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|Cunard Queen Elizabeth 2018
This was a fortnight cruise from Southampton to the Canary Islands returning via Funchal in Madeira and Vigo in the Galician region of Spain. The ports were all ones we know well and have written about extensively in the past so we plan to only add a little about areas and activities which were new to us in each port along with any extra or improved pictures and pointers to previous visits to cover the remainder. In order the ports were: Southampton, 3 sea days, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria, La Palma, Tenerife, Funchal - Madeira overnight, sea day, Vigo - Spain, sea day, Southampton
We left Southampton as night fell and we passed the Queen Mary 2 moored at Ocean Terminal with all her lights blazing and there was an interchange of whistle blasts. The initial 3 days were at sea as we went straight down to the Canaries. We partly used these quiet days to finish our write up of the previous cruise on the Queen Victoria in the Mediterranean 2018 which had far too few sea days. There was a "Lunch and Learn" event in the Verandah Restaurant on the third day which was excellent both for the food and the 8 glasses of wine which accompanied the 5 courses - it is interesting to try the interactions of different wines with foods. The majority of dishes were from normal lunch menu extended by an Amuse Bouche an an additional starter to give the five courses, 3 of which had two wines served in parallel. Unfortunately there are plans to change the format of the Verandah Restaurant and turn it into a Steak House style so we planned to have far more meals in the Verandah than we would usually have on a short cruise.
We did not do much that afternoon especially as there were the World Club parties that evening where we were encouraged to attend both as we the 'runners up' in journeys. Although we were far short of the leading couple who had spent 2,500 days on Cunard ships having completed over 20 World Cruises, it was still worth another big bunch of flowers for Pauline and a few glasses of wine! It was difficult for Pete to get to the gym at 0600 the following morning and he complained his performance was way down.
Lanzarote is quite different to the other popular Canary Islands and one we have visited less often. The total population is only 106,000 of which 45,000 live in the capital, Arrecife. Previously we had a split holiday sometime in the 1980s, partly in Playa Blanca and then crossing by ferry to nearby Fuertaventura. Then we had a single visit by ship in 2010 when we spent our time in Arrecife. Our memories from these previous visits were of a dry island dominated by volcanoes and high winds where wine is made from grapes grown in little hollows in the volcanic dust and protected from the wind by a dry-stone wall of lava. Although we visited Lanzarote in 2017 on the Christmas Cruise in 2017 on the Queen Victoria we did not spend much time in Arrecife. This visit we decided to take a slow day only visiting Arrecife.
We needed to catch a shuttle bus into town from where we were moored. It was calm and the the saltwater lagoon, El Charco de San Gines was full of fishing boats and had reflections on the water. We walked round following largely the route we had taken on previous visits but there is always something new or something we missed last time. This time we noticed a new whale skeleton as well as statues of a local sport at carnival time in Arrecife involving traditional combat between players (los Buches) in traditional costume protected by masks using huge swollen fish bladders. We continued along the long promenade past the Parque Jose Ramirez Cerda and the Arrecife Gran Hotel, the only high rise in town, to the Playa del Reducto and its clean yellow sand, very empty at this time of year. There were a few swimmers but Pete declined after putting a foot in the water. We turned at the bus station at the end of the beach noting the frequency for the future.
This time we walked out and went round the museum in the Castillo de San Gabriel, normally a charge of 3 Euros but free as the machines for selling tickets were broken. It gave some nice views as well as a lot of interesting information about the island. Although there were few artifacts there were lots of information boards but none in English. There was a lot more examples of the costumes and masks of the Buches. For the first time the 'Cathedral', the 17th century Iglesia de San Gines, named after the city's patron saint, was open so we took the opportunity to have a good look round before returning to the ship in time for a very late lunch at 1430.
This should be read in conjunction with our very full write up of our visit to the "Fire Mountains"as the Volcano Park at Timanfaya is best known, from our Christmas Cruise in 2017 on the Queen Victoria. That page also has a general background section drawing on all our previous visits and includes another 36 pictures of Lanzarote as well as a section on Cesar Manrique and his influence on Lanzarote.
Gran Canaria is the third largest of the seven Canary Islands. The port of Las Palmas is in the northeast corner of Gran Canaria. In previous visits we have taken tours inland taking us to the Crater of Bandama (at 574m), Teror which is known for its many beautiful balconies and for the cathedral of our Lady of the Pine which is one of the most important churches in the Canaries and the historic city of Arucas. Las Palmas is an interesting town with plenty to keep tourists busy. The ship is also moored right next to the large El Muelle shopping mall which proves very popular.
The Cruise Terminal and the port area is at the northern end of Las Palmas, a long straggling town. The port is however quite close to the Playa de Las Canteras across a narrow peninsula. The Playa de Las Canteras is probably the best of the local beaches as it is protected by a coral reef which protects it from the surf and provides safe swimming. The mile and a half long beach is lined by a wide promenade with many cafes and bars - a favourite of the staff we understand, especially a Chinese Restaurant providing an unlimited buffet. The interesting old part of the town round the Cathedral of Santa Ana is at the far end. It is a long but possible walk taking about 90 minutes. This time we made use of local buses.
We had a visit on our Christmas Cruise on the Queen Victoria in 2016 which we wrote up at great length and we included a section of additional Background from earlier visits. In looking at that write up we found we have little extra to add beyond an extended visit to the the Cathedral de Santa Ana and the associated museum, which do not open until 10 in the morning. We also paid extra to climb up the tower for the first time and that gave excellent views down into the Plaza Santa Ana and out to the brightly coloured housing clinging to the hillsides in the un against dark storm clouds.
We then visited the Museo Canaria where there are many exhibits covering the early inhabitants of the Canaries including models of their dwellings made of stone without mortar and roofs made of stone slabs and soil - a cross between a house and a cave. Perhaps the most memorable and famous exhibits are of mummies. The ancient Canarians preserved their dead by desiccation followed by wrapping of the body in a shroud made of layers of rush matting and pelts. A number of remarkably well preserved corpses are on display in a room also walled with cabinets holding thousands of skulls. There are x-ray pictures of the 'mummies' showing details of the bone structure indicating the age and often causes of death. There are also models reproducing the burial mounds and burial caves. When they are viewed the lights in the room are dimmed to increase the realism. We returned by bus and got off as it came close to the Playa Las Canteras and had a quick walk along the promenade and an ice-cream before returning to the ship past the Mercado de Puerto and the Castillo de la Luz.
In the evening we ate in the Verandah with a bottle of the Valdivieso Cabernet Franc we discovered during their wine tasting dinner on the South America Cruise
The Canary Island of La Palma is just 80nm to the west of Tenerife. We first visited it in 1988 on the Orient Express cruise and had enjoyed our visit. We had then taken a tour into the centre of the island and admired the volcanic craters, and on other visits we wanted to explore the city of Santa Cruz instead. Santa Cruz is said to be the second largest city of the island, and is the capital. The city was founded in 1493 and by the 17th century it was a flourishing commercial port and the third most important in the Spanish empire. We have been four times on recent Christmas cruises and in particular our Christmas Cruise on the Queen Victoria in 2017, was written up at great length and included a section with additional background from all the earlier visits so we have only a few updates to add at the end of this visit.
Santa Cruz de la Palma is a small and delightful capital city with good tourist shops for duty free and local crafts. We strolled along the main street, visiting the shops, churches and public buildings. The Plaza de Espana is said to have the best collection of Renaissance buildings in the Canaries. It has the Monteverde house, built after 1618 and renovated between 1922 and 1935, the Lorenzo house built in the 18th century and re-modeled in 1900, the public fountain built in 1588, the church and bell tower of El Salvador built in the early 16th century, the Massieu house from the 18th century, the Pereyra house built in 1864 and the Town Hall whose construction stretched from 1559 to 1587. Famous fortifications include the Castillo de Santa Catalina and Castillo de la Virgen on the northern end of town.
We first went into the Caja Canarias which was constructed as a family home between 1779 and 1785 for D. Juan Massieu Fierro, and then damaged by fire in 1990. The facade was restored but the rest of the building has been rehabilitated and is an art gallery. We stopped in the Plaza de San Francisco and went into the Chapel of the Third Franciscan Order. Opposite is the town hall- there was filming outside so we returned later.
We continued to the Mercado Municipal next to the Teatro Chico where we bought some cheese and sampled the local cane sugar drinks as usual. The next stop was at the Maritime Museum which is under new ownership and has had major refurbishment and is linked with a new sister Bajada Museum at the other end of town. This separates the maritime from the festival artefacts. After looking round all the new and refurbished exhibits and a pause for an ice-cream at the bakery next door, we walked back to find the Bajada Museum. On our way we stopped at the Town Hall. The upstairs floor can be visited by climbing the wooden staircase giving a chance to visit the Council Chamber and admire the carved wooden ceilings and painted walls.
The new Bajada Museum concentrates on the The Bajada de La Virgen de Las Nieves - the Quinquennial Festival. Last visit we caught the local bus to visit Las Nievas to see Our Lady of the Snows (the Virgin Mary) who is the patron saint of the island and is brought down every five years for the Bajada de La Virgen de Las Nieves It is a major festival lasting many weeks which includes the extremely popular Danza de Enanos, the dance of the dwarfs. The following is gleaned from many sources as well as the museum so do not take it as gospel:
The Canary bishop Bartolomé García Ximénez initiate the Quinquennial Bajada de La Virgen de Las Nieves in 1680. Bajada loosely translates as descent. The Bajada opens with the raising the flag of the Virgin at the church Iglesia de Encarnacion followed by carrying down the disassembled silver throne, no mean feat as it weighs several tons. Firstly, on a Monday, the young and old are enchanted by the pandora (lantern procession), in which the main actors are the children. On Tuesday the acrobats come on stage, on Wednesday the minuet is performed. Thursday is when the iconic and extremely popular Danza de Enanos (dance of the dwarfs) takes place. Each time the music is different and we have a CD covering many of the years in the last century. On Friday the performance of the Carro Alegórico y Triunfal (allegorical stage play) puts the audience in mood for the main Bajada.
On the Saturday many believers walk all the way up to the church de Las Nieves, many having first taken vows of gratitude to the Virgin. The pilgrims, now numbering tens of thousands, convoy the Virgen de Las Nieves the 5 km down to the capital. She spends the night of Sunday in the church La Encarnación. Next morning the Bajada continues. During the journey there is an important stop at Barranco de Las Nieves where the 'diálogo entre el castillo y la nave' (dialog between the fortress and the ship) takes place. Shouts echo between the upper castillo, across the canyon to the replica of Columbus' ship the Santa María on the Plaza de Alameda. The defenders of the city receive the ship with angry voices, until it is revealed that rather than pirates it is the Virgin Mary on board of the ship. This scene is followed by volleys from the cannons and the procession ceremonially enters the town.
The Virgen de Las Nieves remains in the church San Salvador on the Plaza de España until August 5th, when she returns back to her sanctuary, ascending Las Nieves together with a convoy of pilgrims. This ends the 40 days of devotion, excitement, sport, music and traditional events while the Palmeras and Palmeros already long for the next quinquennial which will be in 2020. The 5th August is however declared an annual holiday in La Palma during which the Virgin is worshipped and celebrated.
After the Museum we walked up narrow road towards the Hermit church and the viewpoint over the port. On our way back down we went into the Royal Cosmological Society. The ground floor is for research and is a quiet reading room but the historical room upstairs can be visited on reqquest. More of the building seemed to be in use than last time, but the display tables upstairs were empty. Previously we saw some of the original maps and an exhibition on Esperanto and its translation into Spanish. The building was originally a granary dating to 1646 and the Royal Cosmological Society was founded in 1881 and is the most enduring and important scientific institution in La Palma.
We have had two holidays in Tenerife recently as well as various visits on cruises so we have already covered most of what we did in depth so we will keep to a very short summary. On arrival we queued to leave the ship as soon as it was cleared and walked out of the port and to the bus station about thirty minutes away and caught the first fast bus from Santa Cruz to our favourite beach resort of Puerto de la Cruz on the west coast where we spent the day. The skies were completely clear and there were unusually clear views of Teide all day.
We looked into our favourite hotel. The H10 Tenerife Playa is a pleasant 4 star hotel with a direct sea view onto the black sand beach of Playa Martianez, and overlooking the Lido Martianez which was designed by Cesar Manrique. Manrique (1919-1992) was a native of Lanzarote and a famous contemporary artist who did projects in all the islands. The Tenerife Playa Hotel was one of the first hotels in Puerto and has one of the best positions if not the best. When we stayed there in the late 1970s it was already well established and linked to its new sister hotel, the Gran Tinerfe in Playa de las Americas which they had just completed building in the south.
We strolled the familiar streets and went into the Cathedral which was quiet and we got a few pictures which we think are better than usual. We had hoped to have the local rabbit for lunch at the Hotel Marquesa but the kitchen didn't open until 1300 and we would have had to wait. That was too late for the bus back so we settled for some of the local Canary Potatoes with the typical local hot sauces and a local beer. We strolled along the coast passing the bus station and as far as the main beach and then caught the bus back to Santa Cruz after a pleasant low stress day.
There is much more about Tenerife on the web site including Autumn in Tenerife 2017 - a fortnight break in Puerto de la Cruz at the Tenerife Playa and in A Christmas Cruise on the Queen Victoria in 2017 where we visited Candalaria instead of Puerto de la Cruz and also cover much of Santa Cruz itself.
We have stopped at Madeira many times on cruises and Funchal, the cable cars, Monte, the Botanical gardens and some of the levada (irrigation channel) walks have already been covered as well as the incredible New Year Fireworks. The Christmas Cruise on the Queen Elizabeth 2015 has a Levada walk from Monte to the Botanical Gardens and Christmas on the Queen Victoria 2017 is good for Funchal, the cable cars and Christmas celebrations. Christmas and New Year on the Queen Victoria 2016 has a video of the fireworks.
We had two full days in Madeira and the first day the Queen Elizabeth arrived on time, and the weather was forecast good for the morning. We had brought walking boots and planned to do a levada (irrigation channel) walk. Madeira has a huge network of these channels running round the hillsides and many offer good flat walks all round the year. Madeira also has a good network of local buses which offer exciting rides at high speed on the narrow steep and winding roads - they are not for the faint hearted. The bus station and ticket office is near the base of the cable car and offers a booklet of Tour Suggestions which has a useful bus route map. We had one from a previous year and decided to take the bus to Camacha, a village known for basket weaving then walk on the nearby levada - how far would depend on the weather.
We found there are several different bus firms in Madeira. We found a different bus going slightly earlier than we expected taking a less direct route around the coast which gave us a thrilling ride - all blind bends flat out with an occasional blast of the horn to leave cars hastily reversing out of our way. The bus was old and seemed to lack syncromesh as there was much double de clutching and there seemed to only be two throttle settings.
Camacha is at an altitude of 700 metres and is known as one of the most rural and picturesque villages in Madeira. It is very well known world wide for its wicker basket industry and colourful folklore traditions. Camacha is also the location where football was played for the first time in Portugal - in 1875 a young student Harry Hinton from Britain residing in Madeira was the first person to introduce a “Foot-Ball” and its rules to his fellow friends. We looked at the memorial to this game at the side of the square and the church on the other. The nearby Parish Church of Camacha was built in the late 18th century by Francisco Gonçalves Salgado. Its architecture is baroque and neoclassical and inside are tiles and paintings on the ceiling of the nave.
It was now time to visit the Wicker Works. The Café Relógio, an icon of Camacha, was commissioned by Dr. Michael Grabham and inaugurated in 1896. It contains the craft show for the "Wicker Works" where we found different kinds of pieces, made manually, ranging from furniture to kitchen utensils. It is on several floors and there were demonstrations taking place on the ground floor. We suspect it can get busy with tour buses but it was all very quiet with only a few walking groups and white vans when we were there.
Having had a pleasant break and a chance to recover from the bus journey it was time to start on our levada walk along the Levada of Serra do Faial which is a typical levada walk. The section we did was only about 7 kms long but there was a 75 metre climb and about a kilometre on roads to reach it. We had seen an entry signposted from the bus on our way into town and used that but there is another entry signed in town which gives a slightly longer walk as it joins the levada to the North of the town. the Levada of Serra do Faial is at 850m and most of it was dry. The walk passes through forest and built up areas. Along the rural sections you can see the large trees of the Laurissilva Forest classified by UNESCO with Natural World Heritage status. There is supposed to be a strong eucalyptus aroma in transition zones between Laurissilva and the most exotic forest but it was not strong during our walk. Overall a pleasant flat walk only spoilt by the building clouds looming over us although the sea and Funchal were bathed in sunlight.
We left the Levada close to Choupana as the next section on to Monte had been damaged during the fires of a couple of years ago and was still closed. We had previously done that section before the fire although were disappointed that it was not possible to complete the walk from Camacha to Monte. We descended past the new football stadium down extremely steep rough roads heading for the bus routes which one can join at a viewpoint. We found a small restaurant/bar where we had an excellent tomato soup full of vegetables with eggs floating on it and almost a meal in itself and added some of the local Bola bread soaked in garlic butter.
Suitable rested we continued the descent to the Botanical Gardens. By now we had descended nearly 2000 feet on 1 in 3 'cobbled' roads and we limped slowly round the gardens, in fact Pete still has bruises on some of his toes 2 weeks latter when writing this up. We ought to have know better as we did some of the descent when we walked from Monte in 2015. Most of the fire damage has now been made good since our last visit. We have written at length about the gardens in the past in the references above. We caught a bus from outside the Cable car terminal back to town having run the gauntlet of the increasing frantic taxi drivers as they saw their last business departing.
We went back to the ship to change and then went back into town to eat. We were seeking the local speciality Espada fish and had found an excellent restaurant in 2015. We eventually found it, now with a new chef and even better than before. its name had changed to match the chef from Taberna da Esquina to the Taberna da Ruel. We had an exceptionally good Carpacchio of Espada as a starter and then half of a fresh fish which we believe was a sea bream which was memorable. Last time we had their goat stew which had also been excellent. We had a bottle of vina verde Alberino, a local wine and the final bill came in at two thirds of what we had expected at 69 Euros with a free local liqueur to soften the blow!
The following morning was spent walking round the familiar sights of the town, including the cathedral and the Town Hall. The highlight is always a visit to the market where we purchased a huge box of Strelitzia flowers to bring back home, and a bunch for our cabin. We bought them from the lady we have used in the past and it turned out she had been selling them in the market for over 60 years and was into her eighties! We had too much shopping to walk back to the ship and the shuttle bus stops close to the Ritz Hotel which has good icecreams and excellent enormous traditional cream custard tarts - normally 2.50 euros each but cheaper in a box of 3.
There was a very well attended Remembrance Service, with the Theatre full at all levels, lead by the captain and with readings from many of the senior officers. It ended with singing the British national anthem then a solo trumpet played the Last Post, followed by two minutes silence, and the final trumpet Reveille. It was a very proper, British and emotional traditional service.
When we left and walked through the Queens Room we found the Chefs had set up a cooking exhibition with most of their production available to try. There were several ice carvings, examples of sugar work, cake icing and chocolate truffles had been made by the hundred. The fruit carvings in the form of flowers were notable and it is always good to meet the chefs and get a chance to congratulate and thank them for their efforts. We took far too many pictures as we always do.
Our main objective in Vigo was to purchase a whole Jamón from one of the famous Galician Hogs to take back and use as the basis for a few small parties before Christmas. So before continuing, I am going to give some background about Jamón Ibérico which is arguably the finest ham in the world although we were not intending to bring home the highest acorn fed quality although we occasionally buy small amounts whilst in Spain.
The story of Jamón Ibérico, in particular the Bellota ham is steeped in the history of Spain. The ancient oak pastures of Spain, the noble black Ibérico hog, the mountain air which caresses each ham transforms it into one of the world's most exquisite foods. It is an art where patience, skill and adherence to traditional methods all play their part. Firstly one point which many people do not realise is that jamón only refers to hams from the hind legs, front legs are referred to as paleta.
The origin of the Ibérico pig is lost in history but goes back to the time of the cavemen who decorated the caves of Spain. These are the original swine of Spain, tamed over many millennia. The Ibérico hog is big, with slender legs and a very long snout. Ibérico pigs are black, with very little hair. They are easily distinguished by their black hooves which remains on the ham throughout the curing process and distinguishes it from other lesser hams such as the Seranno. They are a much fatter animal with veins of fat running through the muscle of the hog. This, along with the large amount of fat layering each ham, allows the Ibérico hams to be cured much longer, resulting in a much more complex, intense flavour with a note of sweetness that is unparalleled.
Not all Ibérico hogs live free in the Spanish countryside or or have the highest classification of Bellota. Most Jamón Ibérico is from Ibérico hog who live normal lives eating corn and other feed. It is still an excellent ham, benefiting from the noble lineage of the Ibérico pig but for the ultimate ham, you must add 'bellota', or acorns. Jamón Ibérico de Bellota will cost many times as much as a normal Ibérico ham because they are acorn fed. If they have the Bellota accolade hogs will have finish their lives on the dehesa, in small family clans, until their day of “sacrifice” arrives. The favourite pastime of Ibérico hogs is rooting around the pastures in the dehesa, foraging for acorns. This diet of acorns makes for beautifully marbled raw meat, packed with natural antioxidants – a key ingredient for extended curing of the ham. The Jamón have a number of classifications with increasing importance being placed on the purity of breeding with black label being the highest. Images of acorns and dehesas on product labels are restricted to hams that qualify as bellota.
Many centuries ago, the rulers of western Spain had the foresight to decree that each town and village should maintain pastures studded with oak trees, called the dehesa, for the long term stability of the region. This mixed forest and pasture had many purposes. The holm and cork oaks provided firewood for the people, shade for the plants and livestock, cork products, and acorns (bellota) during fall and winter. During the spring and summer cattle and sheep grazed the fields. During the fall and winter, when the acorns are falling from the trees, the hogs were released to fatten up. The dehesa came under pressure for farming and housing but the renaissance of the Ibérico ham thirty years ago has helped preserving this jewel of Spain. Ibérico pigs love acorns and each pig can eat ten kilos of acorns a day. When the pigs are released onto the dehesa at the age of about 10 months they weigh in at about 90 kgs each. They gain up to 1.5 kgs of fat each day. After 3 to 4 months of the period known as the ‘montanera' each hog (males and females) roughly doubles their weight and once they reach the approved weight they are ready for slaughter, traditionally a family affair.
A pig would be slaughtered and the whole family would gather to preserve the meat for the rest of the year. Chorizo, salchichón and morcilla sausages would be made on the spot. Choice cuts would be set aside to be eaten fresh. And the all important fatty legs would be packed in sea salt and hung to dry in the cool winter air. This process still continues in some towns as it has for thousands of years. Over the last century, family factories have also begun curing these hams in large quantities using the same methods. The hams are left to absorb the salt for a few weeks, then they are hung in 'factories' that still have open windows to allow the mountain air to circulate around the hams. Ibérico hams usually hang for about two years, Jamón Ibérico de Bellota hams for longer periods. This unusually long curing process is possible because of the huge amount of fat on each ham and, in the case of the Bellota hams, the antioxidant quality of their diets. Over the curing period they loose nearly half their weight as they dry and the fat drips away. An incredible transformation occurs as the winter moves to spring and summer - the salted ham starts to sweat. The salt preserves them against bacteria whilst major chemical changes occur. The meat becomes dryer, and cools as the second winter commences. The special aspect of Ibérico (Acorn fed) ham is that it can go through this cycle two or three times. The result is a build up of complex, volatile molecules that transform it from a piece of pork into a gastronomic experience. With the Bellota hams, the most miraculous transformation is of the fats. Through this period of heating and cooling, salting and drying, the fats are broken down. Because of the antioxidants in the acorns and the unique curing process, the saturated fats are changed into healthy mono-unsaturated fats high in oleic acid. The ultimate result is long, thin leg of ham with a deep golden hue to its fat. The meat is dark red, marbled with veins of fat.
We were looking for a Jamón between the basic ones we had seen in supermarkets in the Canaries as low as 32 euros and the Black footed acorn fed ones matured for 5 years described above costing many hundreds of euros. We first looked in the market and in particular at the lady with the stall where we usually buy our cheese. She did not have a large selection but gave us samples to try from two. We then took a walk around the town and looked at the small supermarkets and other markets before returning to buy our whole Jamón from her. The one we bought had the advantage that the foot had been removed making it much much easier to get into a bag for the return to the UK and less conspicuous. It weighed in at 7.6 Kg, had been aged for 12 months or more and could keep for another 6 - it cost us 52 Euros and was the quality the locals themselves would buy. We added one of the local smoked cheeses shaped like a conical pyramid whilst we were at it. We carried it all back to the ship and got some strange looks and questions when it went through the Spanish x-ray! At least there is no problem with importing certified produce whilst we are still in the EU.
We then went out again and did our our normal walk up via the Cathedral to the Fort to get a bit of exercise and look at the views and then back down past the El Sireno which is Vigo’s monument par excellence. This sculpture by Galician artist Francisco Leiro is one of the symbols of modern Vigo; its style and the very high pedestal make it stand out. The sculpture was installed in 1991 and represents an imaginary character, a hybrid of fish and man. We walked down the main shopping street and back through the park by the coast. We passed several shops just selling hundreds of their own production of Jamón Ibérico de Bellota some at mouth watering prices and bought one small sample to try. We may consider one of their more basic Jamón or Paleta next time from Montechico who also claim to deliver anywhere in Europe. We have been to Vigo many times on recent cruises and in particular our Christmas Cruise on the Queen Victoria in 2016, was written up at great length and included a section with additional background from all the earlier visits so we will not go into detail but only add a few extra pictures.
The last day at sea was very busy as we had the Senior Officers party in the morning immediately followed by our complementary lunch in the Verandah. There was also a Cunard World Club wine tasting which we did not get to immediately after lunch. We had also missed the Galley tour in the morning as we had been on it several times and Pauline needed time to pack! The meal in the Verandah was significant and was a priority as the Queen Elizabeth has the last remaining Verandah on the Queens before conversion to a Steakhouse format so we were eating the last lunch from the current menu on the last day. We will miss them.