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  1. We've not done an organised shore excursion before, but always preferred to use the shuttle buses and look around the ports of call ourselves. However, this time we decided to book a RC shore excursion in Gijon. It was titled 'Historic Covadonga with Asturian Lunch'. To quote the marketing on the RC website, this excusrion promsed we would immerse ourselves in Spain's rich history and natural splendor on a half-day tour including majestic mountain ranges, a sacred cave, a key battle site and a delicious lunch featuring typical Asturian fare. What actually happened was we spent too many hours on a coach due to the increased volume of traffic in the height of Spain's tourist season. There was no battlesite that we could see and barely any time at the spots we did stop at - due to the traffic we arrived at the sacred cave so late that the guide gave us only half an hour to look around but unfortunately the queue for the cave was over half an hour long so we had to leave it, and we also made a stop in a town which used to be the capital of Spain before Madrid. The guide took us on a short walk to see the Roman bridge in this town. The bridge was nice enough but due to everything running so late, we then had to walk back to the coach, leaving no time to explore the town and the shops. I'd have rather done this than seen the bridge. We stopped at a restaurant for lunch which consisited of bean soup (quite nice), a very tough escallope of chicken served with chips (we all left most of the chicken but ate the chips, which were really greasy) and a (watery) rice pudding to finish. I've still yet to research is this is indeed typical Asturian fayre but we were not impressed. To add to all of this the guide on the coach was as dull as ditchwater. He had no personality and offered very little in the way of information of what we were passing on the road, making the hours on the coach very boring. An entertaining guide would have probably gone some way to making a rubbish day a bit better. This excursion cost about £250 for 4 of us and we were all really disappointed and wished we'd stayed on board the ship. The volume of traffic was obviously no one's fault, however at one point the guide came over the speaker and said "August is the worse time to visit Spain. This isn't my fault"! (maybe he has experienced complaints before???). August is a busy month almost everywhere so my complaint is that RC or the shore excursion company should allow for the extra traffic on the road at this time of year and either make it a longer day trip or cut something out, allowing the guests to spend longer at other stops. On this occasion, my husband and son were not impressed the battlesite was missed completely as they are both into their history and was looking forward to that stop in particular. I guess you live and learn. This could have been a great trip if it had been better thought out, given the time of year.
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