Archive for L’Escala

Panoramarama part 1

Posted in French canals and rivers, Photographs, the Mediterranean Sea, Walking with tags , , , , on May 30, 2011 by maidofmettle

Maid of Mettle is at sea, or possibly stopped somewhere without internet. Yes, this does occasionally happen.

While I will try and post occasional updates via satellite phone, they will not contain the number of photos you have become used to.

So should you miss them, please enjoy this brief pictorial interlude. Otherwise described as: I finally got around to finding a program to stitch series of panoramic photos together. Just left-click on the thumbnails to open a larger image in a new tab.

This is Valence, on the River Saone in southern France. We didn’t actually stop here, but the view passing through was quite impressive, especially the castle-topped hills overlooking the town on the left bank.

Next up is Lyon, on the River Rhone. We did spend quite a few days here – it’s not only a beautiful city, but also home to my friend (and former housemate / colleague) Caroline. The view is from the La Croix-Rousse quarter, once Europe’s silk factory. You can just see the basilica at Fourvieres on the skyline on the right- it was built in thanks after a medieval plague passed the city by.

The next couple are both from the top of the city walls in Avignon. The first looking north…

and the second looks east  across the edge of the town to the beginnings of the Alps in the distance. The most famous ~1/4 of a bridge in the world is unfortunately hidden behind a tree somewhere.

To continue the mountain theme we’re going to dash to the bottom of France, and then across the Golfe de Lion to L’Escala, just over the Spanish border. This time it’s the snow-capped Pyrenees you can glimpse on the skyline in the far-right.

Part of this walk was a bit creepy – I was going through some woodland when I saw a cat sunning itself in a spot of shade. So far, so good. But then there was another. And another. And another. The overall effect was rather disturbing..

Still, it was well worth it for the views of this tiny hilltop suburb and a beautifully blue Mediterranean.

And the mysterious phantom island on the horizon on the left. It really doesn’t look like a cloud, but I’m sure there shouldn’t be land in that direction within several hundred miles. Strange.

The next leap is to Barcelona, and the view over the city from Park Guell.

Next is a view of the west coast of Ibiza and offlying islands. San Antonio is visible on the right, but you can’t see the nightclubs from up here.

Still on the same island, here’s a long-distance view of Ibiza town itself, from the dunes by the Playa Las Salinas, named after the numerous salt-pans nearby. Apparently Jade Jagger and Kate Moss frequent this beach, but unsurprisingly not in February.

Finally (for now) a return to the Spanish mainland in Cartagena – the harbour and some of the city from a fort high above the eastern side of the entrance.

Viva Espagne

Posted in Fun, Photographs, Sailing, the Mediterranean Sea with tags , , on January 13, 2010 by maidofmettle

I’d love to say we had an amazing sail for the 100 or so nautical miles from Port de Bouc to L’Escala in Spain.  Although in reality I was excited to see land for many more reasons other than it being a different country to explore!

The sailing started out quite nicely with calm water and a reasonable amount of wind.  We’d had an excellent looking forecast for 48 hours that would be more than enough to cover the journey across the Gulf de Lion that separated us from Spain.

In fact it wasn’t all bad at first…I practised a few things such as plotting navigation markers on the chart, reefing the main-sail to make it small enough to use as the wind increased and generally gaining confidence with crawling around on deck whilst on the move.  Our new crew member “Horace” the Hydrovane (self steering device) got its first outing and was impressive, encouraging the real crew to be more rested and concentrate a bit more on navigation and so on.

We saw the sun set and with some trepidation continued sailing into the night.  I was particularly dreading going into the cabin to get to sleep after feeling slightly off colour since the afternoon.

Sunset before the waves came up

The night was uncomfortable to say the least.  None of us expected the waves to be breaking (occasionally jumping over the side and landing on the poor people in the cockpit) and though it wasn’t too bad, the sea did seem a little rougher than I expected from the forecast.

Having said that, both Chris and I had our minds put off the waves by feeling horrendously ill for the whole night.  Sea sickness is not fun and whoever thought it would be Chris who succumbed to it first!  Luckily Pete seemed to be oblivious to the rocking motion of the boat in the waves and appeared as if by magic to carry on as normal.  Anyone who can go into the cabin and act normally by reading charts and managing to do anything without any ill effects is amazing if you ask me.   Needless to say we got through the night but it was difficult to sleep and pretty cold outside too.  The choice between being cold and being ill is a tricky one especially when there is a chance of being both when you’re outside in the dark without a clear view of the horizon…yay!

The night sailing did have some advantages.  We got an amazing view of the stars and some glowing phospherescence in the water.  Lots of little bits of green something or other that looked like little glow-worms flicking about in our wake and occasional breaking waves of green.

Almost as soon as it had picked up the wind died down again to almost nothing in the morning which meant we had to get the motor back on to make sure we didn’t have another night at sea.

After about 30 hours of sailing we arrived extremely tired into L’Escala and negotiated some tricky mooring…just what you need when all you want to do is go to sleep.

This morning we took a well earned lie in and then explored a bit.

beach and copper boy at L'Escala

It’s nice here and we found our first beaches since Calais.  Need to pick up some Spanish.  Between us I think we can say hello, thank you, two beers please and can I have the bill.  It’s bizarre too that it would be now that we start thinking in French and dropping in French phrases by accident.