April 2012 - Spain


Spain | Barcelona | Port Vell Marina | Artemis and Al

April 27, 2012 Hi everyone, We launched Artemis at 0830. Then we went into Port Vell Marina to buy fuel before heading out to Cartegena, Spain. (282nm) Great sailing day we sailed for 9 hours before turning on the engines at 1900. The engine was making noises we never heard before. So troubleshooting, checking things out revealed We just weren't used to engine noises yet. We had dinner and then decided to run the refrigerator. We turned on the invertor and before Al even started the refrigerator we had smoke coming from the cupboard by the freezer. After emptying the cupboard we determined the fire was not there. Looked everywhere and just as Al gave up and went to lie down while I took first watch, he discovered the problem was an outlet that got old and started to burn/smoke in our berth. That solved we put it off for repairs in the morning.

Quiet night... motored along with my bird friend pooping everywhere. Got the weather forecast (only Grib files) around 0900. Wind could pick up from SW around 1400. So made some alternative plans incase we needed them but decided to keep heading for Carthegena another 24 hours. No such luck before we even reached our Capo de Nao waypoint the winds picked up to 35 with gusts to 45. Too much sail up so rolled the gib but the staysail not tied down on deck decided to ride up and catch the wind too. So out on deck goes Sally for the first of her saltwater showers today. Finally got her tied down after being drenched with several waves. Back in the cockpit we decide to head for Puerto de Denia about 10nm away. Motoring with full main and still over canvased but not in a big hurry to pull her down with 10nm to go. The winds continue to howl and gust over 40 so finally about a mile out I go for my second saltwater shower as I pull the main sail down. Gust continue but with full power(clean prop) we get into the inner harbor and await instructions for our berth. Al brings her in beautifully despite the gusting winds and we are glad to be moored. Got sails put away and boat tidied up, checked into the marina and took a FRESH water shower. Looking for our next weather window. Maybe shorter hops this time...as the weather windows are shorter. Early night tonight. Glad to be moored instead of watching the radar and AIS (automatic identification system, way to determine what the ships around you are going to do). Happy weekend. Love and God bless Sally and Al

Spain | Girona

April 20, 2012 Hi everyone, So another week has flown by in Barcelona. We've had cooler weather and off and on rainy days. Had a couple of outings with other cruisers this week. One day we went to a new lunch spot "En Ville" in El Ravel area of Barcelona and had a great menu of the day. Sunday we went to an English showing of "A Night to Remember" the black and white 1958 version of Titanic. It was well done and of course we cried at the end. So sad...

Tuesday the men joined the women for our Tuesday coffee to say good-bye as many boats are leaving Barcelona soon. Today we went with Ben and Eliza to Girona, Spain. We had a trial run on Wednesday. Dressed ready to go at 6:30 AM but it was raining in Girona so we called it off and went back to bed. So it was another early day today heading for the subway at 6:30 to catch a 7:20 train arriving at 9. Great Catalonia city. The city is divided by a small river with many footbridges crossing back and forth making travel around easy and quite picturesque. The old city rises up from the river on cobbled streets through The Call the medieval Jewish community second only to Barcelona. We had a nice audio tour of the Santa Maria Cathedral and then visited Esglesia de Sant Feliu. Just wandering the narrow streets was great fun.

Spain | Girona |

We walked around the gardens and buildings of the Monastery and then walked a path along the top of the old city walls. Beautiful views of the city. We went to lunch at Divinum recommended on Trip Advisor. It was one of the nicest meals we've had in Spain. We had a 3 course set menu with lovely choices in each course, plus 3 special appetizers from the restaurant, along with bread/oil and special salts, and a bottle of wine. All for 16E a person. No supper tonight we had plenty to eat. We got back to the boat about 7PM.

Now we have to get serious about preparing the boat for haul out on Monday, provisioning for cruising season and get our hair cut. This will be a busy last weekend in Barcelona as we hope to be heading for the Baleares Islands by the end of next week. Planning to be in Galicia Atlantic Spain by June so we can fly home for a month. Happy weekend. Love and God Bless Sally and Al

Spain | Barcelona | Maria Christina Reina | Easter Mass

April 12, 2012

Hi everyone, We had a nice English speaking Easter Mass at Maria Christina Reina. We arrived with time to spare despite getting on the wrong bus to begin with. Fun to be able to sing along and understand what is said. It was a beautiful day so we walked some neighborhoods we hadn't explored before. We saw the football (soccer station) then decided to catch a bus back to the boat when we reached Plaza Espagne. Al requested seafood pasta for dinner so no ham/scalloped potatoes this year.Monday we went on a bike ride and discovered most places were still closed for Easter holiday. Al painted the anchor chain, aligned the prop shaft, and replaced cockpit speakers this week.

Spain | Montserrat | view

Yesterday we went with friends Eliza, Ben, Valerie and John to Montserrat. Montserrat is a 1236m high mountain of weird rock pillars, shape by wind, rain and frost reminding us a little of Capadoccia in Turkey. The Benedictine Monastery an important Catalan shrine is perched about 725m up the mountain. We took a train from Barcelona and cremallera (rack and pinion train to the monastery. There was a cable car but it was a windy day so we chose the cremallera. It was a gorgeous ride up the mountainside. Pilgrims come to venerate La Morenet (The Black Virgin) a 12th century Romanesque wooden sculpture of Mary with the infant Jesus which has been Catalonia's patron since 1881. It is said to have been made by St. Luke and brought to Barcelona by St. Peter. We visited the basilica, the Boy's choir was still on vacation. So after a short visit we decided to hike the mountain. We took St. Joan funicular to the trail that led to Sant Jeroni, Montserrat's highest peak, gorgeous 360 views and sheer drop offs. It was a beautiful sunny day so we could even see ships on the sea outside of Barcelona. We had a picnic lunch enjoying the lovely views. Some rock climbers were scaling some of the rock pillars more than 300ft straight up in the air. Not for us but we enjoyed our 3 hour hike. We took another hike to Santa Cova (sacred cave) where the La Moreneta was said to have been hidden during Moorish occupation. We had a great day but more than ready to put our feet up back aboard Artemis.

Today we took a bus ride to Bauhaus (Home Depot type store) We didn't find what we were looking for but did spend nearly 40 Euros on other "junk". We're going to lunch at a "new" restaurant with a group tomorrow so perhaps we'll check the Sevicio Station (another big Home Depot type store)and have better luck. Hope all is well. Love and God bless Sally and Al

April 8, 2012

Hi everyone, Happy Easter. Connie and Steve flew back to Minnesota on Friday. Al and I started boat projects again, putting things away and finishing up the cockpit seat backs. We watched the Good Friday procession along the Ramblas and yesterday the live aboards had an Easter gathering on our pontoon. Today Al and I are going to Maria Christina Reina about an hour ride to an English mass. Bright sunshiny day near 70 today. Hope everyone has a blessed Easter and time with family and friends. Love and God Bless Sally and Al

Spain | Seville | View of the city from the Cathedral rooftop

Monday Apr. 2 We had another nice breakfast in Cordoba at Hotel Ayre. The hotel was in a beautiful residential area with lovely grounds and outdoor swimming pool. It looked like a Country Club. The day we arrived there were several wedding parties going on. After breakfast we drove to Seville for the day. We rode the Red Tour Bus around town, took lots of pictures and then went to a fun tapas bar Bodega Santa Cruz near the cathedral for lunch. We met a young Swiss couple who spoke Italian and could capture the bartenders attention. We had 8 different tapas a double order of the carne tomato, fried calamari, filet tuna, fried tortilla, filet pork, pollo salsa, spinach/cheese, cheese coquettes, 8 beers all for 30 Euro. A lively crowd of workers and tourist. The cathedral is under construction pretty but not as impressive as Toledo. We climbed the La Giralda (old mosque minaret) 34 ramps to the top 16 steps. It was much better than climbing steps the whole way. Great views of the city.

We left Seville around 4 for Granada. We had a few sprinkles but not as much rain as the forecast led us to think we'd have. Al discovered our rental car is smarter than him. A few raindrops hit the windshield and the wipers automatically not only came on but adjusts it's speed according to the amount of rain we have. This is another beautiful stretch of road. Gorgeous Parque Natural Sierra de las Nieves, Alpujarra valleys and Sierra Nevada. We arrived in Granada around Wonderful hotel location just 5 min. walk from Alhambra ticket office. We ate light snack ham,cheese, bread olives and nuts with our wine and beer in our rooms as our driver was tired of driving and it was raining:-)

Spain | Granada | Alhambra palace and gardens

Tues. April 3 What an amazing day in Granada. We had no idea... I ordered our ticket ahead of time for Alhambra because Lonely Planet said we should but we didn't even begin to dream of what we were to experience there. We got up early and had a full breakfast before walking 5 minutes to pick up our tickets. We still had to wait in a half hour line. Nasrid Palaces appointment 10 AM So glad we chose early morning. The palaces had beautiful courtyards and mosaics.

Spain | Granada | Alhambra | Views of the city of Granada from Generalife

The Generalife is amazing patios, terraces, fountains, and gardens. Great views down to the city of Granada. We spent 4 hours in Alhambra and could have stayed longer:-) We took a bus down to the city center and went to lunch at Antigua Castaneda (Lonely Planet recommendation). Al and Steve had paella, Connie had spinach/sausage/chickpeas bake, and I had Oxtail stew. Great lunch with a nice bottle of red wine. Granada Cathedral is lovely but Toledo Cathedral is still our favorite on this road trip. So glad the rain held off until we were heading back to our hotel for the night.

Wed. Apr. 4 On the road again...Al has 983km to drive today about 11 hours back to Barcelona. We were on our way by 8:15 after another way too big breakfast. Our first part of the trip took us through/by the Sierra Nevada mountains. Spain's highest peak Mulhacen which is snow covered almost year round. Gorgeous backdrop to Granada. We also went through some cuts with Capadocia style rock formations. We chose no Tolls so we're traveling smaller highways but nice roads. We stopped for tapas lunch but didn't dally. We decided after Valencia to finally go onto toll roads as we started hitting city/town streets with lights and traffic. So in Vinaros we got on AP-7 and suddenly dropped an hour and half off our travel time to Barcelona. Poor Connie went into depression when Suzy our Sony Erikson mobile phone navigation quit. We think the charger went bad. Fortunately Piedock our HTC mobile was in the trunk and we have navigation on this phone too. Boy are we ever spoiled.

WE arrived safe and sound back in Barcelona in 9.5 hours around 5:30. Glad to be back aboard Artemis. Having spagetti meat and sausage sauce, salad for dinner. Tomorrow we're just gonna lay low and relax. Steve wants to go back to the Cava Bar tomorrow for lunch:-) Love and God Bless Connie, Steve, Sally and Al

April 1, 2012 Hi everyone, Happy 5th birthday to Josie today. Now we know why people say, "Holy Toledo!" The highlight of our visit yesterday to Toledo was the Catedral. It was absolutely amazing. The books refer to Toledo as the spiritual capital of Spain or a down sized Rome. Neat medieval town built on a hill with the Rio Tajo flowing on 3 sides. Unfortunately the winding streets kept winding down hill then a steep climb back up again. Our poor feet were struggling with the cobblestones, hills and steps. We visited Museo de Santa Cruz then had a great lunch at Santa Fe Restaurant mentioned in Lonely Planet After lunch we visited Alcazar fortress now a military museum and wandered down to the Catedral which took at least two hours to visit. It was one of those "you can't get there from here" experiences trying to find the exit Portal toward our hotel. finally back by 7. We had nice patio off our rooms so we had beer/wine before finding a restaurant nearby for dinner. Another great surprise. What looked like a little tapas bar had a lovely restaurant in the back. We settled on a starter only for dinner and a beer. It was a great baked dish of cod/egg/potato Yum.

Saturday Mar.31 We took a detour to Consuegra to see Don Quijote windmills and castle. Connie and I walked the 700,052 steps from the town up to the windmills while Al and Steve went back to the car and drove up. Lots of farms, vineyards and huge olive groves. Great producers of saffron. We were not prepared for the gorgeous A4-E5 highway route. It took us through Montes de Toledo (1400m) Huge bridges, tunnels, gorges...beautiful. We also traveled through millions of olive trees between Toledo and Cordoba. Great road for inland travel. We arrived in Cordoba about 2:00. Whoa is this our hotel? Looks like a Country Club with a couple of weddings going on. Huge rooms... caught a bus to old town and had lunch. then we wandered around getting our bearings. Arrived back hotel about 8 and enjoyed kicking back.

Spain | Cordoba | Paso procession from San Lorenzo

Sunday April 1 Full breakfast with eggs and meats today. Headed out early to wander Cordoba before 11:30 Palm Sunday mass at Santa Iglesia Cathedral inside the old Mezquita (mosque) We found the old Roman ruins and came upon a band congregating so we stopped to watch and then followed them to beautiful San Lorenzo church. The crowd was gathering to watch the parish paso leave the church led by nazarenos (penitents) This richly decorated paso with life size figures, a tableaux of Jesus dressed in kings finery riding a donkey entering the city of Jerusalem. Under each paso about 40 costaleros (bearers) work in relays as each has to support the weight of about 50kg. The paso moves in a swaying motion to the music of the band. It is led by parish priest and servers who purified the passage with incense and prayers. The nazarenos wear tall pointed capes (copied later by the Ku Klux Clan) only the eyes are seen as the identity of the penetint is known only to God.

Spain | Cordoba | Holy Week processions brotherhoods

We never expected to see this and later in the day we decided to stay downtown to watch the beginning of the procession. We stayed until 7:30 watching 3 of the brotherhoods and 3 pasos pass. Each was lead by small children dressed in cassocks carry baskets of wicks to relight the candles of the nazarenos. The parish priest and cross/scepter carriers and incense. Each paso was followed by women dressed in traditional black mantillas and other parishioners. Every day from Palm Sunday to Easter these pasos depicting the Easter Story are carried from the city's churches through the streets of town. The climax is Good Friday when the most respected brotherhoods process starting very early in the morning the first arriving at 1:30 AM.

Spain | Cordoba | Cathedral

Spain | Cordoba | Cathedral | Palm Sunday procession

We went to mass at the Cathedral and glad we did as it was not open to the public for visiting again until late afternoon. Unfortunately we were as far away as we could be when observing San Lorenzo's tableau. So we had to "hoof it" to make it on time. The mesquita 23,000 square meter was once one of the largest mosques in the world. The cathedral was build in the center of this 8th Century mosque. Once 1293 columns stood holding two tier arches in the 14,000sq meter prayer hall now only 856 remain inside the cathedral. We had a buffet type lunch and then visited the Islamic museum in the Torre de la Calahorra across an old Roman bridge on Rio Guadalquivir. Long day we didn't get back until after 8. Cordoba is a beautiful interesting city that we could come back and explore further some day. We've been impressed with Spains beautiful old but modern cities. Not at all what we expected. Driving to Seville tomorrow (Monday) and planning to ride a Tour Bus around the city as most sights are not open on Mondays. Then on to Granada for the night. Love and God Bless Connie, Steve, Al and Sally

#2012 #Spain #Barcelona

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