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15th November, 2012

El Ferrol

El Ferrol

A relatively slow speed run and still that long swell from somewhere deep in the North Atlantic resulted in a journey north that was rarely on an even keel. Passengers seemed unperturbed though as they had all gained their sea legs well over a week ago. In total darkness we had to thread our way through a number of local fishermen as we approached Ferrol, some seemingly intent on pursuing an almost suicidal wish and having to be warned off by the bright flashing of our Aldis lamp.

Once past the breakwater the four miles of scenic cruising that remained seemed in comparison somewhat of a ‘doddle’. We had completed docking even before the sun had risen, and the first tours to Santiago de Compostela were away as twilight was just developing into what was destined to be a superb sunny day.

Agents and port officials were delighted we had chosen their town as the alternative for Lisbon, where we should have been the day before, but couldn’t go to because of the strike action. They are very pro-active with welcoming ‘ambassadors’ who stay by the ship all day to offer guidance to passengers who might just want to stroll around. They were also generous in their birthday greeting to me and promised that, when it was close to sailing time, they had arranged a surprise. I was intrigued.

El Ferrol

I took a walk myself in the late morning, the shops were still pre-siesta and therefore open and relatively busy, but it is apparent that the financial situation has hit hard, with many shops and even bars boarded up. I did enjoy looking at some of the so called ‘Modernism’ architecture that found its way to Galicia in the early 1900’s and Ferrol in particular.

There was a free guide offered for our travellers to take and follow a recommended route.

As promised the ‘surprise’ was in position by four thirty. Eleven members of a Galician traditional bag pipe band, all in costume, commenced pumping their ‘agony’ bags and played happy birthday, much to the passengers’ amusement. That’s a first, for me at least.

We left shortly after and headed back out to sea, bound for what is expected to be a relatively placid Bay of Biscay and Southampton on Saturday.

Pipe band, El Ferrol

The final cocktail party an hour or so later was, as I anticipated, a hoot. Cruise Director John primed the passengers and there was yet another Happy Birthday song. All over now until next year, ‘God willing’, as my mother used to say.

Captain David takes over the reins on our return and I head off west to attack the ‘job list’.

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