In These Ports of Call, There’s Much More than Meets the Eye
Some cities present themselves and all their beauty immediately, dramatically, the moment you catch sight of their shores. Monte Carlo, for instance, is unabashedly glamourous, with its harbor brimming with opulent yachts and hillside dotted with nobility – all in plain, spectacular sight. Venice is similarly distinct, beckoning travelers to its floating walkways as soon as they enter the canal, though there are many treasures to be found as you wander further through the alleyways.
Other cities keep their treasures hidden, lovely, unassuming little gems that seem to not make a splash, but in fact lead to epic wonders. These are gateway cities, ports that charm and delight and beyond whose city walls lie some of history’s greatest sites and stories. As you make your travel lists, keep in mind that in destinations like these, there is often much more than meets the eye.
Rouen and Honfleur, France – Both of these quintessential French towns shine with Joie de vivre. Both heavily influenced the impressionist works of Claude Monet and other masters. Both boast proud battleground status across the centuries, and both are gateway cities to the Landing Beaches at Normandy. Perched along the Seine, lovely Rouen also leads to big city indulgences in Paris and Giverny.
Sáfaga, Egypt – This delightful city on the Red Sea is filled with resort amenities and activities – beautiful beaches, snorkeling, reef diving and plenty of sunshine. More intriguingly, it is the gateway to Luxor and the Valley of Kings on the Nile, where the tombs and underground mausoleums of the great pharaohs are found.
Zeebrugge, Belgium – Once a main crossroad in the English Channel, lovely Zeebrugge is straight from a fairytale. The Flemish town has much to explore itself, but beyond the town you’ll find grand day trips to medieval Ghent and style and design epicenter Antwerp.
Ashdod, Israel – This Mediterranean port is a tidy community set on golden dunes with an ancient past, as Biblical ruins roughly 4,000 years old have been found here. Even more discoveries can be made if you venture to Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, both less than an hour’s drive from the port.
Kuşadasi – Ephesus – Filled with modern delights like designer shopping, chic dining experiences, sandy, sunny beaches and sparkling Aegean waters, this place begs to be explored. But for history buffs, the call of the 4,000-year-old UNESCO city of Ephesus, the Temple of Artemis (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World) and Basilica of St. John may beckon more strongly.
Livorno, Italy – Masterpieces of every kind are found in Italy, and arguably none greater than those found beyond the borders of the port of Livorno. Head to the cradle of the Renaissance in Florence, where Michelangelo, Brunelleschi and Botticelli still reign over palazzos and renowned museums; to the Tuscan countryside where the reds are big and bold and the hillsides endless; or to Pisa and the medieval town of Lucca.
Cádiz, Spain – It may difficult to tear yourself from the romance of El Pópulo and Santa María districts, fresh seafood, and the Puertas de Tierra dividing this city into old and new. But should you choose venture onward, the resplendent beauty of Seville awaits. A massive Gothic cathedral, baroque churches and mansions of nobility recall the 16th-century might that once existed in what is now a charming modern haven.
Sihanoukville, Cambodia – In this tropical Asian port, it’s tempting to remain along the shoreline, where pristine beaches lead to excellent snorkeling, diving and game fishing. Inland, however, lie the 800-year-old mysteries of Angkor Wat and the massive temple complex that was once Southeast Asia’s greatest civilization.
As always, in gateway cities and beyond, Crystal Cruises voyages present opportunities to explore every destination a bit deeper, a bit more actively and with renewed wonder. And virtually every gateway leads to more discoveries. Book your journey today.