Vigo, Spain

By Michelle Segrest

Vigo sits on Spain’s northwest coast. The mouth of the nearby Vigo Estuary is sheltered by the Cíes Islands, which form part of the Atlantic islands National Park. The Cíes are known for their rich birdlife and the crescent-shaped Playa de Rodas, which has been considered one of the world’s most beautiful beaches. The city’s old quarter is home to the neoclassical Church of Santa María.

Columbus led his three ships—the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria—out of the Spanish port of Palos on August 3, 1492. His objective was to sail west until he reached Asia (the Indies) where the riches of gold, pearls, and spice awaited. His first stop was the Canary Islands where the lack of wind left his expedition becalmed until September 6.

Once underway, Columbus benefited from calm seas and steady winds that pushed him steadily westward. Columbus had discovered the southern "Trades" that, in the future would fuel the sailing ships carrying goods to the New World. However, the trip was long—much longer than anticipated by either Columbus or his crew. In order to mollify his crew's apprehensions, Columbus kept two sets of logs—one showing the true distance traveled each day and one showing a lesser distance. The first log was kept secret. The latter log quieted the crew's anxiety by under-reporting the true distance they had traveled from their homeland.

This deception had only a temporary effect. By October 10 the crew's apprehension had increased to the point of near mutiny. Columbus headed off disaster by promising his crew that if land was not sighted in two days, they would return home. The next day land was discovered.

Read about the time we spent in Vigo!