Monday, October 31, 2016


We are in a marina on the island of Lanzarote. We went with another couple on a trip around the island in their rental car. The island is volcanic and we took a trip in a bus around an area that looked like a lunar landscape. Someone mentioned that astronauts are here training for a mission to Mars. It was absolutely beautiful the landscaped looked like this as far as the eye could see. 
We headed down to the north end of the island and went to a look out where we could see all of the island of Graciosa, Lanzarote is only about 50 kilometres long, so getting around the island does not take very long. 
There is an anchorage in the southern bay and it is very popular, it has a lovely beach and there are good hiking trails along the island. There is a well known artist that had a great influence over the island who has designed the symbols for the attractions on the island and even directed the way progress ha proceeded on the island.  None of the buildings are allowed to be over three stories high and everything is painted white. 
We headed off to lava tunnels that the artist has redesigned into an underground grotto with restaurants, bars and a swimming pool. 

There is another lava tunnel that we want to visit tomorrow which is not developed. We also intend to visit the house of the artist Cesar Manrique. Next we went to the Cactus Garden. It was packed with different kinds of cacti which were beautifully arranged in a sunken garden. 

It was a super day spent with our pontoon mates from Australia. Thanks for the invite guys. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Leaving Europe

We are on our way to the Canary Islands. Our brief European adventure is over, I am unhappy that we were unable to see the countries I had hoped that we would when we crossed the Atlantic such as Italy, Greece and Turkey. Barry's health comes first though and the steroids seemed to have worked very well and he was feeling really good until the day before we left Spain.  We had used some fuel going from Morocco across the Strait of Gibraltar to a town on the Spanish side of the Strait, so we headed off from the boat to try and buy some.  We were at a marina but they did not sell fuel there, we had to go way around the harbour, about a 2 kilometre walk to get the fuel.  On the way we stopped and bought some groceries which included a 5 litre bottle of distilled water and 3 pounds of potatoes.  I carried some stuff in my backpack and Barry balanced the rest of the stuff on our cart. I guess it was lopsided and the two fuel cans were awkward so Barry was holding  up one side of the cart.   The fuel station was closed so we walked the two kilometres back to the boat.  Well the next day, which is the day we left Barry's ribs were killing him, it hurt for him to breathe and when he coughed he was in agony.  Hard to believe that he would strain his muscle from trying to balance those groceries.  It is two days later now and he is feeling better.   

I was looking back at our pictures and there were lots of good ones with stories that go with them that I did not share in previous blogs.
We spent almost six weeks at the marina in Almerimar.  It was where Barry first went to see a doctor and  stayed as she was instrumental in setting up Barry's appointment with the specialist. I didn't much care for the place, it was a series of condo or apartment developments. There was no town attached to it, the marina was there and there were golf courses and the beaches, a resort town that had expanded beyond it's capacity.  The building behind us was unoccupied, it was three stories high and could have held 300 residents. There were restaurants and bars as well as lots of little stores, but no single dwellings or a Main Street. You couldn't wander along the alleys or down little side streets, just along main drags past big hulking apartment complexes. 
The area around Almerimar is referred to as the California of Spain.  It is hot and dry there, I mean really hot in the summer, over 40 degrees Celsius, so in order to grow food successfully they cover the ground with white plastic green houses. What you are looking at are acres and acres of gardens covered in plastic houses. Tomatoes are a major crop and are shipped from here all over Northern Europe. While California uses migrant Mexican workers to pick their fruit and vegetable crops it seemed like Arabs from Northern Africa are employed in Spain to do the market gardening work. Our guide on our trip to Granada told us that this area of white plastic is visible from space. 

One day I tried the Stand Up Paddle of SUP.  I did not find it very difficult although the balance was a bit tricky to start with, I made sure I tried on a very calm day. I did not have any trouble manoeuvring with the paddle but I guess anyone who has grown up canoeing around the wilds of Canada, should be able to handle a bit of paddling. 
There was a marshy area about 5 kilometres from the marina and I was told that flamingoes wintered there. The first time I tried to find them I must have walked 10 kilometres about four of it in the wrong direction, but I eventually found them.  Unfortunately the light was never great for taking pictures and the birds refused to come to the edge of the salt marshes so I could get a better picture.  

Here are a couple of pictures from the house that Antonio Gaudi built in Barcelona. When I saw the place I realized that we had visited a spot in Cuba that was inspired by Gaudi's work. It is interesting that we visited the place in the New World where imitators had built something before we saw the original in Spain. 
Now that is a big pot.

On our way home on the road trip we stopped off at a beach and I went for my one and only swim in the Mediterranean. After I was finished I was famished so we stopped at the next town and looked for something to eat.  We ran into a festival, there were picnic tables lining the streets filled with families eating, kids were lighting off fire crackers, a band was playing and there was a big long lineup. The people in the lineup were holding paper plates and some had pieces of cardboard in their hands.  They were waiting for the food to be ready. There was a section where people were cooking yummy looking dishes in these big round flat pans over open fires. In our limited Spanish we asked what was going on and it was a Saints Day and I think the people cooking were going to give the food away. We were unsure of how. Much longer we would have to wait until the food was ready and there was a big long line so we left and went to a different town to eat. 

Our last stop on our road trip was Valencia, Spain. We loved the city, unfortunately we did not have much time there. We did try the freshly squeezed Valencia orange juice and it was wonderful, so sweet and tasty. We went downtown and saw the former spice trading building.  It was spectacular with these huge marble columns that swirled as they went upwards. 
The outside had some wonderful gargoyles.  

We stopped in at the train station.  Barry used to work for Canadian National Railway when we were first married and the main station in Winnipeg is a beautiful building, since then we have had an affinity for train stations. This one in Valencia was magnificent. The interior was decorated with murals that were made with tiles. Check out the design on the ceiling as well. On our way back to the hotel we wandered down to the port. We discovered we had chanced on the home of the America's Cup sailboat race. This is the fourth venue we have been at, San Francisco, the Huaraki Gulf in New Zealand, Bermuda and Valencia. 

I have figured out a way around this app problem, I just type my prose in another program and copy and paste it into the blogger app. That is why you are getting such a long convoluted blog. I am really glad we sailed over to Europe, one sailor was bemoaning the lack of wide open spaces anywhere in Europe but I figure we did not come here to see wide open spaces, we came to experience the culture and see the beautiful buildings that are everywhere. We had a chance to visit southern Portugal, go up the Guadiana River, we visited Seville, Cadiz, Gibraltar, Granada, Almeria, Barcelona, Marseilles, Toulon, Valencia and finish off in Morocco.  We learned so much and met some wonderful people, life is good. 
We are into our fourth day of the voyage to the Canaries and all is well.  It is supposed to be a big long downwind sail from Europe and of course we have run into headwinds.  We are currently doing 5 knots but only making 2.8 in the right direction. We are in no hurry though so will continue to sail rather than motor in a straight line. We have seen at least 7 sailboats since we left which is very unusual for us.  It is the time of year to head this way if you are going to cross the Atlantic or just looking for somewhere warm to spend the winter. 
In Canada kids play hockey, in Europe they play football or soccer. At the end of one busy sightseeing Day in Barcelona we happened on an open football stadium and we visited a grocery store. Then we went and sat in the stands and watched first a Junior A team practise and then the younger crowd took over. We ate our baguette and brie cheese and drank some sangria enjoying the sunshine and the enthusiasm that was evident on the faces of the 6 - 10 year old faces, an everyday experience in Spain.

We have arrived safe and sound in the Canary Islands.  Our passage took an extra day because of light then head winds.  It is good to be here. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Tetuoan and the Market

Yesterday we went to visit Tetuoan an old walled Arabic city and today we went to see a market that just takes place once every two weeks. 
There were very narrow winding passages in the old city, the houses were generally three stories high, some places were more narrow than others. 
We were very glad we had our guide with us , it would have been very easy to get lost. It was all about the doors into the dwellings. 
Some were very ornate such as this one, others had beautiful ceramic tiles around the door jamb, here is a couple trying to decide which door they want.
There were sections to the souk or marketplace, there was the fruit and vegetable part, the dry goods area, the tailors, with there sewing machines in tiny little shops, the furniture making spot where these doors were as well as some lovely cabinets. Then we headed to the tannery, the weather was not hot because otherwise the smell would have been overwhelming. I would have liked a better explanation of what was going on but it was fairly self explanatory and an eye opener. 

As near as I can figure they were soaking the skins, scraping the skins and dyeing he skins, although the scraping looked like a back breaking job, I think I would have disliked being up to my knees in that muck when the guy was dyeing the skins. 
Not my idea of a good time. 

We went for a long ride down the coast today to see a traditional market that only takes place once every two weeks. It was a lovely ride along the coast and well worth the trip to see the local colour when we arrived. I am still having lots of trouble with this app so will just add lots of pictures so you can  have a sample of our experiences. 

The men negotiating the price for their livestock. 
The Berber women with their colourful red striped tied on skirts and semi conical straw hats. 
You could buy anything here, we replenished our supply of dates and olives and brought some lovely tasting grapes. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016


Do you think the boat owner used this conveyance to get down to the port?
We are in Smir, Morocco about 20 miles south of Gibraltar. We had a 36 hour crossing from Almerimar, Spain.  We were only able to sail for about 6 hours during the trip so it was not our favourite way to move around. We will wait here for a good window to go out the Straits of Gibraltar, it looks like Sunday should be a good day. It also looks like we will have to wait at the end of Strait for a weather window to the Canaries.
We went to the closest town today, Midic, and visited the market. We came away with fruits, veggies, yogurt, as well as dates and olives. We declined to the buy the really fresh chicken, one who was under some guys arm, Barry says it was either supper or his pet chicken. 

Sunday, October 09, 2016

This is the Old Port of Marseilles which we really enjoyed. We spent most of the day wandering around the area and visiting the old town with the narrow twisting streets. This very steep sidewalk was featured in the movie the French Connection and had some gorgeous views from the top of the street looking back down the hill. 
This led to a very artsy part of town with studios and ateliers all over the place.  I loved what this artist had done with his corner of the building. 
Close to the end of the harbour this big cathedral was being restored, what a mammoth undertaking.
We took a city bus up a hill to a lookout and got a great view of the city.  Here is an example of a totally different type of architecture. 
The next day we headed further east to Toulon driving along the twisting road along the Côte d Azur . We stopped in several small places enjoying the harbours, the colours made the scene come alive. I thought it would make a fantastic puzzle. 
Due to a recent update this app has become very hard to deal with so I am stopping now. We are back at the boat and have been waiting for a good sailing window to go to the Canaries but the weather does not want to co operate. We are heading to Morocco tomorrow , it is a days journey and we will most likely have to motor. 
The steroid treatment seems to have done wonders for Barry, we are so releaved. He does not have to use his crutch any more when walking around, so we have decided to make tracks towards home while his is feeling good.