I had to exchange my Portuguese ear and tongue, as primitive as they were, for German when we stepped aboard our German-registered ship. Usually, that means the staff is mostly German speaking, but I did not expect the passengers to be as well. All but a table of 7 Americans are German and Swiss, making a total or over 50. Much to my embarrassment, I know only a few words, where as our European counterparts speak English tolerably well. Our first night on the Atlantic was uneventful, but it took us some time to adjust to the constant rhythm of the waves. It was relaxing to 'rock and roll' like a baby in a cradle, but the sound of the waves slapping against the sides of the vessel along with the intermittent creaking was distracting. I would have expected it to be soothing, and other passengers agreed. Thankfully my earplugs saved the day, and sometime later, I drifted off to sleep . . .
We had a short journey to our first stop at the Islas de Cîes, a national park of stunning vistas. This is where the people of Galicia claim God rested on the 7th day of creation after He shook off the dirt on his hands. The islands miraculously grew where the bits of earth landed, causing estuaries along the Atlantic shore. I smile at this legend, not only because it's clever, but if I were God (and clearly I am NOT), I would have chose this spot as well. Just walking up the paths to the lighthouse seemed to relax my mind and muscles. It was truly a breath of fresh air.
We happened to arrive early, before the masses took over the beach and camping grounds. Our guide, Reny (Reinhardt) shared much history with us as we climbed the hill towards the lighthouse. The one below is also on the island, but non-functioning.
Evidently, Julius Caesar was here during the Gallic Wars, checking out the tin, copper and gold for trade. So was Francis Drake, who returned a year after the Spanish Armada to retaliate for the damage done to Britain's troops. Britain called him 'Sir', said Reny, but the Spanish called him 'pirate'. We chuckled, knowing one man's hero is another man's nemesis. Hmmm. . . did I make that up?
Reny also mentioned Jules Verne's visit to the area. Evidently his boat broke down in the harbor, so he took it across to Viga for repairs. While waiting there, the townsfolk filled his mind with tales of Spanish galleons and sunken treasure. So, being a literary sort, his creative side began to formulate a story of a Captain named Nemo, later calling it 'Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.' Amazing. Another literary connection to the Iberian Peninsula. Another example of how trials can turn into inspiration.
Now, savor these incredible views, as I did!
A quiet resting-place . . .
On to the surprise. When we arrived back at our ship, I noticed an envelope artfully scripted with our names. I grabbed it and placed it on our table, since we had to quickly get ready for the Captain's welcome in the Lido Bar. We were greeted by Captain Christian Pfenninger, then I picked up my glass of sparkling water and we proceeded to find a place to sit as he introduced the crew. Soon after, we made our way to the dining room, and to my surprise, were directed to the Captain's table. To even more surprise and wonder, he had a chair pulled out next to him for ME! We truly missed the memo, which read:
Since we travel with only a carry on wherever we go, our wardrobe is limited. And for that reason, I did not bring my gala outfits, or anything else fancy, unlike the rest of the passengers. So, here we were at the Captain's table. How ironic. But, what I was lacking in after-five dress, I made up in conversation. It was fascinating to hear stories of his voyages throughout the last 35 years, and ask him (since this was a research trip as well), what it would be like to sail on an 18th century ship. It was a delightful time! Here is a pic, albeit fuzzy, to prove it:
It was a lovely way to end an evening on the Seas!