Although this cruise only includes one port stop, we managed to visit two countries today. Vigo is an up and coming city on the left shoulder of Spain if you look at a map. It was a great place to dock, because it had plenty of room for our behemoth ship and lots of interesting retail opportunities within easy walking distance. We were surprised when we arrived at 7:30am that it was pitch dark. Vigo is on the same time zone as the rest of Europe, but it really should not be, because sunrise was at 8:50. We traveled about half an hour to get to Portugal and they took a more sensible approach and were on the same time zone as England. Changing our clocks to come here was not helpful, since it was a move in the wrong direction. Because many folks were exhausted when they got on board - from standing in line if nothing else - the ship sensibly changed time at 2pm rather than 2am. We will have to start working on getting back to US time as we start sailing west again tomorrow.
Tourism is not a major industry here. Commercial fishing is the name of the game and the harbor is lined with mussel farms. Farmers attached the shells to lines in the water and grow mussels, oysters and scallops. Canneries, smoke houses and processing plants provide many of the jobs in the area and the catch is shipped all over Europe. The mild climate makes growing grapes and making wine another major way to earn a living. I was surprised that I was able to smuggle a bottle back on board. This part of Spain is much greener than the rest with moderate temperatures year round.
The drive to Valencia, Portugal took us up steep hills that gave us nice views of the ship below in the harbor. The harbor is protected by three large islands, which are a national park today. As we crossed the border between Spain and Portugal there were still remnants of the time when this was a real border crossing before the EU was established. Smuggling was a major way to make a living in those days. Even now there are lots of grocery stores on the Portugal side, because their tax rate is considerably lower. The Menho River marks the border and Gustave Eiffel of the Paris tower fame built a bridge across in the same lacy metal style as his famous tower. Valencia is a fortress town and the parts we visited we were all inside the walls. the remains of the fortress were thickly covered with lush green grass. An old Roman pillar still stands in the main square with legible script carved on its sides. Our visit there was advertised as a retail opportunity, but if you weren't in the market for towels and table cloths, there was nothing there to tempt. The narrow, winding streets paved with stones were picturesque and the buildings covered with the stereotypical blue tile were lovely. Our guide brought back some bags of every day goods, again because of the favorable tax rate.
Ethically folks here are more closely related to the Celtic and Anglo Saxon people of Great Britain than the other residents of their country to the south. We were surprised when a music group featuring bag pipers gathered at the pier to wish us adieu. Thousands of local folks gathered at the pier to watch us sail. Although cruise ships come here nearly every day, none are as large.