Normally we don’t bother with cruise excursions (too expensive). But given the difficulties of getting to Santiago de Compostela, we have decided to take an official guided tour to ensure we get there and back before the ship leaves. Mainly because it’s too far and too complicated to get there ourselves.
We’re met on the dock by our incredibly enthusiastic tour guide who herds us onto a coach for the journey along “The Way of St James“. We’re treated to a commentary about how Santiago de Compostela came into existence and the legend behind the town. Something to do with a pair of dudes transporting the corpse of St James from Israel to Spain in a stone boat and then leaving it in the forest where it is discovered accidentally by a farmer a few hundreds years later. I think.
Along the way we have been warned that the city is very busy with many more pilgrims visiting than usual. We’re rushed off the bus and into the main square outside the church. We’re given some more details about the church and meaning behind the various figures on its walls.
The queue to get into the church is mercifully small, so we’re set loose for 20 minutes to have a look. To say the altar piece is spectacular would be an understatement. We’ve been to Rome and still not seen anything quite like this.
Outside the church our guide realises that the queue to see the reliquary of the Apostle James is very, very short. So we queue to go into the church again through another door. Apparently we have arrived during the year of jubilee – James’ tomb is only open every ten years, so we have got lucky.
Afterwards we see a few more sights and then are left to our own devices for an hour. After searching for ages we finally find a bar that sells Estrella Galicia – we’ve been waiting to try it ever since watching Money Heist. Fortunately it’s not too bad. we also manage to find our 700th geocache while we wait for the rest of the tour party in the main square.
We head back onto the coach and drive back to the port. We have enough time to take a quick look at A Coruña but decide to head back onboard the ship to grab some lunch. We will have to come back another day to see what we missed.
We’re also “lucky” enough to catch one of the Disney Cruise ships leaving. Although they get a fire ship fountain send-off, the ‘When you wish upon a star’ horn is embarrassingly poor – even Princess’ ‘Love Boat’ theme is meatier. They get a good blast from our captain as they depart.
Again, the view as we leave port is impressive. We can clearly see the Lighthouse of Hercules from our balcony which is a nice treat.
The evening is another whirl of drinking and dining. And we have a day at sea tomorrow, which is nice.