October 14th, 2012 No comments
After leaving Barcelona we worked our way east along the Spanish mainland as far as Castellon.  From there we took a train to Valencia for a day of sightseeing before jumping off to the Balearic Islands.  Valencia has some interesting architecture, but after Barcelona was a little disappointing.

Early morning. . .no wind. . .lots of clouds.

We left Castellon on August 18th for Ibiza, approximately 85 NM south.  With a long summer day, we could still make landfall before sunset even though it was a 13 1/2 hour passage.  As usual we had no wind most of the way, and clouds and haze prevented our seeing the island until we were practically there. 

Our first glimpse of Ibiza was not impressive.

We had been warned that Ibiza in August would be dominated by summer holiday makers–the island’s reputation as party central is well known.  In Cala Basso where we first anchored visitors seemed more interested in water sports than partying.

There were at least a hundred swimmers in a charity sponsored competition. . .

although paddling boarding a/k/a "water walking". . .

came in a close second after just hanging on the beach.

Ibiza, it turns out, has many hidden charms. . .not the least of which is miles of interesting coast with many calas (coves) dotted with caves and unusual rock formations. 

Destiny at anchor in Cala Basso

From Cala Basso we explored caves by dinghy.  Some caves were large and cavernous and others required ducking to enter.

The entrance to this cave was massive. . .

while this one was barely passable.

However, once inside we were surprised to find a large cave and tiny hidden cove.

As you enter, the space gets larger and the light draws you further in. . .

until you come out the other side. . .

into a secluded little cove with crystal clear water.

Along the north coast of Ibiza there are numerous anchorages–both small calas and large bays, although most a quite full of boats in August.  The water is crystal clear and an amazing color.

As Destiny motored along the Ibiza coast toward Islas Margaritas. . .

the cobalt blue (unenhanced) water was 100 ft. deep, about 50 yds. from shore.

A classic yawl against the dramatic coastline of Ibiza reminds us of Maine.

The unusual rock formations draw boats, like bees to honey.

This little power boat is dwarfed by the rocks, but might just squeek through the opening. . .

while this sailboat will not make it under the low arch of Islas Margaritas. . .but he will have a close look.

After a couple of days in Ibiza we were off to Palma to finalize shipping plans for Destiny.  Despite our intentions, returning to Ibiza was not in the cards, but we left the island with a very favorable impression.

We had been told that the Balearics were “like the Caribbean in the Med”.  Ibiza certainly reinforces that comparison with its beautiful water and sandy beaches–if only the Caribbean had such interesting topography.

More on the Balearics to come.

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October 10th, 2012 No comments

October 8, 1945 was a very big day for Kent. . .he was born!!!

Kent was all smiles on his birthday. . .

Now some 67 years later we had the opportunity to celebrate his big day by visiting the little bay at Deia on the northwest coast of Mallorca. 

The town of Deia is set high up on the hillside in the Tramuntana Mountains and is one of the prettiest in Mallorca.  The road that reaches it is treacherous with one switcbback after another as we found out when our friends, Carol and Pat Kelly invited us for dinner at their home in Deia.

At their recommendation, we decided to take Destiny to the tiny bay at Deia, to celebrate Kent’s birthday this year.   The town of Deia is perched high above the bay, and there is a long winding path from the village for the hearty to hike.  Arriving by boat and landing the dinghy was much less strenuous.

From the water, the tiny bay is hardly discernable, except for the small rocky beach and the roofs of two restaurants.

From the bay the village is hidden behind the sheer cliffs, that line the tiny stone beach.  Roping keeps beach goers from getting too close the the area of falling rock.

Deia's rocky beach. . .

has crystal clear water. . .and the danger of falling rocks.

There is one restaurant at beach level and a second perched on the cliff, known as Ca’n Patro March.  It came highly recommended.

Ca'n Patro March is up a steep set of stairs and overlooks the bay. . .

with Kent's favorite view.

Lunch included grilled sea bass and calamari and a liter of sangria loaded with fresh lemons and oranges.

The piece d’ resistance was the wind came up just as we were leaving Deia, and Kent got a birthday sail–even ghosting along at 3 kts. in 7 kts. of breeze he said it was his “best birthday ever”.

As we headed into Soller on his birthday, the "old boy" was looking pretty fit.


and Jolie!!!

Wait until you see what I have planned for next year!!!

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BARCELONA: Gothic to Gaudi

September 26th, 2012 No comments

Barcelona has been on our “must see” list as long as we have been in the Med, and did not disappoint.  Even from the sea, Barcelona is a city of contrasts.

Arriving by boat with a reservation at Reial Club Maritim, the contrast between the “old” and “new” Barcelona is evident from the skyline.

High rise buildings along the coast are in striking contrast to the sepia colors of Old Barcelona.

The Westin Hotel, a black monolith, dominates the harbor entrance. . .not what I expected.

We had made reservations at Reial Club Maritim, a private club/marina that sits right under the famous Mirador a Colom, a 19th century monument to the glory of  Christopher Columbus. 

Entry into the marina is through a swing bridge that is a pedestrian walkway to the Convention Center.

The club is in the heart of Barcelona.  On one side is Gothic architecture and on the other the modern Convention Center and large shopping mall.

From our berth. . .

Columbus points the way to the "New World". . .to which we will soon return.

The statue of Columbus sits high atop an ornate column and is visible over an equally ornate building that sits on the waterfront, making for an incredible view from Destiny.

The wide tree-lined boulevards, classic architecture and cafes are reminiscent of Paris–another favorite city.

Tree lined streets with whimiscal wrought iron street lights. . .

are interspersed with monuments to the past.

The glory of Barcelona’s Gothic past is reflected in its Cathedral and many of its buildings.

Barcelona's Gothic Cathedral. . .

has an elevator that takes you to the roof for an impressive view of the towers and a birdseye view of medieval Barcelona.

The interior architecture of the Cathedral is austere but imposing.

Modern Barcelona is juxtaposed with its Gothic history.

Modern buildings sit side-by-side with exotic Gothic structures. . .

with ceramic tile roofs. . .

Romanesque facades. . .

and castle-like public buildings, such as this one facing the harbor.

But Barcelona is probably best known as a place where a mix of art and architecture have produced some of the most amazing contemporary buildings in the world.  Antoni Gaudi, a late 19th century architect who died in 1926 is viewed as a visionary in contemporary architecture who transformed buildings into an art form.

In 1833 Gaudi became chief architect for a neo-Gothic church known as La Sagrada Familia.  This church which is designed to hold 13,000 worshipers obviously predates modern tele-ministry and has been under construction for 130 years.  The projected completion date is 2020-40.

La Sagrada Familia rises above the trees of a nearby park. . .

but Gaudi's "masterpiece" is expressed in the many details that make up the structure which are impossible to capture in a single picture.

Gaudi is buried in a crypt under the church, but during his life brought “modernism” to Barcelona architecture in the way that Picasso transformed the art world.  Another of his crowning achievements is the avant garde, La Pedrera with curvy balconies decorated with highly stylized metal vines and chimney pots reminscent of the storybook fairy chimneys.

La Pedrara seems to be in motion. . .

with not a straight line to be seen, and art-deco flora & fauna accents on each balcony.

My favorite Gaudi creation is Casa Batlio, a private apartment house that is whimsical by day and sparkles by night. 

Casa Batlio is a fairy tale residence. . .just up the street from La Pedrera.

Throughout Barcelona there are avant garde scupltures, that some would call “art” and others less Picasso-minded may think of as weird.  Some of the buildings also fall into that category.

Only in Barcelona are you likely to see a building shaped like. . .a certain male appendage:)

Architecture aside, there are many things to like about Barcelona.  It has a great subway and bus system.  For the conservation minded, there bicycles that can be rented and dropped at various locations in the city.

Kent checks out the self-serve bike rentals at Cataluyna Square in Central Barcelona.

 Barcelona is also known for its great food–tapas, paealla, sangria by the pitcher, but that would be another whole post.  Suffice it to say that we ate very well, but still couldn’t resist a little “taste of home”.

There seems to be a Burger King in every country, but at 8 euros for a burger it isn't a bargain.

Unfortunately, we had only a few days in Barcelona, so only got a flavor of the place by visiting some of the most popular sights.  You could spend a month in this city and still not see everything.  Next time, we do the museums!

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September 25th, 2012 1 comment

We left Bandol, France in early August heading for the Spanish mainland across the Gulf of Lion with our anticipated arrival at least 12 hours ahead of some strong wind–at least that was the forecast from the several sources we use.

We had a great first 12 hours of our overnight passage. . .

accompanied by dolphins which are supposed to bring good luck.

Anyone who has experienced the Gulf of Lion (which now includes us) knows that the weather forecast and the actual weather can be quite different. Unfortunately for us, the weather that should have been behind us arrived early.

By sunset there was a wall of black clouds approaching. . . ominous at best.

At approximately 10:30 p.m. while I was on watch, the black clouds that had been evident at sunset had enveloped us.  Although the wind had not yet picked up, I was frightened enough to wake Kent.  Thankfully, he came topside and immediately took in the  main and reduced the jib before the 40 kt. Tramontana wind hit us like a train.  We were making 7-8 kts. with a postage stamp size jib.

The seas built dramatically in what seemed like a nanosecond, and for the next ten hours Kent hand steered as each wave hit our aft starboard quarter with a jolting force.  The waves were close together and as we surfed down one wave, the next one was upon us.  For the first time since we have been in the Med, I put in the companionway slats, because I was sure a breaking wave would come over the stern and flood the cockpit.

The nearly full moon that came up after midnight was a mixed blessing.  It provided Kent with some visibility, but looking astern seeing a wall of water rising up behind us was very scary for me.  I hunkered down with Jolie on my lap, both of us in life jackets and tethered to the cockpit, and prayed. . .with my eyes closed.

Kent’s skilled helmsmanship got us through a very difficult situation, but the raging power of the sea terrified me.

Just before dawn we reached the Spanish coast and found some protection from the violence of the sea, but we had to continue down the coast to Puerto de Blanes until we had enough daylight to enter a harbor and anchor.

As we approached Puerto de Blanes, the weather was still threatening. . .but at least we were in sight of land.

We had just set our anchor, when the skies opened and we were drenched in torrential rain.  Destiny had taken salt water over the bow with nearly every wave, so the rain was a welcome fresh water wash.

The rain gave way to sunshine. . .

which was cause for dancing!!!

The aftermath of this experience is our decision (mostly mine) that Destiny will not cross the Atlantic this fall as planned.   Lessons learned:

(1) Never underestimate the power of the sea.  Had we planned for the seas that we might have encountered, our dinghy would have been lashed down on the bow, not precariously dangling from the davits where it could have been flooded and lost from an ill-timed wave.

(2) Never overestimate the accuracy of the weather forecasting.  We felt comfortable that we would be 12 hours ahead of the strong winds and approaching the coast of Spain before they arrived.   Getting out ahead of weather is not a good idea.

(3) Some bodies of water are notoriously more dangerous than others.  The Gulf of Lion has a “reputation” that deserves respect.  We could have poked along the coast and avoided crossing south of the Gulf of Lion buoy, but thought it would be “boring” and require a lot of motoring.  Sometimes “boring” is better.

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September 15th, 2012 No comments

Every August 31st we treat ourselves to a night on shore to celebrate our anniversary.  Prior anniversaries have been spent in picturesque and popular places such as Corfu.  In 2012 we were on Mallorca in the Spanish Balaeric Islands and spent our anniversary in the idyllic walled city of Alcudia.

The Alcudia walls were necessary fortifications when constructed. . .

but narrow streets. . .

with outdoor cafes. . .

and ornate buildings like the Town Hall make it a special place indeed.

Finding the right mix of budget friendly luxury for our anniversary involves lots of on-line research which is half the fun.  This year’s choice was Can’ Pere within the walls of the ancient city.

The entrance to Can' Pere is unassuming. . .

but inside the dining room. . .

and courtyard are tastefully decorated with modern touches.

Can’ Pere has only six or seven rooms and it’s primary attraction is the restaurant that occupies the dining room and courtyard during the lunch and dinner hours.  The rooms, which are up a rather steep set of stairs are each unique and tastefully furnished with luxurious linens–perfect for a romantic rendezvous.

Our room at Can' Pere was charming. . .

with modern appointments set against the backdrop of ancient stone walls.

Oh yes, and for me the piece d’ resistance was a bathtub.  It also happened to be in only hotel in the area that would accept a dog–which Jolie greatly appreciated.

After touring the maze of streets within the walled city and taking a leisurely nap, it was time for dinner in the garden courtyard.

I got a view of the softly lit courtyard. . .

while Kent's view was of me, and the wall of course. . .ever the gentleman.

This was our ninth anniversary, and we look forward to many more.  The only question is where will the next one be?  Somewhere exotic, if I have my way.


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