In Search of the Holy Grail
Sometimes, the best laid travel plans can go awry, which in a roundabout way led me to embark on a quest to visit the Holy Grail. I don't pretend to be Indiana Jones, so this is quest that you too can embark on!
Political events can impact travel plans. In the midst of a Mediterranean cruise on Cunard's luxury cruise ship Queen Victoria, our scheduled call at Barcelona, Spain was cancelled due to civil unrest. Cunard implemented a contingency plan, which led us to call instead at the port of Valencia, a bit further south in Spain. Since my plans to visit Gaudi's Sagrada Familia (Holy Family Cathedral) and Parc Guell in Barcelona were no longer possible, my local Spanish excursion partner quickly arranged an interesting alternative for me in Valencia. How could I resist opening the email from them, with the subject line "How about seeing the Holy Grail instead?"
European cathedrals often contain the relics of Saints, but few can claim a relic of such importance as the Holy Grail, which was the cup used by Christ during the Last Supper. First made famous in the legends of King Arthur, the Quest for the Holy Grail has been an element of popular culture ever since - even Indiana Jones got into the act! There are about twenty other cups claiming to be the Holy Grail across Europe, but Valencia's example has quite an interesting story behind it.
The Grail itself is a small hand carved agate and myrrh cup, housed in an elaborate gold display case in a small chapel off of the nave of the cathedral. This particular example was allegedly brough to Rome by St. Peter, then rescued from the persecutions of Emperor Valerian in 257 A.D. and brought to Spain. Reliable records of it date back to 1399, when it was cataloged as part of the Treasury of King Alfonso the Magnanimous. It took up permanent residence in Valencia Cathedral in 1939.
Valencia itself is a charming city, with more to offer the cruise visitor. The center of the city is a pleasant pedestrian zone, lined with small shops and cafes. Nearby, the Mercado Central is an authentic Spanish food market, full of local delicacies like Jamon Iberico (Spanish Ham, similar to prosciutto). The city's more modern quarter contains several buildings by famed Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.
While events outside of my control conspired to cause a last minute change in plans, I enjoyed visiting Valencia on my luxury cruise. Working with a reputable, vetted, local shore excursion partner allowed a quick change of plans, and the resulting Quest for the Holy Grail made for a pleasant way to spend a beautiful fall day in Spain.
Are you interested in incorporating unique historical, food and wine, or cultural experiences into your next luxury cruise? Would you like to learn more about the value of privately guided shore excursions? Contact me to schedule a complimentary luxury cruise planning session, and we'll get started planning your next luxury cruise adventure!