Saturday, October 27, 2018


It is one of the intriguing elements of travel to foreign parts that our expectations may be met but equally, disappointingly, not met. Emerging from the central station of Genoa, Italy, it was a pleasant surprise to encounter an imposing statue of Christopher Columbus erected by the citizens of his native city. A few years later a visit to Cadiz in southern Spain was not as interesting as anticipated. Columbus had set sail from Palos some 100 miles to the north, en route to his voyage of discovery across the Atlantic. Rats, I thought he had sailed from Cadiz! Portugese turned Spaniard, Magellan, on the second stage of his circumnavigation of the globe, left from Sanlucar, a dozen miles to the north of Cadiz. Perhaps it would have been worth the time to go to either place but I found out too late on this trip to recalibrate (do you like the choice of vocabulary, in keeping with the travel theme)? Meanwhile I noted that Cadiz, though not overly appealing as a port, historically was sacked twice by the English (1587 and 1596, that is to say either side of the Spanish Armada of 1588). Cape Trafalgar, where Napoleon’s fleet met its Waterloo (groan), is some miles to the south. A decision to go to Malaga from Cadiz via the coast had the added bonus of me passing alongside Gibraltar, a first sighting for me. Impressive, that it is. Cabot’s landfall on the Newfoundland east coast (1497) is a wild landscape of cliffs exposed to the vagaries of the Atlantic Ocean. Not to be missed if you are ever in Bonavista. In Mexico there is a monument on the jetty at Barra de Navidad recognizing the departure point of the Spaniard Villalobos who navigated west across the Pacific, in so doing encountering the Philippines from the east which he named after Phillip II. Barra is already a geographic and cultural favourite of mine, with knobs on given this historical association.