Friday, September 30, 2016

Road Trip

Barry is feeling better after his steroid treatment and we rented a car and set off on a road trip. We visited England in 1987 with all the kids and Barry and I had planned on a getaway trip to Paris, but there were fish wars around St. Pierre and Miquelon and we would have had to apply for a visa and wait 6 weeks to visit so we couldn't.  I really didn't want to leave Europe again this time without a chance to visit France when we were so close. I had a hard time getting Barry to agree to come but he finally relented.
This picture is of Capo Gato a large cape about 40 miles east of where we are staying. The first day on the car we drove to Barcelona. I would not recommend driving that distance in one day but we had only booked the car for one week so we had to boogie. 
Our visit to Barcelona was not an unqualified success. It is a huge city and since we only wanted to stay for one day it was difficult to judge what we wanted to visit.  I wanted to choose attractions no tha did not involve too much walking so that is t would not stress Barry's body too much.  We chose to visit Casa Battlo, designed by Antonio Gaudi, unfortunately all the pictures are on the camera and I did not bring the attachment to transfer them to the IPAD. It was unbelievable with ornate modern designs and lots of tiling.  I will post pictures later. 
Next we headed up a funicular and got a great view of the city and visited the Mont Juic fortress at the top of the mountain. 
The fortress was used as early as the tenth century to warn to approaching ships and then in the eighteenth century the people in power ordered the city of Barcelona to be bombarded from their own fortress. The bourgeoisie were revolting to protest the poverty and lack of freedom and lack of services they were receiving from the aristocracy.  The fortress was used again later in the century to put done another revolt, it seemed to used more against the local populace than against invaders?!?
We had to dive through the Pyrenees to get to France and there was some beautiful countryside. We stayed on some secondary roads and wound our way through fields covered with vineyards. We stopped for lunch in a French town and had a lovely lunch, our first truly French food.  We are in Marseille at the moment but I will save that for another blog, but will leave you with this picture of the old port with the fort guarding the entrance. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good - they sell sangria in a plastic pop can bottle for less than €2 a bottle.  I quite like it although it is a bit sweet, only 4% alcohol so a light sundowner on a hot day. 

The Bad - the doctor said that Barry has three areas of his spine where there is significant arthritis and a herniated disc and there is no surgical solution. After thought and discussion we have decided that since there is not chance of Barry having a miraculous recovery it is time to head home.  We are going to sail to the Canaries in early Oct. and cross the Atlantic, probably after Christmas.  We really would like to complete our circumnavigation and the sooner we do that the better. I am glad that we have figured out what is wrong with Barry and that we have made a decision that is best for us. He has been given a week's steroid treatment and at the end of 5 days is feeling much better. 

The Ugly - just to put things into perspective, there are horrible cockroaches in the woman's shower.  There are at least 2 inches long and I truly dislike going to the shower late at night. One night there were three of the suckers, EEYOUWHEEEEE, gross. One has to learn to deal with all sorts of things in this life but I find cockroaches one of the most difficult.  

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Hopeful for a diagnosis

We saw the specialist today.  He thinks it is a problem with Barry's sciatic nerve.  He had X-rays of his right hip shortly after his appointment and he is waiting for an MRI on his lumbar vertebrae which is scheduled for tonight. We have another appointment with the specialist next Wed. to find out what exactly his diagnosis is and what can be done.  
Barry's appointment was at 10:30 A.M. We took a cab to get to the bus stop and started at 7:20 A.M. His MRI appointment is at 9:00 P.M. so we had a decision to make.  The bus does not run at that time of night, we could not get back to the boat by bus. We had three options, option 1, take a cab all the way back, very expensive, option 2, rent a car and drive back after dark, option 3, rent a hotel room, relax for the afternoon and early evening in the hotel instead of hanging about in the hospital and stay the night and take the bus back tomorrow.  We choose option 3, Barry did not want to drive back after dark and we found a decent price on a hotel. It actually turned out to be about the same price as a rental car.  This is a treat as well and we are chilling out and watching the Para-Olympics.  
Barry got some heavier pain killers for this next week and he has had two hot baths this afternoon.  He has possession of the remote control so is busy surfing through mostly Spanish, a couple French, a couple Geman and three English stations. Strangely enough we were watching the Para Olympics in Spanish and now he is channel hopping.  
I am going to head out and do some sight seeing and get some fruit to keep us going until after his appointment and then we will have a fashionably late dinner in Spain, about 10:00 or 10:30!!

Friday, September 09, 2016

Granada, Spain and the Alhambra

The Alhambra Palace and Fortress in Granada, Spain designated a world UNESCO site. The fortress was built first on some Roman ruins around 890 A.D. 
Then the palace was built by the Moors in the early 1300's.  The inside of the palace is very ornate with poems in Arabic carved in plaster on the upper walls, the lower walls have ceramic tiles in intricate designs. The poem would be the writing in the second narrower panel above the tiles. 
You could almost think this was a carpet, but it is a plaster wall. 
The ceilings are fantastic, there are two types, the ones made out of plaster and the ones done in wood, both are unbelievable. 
The wooden roof with inlays. 
Here is what that cupola ceiling with the windows looked like from the outside. 
Charles V of Spain added his own contribution to the fortress in the 1490's, I did not get a good picture of the outside so will borrow one from the Internet. There is also a big church, you can see it's top poking over Charles V palace, there but I did not have enough time to visit it.
It was very different architecturally especially on the inside, being grand and austere rather than intricately decorated like the Morrish palace.  Can you believe that big square building looks like this on the inside??
The gardens were beautiful with the Moorish influence of water everywhere, lots of fountains and ponds. The gardens we extensive with about 700m of pathways separated by hedges, three layers wide, there some flowers and shrubs I had never seen before 
The last place I visited was called the Generalife and it was where the non Royal members, or maybe even lesser Royal family members lived.  The quarters were smaller but the pools and surrounding vegetation were beautiful. 
This woman just stepped into the shot as I was taking it and I had to hurry to get back to the tour on time so did not stop to take a better photo. 
To anyone thinking of visiting be sure you plan ahead. They only allow so many into to see the palace at one time and there were no more individual tickets to be bought for a week and a half when I looked. We took a tour which picked us up in Almerimar, it was great, it was a 12 passenger van, he did all the driving, he arranged for the tickets, we skirted along the Sierra Nevada mountains, and we got a great commentary on every thing we saw. One of the reasons we stopped here is I wanted to see the Alhambra and I am so glad Barry was healthy enough to go with me, it was a great trip. 

The Alcazaba in Almeria, Spain

Barry has become boat bound and needed to get away so we took 4 different buses and ended up in Almeria about 40 kilometres away. There we went to visit the Alcazaba, or a Moorish castle fortress built in the 1300's when the Arabs ruled this area of Spain. It is built on top of a hill so there are great views but Barry had to struggle up the uneven steps, we took it slow and easy. 
The Arabs were terrific at managing water, there were cisterns built and then a system of keeping the water flowing. The garden with the pond and fountain was near the top of the fortress where the long quarters were, there were also baths up there but all that were left were rock outlines. 
This part of the wall was built later on, when the Spanish had retaken the area, after the 1490's and there was a Cathlic church built on the other side, it is a statue of Christ at the end of the wall. 

Since we are now in the Mediterranean boats are tied up to the dock using a system they call Med mooring. There are no slips, you tie the front or back of your boat to the cement dock which does not float and the other end is secured to lines that are set by the marina in the middle of the slipway. If you look carefully you can see the line at the back. It was hooked to the edge and a marina guy came and gave it to us and we had a very nice cruiser come and help us walk it to the back and then pull on it until the boat was straight. It is a good thing there was no one on the other side of us because we were almost sideways to the dock at one point.  ( The line is all slimy and gross from sitting in the water and I had to clean up puddles of filthy guck in three different spots, yech!)
Okay, how, you ask, do you get on and off a boat tied in such a manner?? Well if you are a veteran of such things you have a boarding ladder or plank, this is our neighbours.
Barry is not keen on putting out big bucks to buy such a convenience so we climb up and down the lines that secure us to the concrete to get off and on. 
Getting on, hang on to the pulpit with all your might, put one foot on the line, step down and pull yourself up so the other foot can get a foothold on the rub rail. Note the bicep, triceps and even the delts are getting a workout here. 
Getting off, climb over the lifelines and step with both feet on the dock line. Shuffle slowly down the line, remembering to hold on to the pulpit with all your might, as your body weight moves the boat closer to the dock, step off and let go of the pulpit. Whew, another safe egress! Barry still can manage, to get back on he puts out that 2 x 4 you see on the deck, it rest on the white box.  He steps on the white box then on the board the over the pulpit, I don't trust the board it seems kind of tippy to me. 
Maybe we should make a North American how to, you tube movie or just post the pictures somewhere, anyway if you ever want to try this, now you know how!!

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Gibraltar and beyond

An older male macaque being groomed by some youngsters near the top of Gibraltar. With Barry's hip still acting up we took a tour up the rock rather than make our way up on the cable car and walk across the top of the peninsula. 
There was a giant natural cave at one spot, during the Second World War it was used as a hospital and a place of refuge. They use it for a theatre now and have put seating in it, that was okay but the coloured spot lights they used to light up the stalagmite and stalactites took away from their grandeur in my opinion.  There never was just natural white light on them. 
The view from the top of the rock was spectacular. 
Above is the east side of "The Rock" and below is the view to the Northwest. 
There are very few single family homes in Gibraltar, due to lack of space, everything is built up. Gibraltar ends at the point of the breakwater on the far right. Everything to the right of the breakwater is Spanish territory, the Spanish believe that Gibratar should belong to them.  Over 10,000 Spainards cross the border everyday to work in Gibraltar. 
Our tour took us up to the tunnels that were blasted into the rock during The Great Siege of 1779-1783 when the Spanish and French tried to retake Gibraltar by cutting off supplies to the British. The tunnels were built in order to be able to defend one side of the island.  The rock was too steep to mount a cannon so they tunnelled and just holes in the side of the rock face in order to shoot the cannons. If you want to read more this is a good overview.
This shot out of one of the cannon holes shows the runway which is British territory as is the airport building, the curvy one with the cream coloured roof and the black sides, the border is just the other side of the airport terminal. We were tied up at the Spanish marina, just to the northwest, a nice spot but a lengthy walk to anything you might need. 
A few days later we took a local bus out to Europa point, the most southerly spot on Gibraltar. They have done the area up really nicely with an interpretive centre under one of the cannons and a nice  esplanade in the area. 
We hopped off the bus near the corner of Trafalgar street and visited the graveyard where several victims of the great battle off of Cape Trafalgar were buried. 
We left Gibraltar and sailed overnight to get in some distance down the coast. This was our view as we left.
Barry's pain was manageable while he was on the drugs he was taking but once the prescription ran out he was suffering once again.  We are at big marina on the coast south of Granada. He was able to see a doctor soon after we landed and was prescribed some different pills.  We are hoping that the arthritic type anti-imflammitores like he was on before when he had his other hip operated on will be sufficient to manage his pain now.  If he can not get it under control we will have to make some alternate plans as she can not continue to sail the way he is at the moment.  I have been keeping busy, changed the oil, serviced all nine winches, and I have 1/3 of the boat left to polish.  It is enough to keep me from fretting about the future, worrying about it won't make a lick of difference, we will just have to deal with whatever happens. Our life is in limbo for awhile and we just have to accept it,