WE are in Spain again for a couple days before we move to France. Our port is La Coruna at the northern tip. I took a ship tour about an hour through the countryside to Santiago de Campostela’s old quarter which has those signature stoned narrow streets and small plazas of old Europe. The Santiago de Campostela Cathedral ‘s crypt below the alter has James, Jesus’ disciple’s remains. James spread Christianity through this area and is the patron saint of Spain.

This town is famous because it is the end point for the St. James Pilgrim Walk that starts in St. Jean Pied de Port, France. May and June are the most popular months for this walk and it takes about 30 to 35 days to make the 530 mile spiritual journey. There are several stops along the way. Large groups crossed the finish line while I was there. One group included young people in wheel chairs. There is a lot of cheering and picture taking. At noon each day, there is a mass at St. Francis Church for the pilgrims who finish and certificates are given. I attended the mass and every seat was taken and people were standing or sitting on the floor.

We had lunch at the Hostal de Los Reyes Catolicos, a former hospital which is now a luxury hotel. The large door was impressive. This part of Spain enjoys Celtic music with bagpipes over guitars.

BILBAO is my last port in Spain. I took a ship tour driving along the Biscaine Coast to see more of the beautiful country. The small fishing village of Bermeo was having their regular Saturday afternoon party in the town square which is attached to the marina.

All the shops were closed and only the tapas bars were open. Groups had colorful matching scarfs to identify who they belonged to. There were fishermen and their wives along with hikers from other villages. There was music and dancing in the streets.

The Tapas Bars were plentiful and the barnacles sold were an expensive delicacy that fisherman risked their lives to catch.

BORDEAUX, France is the world’s major wine country capital. Bordeaux wine has been produced in the region since the 8th century. The wine industry adds 14.5 billion euros each year to the economy of the area producing more than 700 million bottles of wine. A drive through the country side to see the wineries was beautiful.

Oceania had a special event for the Around the World Passengers at the Chateau Smith Haut Laffitte, an 18th century estate. There was live music and a walk through the impressive wine cellars. A three course dinner and canapes were served with wine parings.

Sunday in Bordeaux had a lot going on. There was a large farmer’s market near our ship with everything you would want. Two streets over from the market was a large gathering of outside restaurants like our restaurant week in the USA. Two streets from there was a large outdoor concert.

Saint-Emilion is approximately 28 miles outside of Bordeaux and is a preserved medieval village that is famous for its red wines and macaroons. Only 200 people actually live in the city but they have 2 million visitors a year. The village is named after an 8th century monk. This was my last stop in France. I have a much needed sea day tomorrow and then onto England.

One thought on “Northern Spain and France

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