I love museums, particularly those where the exhibits are not locked away behind bullet-proof glass and cordoned off from the visitors, but can rather be approached and enjoyed up close and personal. The replica of the caravel “Pinta,” anchored in the port of Bayona, Spain perfectly fits the bill.
The three masted caravel, the second biggest of the three ships Columbus took on his first crossing of the Atlantic in 1492, is, in fact, a floating museum, but, at the same time, a piece of history which can be visited and climbed around on to one’s heart’s content.
It was actually from aboard the Pinta, that the New World was first spotted and not from the Nina or the Santa Maria which was Columbus’ flag ship. Again, it was the Pinta under the command of her captain Alonso Pinzon, which reached Bayona a year later to bring the news to Spain. The original Pinta perished in a hurricane on yet another Atlantic crossing in 1500, so it’s a replica which can today be admired in the port of Bayona.
You have to know about the Pinta and where to look, because, inexplicably, such an important historical site is not well sign-posted. When visiting Bayona, head in the direction of the impressive castle Monte Real, then turn riht towards port and you will find a wooden walkway which leads to the Pinta.
Admission is €1 and when you climb aboard, you are greeted by wooden sculpture of Captain Pinzon, hunched over a table covered with his charts and looking very miserable. I couldn’t help but trying to cheer him up, whereupon the guard remarked: “If he now talks back to you, I’m going to jump overboard!”
A steep ladder leads down into the hold, where on one side you can see the supplies the sailors took with them on their adventures, among them, naturally, Bayona cured hams! Further down are replicas of the treasures they brought back from the New World like Indians, parrots, tropial fruit and, of course, gold.
The entire museum conveys a very vivid picture of the incredibly cramped conditions in which those adventurers of over 500 years ago, set off across unknown waters to unknown shores driven by their ambition as well as a hunger for fame and untold riches and undeterred by any kind of obstacles or dangers.
Inka is German and used to be an international attorney with offices in London and Spain. Retired two years ago because I wanted to be a traveler and writer and now live between Didim/Turkey and Miami with plenty of travel in between. Next destinations: Istanbul, New York and Petra/Jordan. Inka’s first novel has just been published and can be found here