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That epic world tour, 500 years on: When Spain became a global trailblazer
Thursday, September 8, 2022 @ 9:06 PM

ROUND-THE-WORLD cruises are a typical 'retirement' dream, although flights following the same course generate less enthusiasm – getting from one side of the planet to the other can take over two days, allowing for stops and, although Qantas Airlines successfully trialled a non-stop London Heathrow-Sydney connection four years ago, the thought of 17 hours confined to the same seating area is not usually an appetising one. Even if you happen to love airline food and frequently ask your neighbouring passengers if you can pinch their leftovers.

The Victoria was the first-ever ship to completely circumnavigate the globe, between 1519 and 1522 (photo: Nao Victoria Foundation)

On that basis, if ever a complete round-the-world direct flight were to be launched – although it's hard to see what its purpose would be, given that it's basically a long-winded way of getting from departures to arrivals at the same airport, when you could just as easily take the lift and achieve it in 10 minutes – it would likely take around 34 or 35 hours; if you set off at 07.00 on Saturday morning, you'd arrive at the opposite end of the terminal you left at 17.00 or 18.00 on Sunday.

Whizz back 10 or 12 generations, and the mere idea would have been as improbable as a short-haul passenger space flight to the next galaxy for a weekend away would today – and the opposite side of our planet was as much an unknown quantity as the nearest inhabited world outside the Milky Way still is in the early 21st century.

Nobody had ever done this before, until Spain organised the trip with a Portuguese captain at the helm (picture: Sémhur/Armando-Martín/Wikimedia Commons)

So the fact Spain and Portugal lifted the lid from all that should have made both countries more famous as travel pioneers than they were. 

After all, look at the furore created around the globe by the moon landings – just imagine if they had had television 500 years ago.

Exactly 500 years ago, this week, that is. It was when the first ship ever to sail the full circumference of Earth returned to port – and it turns out there's still new information about the feat coming to light.

Read more at thinkSPAIN.com

 



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