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El Ferrol, Spain

Saga Sapphire blog - Captains' blogs

7th April, 2015

Yesterday was a relaxing day at sea. After a smooth night and a good breakfast our passengers could enjoy the day in their own way. Some just took it easy with a book. Some explored the ship. Some attended the different activities and lectures made available by the Guest Speakers, Instructors, our Beauty Staff and Cruise Staff. The weather was sunny, but a bit fresh with an easterly wind, but all in all a comfortable day at sea.

The evening started with cocktail hour either in Cooper’s Bar with Dave Peterson at the piano or in the Drawing Room, where the Perfect Mood Duo entertained. After Dinner the Britannia Lounge hosted a performance by Timothy Highman & Duncan Atkins who presented an affectionate tribute to the madness and mirth of Flanders and Swann. This was followed in the Drawing Room by Easy Listening with The Perfect Mood Duo and in Cooper’s Bar by The Late Show with Dave Peterson at the piano till late.

This morning we arrived at the pilot station at the very civilised time of 7.45 am. The pilot boarded the ship under a cloudless sky and guided us the 6 miles to the berth, past beautiful scenery, and we were berthed by 9am.

El Ferrol has been linked to the sea for more than two millennia, and a major shipbuilding centre for most of this time. Because of its location it has been conquered by Vandals, Suebis, Arabs and Christians. Today it is a large commercial port and the gateway to the northern province of Gallicia.

As soon as the ship was cleared by the local officials passengers could proceed. There was a choice of four tours to Santiago de Compostella:

Santiago on your Own: This was the perfect opportunity for the independent traveller to have transport to this magic place but be able to explore on one’s own.

A Day in Santiago visited the pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela with its charming old quarter and the magnificent Cathedral that dominates Obradoiro Square. The Cathedral has become the most popular site of Christian pilgrimage after Jerusalem and Rome, and during this tour one could admire the beautiful Jubilee Door (only opened each Jubilee Year), the traditional tomb of St James and the 12th-century ‘Portico da Gloria’, considered one of the world’s most important medieval works of sculpture. There was also time to wander and enjoy a Tapas lunch.

The Way to Santiago offered the experience to visit Santiago de Compostela on foot, just like a pilgrim! In the picturesque Galician village of Melide, our passengers collected a walking stick and shell of the camino before a stroll alongside meadows, farms and eucalyptus groves towards Santiago, crossing a creek on the medieval stone bridge. This walk was long enough to give a good impression of what it is like to walk the Camino de Santiago across Northern Spain. Arriving in Santiago - the end of the Way and the goal of all pilgrims – the guide gave a brief explanation about the Cathedral and the other places associated with the pilgrimage. After this there was time to wander before returning to the ship.

Complete Santiago: This tour concentrated mostly on the cathedral and its surroundings. The tour started with a visit to the Cathedral, where one could see the Jubilee Door, the tomb of St James and the Portico da Gloria - the former main entrance doorway that dates from 1188 and is one of the greatest surviving works of medieval sculpture. Leaving the interior of the Cathedral, our guests took a side exit and headed up to the roof, from where one can see the historic part of the city below, including beautiful Obradorio Square. Also seen from here was the Cross of Rags, where pilgrims used to burn their clothes after making their long pilgrimage. After this the guide took his charges around the Cathedral to view its different façades before everyone had a delicious Tapas lunch.

For passengers interested in the surrounding country side there was the Galicia’s Scenic Coastline Tour. This tour discovered the natural attractions surrounding El Ferrol today, driving along the coast with its typical Galician villages and enjoying views of the nearby beaches, forests and estuaries. Starting with a panoramic tour of El Ferrol, they passed the old military camp and the neo-Classical quarter which housed naval officers in the 18th century before being able to appreciate further examples of neo-Classical architecture in the city centre, where many of the older buildings now form part of the university. After this they drove along the coast to Pontedeume, which offers excellent views of the forest and estuaries, and where a short stop was made to give our guests an opportunity to take photos. Arriving at the mouth of the estuary there were refreshments in a local restaurant before the journey back to El Ferrol.

For those passengers wishing to explore El Ferrol independently there was a complimentary shuttle bus to the town centre, or one could go on foot as it was not very far. For the passengers on board the Cruise Staff had organised and were running different activities.

All on board was at 5.30 pm, and soon after we left the berth serenaded by a local bagpipe band. After turning the ship towards the exit channel the pilot guided us past the same scenic views we had enjoyed this morning. Once we had disembarked the pilot we set course for our next port of call, Cartagena.

The evening started with cocktail hour in Cooper’s with Dave Peterson at the piano and in the Drawing Room, where the Perfect Mood Duo entertained our guests. After dinner the Britannia Lounge hosted a performance by Paul Emmanuel, one of the UK’s leading vocalists celebrating the music of the legendary Nat King Cole. This was followed in the Drawing Room by Easy Listening with The Perfect Mood Duo and in Cooper’s Bar there was The Late Show with Dave Peterson at the piano.

Captain Kees Spekman

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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