Crossing the Atlantic Ocean for 30-days without touching ANY land can make a person very eager to get off the first piece of land one sees. Fortunately for me, the ship stopped in Rota, Spain- Naval Base Rota. I was very excited to stop somewhere in Europe (I have been to Europe before in few countries, but I just stayed at and left airport, so I will not count those). Unfortunately, I had only one day to get off the ship and check out the base. Even worse, this port is a working port for many US military ships, so they can resupply for the next part of the voyage.
The ship ported in Rota around 10am (GMT). Because the ship had to resupply first, no one on the ship could get off the ship until the resupply was complete. As this was happening, my feet were dying to touch Spanish land. The ship would complete the resupply four-hours later. During this time, my buddies (Robert and John) and I would be ready to get off the boat.
To maintain accountability of everyone wanting to get off ship, the ship issued out special cards. Now, to get these cards would prove to be a clusterbomb; the ship did not prepare well for the number of people who wanted to get off ship. It was that bad that a huge bottleneck of people trying to receive their cards blocked people who were trying to get off the ship.
My buddies and I received- finally- our cards and left the ship. Getting off the ship was refreshing, especially in a country that I have never been. We decided to walk to the store to get something to eat; this would prove to be a difficult task. The task would be difficult because of how long we had to walk. To get where we wanted to go, we had to walk almost four miles. Robert is a tall guy at least 6 feet 5 inches, so while John and I struggled to keep up, he would be 10 steps ahead of us because his long legs. We had to pick up our pace to keep up with Robert. The good thing about porting at a naval base is that it is like any military base: It has a commissary (grocery store), PX (mall), and plenty of restaurants. We made it to the PX and decided to eat at Subway for dinner. After dinner, we decided to pick up souvenirs for our families. That great thing about coming to this base is that I didn’t have to worry about using Euro; everywhere took American Dollars.
Our commanders were very kind enough to buy the entire ship 30-kegs of beer. Now, if you know anything about the US Marine Corps and Navy, many of us like (or love to the Nth degree) to drink. The commanders decided to purchase to help raise moral for the entire crew- I can tell you that many Marines and sailors took advantage! My buddies and I decided to stop at the building where the beer was located. As Robert once said, "Free beer is the best kind of beer". When we arrived at the location, we found a good stop at the bar and received our drinks. We had local, Spanish beer, which I thought was good. This would be my first beer in Europe, and it was a well-deserved beer. I had a blast relaxing with my buddies and seeing Marines and sailors relax with each other. The camaraderie between Marines and sailors is a phenomenon that an amazing experience to witness and something I shall always remember.