Saturday, December 08, 2007

Heat and dust

View of Badalona (three chimneys in the distance) from Parc Guell

At the weekend Sam and I left the boys behind for a flying visit to Barcelona. We left home at 4am on Saturday and I got back at 12.30am on Tuesday morning (i.e. the middle of the night) so it really was a very quick one.

Kalessin was absolutely fine, but incredibly dirty - the result of being surrounded by building sites. The first thing we did when we arrived was scrub her down (in fact, to be technical about this, I scrubbed her down while Sam got friendly with Luis and his girlfriend in the boat across the pontoon). By the time Sam left on Wednesday Kalessin was already filthy again. Progress on the building closest to us, supposedly a hotel, seems very slow - some brickwork has been added but otherwise it looked much as it did in September.

We had excellent weather for most of our stay - sun and blue skies - but you still get quite short days and it does get quite chilly at night. It was the first time for nearly two years I contemplated putting on the boat heating system - we didn't though, as it's gas powered, we only have one cylinder left with gas in it and haven't worked out where to get refills yet.

We didn't get to the boat until around 2pm on Saturday, by the time we had messed about with trains and found a supermarket to get some necessities. I was in the epic queue with my arms full of groceries (couldn't find a basket) when Sam phoned to see if I'd got lost. Getting out my phone and answering it was challenging, and I'd like to apologise to the supermarket now for all the Ferrero Rochers that went on the floor.

After washing the boat I got rather damp, very chilly and very tired, so made up the bed in the forepeak and retired with a hot water bottle. What heaven. I do like sleeping on board Kalessin. We both slept for a couple of hours and went out to find somewhere to eat around the marina - loads of choice, about six places ranging from v. posh to burger bar, but all totally empty. In the end we went for a tapas bar with a few people in it and had a pleasant meal, but even when we came out at 10.45pm - surely on a Saturday night this must be a peak eating-out time in Spain - the restaurants were still very far from full.

Sunday was a culture-packed day - the morning in MNAC, the art gallery of Catalunya, looking at medieval triptyches and Spanish Impressionists, and the afternoon in Parc Guell, for an unadulterated dose of Antonio Gaudi. We originally hoped at this point to visit my long-lost schoolfriend Alan Teed and his wife Joan, on board their yacht Moonstruck which is currently in the Real Club Maritim de Barcelona in Port Vell. Sadly they have returned to the States until after Christmas, so instead we went to Port Olimpico (pictured), thoroughly enjoyed wandering around and feeling glad our yacht wasn't there, and found a really good place to eat at El Cangrejo Loco (The Mad Crab) which is unusual in serving food from 1pm to 1am, so we were able to eat at the mad hour (for Spain) of 7pm, and got the tram (yes!) back to the boat by 9.30.

Reading Alan and Joan's site reminds me of one of the key advantages of Port Badalona which we hadn't really appreciated - the crime rate in central Barcelona is very high and thieves can and do get on to the pontoons - we've seen no sign of crime at all in Badalona (although maybe we've been lucky).

Monday was my last day and I insisted on getting to the cathedral, which we missed last time owing to its wacky habit of closing between 12.45 and 5.15pm. It was stunning, as was the roof - it costs €2.50 to ascend in a lift to walkways which wind through the crockets and flying buttresses. On to Santa Maria de Mar (another medieval church), lunch at a nice little restaurant called Cheese Me, and then the rest of the afternoon at the Museu Maritim, set in fantastic medieval boatbuilding sheds, before I headed out to the airport.

Oh yes, forgot to add - apparently RENFE (Spanish rail) have been accidentally killing people, so as a compensation all trips to the airport are free.

Sam spent Tuesday adding metal spring boinggers (pictured left - Ben would like to add that this is a stainless steel one but ours is not stainless, because we have been advised that these are stronger) to our mooring warps (the rubber one broke), changing the oil, sorting out the bilge pump and finding an enormous supermarket in Sant Adria de Besos. He came home on Wednesday.

Sam at Parc Guell

Gaudi lizard at Parc Guell (v famous)

No comments: