Sunday, 10 July 2011

France to Spain

Hi from Clare,                                             Saturday  9th July 2011

When last I wrote we were heading to Saint Tropez. It was recommended by other cruisers to anchor in a quiet bay about 1.5 kilometers away and walk into town via a track around the rocky cliff face.  

In blissful ignorance, we decided to anchor as close to town as possible. We were hoping to catch up with our Aussie friend Bronwyn who was also due into Saint Tropez on the large power boat Lammouche.  What a busy spot, there was an endless procession of power boats returning for the evening. I managed to get the dinner but our boat was being tossed around by the wake. The dinner plates were sliding across the table, drinks were out of the question. After a few hours we abandoned the idea and retreated to the recommended quiet anchorage missing Bronwyn and Lammouche's arrival around .

Saint Tropez

The following morning, Sunday, we walked into Saint Tropez (Lammouche was gone). The town is small, the shops are expensive and the waterfront is just one restaurant after the other.  The internet café was not open until Monday and the Tourist Information Office charged two Euros for a map of the town; we have never been charged for a town map anywhere else. There were too many tourists and too many power boats; we were glad to leave.

After that we made our way along the south coast of France calling into a number of little towns. Some are old, some are quaint others are fishing villages or small country towns, but the one thing they have in common is pride in their community. The streets are clean, the towns are tidy the bins don't smell. The locals are friendly and most shop people speak English and are helpful; it was a pleasure to be there. This was in stark contrast to the tourist Mecca of Saint Tropez.

Sunday we set off for a 115 mile dash across the Gulf de Lyon. This is a notorious piece of water with strong and unpredictable wind.  Gales in the Gulf of Lions are common and one of our cruising friends refers to it as "that mean old gulf". We consider ourselves lucky; we encountered pitch black (no moon) rain and fog but apart from that it was a good trip arriving into Cadaques Spain mid morning on Monday.

                   Cadaques Foreshore                                                   Cadaques Villiage

The bay at Cadaques has many anchor buoys which take up all the shallow water.  We were pretty tired and the wind was blowing 20 knots and as we didn't want to go on any further so we paid forty euros for a buoy. We think this is a bit much considering we have a reservation in the marina at Barcelona for thirty eighty euros a day with water and power included, but what can you do?  We notice that just about every bay near a township has a field of mooring buoys. I guess this enables them to fit more boats in the bay. But the average cruiser would rather anchor out and not incur the added cost. As I said earlier "too many tourist, too many boats"

Tuesday morning we started making our way towards Barcelona. We found a quiet spot to anchor for the night and then had a fabulous 55 mile sail to Barcelona on Wednesday. The wind was about 15 knots and at a 90 degree angle. We averaged 6 knots on flat seas and apart from heavy fog at times we had a great ride. We are in the marina in Port Vell in the centre of Barcelona with only a short stroll to trains, trams and busses.

Clare on "La Rambla"

This was our first impression of Barcelona. Some of the architecture is very futuristic, some is centuries old and then there is a significant amount designed by the world renown architect Gaudi. We firstly visited Gaudi's Temple de la Sagrada Familia. This building was started in 1882 and has 8 exterior tapering towers 100 metres high. These will be dwarfed by the dome which will stand at 170 metres when completed in 2025. The inside is spectacular on a grand scale; Andrew and I sat there for a long time just trying to take it all in.

Temple de la Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia interior

We then went to the garden-city of Park Guell which has some fine examples of Gaudi's fantastic imagination. I was fascinated by the quaint little houses with the ceramic work on the rooves. They look like gingerbread houses or something out of a child's story book.


The park is high above the city and thankfully we could take an escalator up the hill. From the park we had a terrific view of Barcelona and Gaudi's Temple de la Sagrada Familia and its impact on the city skyline.

Street escalator

Casa Battlo

Late this afternoon we went to the 1901 residence Casa Batllo. This too is a Gaudi design and another amazing example of his unique work. As you can see in the photo the outside of the residence is covered by ceramic tiles. The theme of the house is the sea and so all the interior walls are curved like waves. Gaudi has also made the most of airflow, light, colour and space making it is hard to believe that the house is over 100 years old; it is still beautiful and remarkably functional.     

We will be here till Thursday exploring the city. We will then head for Majorca and relax and swim.  By then I reckon we will need a rest.    

Love Candy xx