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The day started somewhat ominously – at a quarter past eight I heard a “code Alpha” (medical emergency) announcement, and when we went ashore there was an ambulance parked next to the ship.

We had booked a trip to Santiago de Compostela, and this departed a little after 9:30. The drive there took about 90 minutes and was both interesting and beautiful. Our tour guide was a Galiician and told us abot the way of life of the people of Galicia and how it differed from the normal image of the Spanish way of life, e.g. lots of sunshine, flamenco, bullfighting, etc – none of this in Galicia. We also learned about the growth and success of Vigo itself.

When we arrived in Santiago we were both surprised at the number of pilgrims; I don’t think we’d realised the extent to which Santiago remains a current place of pilgramage. After arriving the tour group worked its way towards the cathedral which we reached at about 11:30. Both Val and I became uncomfortable once we entered the cathedral. There was a mass scheduled for noon, and the cathedral was already full of groups of pilgrims for whom the coming service was (presumably) the conclusion and highlight of their pilgrimage. However there were also a number of tour groups, not just from Ventura, all with their tour guides equipped with their lollipops and trying to explain the features of the cathedral, and the clash between the pilgrims’ attempts to prepare themselves for the service and our ‘this is a tourist attraction’ approach was very jarring. Many of the tourists were flashing away with their cameras even though there were signs posted saying that flash photography was forbidden. We both felt that our presence was intrusive, but we felt unable to simple walk away as we needed to stay with the tour party. We were pleased when the Cathedral visit came to an end.

Then we walked around the town for a short while for a period of free time, but didn’t really find anything exciting. At this time we were feeling pretty unimpressed by the excursion, but its next (and final) stage went a long way towards redeeming it. We were due to receive refreshments, and this was done at a deluxe hotel next to the cathedral which had previously been a ‘hospital’ for pilgrims. The building itself was wonderful, with a succession of delightfulful courtyards and high-ceilinged rooms. We spent half an hour or just over at this spot, and the quiet, calm and general beauty of the place made a big impression. After that it was back to the coach where the guide gave us more information about Vigo and Galicia, and we got back to Ventura just before three o’clock.

The morning had been a mixture of sunshine and cloud, and was cooler, but for the sail away period there was a bit more sun. We were able to sit out at at the Terrace and enjoyed a glass of wine.

I’m really doubtful about Vigo as a port of call, but I can see why P&O use it – whether outbound or inbound there’s a one day passage between there and Southampton. In terms of itinerary planning it appears to be perfect. The problem is that it is a medium-large industrial/commercial port with not a huge amount of attractions close by.

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