverse diamonds. Saint Petersburg remains the jewel; with sights such as Petrodeverts and the hulking, stupendous Hermitage.

Copenhagen is a smiling, happy town, brimming with joie de vivre and midnight fireworks above its beloved Tivoli Gardens, still arguably the best fun fair in Europe even now. Stockholm, Berlin and Helsinki add their own unique favours to this chocolate box world that seems somehow frozen in time.

Bilbao

Bilbao

For something different again, sail down to the west coast of France and Portugal, and feast on fabulous French seafood on the yacht studded waterfront at La Rochelle, easily one of the most photogenic ports in Europe. Lisbon is small, as perfectly formed as a charm bracelet, and blessed with some amazing beaches washed by warm Atlantic surf. Bilbao is sublime and space age, with its amazing Guggenheim Museum and an old town awash with spindly Gothic spires.

Whichever way you go – north, east or south – you can pull off an amazing sleight of hand by dodging both the games and the hassle of the airports. And, while Usain Bolt may be very good indeed, I’d like to see him pull that one out of the bag.

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