We ended up in the adorable named northern coastal Spanish town of Roses to hide from a large storm front that was coming through. The Spanish coastline has very few boltholes offering protection so most people go into the marinas. Roses was the exception with a large protected bay right off the town so we ended spending a few days here.
This was the first time in the Med we had seen a large, long sandy beach. Being the beginning of October we expected it to be empty but every day bikini clad women and bare chested guys sat out in their deckchairs soaking up the last of the autumnal sun. We were in jeans and jumpers but we have become soft I think. We spent our days walking around the town or hiding on the boat while the storm passed – it was good to just stop for a few days and we like Roses – our first Spanish town.
We wanted to see Barcelona – it was only a day sail but we were going to have to stay in a marina as there was no protected anchorages. We approached the small town of Badalena, 5 nm north of the town but couldn’t get into the marina so we just anchored off the beach. We went ashore for breakfast and found a typical Spanish town – all apartment living with long wide streets and many coffee shops. Many people from the surrounding towns work in Barcelona and there’s a train that runs all down the coast which we had intended to catch, so later that day we sailed another 20nm to try and get into one of the marinas south of Barcelona. This time we were in luck, but as it was nearly dark we anchored outside again and by 9am we were safely tied up in a pen.
The next day we set off on the 5 min walk to the train station to go and explore Barcelona.
We visited the Sagrata Familia first – a large unfinished Roman Catholic Basilica. It was designed by Antoni Gaudi and we spent ages just staring at it. It was covered in intricate carvings and artwork. We then walked up to the Park Guell, also designed by Gaudi. I wasn’t sure what to expect here but it was an amazing park. It’s hard to describe, but it is built on a hill overlooking the city and onward to the Med. It has walkways, carvings, statues but it’s near the end of the park where you see all Gaudi’s marble and mosaic work on a continuous wavy circle that you realised how much work and time it must have taken. Looking down to ground level you could see mosaic dragon and marble staircases – we loved it.
After the long wander around the Park, we made our way back down to the city. We found a delightful restaurant and had one of our best meals in Europe. They do lunch really well in Spain, taking hours and really enjoying their meals. No sandwiches on the run here… We managed to find our way back to the train station, wandering slowly to soak up the ambience that is Barcelona.
The next day we went back- this time to visit the Picasso museum and explore the gothic region. The Picasso museum was excellent. It took a few hours to go through but as we were the only people there, with the exception of couple of school tours, we had time to really look at his art.
Picasso produced over 20,000 pieces of art, including sculptures in his lifetime. Only a fraction were on display but it showed his immense talent as his style changed during his lifetime. Cubism was his most famous style and there were many of his cubism paintings on display. When we eventually emerged from the museum it was raining- the first we had seen for a while, so we wandered around the Gothic quarter in the rain. We found little squares, tiny alleyways and some fantastic architecture. The rain kept what few tourists were around inside and so we felt like we were wandering around a ghost town!
The next day Proud Cat and Sisu turned up. It was howling 30kts + outside and Petro on Sisu had broken her arm a couple of weeks before so she was unable to do her lines, so I asked some guys on the dock if they could help us tie her up. They were very helpful and came round with the dinghy, Ian jumped on board and tied them up safe ‘n sound. We found out later over drinks that they thought she had broken her arm en route and had called an ambulance to meet them! a slight lack of communication there…..
The weather had turned nasty, and the marina wasn’t really offering very good protection. We were being buffeted against the dock and having sustained so many knocks to our sugar scoops, Ian was not happy staying so we left for Valencia the next morning.
The marina in Valencia was brand new. Very clean and spacious. It was such a great treat to have such a lovely marina to spend a few days in, the only real problem was that it was very far out from Valencia. At least a 30 min walk to the bus stop with another 40 min bus journey. Our first day there we made an impulsive decision – which is REALLY unusual for Ian who normally ponders over things for months…. we would purchase a couple of electric scooters. We had seen them all over Europe and with all the safe bike lanes everywhere it made sense. So off we went looking for a bike shop. 20 minutes later we were the proud owners of two scooters complete with helmets and locks. No practice or research- the shop owner was very pleased I think. Google earth showed all the bike lanes in yellow, so we set off to explore Valencia, getting lost of course but it was so much fun. They go at between 20-25 kms a hour, are only weigh 12kg and can fold down.
We discovered the Oceanarium which was modern architecture at its finest. We walked around it and each side had a different shape. We scooted around the national park, nipped down side lanes and rode alongside the main highway.
By the time we got home, they were out of charge so we re-charged them and planned our next days outing. We needed a bit of food, so found a Lidl on Google, worked out our scooter route and set off the next day to go shopping. Backpacks and a couple of bags on the handlebars were all we needed. It only took us about 15 minutes and saved us about €17 euro in taxi fares, so we think they will probably pay for themselves in under a year.
A couple days in Valencia and we needed to get down to La Linea as we were meeting some friends from the UK there. We day sailed down, stopping at Cartanega on the way. It was not the weather forecasted and we ended up beating into 15 knot winds which was quite unpleasant and made us arrive late – which is something we try not to do, as coming into a busy port at night can be dangerous. By midnight we were anchored in the bay overlooking the Rock of Gibraltar – a magnificent site.
Our batteries were really in dire straights now – we were down to one
Our new lithium batteries were due within a couple of days, so we were just hoping we could make it. No fridge or freezer, all instruments off and hoping and praying the sun would keep shining to keep our solar panels working!
The next day our friends from UK came. I had been to school with Bof and even though we had always been in touch, we hadn’t seen each other for 30 years! She had remarried and moved to Cornwall and we never had the time when visiting the UK to get down there, so we had relied on phone calls and Xmas cards and of course Facebook. It was fabulous to catch up again and didn’t seem credible that 30 years had elapsed… such a fun few days, exploring Gibraltar , eating out, talking non-stop and of course drinking…. way too much!
Gibraltar has a couple of amazing facts. To enter across the land border, you have to literally walk across the airport runway as its the flattest piece of land, and it’s a little part of Britain stuck on the end of Spain, therefore making it a BOT (British Overseas Territory) Its been in British hands since 1713 and really is a little bit of England in the Med.
We decided to go up in the cable car and see the view. Once we had crossed into Gibraltar from Spain the sun promptly went in and as a result the temp dropped – English weather?? The cable car was well worth it, the views from the top are spectacular and there are monkeys running everywhere. I am not keen on them but Bof loved them – it was much colder up there so we headed down and had lunch- a full English roast as it was Sunday – for only £10 which was excellent value.
The next day they came on board and we had a long lazy barbeque lunch enjoying the last of the summer sun.
The next day we had a tapas lunch and Bof and Alan left for the UK. We started to organise our departure for the Caribbean but have still not heard when our batteries are arriving. Hopefully not too long as we don’t want to lose the weather window. The last few days Ian has spent checking checking and re-checking the boat as he always does before an ocean crossing. I have been organising provisions, charts, and communications. Its always hectic in the run up to a big jump but also very exciting .