Jan 21

Christmas and New Year 2017 – Valencia, Cartagena and Granada

Well, if you don’t like seeing any photographs of friends having fun together then this blog post might not be for you! There are some cultural bits as well but, as it’s all about Christmas and New Year in Valencia, Cartagena and Granada then, of course, there has to be fun and frolics.

We were delighted to be invited to spend Christmas with “Coriander” and “Destination Anywhere” in Cartagena but before we went there we had a couple of Christmassy things to do in Valencia.

Firstly, on 22nd December, there was the circus…

Circo Raluy was created more than one hundred years ago by Luis Raluy Iglesias, an acrobat, circus man and collector of old wagons – which are still in use today.

The ticket office

His legacy passed to his eldest son, also Luis, and then to his grandsons Luis and Carlos who separately head up two travelling circuses.

Circus entrance

In Valencia we saw Luis, [the Pierrot]…

…. who, with his wife, daughters and some of the wider Raluy family, are currently touring Catalonia following the route of the legendary Cirque Raluy. Prior to the performance we went into the “bar”….

…and there found posters and photographs of the circus performing all over the world – including in the UK where they apparently had a somersaulting car. Unfortunately we didn’t get to witness that spectacular event but really enjoyed being in a traditional “Big Top”…..

….. seeing historic memorabilia….

….and watching the customary tightrope walkers, flyers, balancing acts etc. Whilst most of these were the fourth and fifth generation family members they also had a visiting celebrity act….

…Iya Traoré, a Guinean football player and freestyler. If you want to see some of his skills just type in his name and You Tube videos will come up.

Circo Raluy is just one of three circuses that performed in Valencia over the Christmas period. It is obviously a very popular thing, as is the Fair…..

….which arrived at the end of November and stays until the end of January. It isn’t Mike’s cup of tea so we haven’t been – even though it is near the marina, opposite the waterfront.

Secondly, on 23rd Dec we went to the Botanic Gardens auditorium for a jazz evening. Rather like “The Jam Factory” [who Mike and James used to play with] it was quite a family affair and at times there was perhaps more enthusiasm than talent. But it was entertaining and well attended and even though it didn’t start until 9.30pm there was still time for a drink afterwards in the old town. It was an amazingly still, balmy night and walking back to the boat from the bus stop we got a great view of one of the party venues across the marina inner basin channel.

Whilst Spain celebrates the Christmas period with events, there are no overpowering displays. Decorations are minimalist and tasteful in shopping precincts….














….and on houses.

Santa hats in Granada

Balcony lights in Cartagena – they are there!











Perhaps the most “gaudy” things we saw were these colourful balloons which were popular on Christmas Eve.

It was mid-afternoon on Christmas Eve was when we arrived in Cartagena and we soon settled in aboard “Coriander”. Malc and Nikki were out in town with Barbara [Nikki’s mum] so missed out on the first round of wine and mince pies….

On board Coriander with Steve and Gill

…but they had ample chance to catch up later. We missed some of the festivities which apparently started around noon – when all the bars put tables out into the streets and squares – but there was still sufficient activity in the evening to keep us entertained and we enjoyed a bar crawl through the town.

Cartagena is a popular over wintering marina with many liveaboards [unlike Valencia where we are the only ones!] and a committee was formed – with Gill and Nikki being two of the members – and a brilliant Christmas Day BBQ was arranged.

The Three Wise Men!!!

Piled plates for all

It was especially good to meet up once again with friends Dorothy and Duncan [“Hunda”] …..

….. who we first met in Isla Mujeres in 2013, but haven’t seen since. They hadn’t changed one bit and the catch up continued during an Indian meal for nine a couple of nights later.

Cartagena is full of history and with the marina being right on the edge of town we were easily able to access some of its sights. Steve and Gill took us on a whistle-stop tour……

Pavement pillars and mosaics…

“The star of the seas helps your children”

The Roman Theatre

The Town Hall

…. ending in the Plaza de los Héroes de Cavite.

We were told that the plaza and statue were to commemorate slavery. The Spanish word for slavery is actually “esclavitud”, which is close – however, when I looked up “Cavite” I found it was a town in the Philippines which was, at one time, colonised by the Spanish and to where galleons travelled from Spain via Acapulco. There is a strong possibility that Filipinos from Cavite were enslaved and they are the heroes? I guess I will never know.

Just off this square is the Museo Nacional de Arqueología Subacuática where we spent part of the afternoon. It was another of those museums where some bits of it had strange coloured lighting, which may be to preserve the exhibits or, in this case being blue, to give visitors the impression of being underwater.

Remains of a Phoenician ship

Ceramics moved from the water should be kept in similar conditions

Anchor from a C18 Spanish Frigate

It was all quite interesting and I was particularly taken by this sign….

…..and will try to remember that “trinca’s” are to be avoided!

Gill and Steve left the museum before us and returned to the boat before it rained. We also missed the shower – as Mike took rather longer than everyone else to take in the museums exhibits – and on leaving we were treated to some quite startling light/sky….

….and to a double rainbow over the marina.

Cartagena is in the province of Murcia and we all visited its capital, Murcia City on the day after Boxing Day [not that Spain has Boxing Day, but you know what I mean].

Built in 1394, Murcia’s cathedral, like many others in Spain, stands on the site of a mosque.

Once again we were stunned by its interior…..

The Altar

The Choir

…. the highlight being the “Capilla de los Vélez” …..

……. .with its filigree looking almost like icing.

Across the Plaza in the Bishop’s Palace….

…with its magnificent hammered, moulded and embossed copper doors….

….is where we saw the Murcia version of the “Belén”.

Belén is the Spanish name for Bethlehem and the elaborate nativity scenes include “normal life”] as well as the manger and the three kings/wise men.

Thursday 28th Dec was a day of eating and drinking. For lunch we opted for a Menú del Día at Restaurante Mares Bravas at Cala Cortina…..

……..a five minute car ride from the marina, but feeling like miles away from the city.

Then in the evening it was Tapas time. Our favourite bar was “La Uva Jumillana”…

Mike getting a round in

Colourful floor….

and, some would say, even more “colourful” photos!

… though we also really enjoyed Mr. Witt’s – more about that later.

Having hired a car and travelled down to Cartagena, Mike and I also wanted to visit Granada – approx. 300km [180miles] west. Unfortunately it wasn’t good timing for Nikki and Malc to join us but we were really pleased that Steve and Gill decided to come along too.

The Tapas sampling continued….

In the Central Market…

Up market this time!

…and what is so amazing about Granada is that it is possible to eat enough, with the tapa included with every drink, not to actually have to buy any extra food.


…. glorious ham









Two fabulous evenings, with our first glimpse of the Alhambra as we walked down from our accommodation on night one.

We stayed in the Albaicín neighbourhood…

…..with its maze of narrow streets and passages dating back to the Moorish Nasrid Kingdom…..

…. and also had a lovely view over to the Sierra Nevada.

Even better views…

….were to be had from the Alhambra….

…. and not only of the Sierra Nevada but also of Granada Cathedral….

….and the town itself spread out before us.

The early morning mist had lifted, in the main, but just enough remained to create a quite beautiful scene.

You are probably now expecting a series of photographs and some information about the Alhambra itself. Well, I am sorry to disappoint, but you are going to have to wait for the next post. I just couldn’t decide what photos to leave out, therefore concluding that there were so many I wanted to include that it warranted a post of its own.

I do feel, however, that as the following two aren’t about the Palace itself I can include them here. These trees grow in one of the gardens…

Can you guess what they are? If so, you are better than me. I had to look it up. They are Caqui fruit – which you might know better as the Persimmon.

OK, so if I had put this picture first some of you might have known!

Unfortunately we didn’t have much time to look around the rest of Granada but did see the outside of the cathedral, by night, and just before going up to the Alhambra we passed by the tourist office which is housed in the Ayuntamiento [town hall] with this rather amazing statue on top.

It was apparently conceived as “a symbol of happiness, representing the achievement of a moment of triumph, of perfect, yet fleeting, balance – a moment you are only aware of when it has already gone by and the blindfold covering your eyes falls”.

So, it was now New Year’s Eve and time to return to Cartagena for a fabulous evening starting with a wonderful meal cooked for us by Nikki.

On board “Destination Anywhere”

We then wandered up to the town hall square for the midnight bells. The tradition in Spain is that as each of the twelve “bongs” are heard you have to eat a grape.

Steve checking he has twelve grapes!

If you manage to do this within the twelve seconds then you will have good luck for the year. Well, we managed to eat our grapes but, I have to admit, I didn’t do one grape per bong. As the first one sounded I just started stuffing them in and swallowing as quickly as possible. Hope that’s OK as far as luck goes!

You might have noticed in the above photo that there weren’t many people around. That’s because most people celebrate at home with a meal, including the grape ceremony, and then come out. So, on NYE the bars don’t open until 00.30.

I said you would hear more about Mr. Witts – because that was our bar of choice to bring in the New Year. We arrived not long after the bar opened…

….but it got a lot more crowded later. I have to thank Malc for these photos. Mine were rubbish. I’ll put it down to the phone [yes, even though I have two cameras I chose to leave them on the boat] but some of you might think it was more to do with the alcohol of which there was plenty.

Don’t be fooled by those coffees!!

Finally, although this post is now a little late it still seems fitting to wish all readers a Very Happy 2018.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.sigasiga.co.uk/2018/01/21/christmas-and-new-year-2017-valencia-cartagena-and-granada/

Dec 21

60th Birthday fun with friends in Valencia

Hey, you know – it’s not bad being 60. Lots of friends came to celebrate with me, the “party” therefore lasted about three weeks and I didn’t even notice I had passed one of those dreaded landmarks in life.

Caroline and John were our first visitors [19-22 October] and we started celebrating in style….

Aperol Spritz cocktails, always a good way to begin

Next came the “Sundowners”…..

Waiting for the restaurant to open…maybe!

….. a fabulous bunch of people I used to work with who decided that a long weekend [26-30 October] in Valencia was just what they needed.

Then Jack and Christine….










….who we met whilst cruising in the Caribbean and who loaned us their house in Cadaques when we were looking for a new boat late last year. We couldn’t believe it was three years since we saw each other and it was fabulous to catch up.

Finally, Chris and John [9-13 November] and the celebrations carried on in a manner to which we had become accustomed!

Agua de Valencia… interesting …. no “water” at all!

Caroline and John had been to Valencia once before so, although they love the city, we all decided that a trip out to see somewhere else might be a good idea. It might have been a better idea had we decided to do it on a day other than when the Valencia half marathon was taking place because the public transport was disrupted and we ended up with taxis instead. Regardless, El Palmar was our chosen destination and the day was excellent.

El Palmar sits on the edge of La Albufera – a freshwater lagoon surrounded by flatlands which have long been used for rice cultivation. Traditional boats still ply the waterways and lie alongside the canals which run through the village.

It is probably the most emblematic of the Albufura settlements and the iconic farming village is proud to uphold its status as the birthplace of the Valencian rice dishes, two of which – Arroz de Valencia [Typically chicken, rabbit and beans] and Arroz de Mariscos [seafood] – we shared in one of the many popular weekend restaurants. The village is also renowned for its framed cottages of which very few now remain.

Made of mud, reeds and wood they were the original homes of the farmers and fishermen in the region.

Another trip out of Valencia was undertaken with Chris and John. As yet we haven’t hired a car, but they did so it was great to be able to see some of the surrounding countryside as John drove us 65km west to Requena. To be honest the new town hasn’t got much to rave about from a tourist perspective, but we did find a gem of a restaurant ….










Mesón Torrescal” where we had an excellent “Menu de Mediodia”.

However, “La Villa”, the medieval nucleus which rises above the new town, is a maze of twisting streets and alleys…

… particularly those in the one-time Jewish quarter.

There was hardly anyone else there and almost nothing open….

The main plaza ‘ Requena

….but we wandered around looking at the lovely buildings…

…. and managed to surprise one “local” taking a drink…..

We had read about the wine museum and expected that it too would be closed but we were pleasantly surprised to find it welcoming the few visitors who had made the effort. Housed in the C15 “Palacio del Cid”…

…. the museum contained various exhibits ….

Grape press

Amphora on a donkey saddle


……. and detailed the history of wine production in Requena. We were particularly interested in this old photograph….

……. which shows the quayside in Valencia which is now part of Marina Real Juan Carlos I where “Owl and Pussycat” is berthed.

Walking out of the old quarter I spotted an azulejo plaque commemorating San Nicolás de Bari.

That venerable saint also has a church dedicated to him in Valencia and, at the recommendation of some of the Sundowners, we visited it with Jack and Christine. A parish church since 1242 its full name is Iglesia de San Nicolás de Bari y San Pedro Mártir and has more recently been referred to as the “Valencian Sistine Chapel”…..

Not hard to see why.

The wall and ceiling paintings were designed by Antonio Palomino and painted by Dionis Vidal at the end of C17.

The cost of entry into the church is nominal and includes an audio guide. I can’t now remember what was said about the symbolism of some of the background in this painting but I do remember being fascinated.

If anyone is thinking of visiting Valencia I would strongly recommend they put this church in their itinerary.

Obviously the most visited place of worship is the La Catedral-Básilica de la Asuncíon de Nuestra Señora de Valencia










Some friends attended a mass there, but the others just visited – as did Mike and I with Chris and John.

The site has been a religious one for centuries as the current cathedral was built over the city mosque which was itself built on top of a Visigothic church.

Cathedral nave

Chancel roof

In the museum part of the church it I possible to descend to the foundations and see different levels – as well as some remnants of skeletons.

As with most churches, stained glass features highly in both the museum….

Fragment of a C13 window

…and the interior of the cathedral.

The equilateral triangle in this rose window is symbolic of the Holy Trinity. The inverted triangle represents the three ways to access God – reason, philosophy and theology and, finally, intuition and love.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t the same detailed description next to this mural.

The most popular chapel is Capilla del Santo Cáliz which houses, within a magnificent gothic screen, an agate cup….

…. apparently “The Holy Grail”.

A rear view of the cathedral can be seen from the Plaza de la Virgen….

….where many a “Happy Hour” was spent with the Sundowners in the bars to the right as their apartment was situated here. On the left the pink building, entry free, is the Real Basilica de Nuestra Señora de los Santos Inocentes Mátires y Desamparados. Again, it’s worth a look if you are passing.

The reclining figure in the central fountain represents the Rio Turia, and the eight gushing pots held by maidens symbolise the main irrigation canals flowing from it. Illuminated at night it makes a very attractive backdrop.










Two other “must see” sites for our visitors were the Mercado Central…

Tapas just outside the market… has to be done

….and La Lonja.

This building is a UNESCO site and was originally Valencia’s silk and commodities exchange built in late C15 when Valencia was booming. The fabulous “Sala de Contratación”, with its 17m tall columns, is where the goods were traded and banking done…..

…and above one of the doors to the trading room you find the symbol of Valencia….

…..the “Ratpenat” [bat].

The courtyard in the centre of the exchange was [and obviously still is!] a place to meet, plan and discuss important issues of the day ….

Important planning meeting….

….and attached to it is another building – the “Consulado de Mar” where maritime issues were discussed.

The top floor is known as the Golden Hall because of its decorated wooden ceiling….

….though I have to say that we found the floor equally – or even more – captivating….

Much can be learnt about the history of Valencia at the Museo de Historia de Valencia which we visited with Jack and Christine. Although it is rather dark inside the brick pillared crypt like space…..

…. there is plenty to see. As well as display cases, there are small cinematic areas where screenings of acted scenes representing the different periods of history are shown at the press of a button.

One of the exhibits described the various stages of the building of the city defences – the walls and many massive gates. Unfortunately little of the walls remain, though two city gates – Torres de Quart and Torres de Serranos – are still intact and can be visited. I, and a few of the Liverpool contingent, climbed the latter for views over the Barrio del Carmen and the former bed of the Rio Turia.

Loved the “layers”

Valencia has more than 45 museums, so we still have several to see! The Ceramics museum is certainly on my list and was visited by most of the sundowners and two of them, Anne and John, chanced upon another – the Museo del Corpus. I was lucky to be with them because try as I might I haven’t found it since and would love to show it to Mike. The museum houses “Las Rocas”….

….giant carts that are wheeled out annually for the Corpus Christi Procession. The earliest dates back to C15. Unfortunately some of them were damaged beyond repair in the 1950 flood [more about this below], but many remain. There are also giant figures….

….and “costumes” which are worn during the parade.

I have twice mentioned the “Rio Turia”. The original river flowed through the centre of the city. Unfortunately it often overflowed its banks and in 1950 the flood was so extensive and destructive that it was decided to change the course of the river. A large channel was built west and south of the city and the river diverted. Thank heaven for the sensible town planning which followed. Rather than build car parks or office blocks it was decided to turn the old river bed into a park and “Los Jardines de Turia” are the result.

Pont de la Mar, Jardines de Turia

Scooters… the new skateboard

Everyone who comes to Valencia should, like all of our visitors, either walk or hire bikes and join joggers, skateboarders, strolling families or romantic couples as they make their way around the city from the “Cuidad de las Artes y las Ciencias” at the southern end to the “Parque de Cabecera to the north west [or the other way of course!].

Water and walkways

As well as enjoying it with our visitors. Mike and I also went there on my actual birthday, starting at the Arts and Sciences end….

….and finishing about half way along where we found another excellent midday menu.

It was a great day out.

So…which hat!

A wedding has just taken place – the bridesmaid is the one in white

Twin fun on the lake

During the various visits, I have taken so many photos of the many bridges along the gardens length, the buildings at the Art/Science complex and the sculpture exhibition that I think I am going to have to create a separate blog post just for them!

Another popular place with visitors has been the seafront. Lots of restaurants, some of them very decorative….

…… line the promenade overlooking the fantastic stretch of beach.

Beautiful sand sculptures too

Surfing and yachting are obviously popular pastimes….

….though our visitors preferred to paddle!










Mike and I cycled along the whole of the promenade….

…on my first birthday present ride. We went about 8k north to Puerto Saplaya,….

…… an artificial marina which isn’t really our preferred style and is, anyway, too shallow for “Owl and Pussycat”. But it certainly made for a good bike ride.

On the way back we found a great bar “Spaghetti and Blues”….

…. to which we returned two weeks later….

Obviously before the first pint…different face from Mike three pints later!

….and no doubt will again.

Talking of marinas and boats, Valencia actually had a Boat Show which happened to coincide with Jack and Christine’s visit.

Although they now have their boat “Mekeia” on the market [in the US], they enjoyed looking and thinking about all the expense they are now spared!!!

And that’s about it…. Except, in the Museum of Wine there was another plaque…..

Literally – “to good eating or to bad eating drink three times”

…which rather encourages drinking. Not that we really need much encouraging but it was certainly fun doing it with all our wonderful guests.

In Plaza del Virgin again….

Best birthday night…thank you Sundowners [especially Anne and Sue]

“Shall we dance”- Sue asks David

“Sorry we were late – but get your restaurant sign right!!!!

Local tapas night…

Marina Sud bar

Supermarkets closed….but John managed to find a bottle….

Great, wonderful, happy times. Thank you everyone.xxxx

Permanent link to this article: http://www.sigasiga.co.uk/2017/12/21/60th-birthday-fun-with-friends-in-valencia/

Dec 05

Clubbing “Owl and Pussycat” style

Despite a distinct lack of wind, we managed to enjoy our 52 mile passage from Mallorca to Ibiza. The day was bright and sunny and for a while we sailed near to the Dutch flagged boat “Atlantis”.


Licenced for 140 passengers on a day sail we think she was actually on one of the legs of a longer sail where up to 36 passengers can be accommodated. Apparently you can holiday on her in the Med, up the Portuguese and Spanish Atlantic coasts and in the Baltic.

Although a rest, rather than a full holiday, was what this little fella had in mind, we also had a passenger for a while.…..

We anchored, just in time for sundowners, in the beautiful Cala Portinatx on the NE tip of Ibiza.

The water is incredibly clear so it was easy to pick a sandy spot and there was no need to snorkel to check whether we were properly dug in. Even though we were in 7m it was quite possible to see from on deck.

In the photo above we are at the back of the fleet and if you look towards the entrance to the bay a white house stands on a promontory behind which is another arm of the Cala. It is supposed to be possible to also anchor there but there are several permanent moorings taking up most of the space.

It was a pleasant walk round the town to reach the bay by road and well worth the effort [not that there was actually much effort] because we came to a great little beach with, as you might expect, a great little beach bar.

The following day we decided to venture a bit further and walk to the lighthouse. Enjoying variety, we opted to find the inland route and return by the coast path. That was nearly our downfall. What started as an obvious path inland soon became less obvious and then not obvious at all! We ended up scrambling over walls and through brush and up and down small gullies. By luck, rather than judgement, we finally climbed a small scrubby hillock and emerged onto a marked track. Where that track had come from we will never know – but it did lead us to the lighthouse on “Punta Moscarté which was our target turnaround point.

Built in 1975, without any space for accommodation due to it being fully automated from the start, it is the tallest of the 34 Balearic lighthouses, 20 of which we have sailed past.

Fortunately, the coast path back to Portinatx was much easier to follow….

….. even when making slight detours to avoid Mike having to walk close to the edge in places.

As if a beautiful anchorage, fun bars and interesting walks were not enough, our enjoyment of Ibiza increased even further with the arrival of “Coriander” into Portinatx.

OK… not Portinatx but a lovely picture of “Coriander”

Dinner for four on board “Owl and Pussycat” that evening was just the start of twelve fantastic days cruising with Steve and Gill, friends we met whilst we were both berthed in Ardrossan eight years ago. Having left the UK this spring, they have now joined the liveaboard cruisers world – and seem to have got well into the swing of things.

Our next stop was Puerto de San Miguel – a whole hour away – another sheltered clear water anchorage where we also managed to find ourselves at a beach bar….

….now how did that happen!

Cala Salada was our third anchorage. Much smaller than the previous two and with an unmarked rock and shoal water on its northern edge and a swimming area buoyed off at the head we were quite glad that, being towards the end of the season, there were only two other small boats there when we and Coriander arrived. The fishermen’s huts which line the southern shore add an authentic feel to this largely unspoilt cala.

The second largest town and port on Ibiza is Puerto de San Antonio….

…….which is deep inside a bay and fairly well protected from most winds.

Much of what is, in winter, a larger anchoring field is taken up with laid moorings during the summer months so we had to drop the hook in the small permitted anchoring area in the south eastern sector where holding is, reputedly, less good. We actually came and went from San Antonio three times and whilst we had to set the anchor more than once on one occasion, we generally found the holding to be fine – once properly dug in.

San Antonio is THE place to PARTY and most of the, mainly British, holiday makers come here specifically for the clubs – of which there were far too many to count. However, that is not our thing! Being there right at the end of the season, most of the clubbing seemed to be closing parties and the number of clubbers diminished as the days went by. Thus we were not at all disturbed by noise and were able to enjoy the out of season more leisurely pace. That said, one night we did manage to find ourselves in a Scottish bar with its attached fish and chip shop [and fried Mars Bars if they took your fancy] and, on another night, a late opening Irish bar.

Whilst bars, restaurants and apartments line San Antonio’s waterfront, there is an old town up the hill and we spent a pleasant couple of hours wandering around.

Columbus strikes again….

San Antonio de Portmany church

I particularly liked some of the street art.

Believing that anchoring in the approach to Ibiza Town is prohibited, we decided that the best way to visit it would be by bus from San Antonio. It also offered an opportunity to see the interior.

An international tourist destination, Ibiza Town is well worth a visit. Pleasant open plazas….

…. are linked by streets lined with, often quite up-market, shops and cafes. There are restaurants on every corner and the citadel offers a splendid view of the harbour.

Founded by the Phoenicians during C7BC it later became a Punic and then Roman city before becoming the Islamic city of Madina Yabisa. C13 brought the conquering Catalans and House of Aragon to Ibiza and during C16 it became increasingly fortified. The hill – now known as D’Alt Vila [old town]…..

…… houses the cathedral…..

…….and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999.

Thinking of spending another night in Cala Salada we left San Antonio on 6th Oct but, unfortunately, the waves and swell thought differently! Cala Salada was untenable so we decided that we would return to San Antonio – but first we went to look at the eastern anchorage [Éstancia des Dins] on Isla Conejera [“Rabbit’s burrow”], the largest of the three islands which lie at the far west end of San Antonio bay. The island has been claimed as the birthplace of Hannibal – which isn’t totally impossible as the Carthaginians were there at the time.

A beautiful, quiet anchorage, but without prior permission it is not possible to go ashore. I had hoped to see the protected green lizard there but having seen the signs prohibiting access I thought I would not get the opportunity. Considered “near threatened” due to its total area of occurrence being only Ibiza and Formentera the Ibiza Wall lizard is, however, more prolific on the two islands than I had thought….and here he, or she, is….

The protected Ibiza Wall Lizard

We also wanted to visit Formentera and a weather window for both the sail there and back and a few nights at anchor presented itself on 8th October. When I say “sail” I do of course mean mainly motor but it was nice to see the more mountainous coastline and the islands off the west coast. Most famous of these islands is Isla Vedra……

“Coriander” passing “Bali Ha’i”

Did you recognise it? Well, I am not sure I would have done. “South Pacific” was one of my favourite films as a child and one of the things which pre-empted my wanderlust. Steve told us that Cala Portinatx had also been used in the film and that a rope way along the cliffs had still been there when he visited as a boy.

Whilst I had a bit of trouble seeing the island as Bali Ha’i, much to Mike’s consternation I had fun singing “I’m gonna wash that man right outa my hair”, “There is nothing; like a dame” and, of course, “Happy Talk” as we passed by!

Formentera has only one port – Puerta de Sabina” which is in constant use by fast ferries and dodging these is part of the game when sailing to the island. You have to dodge them as they give no indication of intending to dodge you!

Anyway we made it safely and anchored just off the beach. In summer the area is carefully patrolled by “Poseidonia” and we fully expected to have to pick up one of their mooring balls – but it seems they take them in at the end of Sept. Poseidonia is a government initiative to protect the sea grass from which it takes its name. The grass is vital to the ecology of the Balearic Islands. It has a huge impact on water clarity and the “health” of the beaches and the sea.

Ashore at Puerto de Sabina we found little to recommend the small town. There were a couple of bars/cafes and several car/moped/bicycle hire outlets. Clearly most people arrive by ferry, rent their vehicle of choice and leave for their chosen beach – often just staying one day before returning to Ibiza town.

On the inland side of the town are two lagoons where shallow draught boats moor….

….and a rather interesting wind vane decorates the main street.

We spent a rather rolly night there before moving round to the other side of the islands for two nights sheltered under the cliffs in the very calm, clear waters of Calo Rocó des Mares – but watch out for the jellies!

“Owl and Pussycat” and “Coriander” safely at anchor

Sant Augustin, the nearby village, had a couple of quite well stocked shops for provisioning as well as a very pleasant bar. It has a small landing quay where fishermen haul their boats…

….and this doubled as a very handy dinghy dock – though whether this is allowed in high season I am not sure. Reputedly there can be well over fifty boats anchored off at any one time and if they all dinghy ashore I can see a real scramble ensuing as well as some rather pissed off fishermen.

Original capstan…..Sant Augustin

Leaving Steve and Gill to enjoy the peace and tranquillity, Mike and I decided to walk to San Fransisco Javier, the “capital”. The walk took us past a number of olive groves and we saw how harvesting is aided by a petrol powered tree shaker based on the garden multi tool – a vibrating pole which the operator clips to the trunk. I really must learn to ask permission to take photos – either that or just be rude and go for it!

Rather less animated than the olive pickers was this statue….

…. which I think was there to denote the entrance to a farm rather than scare people away though, with those eyes I think a bit of both was the result.

Apparently this C18 church at the centre of San Francisco Javier was once fortified….

It stands in the main square from where several pedestrianised streets fan along which numerous restaurants can be found.

Love that tree

The following day we returned to San Antonio where, on 12th Oct, we said goodbye to Steve and Gill to make our way to our over wintering marina in Valencia. You will be hearing more about this soon.

We really loved Ibiza and Formentera – more so than Menorca and Mallorca though, as earlier blog posts have shown, they too are worth vising. Well they must be, some cruisers spend a whole season, or two, in the Balearics. After all, there is good provisioning, adequate chandlers, good quality marinas [at a price] and pleasant anchorages. But, we are not sure we would enjoy it in high season. We found some of the anchorages tight with only ourselves or one or two other boats in them. It looks like, until we return to the Caribbean/Central America/Pacific, crowded anchorages during the summer are going to be the norm. But things aren’t exactly bad if that is the only worry we have!

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