Category Archives: Europe

Las Cats – Gran Canaria

They should have call it “Las Buildings”, – dropped Crisa while arriving to Las Palmas.
Really, it didn’t look like the capital of famous resort islands. Blocks of flats along the coast and some “significant” pieces of somewhat called “modern architecture”.
As I wrote before, we stopped in the marina Las Palmas that’s now a record-holder as the cheapest price in the whole Crisa’s trip around-the-world (if to stay a week – 7 euros per day).  We made spare parts in industrial zone of La Isleta – ugly district of plants, services, autodealer’s boutiques. But this is not why I will remember Las Palmas.
I love to run. For me running is not just a physical excercise but perception of the world. And way to talk to myself. Hear my heart beating, feeling muscles moving under the skin, I skip fake thoughts, dust of everyday routine. And then I start to listen to the voice inside, one that knows answers to almost all questions.
For the first time of my more than 4 months’ journey I was “back to track” again. Endless quay of Las Palmas looked perfect for that.
It was already full of runners. I climbed narrow high edge of the promenade that goes above the wavecrush stones. While running on it I could feel the fresh breeze from Atlantic. It helped to forget about the busy road along the coastline, and keep away from me the smell of dead crabs on stones down near water.
I ran till the sculpture that, probably, simbolizes the yacht – a kind of tribute to free dwellers of seas. There I sat watching ships raiding near Gran Canaria.
On the wavecrash line a small bird was searching for food. She was so close to water that waves rolled over her feet, covering them till knees. Waves, fiercly trying to climb the shore, were 5 times bigger than a feathery hunter. But the bird didn’t fly away. Just feeling that the wave is big enough to capture her, she jumped to the higher stone – and in a moment went back. What a small creature and what a great courage she posseses!
– Don’t judge on appearence, told I to myself.
Before visiting Las Palmas I was sure that Rome is a city of cats. But the ancient Italian capital can’t be compared in that with the capital of Spanish islands! Cats are everywhere here, sitting on beances and resting in shadow of parked cars. Playing with their kittens on the promenade and hunting in coastal stones. Sleeping under bar tables and sunbathing on benches.
City that hosts so many wise creatures can’t be just a set of buildings. It has soul. Free spirit.

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Second chance

«A writer for instance talks about India which I have seen, and gushes about dancing girls, tiger hunts, fakirs, betel nuts, serpents: the Glamour of the Mysterious East. But what does it amount to? Nothing. Instead of visualizing India I merely get a bad toothache from all these Eastern delights. Now, there’s the other way, as or instance, the fellow who writes: ‘Before turning in, I put out my wet boots to dry and in the morning I found that a thick forest had grown on them (“Fungi, Madam”, he explained)…’ and at once India becomes alive for me. The rest is shop”.

I want to apologize for my blog being so touristic: common see sights, brief hazy notes about atmosphere.  I do not try my best to give you smell, smile and taste – feeling of places I visit, and I’m sorry for that. Neither hectic schedule of my journey, nor bad internet connections or my laziness can be an excuse. Tho I do not pretend to call these brief notes a kind of literature. I just hope they are not too boring.

Nevertheless, I will continue.

I believe that everything that happens to us is necessary to happen for some reason. As Soviet poet Vladimir Mayakovsky wrote, “If stars are lit, that’s means, someone needs it”. Yes, a kind of fatalism. Still, life proves that sometimes the worst thing can be premise for the best one.

The last evening in Lanzarote we made a short test-drive to check autopilot. Chris spent a couple of days, fixing the capricious device.  And – hooray! – the yacht obediently makes 180 degrees to the right. I celebrate the victory of (the mind + golden hands) over circumstances with a naked dive from a board.

The next morning we leave to Cape Verde. But don’t have a chance to get far…

We heard it before, sailing along the Spanish coast – knock that the rudder made. The rudder is one of essential parts of the boat: loose a rudder – loose the control. Chris tried to fix it by himself, and we reached Morocco without worries.

But here it is again… The tubes, through which the rudder infuses the hull, get loose with the time, and now they need to be changed. The whole Atlantic lays in front of us. And thought of unfixed rudder doesn’t make us feel more convenient. So Chris turns the yacht to the west: we go to Las Palmas  – the capital of Canaries.

The sea rocks: waves grow, wind gasps. Not fun at all. The air is cold and numb. Going south to relaxed Brazil – could never imagine that it will be colder and colder. Damn Atlantic.

We’re going round the island Puertoventura and awaiting the moment, when we will leave its shelter.  There the wind will, probably, become stronger: in straights between islands it accelerates like in a tube. That doesn’t happen after we pass the corner tho. But happens before and after it: Chris “was lucky” to catch 30-knot gasps from north. Where are you, calm and hospitable Las Palmas?

Before the sunrise I see the light) Numerous dots – it’s a coast of Gran Canaria. Soon the sky gets lighter, but I can’t see the sun. Clouds lost me a chance to admire the beauty of its the first beams.

And – ta-dam!  – we’re in safety of marina. I feel exhausted after 24 hours without sleep. Sometimes I have this problem – can’t sleep in a bumpy sea. But for crossing Canaries – Cape Verde I come prepared:  in local shop I bought herbal tea with Melissa, Mint and Valeriana. Valeriana smells strongly – hope the effect on my sleep will be equal.

We stay here for 8 days. Marina – Muelle Deportivo – is all right – and even more all right ‘coz they charge the less the longer you stay. For example, being here for 8 days we pay about 7 euros per day. It’s nothing! But to get here was a story.

ARC – Atlantic Rally Cup – is coming, and most of places in marina are booked. But we pointed out the urgency of stop (unfixed rudder), and they allowed us to stay near the ‘reception’ peer for a day. So – here we are for already eight…

Now rudder is fixed, and we’re ready to go to Cabo Verde.

Before we made a drive around the island, along the coastal road GC-1. Trivial statement, but Canaries are beautiful!!! Trust me. We made a way to Maspalomas – I’ve heard this name before and suggested that it was connected with surfing. So we took boards and went to Playa del Ingles. Unfortunately, Chris pointed that waves are not great. Well, will wait for another chance to start my surfing education.

Back we went through another road, GC-60, in direction of Fataga and San Bartolome. We went up to the mountains. Between rocks that reminded me Grand Canyon we made numerous twists and turns. Stopped in picturesque Mirador to give a last glance to the sea – and went further, higher and higher. Mountains of Canaries are low, all between 1000-1500 meters. But how free we breath there! We passed several towns-oasis – palm parks with water pools that were surrounded by white neat houses. In calm evening children played on streets, and senior citizens discussed rumors sitting in chairs outdoors (nice tradition of Southern countries). Tourists love these routs, so in every town you will find “table and shelter”.

At the end, tired of waving through mountainous roads, we rushed to the coast. On a narrow path we followed 4х4, and a small caravan tailed us. The road wasn’t easy, and the first jeep wasn’t in a hurry.  Those at the back of a line started to beep impatiently. These were definitely locals that make this way from time to time. They outraced us in rage and went ahead.

We were back on board late after dark. The whole trip, the whole stay was worth it.

See you in Cabo Verde!

Today we leave amazing Lanzarote and start our way to Cape Verde!

Approximately 8-10 days in sea. We’re going to stop in Praia, Ilha Sao Tiago. According to http://www.noonsite.com, this island has a bad reputation because of numerous thefts.But I’m excited about this country much.

Not far from the bay Cidade Velha is situated – the village included into Cultural heritage list of UNESCO.

See you soon, my friends))

Embrace of a volcano

In my journeys I like to take photos. They do not pretend to be exclusive, and I do not pretend to be a Photographer tho.

With the time I’ve been pleased to discover that some of natural views… can’t be fixed by camera. It’s excessive to mention that nature can never be “copied” by technologies: it’s always a moment, stuck in eternity, while life is always changing, and transforming, and moving forward.

This is what I felt in Timanfaya National park on Lanzarote, Canaries.

Lava fields cover one quarter of the island. Numerous volcanos tower above the gloomy landscape. They formed in 18-19th centuries and from the last explosion in 1824 keep silence.

Now Mountains of Fire (how Timanfaya is also called) is a territory of the national park. Visitors are welcome there but only by touristic bus (8 euros) or by camel caravan. I’ve made a 40-minutes ride around.

It was experience one of a kind, and even tourists, trying to fell out of windows in obsession to make a photo, couldn’t spoil my impressions.

This inhospitable land look lifeless on the first glance. And it’s true, not so many creatures can survive in endless fields of black sponge stones. But if to have a more thorough look… between rocks that are covered with thick layer of linens green bushes make their way to sun beams.  Rabbits and shrews, lizards and gekkons inhabit narrow passes between stones.

This inhospitable land possesses unexpected charm and beauty. Dark slopes reflect the sun, host the shadows of clouds – and change their color. This painting is not bright and racy but noble, full of hints.

This earth still preserves power of volcano: the local restaurant “El Diablo” cooks its dishes on the natural heat, placing them above a deep bell.

Neither on exhibition, nor in card shops we couldn’t find decent photos of Timanfaya, that would be able to transmit a certain percent of its beauty. That couldn’t make me sad – my memory will preserve these landscapes better than any paper.

We made a tour around Lanzarote. Suddenly a place that I expected nothing from turned to be one of the most stunning impressions of the journey.

Arrecife - near our lovely anchorage. Castillo San Gabriel.

The journey started in Arrecife. The anchorage there was really great, with lovely neighbors from all over the world – couple who live on board for 15-30 years.

Anchorage in Arrecife

28°57.2051 N, 013°42.5172 W

Another point that made my heart sing is a view on the Isla Graciosa – Mirador del Rio. This small island lays to the north-west of Lanzarote. It’s a national park but it has a marina, burdened with formalities like registration tho.

Mirador del Rio

Unfortunately, Canaries are so touristic that every lovely view is charged. To climb the top of the mountain in Mirador del Rio cost 4.5 euros. We’re budget travelers so simply climbed a fence. We didn’t get all the splendid view but it’s biggest part for sure : )

Marina of Isla Graciosa

After leaving Arrecife – the capital of Lanzarote we passed endless fields… of cactus. Guessing about use of this plants, our suggestions didn’t go further than alcohol.

Aloe Vera museum let us into the secret: cactus is used perfumes, cosmetics, medicine, liquids and many other useful things.

We were almost to visit Jardin de Cactus – a park, where flowerbeds can be undoubtfully called “cactusbeds”. Unfortunately, it wasn’t for free again… I suppose, this place would be more interesting for families than to vagabond travelers like us.

Jardin de Cactus from outside

Another coast – western – another stunning. From main salt mines of Lanzarote – Salinas del Janubio – through amazing underwater caves Los Hervidros – to volcano ash beaches of El Golfo.

Salinos del Janubio
Caves of Los Hervideros
El Golfo on the western coast of Lanzarote

Lanzarote has some surfing spots. We checked one on the northern coast, several steps from Orzola. Cris approved it as a spot for those who just start. Another spot is on Playa de Famara, also on the northern side of the island.

Wierd sculpture park of an unknown "artist"... reminded me of "outdoor" houses that I built being a child : )

1000 and 1 …troubles

In Tarife we met Dominic – a sailor from Belgium, who adores Brazil. He couldn’t miss a boat with Brazilian flag – not a frequent quest in a small harbor of Tarife. Dominic works as a guide of whale and dolphin watching tours, taking excited tourists to the Atlantic for the adventure of their life. www.turmares.com

Arabic spirit infuses the whole town.

Dominic became our guide too – he showed us around numerous bars and pubs of old Tarife. Bar crawl started with calamari, continued with alco drinks, accompanied by crying of flamenco singers, finished on the boat with psychological discussion and smoking session. The evening was all right.

In four days the wind calmed down. But we were destined for Cadiz… The freezer died.

Actually, time in Tarife (and Gibraltar in the plan A) we devoted to preparations for Atlantic crossing. There was much stuff to fix, like pasting holes in a sail, checking the engine, cleaning winches, repairs of a deck table, fixing a loose rudder… And freezer. It theory, we could feel it with ice and buy more cans – some sailors do round-the-world trips without the freezer. But that was considered the last option.

As you understand, the master, who knew all about yacht freezers, lived in Cadiz…

…Autipilot wasn’t in list. It was another unpleazant surprise. But in Cadiz it decided to join the freezer. We were not glad of idea to steer 24 hours a day, 21 days consecutively.

Another unpleasant one was that there were no technicians in Cadiz. But we were still lucky: we found one in a small town in 3 miles from the city center – Santa Maria. Here, spent 15 minutes and 300 euros, we resurrected capricious electronics.  We are ready for departure.

The quay of our marina – artistic maritime Spain

Another news waited for us… On our way to Canaries we could be caught by 35 knots wind, the latest weather forecast indicated. We decided to stop somewhere between… in Rabat, the capital of Marocco, for example. What about Arabic fairy tale for night?

Our almost neighbors – the copy of the ship of the 16th century. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to meet the crew and kindly ask for a tour.

Cris on his site www.mundovagabond.com wrote a post about “gender” of a ship, a yacht. I can’t not agree: in amount of troubles SHE can be compared only to us, women : )