Co-ordinates: 43°22´N, 08°23´W
Air Temperature: 25°C
The morning went by very quickly as it was filled up with a lecture and a Recap & Briefing. My colleague Imogen talked in her lecture about the hazards of a pilgrimage journey. Also she analyzed the question of what possessed people to go hundreds of miles, often under inhuman conditions and sometimes perishing on the way. From maps and motivation to souvenirs and shrines, the lecture discussed travel in the round as well for spiritual reasons.
After a smooth crossing of the Golf of Biscaya, the Silver Explorer reached the Port of La Coruña at about 11.30 am. Shortly afterwards the Silver Explorer sailed past the Roman Light House on the entrance to the port of La Coruna and soon afterwards the ship was tied up on the pier. Weather was sunny and mild – a perfect day for our excursion to Santiago de Compostela. It took the bus approximately one hour to get to the parking lot of the city. Then it was a short drive through the town of La Coruña and the slightly undulated and green landscape of Galicia.
Our 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 was 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. One of the most impressive elements 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 roundwalk in the vicinity of the cathedral, our local guide tried to bring the atmosphere of pilgrims back in that 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 taste of local cuisine like tapas and empanadas.
After the one hour bus ride back to the ship, our guests were happy to have enjoyed such a wonderful day in one of the most interesting cities on our voyage, and secondly, to enjoy a fabulous dinner in The Restaurant.