We left Southampton port and we were out at sea for two days. We followed the French coast and we headed southward to Vigo, Spain.
During the sailing we encountered some big swells in the ocean. 10-12 foot waves can sway this ship just a bit. We took notice yet it didn't seem to be a major bother to our fellow passengers nor us. When one cruises, one has to expect some rough sea days. It's simply part of the ocean voyage.
We disembarked right the center of Vigo. One can actually disembark the ship and walk over to the main street of the city in only 5-minutes. They have just built a large modern shopping mall next to the disembarkation area and it gets quite crowded.
We planned to visit and leisure walk through the city once we returned from our scheduled 5-hour wine tour excursion.
Apparently Vigo is located at the entrance to a 20-mile estuary. The city's main industry is commercial fishing and assembling cars for the Citron Auto Company (French). Vigo is located only 30 miles north of Portugal.
As we drove on our tour along the estuary and coastal areas we could see that this area is a very popular summer resort area. We are currently visiting in October so many of their hotels and condos were closed.
As we were traveling along the estuary we saw many small platforms floating in the estuary. They reminded me of the similar platforms we saw when we were traveling north of the city of San Francisco, California a month ago. We were on our way to visit Point Reyes. There was a long estuary there as well and they were oyster farms. Here in Spain these floats look similar and are used to produce mussels. I like the bounty of the oceans so I made it a point to try the local fresh seafood. We ate our meals along with local wine during this tour. Beer drinkers also have many choices of good beers throughout Europe.
We did a one-hour winery tour of the Granbazan Winery to try the region's wine, which is Albari??o. Their grape-picking season came early this year due to a great deal of rainfall.
In the winery, we walked through their extensive stainless steel tank fermenting area. There after we tasted and enjoyed a few glasses of their white wines. Trini enjoys the whites and tend to drink mainly the reds. I do however have one white wine which I enjoy which is the gerwistermeiners. There are some wineries in California the grow it and when I can find them, I buy a few bottles for my collection.
Donna Lee Apodaca, a fabulous wine aficionado and a regular pod caster in my broadcasting network, had informed me that the grape vines were attacked in the early 1900s throughout Europe by a fungus that grew in the roots and wiped out many vineyards and varieties. Some varieties were lost altogether. Over the years people in this area have worked diligently to reintroduce their local variety of Albari??o grape.
In talking about wines and vineyards, I recall meeting, a few years ago, a young man doing his undergraduate study in agriculture at the University of California, Davis. He was majoring in grape plants. Until I met him I had never heard of this major but after talking to him about his field, I came to realize what a wonderful field he was in. Wine production is becoming worldwide and clearly a growing industry. In recent months the Chinese have started to increase their taste for fine wines and thus the demand and prices have started to climb.
A month ago I talked with the sommelier at the City Club in Los Angeles. He shared that he learned his trade in a wine institute in France. He was born in Guadalajara, Mexico and moved to France specifically to become a wine expert. Now he travels the world sharing his expertise.
I also understand that there is a growing number of Mexican families are now growing and producing their own wines in a famous Napa Valley of California. I'll like to learn more about their label and try a few. Ah, I love to do this type of research!
As part of our tour around Vigo we came to the quaint and picturesque coastal town of Cambados. We had about an hour to tour the town. Trini and I walked over to a local restaurant and order a bottle of local wine and their hor d'oeuvres (tapa) of the day. The white wine was great and the appetizer of the day was cooked octopus in some kind of marinated spicy red sauce. The pieces of octopus were good size portions. Each piece was about the size of a quarter. The suction cups on the legs were also proportionately a nice size. The cups, when cooked, are a bit harder and you can feel them as you swallow them nice and slowly. I am not sure I want to eat octopus on a regular basis however we had to try them here.
We continued on our bus tour along the scenic shoreline. As we returned to Vigo we realized that the sun had broken through and it was going to be warm and comfortable.
We decided to board the ship to get into comfortable clothing and walk around the modern city. We were surprised how many local persons were in the streets. It was Saturday and families were walking along the town square.
We sat in the center plaza and watched people passed by. It was a casual and very friendly atmosphere. We talked momentarily to our waiter and he shared that he was from Cuba. He had come to Spain in hopes of finding a job yet he found the Spanish economy to be stagnant and good jobs were far and in between. Once he learned that we were from the U.S. he kept asking me questions about living and working there. He shared that his greatest dream was to go to the U.S. and begin his own business. He mentioned how seeing the big ship in port made him realize how anxiousness he was to someday go to America and work to be a success. We wished him good luck and started walking toward our ship.
As we got closer to the pier area, we realized that it was getting quite crowded. Part of it was that it's a local outing area for the weekend. Again, the ship we were on was a major attraction. Apparently Vigo planned a major send off once the ship left port at 7:00 pm.
By the time we left port there were persons all along the pier waving us off. There was a military band playing at our pier. It was quite touching to hear people shouting at us and wishing us luck. Many small crafts were flowing along as we were leaving the bay. We could see many camera lights flashing. This ship can be quite a sight when it out at sea and all it's lights are on. It surely stands out with the darkness of the open ocean behind it.
Conversations with several of our fellow passengers standing near us mentioned how much they enjoyed the friendliness and hospitality of the persons they met throughout the town. I agreed with them that I also sensed the warmth and openness of the persons we talked to.
Once we were out of the harbor I started to realize that Spain is also part of my ancestral background. But saying that my family may have come from Spain does not necessarily mean I am strictly a Spaniard. History highlights that Iberia was also ruled by the Romans, the Gauls (French/Germans), Greeks, and even the Norsemen (Vikings).
Locations with good natural ports, like this one, conducted maritime commerce throughout the Mediterranean region. So the question is raised, are any of us pure Spaniards? I know that one of my cousins, Alondra, has done some genealogical study of our family and has to date traced a connection with an area in Spain. I am looking forward to learning what she has discovered so far.
Now that we are out in open sea, we begin our 9-day non-stop trek across the Atlantic Ocean to reach Ft. Lauderdale.
On my next article I'll highlight what it's like to live on a cruise ship out in the ocean for nine consecutive days.