''Vintage Europe'' Voyage 7109 Day 4

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Day 4 - May 6, 2011 - At Sea en route to Bilbao

By Claudia Holgate, Climatologist

Co-ordinates: 43º41’N, 04º07’W
Weather: Overcast to partly cloudy
Air Temperature: 17C
Wind speed 34km/h North Westerly
Pressure 1006 hPa


Today was a day at sea, which to most people would mean a relaxing day to recuperate after two busy days with long, but fascinating outings. However, on the Silver Explorer there is always a lot to do and learn, especially on sea days, and today was no exception.

We started off the day with a leisurely breakfast in The Restaurant, followed by our first lecture at 10am by Ray Russell entitled “Moorish Spain, the Reconquista and the Crusades”. He spoke about the Moors and how after arriving in 711, they spread throughout Spain and into France, both conquering and setting examples of tolerance, culture and learning. Ray illustrated the high points of Moorish hegemony and intellectual life as well as the Reconquista and Crusades against them.

Shortly after Ray’s lecture, we had another lecture, this time by his wife, Lucy. Lucy is a musician and cultural expert and spoke on “Mozart’s Operas: What Cannot be Spoken Must be Sung!” Mozart’s great Italian operas are exemplified by Figaro, which included a revolutionary challenge to the aristocracy throughout Europe. The perceptive character portrayal witnessed in Mozart’s glorious music moves us today just as it did 120 years ago and Lucy’s lecture was a wonderful view into the operas and their influence throughout the ages.

We had a short break from learning for lunch, with the usual exceptional buffet spread, after which we headed back into The Theatre to listen to Gordon Corrigan giving us some background to the Peninsula War. This was the Iberian Peninsula war between 1807 and 1814, and Gordon explained the political background to the war and the major players, their strengths and weaknesses. He described the difficulties of conducting military operations as part of a fractious coalition and how tactics, technology and logistics enables the ‘Mangy English leopards’ ultimately to prevail.

With a mere half an hour break, we all headed up to the Panorama Lounge where I hosted Team Trivia during tea time. Team Trivia is always fun and we had active participation. Bruce Hunter, our guest lecturer on wine, then ran a brilliant wine tasting with wines of the Marquis de Riscal from the Rioja area of Spain. Bruce has a way of explaining what one is looking for in wines that makes wine tasting so accessible to everyone, with the “Five S’s” of wine tasting, namely see, swirl, smell, sip and swallow, and what you should be doing during each of these phases. The wines were superb and everyone enjoyed themselves.

Our last activity for the day was a Recap & Briefing for tomorrow in Bilbao, which had everyone excited about our trip to the Guggenheim Museum. And so, we headed off to The Restaurant for a spectacular dinner prepared by Executive Chef Norbert, before heading off to our suites for a well deserved sleep.

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