Day 3 |
May 09, 2012

La Coruña, Spain 

By Hans-Peter Reinthaler, Biologist

Co-ordinates: 43°22´N, 08°23´W
Weather: overcast
Air Temperature: 23°C

After a not so smooth night along the west coast of the Iberian Peninsula, the morning at sea turned out to be calm and nice. Weather was overcast but it was not raining. During the day, the weather got better and in the evening blue sky appeared between the clouds.

The morning went by very quickly as it was filled up with a lecture as well as a Recap & Briefing. My colleague Imogen talked in her lecture about the hazards of a pilgrimage journey. Also the question of what possessed people to go hundreds of miles, often under inhuman conditions and sometimes perishing on the way, was analyzed. From maps and motivation to souvenirs and shrines, the lecture discussed travel in the round as well for spiritual reasons.

Shortly after the lecture finished, our Expedition Leader Juan gave a short briefing on our activities in the afternoon regarding the excursions to the pilgrimage center of Santiago de Compostela.

At around 1:00 pm, the Silver Explorer sailed past the Roman Light House at the entrance to the port of La Coruna, and soon afterwards, the ship was tied up on the pier. After a short clearance formality, the excursion to Santiago started. It took the bus approximately one hour to get to the parking lot of the city. It was a short drive through the town of La Coruña and the rest was along the highway, passing by the slightly undulated and green landscape of Galicia. From the parking area, the local guide brought us first to the main square, Praza do Obradoiro, with the dominating Baroque façade of the cathedral. The cathedral itself is impressive building made out of granite, which had been brought from quarries nearby to rebuild the cathedral after it was destroyed by the Moorish during their occupation of Spain.

During the extensive visit of the inside of the church, one could really admire the fantastic architecture and sacral art displayed there, especially as Imogen had given a wonderful pre-cap this morning on the cathedral of Santiago the Compostela. One of the most impressive elements in the church is the Portico de Gloria (Doorway of Glory) with its statues of apostles and prophets dating back to the 12th century. Another highlight is the High Altar and the silver mantle of the 13th-century statue of St. James behind the altar. On a short roundabout walk in the vicinity of the cathedral, our local guide tried to bring the atmosphere of pilgrims back in the medieval days closer to our guests, pointing out important buildings like the monastery of San Praio, one of the oldest in Santiago, the Praza das Praterias and of course the Hostel de los Reyes Catolicos, which was, in that time, an inn and hospital for the pilgrims.

Today the Hostel is an excellent hotel and where we enjoyed a musical performance and a taste of local cuisine. But this only after some free time during which our guests could explore the Old Town of Santiago de Compostela on their own. At the event in the hotel, typical local food like tapas, empanadas and refreshments were served.

After a one-hour bus ride back to the ship our guests were happy, first to have enjoyed such a wonderful day in one of the most interesting cities on our voyage, and second to enjoy our fabulous dinner in The Restaurant.