I had a piece published this week in the family holidays section of Telegraph Travel.
It was a piece about a multi-generational cruise to appeal to a broad age range — in my case from Olivia, 6, to grandad, 76, [pictured above].
Here’s a preview.
“I’m the ultimate squeezed middle — a single father caught between my 76-year-old father and two primary-school-age children. Granddad wants history and interesting excursions from a holiday. The girls want white-knuckle water slides and pyjama parties at the kids club. No wonder I feel like a stiff drink.”
Do you have a multi-generational holidays experience to share?
It was a return journey to an old favourite destination — Flanders — but with a new perspective.
I’ve been before to Bruges, Ghent and several times to Antwerp.
But I had never visited the WWI heritage sites of Flanders Fields, nor previously witnessed the moving Last Post ceremony [pictured above] at the Menin Gate in Ypres.
It was also my first river cruise assignment after several previous ocean-cruising commissions.
The story is for Telegraph Cruise and will appear in the spring of 2017, timed with the centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele.
But here’s a preview:
What struck me most about the surrounding countryside was the dramatic juxtaposition of historical sites and regular suburban houses, where people lived everyday lives untouched by war. Amongst the shrines, monuments and memorials, I sometimes spotted little commemorative crosses, marked with red poppies. One read simply: “Harry. In Loving memory.”
The port of Hamburg [pictured] has a proud maritime tradition — 826 years of trade and passenger traffic.
Today it’s Germany’s leading cruise destination, welcoming 189 ships and 590,000 passengers in 2014, including AIDA Cruises, TUI and Cunard.
It celebrates its maritime legacy each May with the Hamburg Port Anniversary [May 5-8 this year] and biannually at the September-anchored Hamburg Cruise Days festival, the latter involving a spectacular, firework-shrouded sail past of ships.
The 5km sweep of the main harbour offers plenty for a day ashore with museums, markets and café-mooching all within walking distance.
That is, if you disembark at HafenCity, the most central of the three cruise terminals. If you’re arriving at Altona or the newly opened Steinwerder terminals, then factor lengthier transfers into your timings.
The burgeoning HafenCity district, covering 157 hectares along the northern banks of the River Elbe, is still something of a work in progress but growing as urban-regeneration extension to the port city.
The ten neighbourhoods, ultimately home to 12,000 people, are currently witnessing an influx of business, hotels and places to eat. It is an integral part of Hamburg’s bid for the 2024 summer Olympic games as the potential site of the Olympic Stadium.
Join a Saturday morning walking tour of the area, themed around architecture and design, to witness the new face of Hamburg while awaiting the critical mass.
The International Maritime Museum Hamburg is the pet project of the retired local businessman Peter Tamm.
He donated his vast, scholarly collection to the city some five years, helping to found the museum on the fringe of HafenCity — but it’s not without controversy.
While the ten-deck museum is well curated with interpretation in English as well as German, deck five has attracted criticism for allegedly glorifying Germany’s role in two world wars.
More considered are decks two and three, which take a more international perspective on the history of seafaring and maritime exploration. There’s a compelling section devoted to Lord Nelson and a display about the rise of the English navy under Henry VIII.
Take a break from exploring for the good-value set lunch at nearby Wasserschloss, an atmospheric waterside restaurant and teashop.
The 17th-century building, set amongst old storage warehouses, served as a residence for wealthy Hamburgian merchants at the height of the trading era.
After soup and the catch of the day, served with potatoes and vegetables (budget around 20E), pop to the next-door shop to stock up on speciality teas from around the world. The green tea with lemongrass is particularly refreshing and available by the cup in the restaurant.
Heading inland, take a stroll around the historic Speicherstadt warehouse and Kontorhaus business districts, recently granted World Heritage status by Unesco for their functional and architectural interest.
The 19th-century warehouses of the former once bulged with coffee, spices and tobacco while the 1920’s buildings of the latter include The Chilehaus, styled like a ship’s bow, which is a fine example of the German Expressionism style.
The new landmark on the Hamburg cityscape, The Elbphilharmonie Pavillion, will open in this area in October 2016 with the first concerts staged in the triumvirate of concert halls in early 2017.
If you’re after some local colour, then the historic Fish Market, located along the harbourfront from central Landungs-Brucken, offers lots of produce-vending theatre.
It is accompanied by a flea market, which is great for inexpensive souvenirs and Hamburg-branded gifts.
It’s particularly colourful on a Sunday morning when a broad of visitors from local couples to tour groups via a raft of all-night revellers, gather from early until 9.30am in the Auction Hall for a surreal blend of club after-party and early-morning shopping trip.
Head upstairs to the quieter mezzanine for a slap-up 20E breakfast buffet with plenty of fresh fish.
Heading inland, the former Red Light District of St. Pauli, straddling the legendary Reeperbahn, has cleaned up its act since the day when four lads from Liverpool arrived to play The Indra Club in August 1960.
Get the full story with a musical accompaniment on the Hempel Beatles tour, tracing the landmarks around the backstreets with the ukulele-playing songwriter-turned guide Stefanie Hampel.
There’s an open tour on Saturdays at 6pm or contact her direct for other times. Audience participation on the harmonies of Twist and Shout is actively encouraged and a rousing conclusion to a day ashore.
What did you think of this story? Post your comments below.
This story was first published in Telegraph Cruise.
As a seafaring, island nation, we have traditionally looked to the sea as our defence in times of war, our trading link with the wider world and a source of natural resources.
This link provides the basis for the SeaBritain 2005 festival, a year-long programme of events and festivals based around the theme of Britain’s maritime history, culminating in the Trafalgar Weekend (21-23 October) with events throughout the UK and the Channel Islands.
“The sea touches our lives in countless ways,” says David Quarmby, Chairman, SeaBritain 2005.
“Being surrounded by sea has defined our history, our culture, our national psyche, how as a trading nation we have prospered, and the kind of recreation at which our nation excels.”
The Battle of Trafalgar was a defining moment in British history, whereby Admiral Lord Nelson saw off the invasion threat led by Napoleon, against a combined fleet of French and Spanish ships.
He may have been fatally wounded by a sniper’s bullet on October 21, 1805 – you can still visit the spot where he fell on board Trafalgar – but his legacy lives on. Particularly, that is, in Portsmouth, the festival’s hub city.
Portsmouth is where Captain Cook arrived after circumnavigating the world, Captain Bligh of Bounty fame sailed from its harbour and Lord Nelson himself set sail in his flagship vessel, HMS Victory, in 1805 for the Battle of Trafalgar.
Today the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is home to some naval big-hitters, including the restored HMS Victory, the oldest commissioned warship in the world.
It also houses Henry VIII’s warship, the Mary Rose. This was raised to the surface in 1982 after 17 years of salvaged operations and now restored to its Tudor glory.
But the festival, and wider links to our maritime heritage are not confined solely to Portsmouth.
As the festivities get underway, we profile six of Britain’s best coastal cities for messing about on the water this spring.
Maritime heritage and Liverpool’s history are inextricably linked, a fact recognised by Unesco’s decision to award the Liverpool waterfront [pictured above] its World Heritage status.
The abundance of merchant’s houses reflects the city’s erstwhile status as a major commercial port, while amongst the warehouse conversions, the Merseyside Maritime Museum today traces the links between the city and the sea.
Liverpool has designated 2005 ‘Year of the Sea’ as part of its Capital of Culture 2008 countdown. As such, the 25th annual Mersey River Festival will be the biggest ever this summer from June 10-13.
But if culture doesn’t float your boat, don’t worry. The Albert Dock has some of the city’s best shopping, while Mersey Ferries still ply the famous ferry cross the Mersey.
The redevelopment of Bristol’s harbourside over the last ten years has re-established the city’s links with the sea.
This year also sees the completion of a conservation project to restore both Brunel’s iron-hulled ship, the SS Great Britain and the Victorian dockyard it was built in, to their original Victorian glory.
The Bristol Harbour Festival runs 31 July to 1 August this summer with a slew of family events.
Meanwhile, if you fancy something more active, the Severn Way is the longest riverside walk in England and terminates in Bristol.
If you prefer getting in the water than admiring it, the World Heritage Roman Baths in nearby Bath have reclaimed the steaming dipping pools for public use after years of restoration.
The redevelopment of Cardiff Docks has seen a run-down area transformed into a ‘little Covent Garden by the sea, especially since the opening of the Millennium Centre last November.
The Cardiff Bay Regatta (July 28-29) kicks off this summer’s Cardiff Harbour Festival along the waterfront, while Nelson Week has family activities, such as visits to the tall ship Tenacious.
Further afield, Wales plays host this year to two major maritime festivals: the Swansea Bay Summer Festival in June with the Welsh Power Boat Grand Prix; and the Cleddu Waterway Festival in Milford Haven.
Meanwhile, Wales continues to act as a magnet to adrenaline-seekers trying new sports such as kitesurfing and coast steering, especially around the Gower Peninsula and the Pembrokeshire coast.
With the Atlantic crashing in on the beaches of Cornwall and the heart of Britain’s burgeoning waterspouts industry located along the coast, the South West is natural seafaring territory.
This year, the National Maritime Museum Cornwall in Falmouth hosts a major surfing exhibition from July 1 to December 1 in its Flotilla Gallery, celebrating Britain’s surf culture.
Newquay, the home of British surfing, boasts the Extreme Academy for the pick of adrenaline adventures.
Otherwise, nearby Plymouth Hoe is rich in maritime heritage as Frances Drake’s favourite bowels green and the National Maritime Aquarium Plymouth has the deepest tank in Europe.
The Northeast’s cultural hub has transformed its waterfront in recent years with projects such as the award-winning Gateshead Millennium Bridge and the Sage Gateshead performing arts centre bringing new vibrancy to the area.
This summer the city will launch its own River Festival, the main event of which will be The Tall Ships’ Race, whereby 120 tall ships will drop anchor in the Tyne before setting sail across the North Sea to Norway.
The Northeast also features some of the best coarse and game fishing in the UK, not to mention great bracing walks, accompanied by seaside vistas, along the spectacular Cleveland Way walking trail.
From the Tall Ships on the River Clyde, to the erstwhile Royal Yacht Britannia now berthed in the port of Leith, just outside Edinburgh, Scotland is also celebrating its maritime heritage this year.
This year’s Edinburgh Military Tattoo, running August 5-27, has a strong nautical theme, while the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival, held in Portsoy Harbour, Aberdeenshire, from July 2-4, features one of the largest collections of traditional boats in the UK.
Meanwhile, the Glasgow River Festival celebrates its second year in 2005 with events along The Clyde. Special events will take place over the weekend at venues along the waterfront and on the river itself, including Glasgow Science Centre, The Tall Ship at Glasgow Harbour and the SECC.
This summer will also see further completion of the Waterfront Edinburgh project, one of Scotland’s largest urban regeneration schemes to transform derelict land around Granton.
What did you think of this story? Post your comments below.
This story was first published in Hotline magazine in 2005.