| Cunard Queen Victoria 2016
Spain & Morocco and Canary Islands Celebrations
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To Follow. The only interesting part was moving stateroom from the Princess Grill to a Britannia ocean view stateroom. There was some basic shopping in Southampton as well. The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra chorus sang in the Grand Lobby and later in the Queens Room.
Vigo is a popular port because not only is it a pleasant city but it is also the gateway for tours to the famous pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela, 96kms away, which we have previously visited.
December is not the best time for long distance tours because of the chance of bad weather and so our visit was limited to visiting Vigo and then only the city centre. The Queen Victoria was berthed in the usual place which is close to the Centro Comercial and leaving the port we were greeted by El Corte Ingles which offered free maps and a shuttle bus to their store. Usually our first target is the little market to buy cheeses but we had already filled our minibar on the previous cruise, including the special pilgrimage cheese which has the shell embossed on top. We had also already purchased several typical Spanish cakes but eventually found the almond shortbread, marked with the pilgrims cross, at the delicatessen opposite the cathedral. The town was very quiet - we were too early again.
The narrow streets of the Old Town ended and the wide avenues of the main modern town began. The flying metal sculpture marks the Praza Porta do Sol and the start of Principe Urzaiz. Here was planted a large conical Christmas tree. We passed more interesting Christmas decorations as we retraced our steps to find the viewpoint towards the harbour, and passed a shoe shop (wrong size!) and another really nice cake shop.
When the weather is good it is useful exercise to climb up to the Castle on the hill. This is done in two stages, the first being to the level of the monument by Desiderio Pernas, made in 1967 to commemorate the battle of Rande in 1702. During the War of Spanish Succession an Anglo-Dutch squadron defeated the Indies fleet, protected by Spanish and French warships. The fleet was finishing the Atlantic crossing with a valuable cargo of silver, and under English harassment took refuge in the Bay of Vigo where they managed to unload most of their riches before many of their warships were sunk in battle. The monument includes three anchors of the sunken warships. There is an excellent view from the top of the hill. Unfortunately this visit was on a Saturday and the open air archaeological museum at the base of the hill was only open too late in the afternoon. It has been several years since we visited on a day when it was open in the morning but it is possible to get a good view by peering over the fence. Nothing seems to have changed since our previous visit.
Descending to the town then turning along Don Bosco, we passed the Dia supermarket, then the Mercado Progresso which was very quiet. This road leads to the Museo MARCO, the Museo de Arte Contemporanea de Vigo. It is free to look around, although a 1 euro coin, refunded, is needed for the lockers for bags. The Museo MARCO is in the old Justice building. When we visited there were two exhibitions, which vary through the year. The one exhibition was of works by women artists in Galicia in the 20th century. Upstairs was an exhibition Cabello/Carceller, "focused on the criticism of hegemonic visual culture". We preferred the paintings and sculptures downstairs.
By the time we got back to the square and the cathedral the shops were closed for lunch and everywhere was full of families eating and drinking. It was Saturday, and Christmas Eve, and the whole town was starting to celebrate.
The high-level walkway led directly into the Centro Comercial. The escalator down brought us back to pavement level and a Clarks Shoe shop (too expensive!) and another impressive Belén Nativity tableau, this one with moving parts and flowing water. There were modern features, parking for camels, health and safety rules at the construction site, alongside the use of an elephant to push goods uphill. People spent a lot of time studying the detail and marveling at all the work involved in producing the different events. The classic nativity scene is only a small part of everything which is happening.
It was then just a short walk to the Queen Victoria. We were looking forward to eating goose for dinner, as it is a Cunard tradition on Christmas Eve.
Vigo is a major Spanish seaport and shipbuilding centre with a strong fishing fleet and mussel farms. It is a popular port we have been to many times, five times in the last 5 years although we have not always stayed in Vigo itself. It is possible to take a tour to the famous pilgrimage town of Santiago di Compostela from Vigo, we been there once and have no wish to repeat the trip - it is a very long day from Vigo and even when the ship is berthed for a full day the bus tours leave very early. As an alternative, taken whilst on the Queen Mary 2 in 2013 is to take the train to Pontevedra which is the second largest "old town" in Galicia. Pontevedra is on the southern or "Portuguese" branch of the route of the Way of Saint James followed by pilgrims for many centuries to Santiago de Compostela where his relics are venerated. Pontevedra was once a major shipbuilding port and Columbus's Santa Maria was built there.
We often just wander around the town instead of long trips and inevitably climb up to the El Castro Fortress with its magnificent views, passing the Santa Maria Cathedral which one should go into as it is only open early in the day. The shop opposite sells almond shortbread of Santiago - a delicacy which is always on our shopping list and is also available in some of the supermarkets (there are two towards the railway station and one in the road to the left as you pass the police station climbing up to the Fortress). The buildings one passes have pretty iron balconies, we recall a shop which sold cane garden furniture and baskets but could not find it last visit.
We climb and our first viewpoint is at the little park adjacent to the hospital from which we descend to the Paseo de Granada and then ascend to the Parque do Castro. There is what appears to be a more direct route but it does not seem to go through. The park area is large, with terracing and neat gardens, leading to the walls of the fortress. From the Monument a los Galeones de Rande, three large anchors, there was a good view down to the port and the red funnel of the ship. We remember a large building within the fortress walls, but it was now derelict with broken windows and graffiti. More climbing and we reached the entry arch to the fortress. Inside there were pretty gardens, a fountain, and more views down of Vigo.
At the foot of the hill there is a new outdoor museum, where the remains of the Oppidum of Vigo have been excavated and three buildings of the original style have been constructed which portray the site as it would have been in Roman times. To the south a network of channels have been found indicating some type of manufacturing was taking place there, possibly dyeing. Entry is free and there was a board-walk to prevent damage of the ground. Unfortunately it is only open on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and Saturday afternoon.
Continuing downhill, it is time to search for the Indoor Fish Market. One reaches the Ribera de Berbes with the monument to the fishermen, and the Cruceiro cross. It is an open space and one might expect to see the Fish Market here, but no - instead walk along the Canovas del Castillo and one comes upon the entrance. If homeward bound we always purchase local cheese from the market, the rounded pyramid shaped smoked cheeseand the squat round cheese in a wooden box with the shell symbol of the Camino de Santiago (Pilgrims route) are favourites. We also buy boxes of the local Galician almond cakes/shortbreads (Tarta de Almendras Especial Camino de Santiago) which have the cross of the pilgrims path.
We have often been tempted by a lunch of fresh fish and local oysters; the restaurants full of staff we recognise being an indication of the quality. But here one is close to the ship and it is easier to take everything back and keep the cheese cold in our fridge. As one passes the Shopping Centre one is often serenaded by a group of local musicians.
After a quick lunch in the Lido, out we go again, exploring along the waterfront beyond the cruise terminal for boats to the islands, and then to the gardens Jardines de Elduayen. Jose Elduayen e Gorriti (1823-1898) was an engineer and politician. He was Minister of State, Government, Foreign Affairs and Treasury and the monument has four female figures which symbolise these four Ministerial positions. The monument was cast in Barcelona and the anchors and chains in Vigo. One building on the edge of the park caught the eye - it had a colourful and unusual domed roof.
We walk across towards cafes and more trees and one is suddenly in a much bigger and more interesting park with fountains and formal gardens. The maps mark it as Praza de Compostela. Walking up hill to the Policarpo Sanz Street, which is broad with many solid significant and beautiful buildings - including the Theatre, the Arts and Crafts house, and lots of local, national and international banks. A feature is El Sireno, a statue on top of two tall granite blocks.
|Copyright © Peter and Pauline Curtis
Content revised: 31s t December, 2016