The Braemar Diaries

It will take two days sailing to get to Lisbon although it will be the first port of call. Until my number was called, I wait to forbear in the embarkation lounge and then quickly make my way to the cabin on deck 6. I’m right at the front with a huge window failed to spot the bows as they’ve upgraded me. There’s one bed that’s good for two, plenty hanging space, and right by the window is a dressing table, and provided with two armchairs.

Thistle, Grampian and The Palms –  the three restaurants at Braemar and I’m heading to dinner in the Thistle. This is the biggest and I’m shown to a large table with some singles who I’ll get to be acquainted with very well over the next few days. For the menu, a choice of two starters, three kinds of soups, two salads and four main courses, with the addition of fish of the day and a British specialty. The servers are friendly, the food is satisfying and they keep the wine popped up.

Although the Braemar is smaller than most, this is my first cruise on a large boat, at a little over 24,000 tonnes and accommodating only 930 passengers. The decks are composed of eight, and in the topmost, there are two pools and two Jacuzzis and rows of sunbeds.  

Historic town of Obidos and Lisbon

The sun begins to break through and the ship settles into a pleasant rhythm after spending two days of rough seas. Before pursuing a trip to the historic town of Obidos, I explored the historic Alfama district.

This place is so packed during summer with tourists that it’s almost unfeasible to walk in the main street but this time of year, it’s satisfyingly quiet. As there’s no guide rail and the path is quite narrow, I do a tour of the ramparts, not for the faint-hearted.

Portimao, Algarve

The evening was spent sailing and the following day brought us to Portimao, on the Algarve. Sardine fishing is the main industry here and you can sample the catch freshly grilled at small restaurants on the seafront.

A wide stretch of golden sand backed by rocky cliffs is the Praia de Rocha, as I’m fancying a swim so I made my way to the beach. Not warm enough to stay, the water is fresh and I’m one of the few brave souls to manage it.

Seville, Spain

We enter the Guadalquivir River which leads to the city of Seville early the next morning. After 49 nautical miles, we moor right in the heart of the city as the Braemar is one of the few ships able to navigate the narrow channel.

After St Peter’s and St Paul’s, and contains the elaborate tomb of Christopher Columbus, the famous Gothic cathedral is the third largest church in Europe. Taking a sequence of ramps, rather than steps, I walk up to the top of the 100m Giralda tower, previously a minaret.