Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Barcelona to Balearics


Hi from Clare,                                                  Tuesday 19th July 2011

Barcelona is a wonderfully vibrant city with much to see. The underground train system has stations close to all major tourist attractions, making it very easy to get around.  On Sunday Andrew walked to the Maritime Museum and I took the train across the city to the National Museum. A great plan except the Maritime Museum was largely closed due to renovation and the National Museum closes early on Sunday.

We regrouped and ventured on to the Olympic Stadium where the European Rugby Sevens were playing their Championships. The stadium was built in 1926 and is very grand. It was fully refurbished for the Olympic Games in 1992. It is situated high on a hill behind the National Museum and although there are hundred of steps to get to the Museum and Stadium, thankfully there are also a number of outdoor escalators that carry you up the hill – what a great idea!


                       Barcelona Olympic Stadium                                       Magic Fountain

We had dinner at the foot of the National Museum and watched the Magic Fountain put on a spectacular display of water, light and colour choreographed to stirring music. As well as the Magic Fountain which has three circles of water jets that constantly change making different shapes, the fountains in front of the National Museum cascade down the hillside putting on a marvelous display, the whole area seems to be gushing water – definitely not the place to be with a full bladder.

                                    The National Museum by night and by day

The following day we went on a guided tour of the Palau de la Musica Catalana which was built between1905-1908 and is Barcelona’s music venue par excellence hosting hundreds of concerts a year. It is a truly beautiful building lavishly decorated with sparkling chandeliers and walls of stained glass. The solid walls and columns are covered with ceramics flowers and decorative detail. There are statues of composers and on the back wall of the stage colourful carvings of musicians from around the world playing traditional instruments. The centre piece of the auditorium is a beautiful stained glass skylight.  The venue boasts excellent acoustics and has a huge organ. As part of the tour we heard a piece by Bach played on the organ which vibrated through us. – Fantastic.

                                                     Inside the Palau de la Musica

After this we strolled through the Gothic quarter which is the oldest area of town. It has a haphazard layout and bears traces of the last 2000 years back to Roman times. We went into the Barcelona Gothic Cathedral which took 600 years to build between1300-1900 and is still a maze of scaffolding. After seeing Gaudi’s Temple de la Sagrada Familia a few days ago the Barcelona Cathedral didn’t do much for me.

Tuesday morning I caught the train and went back to the National Museum to spend a few very enjoyable hours. The museum brings together the most important collections of Catalan art and showcases 1000 years of local creativity. There are some really beautiful portraits and life scenes and then there is the religious art showing people being beheaded, burnt at the stake, skun alive – just disgusting.

Late Tuesday afternoon (12th July) Andrew’s son Matthew flew in from London for a few days. We were leaving for Menorca the following morning as 24 hours after that, strong head winds were forecast for a number of days.  We meet Matthew at the rail station and took him on a whistle stop tour of Barcelona taking in as much as possible in the time allotted. He got to see Sagrada Familia (inside and out) the Olympic Stadium, the National Museum, the Magic Fountain, Gaudi’s Casa Batllo and we strolled home via the tourist area of La Rambla. Not a bad effort and Mathew was very pleased when consulting his guide book on ‘what to see in one day in Barcelona’ he had pretty well covered it.

The 100 mile sail from Barcelona to Mallorca was fast averaging 6 knots. The sea was lumpy, but now nearly a week later, we realize that we definitely picked the best day for the trip. We sailed into Pollenca Mallorca onThursday around in 28knots of wind and rain.  After a hearty breakfast we slept till and then had a restful day. The water temperature is 26.5 degrees and Matthew has been training for a 1.5 km   swim which is part of a triathlon he is doing later this month in London (the swim leg in a wet suit).

The following day we went into town and then out to dinner that night with our Aussie friend Tony and his English girlfriend Jacqui from ‘Tactical Directions’. We last saw Tony in Sardinia about twelve months ago and Matthew was holidaying with us then also. We had a good night out with pre dinner drinks at a restaurant on the waterfront and then dinner at a recommended Chinese Restaurant where the food was very tasty and reasonably priced.

Tony, Matthew, Clare and Andrew

MALLORCA TO MENORCA   Saturday we sailed 60 miles to Mahon Menorca. This was also a fast sail but fortunately the sea was a lot flatter, the sun was shining and we arrived in time for drinks at sunset; a much more civilized way to travel.

Since arriving we have had little opportunities to go in to the town of Menorca.  The weather is very changeable with strong winds and the anchorage is crowded. Pandemonium broke out late Sunday when the wind changed direction. A yacht trying to re anchor had a gear box failure a few meters from our bow and started drifting towards us.  Andrew jumped into our dinghy and tied along side the disabled yacht and with our outboard pushed the yacht away from us and the other anchored boats in danger.

                                                             Mahon Harbour-front
Matthew left Monday morning to fly back to London.  We managed to get into town late Monday afternoon to have a brief look around.  Since then we have basically stayed on the boat making sure we are safe. We have encountered strong changeable winds and rain squalls.  We have befriended a young French family anchored next to us. They have invited us over for a glass of wine tonight.  They speak little English and we speak very less French so it should be an interesting encounter.

Love Candy xx