Coralie and Allan Davis sent us an update from Spain and Portugal where they are currently cruising onboard their Fountaine Pajot Lipari 41. After picking up their new catamaran from the Fountaine Pajot factory in France, Coralie and Allan have enjoyed some fabulous cruising and exploring The Mediterranean.
Here is their latest post …
Sunday 24th April 2011
Happy Easter everyone! It’s nice to think of everyone enjoying the Easter holidays. I’ve heard the weather has been kind which is unusual for public holidays in Oz.
We’ve been having a fabulous time – lots of fun but plenty of work too! After Baiona in Spain we sailed to Cascais which is in Portugal. It was such a lovely place to explore. It’s one of “THE” places to live in Portugal if money is no object. In general the people are helpful but very much quieter than in France. We didn’t see any rowdy young people and very, very little graffiti. This might have something to do with a constant police presence!
Throughout Portugal they often use squarish chunks of rock in place of concrete or bitumen. The majority of the rocks are cream in colour with black rocks used to create patterns. This can look stunning but the surface is uneven and not kind to feet. Women who wear stilettos look like they’re going to fall over at any minute. If the “ambulance chasing” lawyers move in, they’ll have a field day!
The shops here are very modern but unique shops are still plentiful with lots of interesting merchandise.
Poor visibility finally forced me to visit a hairdresser in Cascais and risk the language barrier. Amazingly I think my hair looked better than it ever looked in Oz. This is perhaps the strongest indication that I’ve ever had, that keeping my mouth shut is a good idea!!! The lady cut my unruly hair with a razor and also used the “thinning” scissors. The downside was that when I put my head against anything, even my pillow, it felt like I was leaning on an echidna!
From Cascais it was a perilous bus trip to a town called Sintra. The bus drivers are quite mad. They have no regard for twisting roads with sheer drops to one side or the other and heaven help anyone coming from the other direction. We had read that the death rate in motor vehicle accidents is much higher in Portugal than anywhere else in Europe and we believe it. Sintra is situated in a mountainous area and was the chosen location for the royal family to build some intriguing palaces/buildings. No one told them that it was very often surrounded by clouds! Given that all the wealth of Portugal was in the hands of these 5 or 6 families, the locals had little sympathy. In the early 1900’s the people ousted the royal family and the royal dwellings fell into disrepair. Fortunately the Portuguese have now realised the heritage and tourist value of these unique buildings and much has been done to restore them. Nearby we walked around the remains of a Moorish castle which was fascinating but more suitable for mountain goats than humans.
While in Cascais we travelled to Lisbon. We took bus trips around all the sights but we didn’t find it very interesting. Although there were some impressive monuments etc the architecture was unremarkable – just another big city. This could partly be explained by the fact that around 1750 the city was rocked by an earthquake that destroyed buildings, started fires and took 15,000 lives.
Leisl joined us in Cascais after her tour of Europe because she wanted to do a passage with us. As the marina cost 60 euro a night we had been anchored in the harbour for 10 or so days. When it came time to leave we couldn’t raise our anchor. The local crooks (oops, sorry, divers) said they could untangle our chain which they said, was twisted around a number of very old anchors. Our anchor was supposedly about 7 metres away on the bottom. All this for 50E – what a steal! Yep!!! So they supposedly beavered away for a couple of hours to achieve nothing and then announced that another 50E would finish the job. We would have considered this “kind” offer but they had us “over a barrel” as a bad storm was coming and we needed to leave and get to shelter. Just as well we did leave because the next day the waves were coming over the masts in the marina next door! Right from the beginning we asked the divers to forget the chain as its cost was minimal and get the anchor free. They repeatedly said the anchor would be no trouble and they “tied” a marking buoy to it and assured us they’d get it later. Anyway the end result was we got the chain back but the marking buoy mysteriously undid itself and then they couldn’t find the anchor. They must have seen us coming. It wouldn’t surprise me if they caused the tangle in the first place. So they must have felt very satisfied with their day’s work, 100E for their pantomime plus whatever a brand new anchor that cost us 420E, raises on the black market. OUCH!
Thursday 28th April 2011
At least we arrived in Portimao marina before dark which is where “Whiskers” stayed until 27th April. David & Lucy had left Cascais without us because of the anchor debacle so they shed their training wheels very quickly – impressive!
They seem to be enjoying the adventure and Lucy has found some tricks that help her through her sea sickness. Hopefully she will adjust over time because it really is a miserable feeling.
Leis and I had a little while to explore Portimao before she caught a bus to Lisbon for her flight. It was great that she could help on the passage and experience what we are doing. It was very very sad to see her go.
Portimao is quite a big town but it is certainly suffering from Portugal’s economic problems as well as issues arising from its inclusion in the EU. The EU has “kindly” lent Portugal huge amounts of money to build an extensive road network that would rival the F3 but with the meagre amount of traffic using it, you would wonder why. The unscrupulous have encouraged people to borrow money beyond their means to buy new homes. Old businesses are gradually being forced to close as more and more large shopping complexes are built. Many of the older people look bewildered and defeated, like they’ve been dragged into the 21st century way before they wanted and they just wish they could return to their simpler way of life. It’s really quite sad to see. On the funny side you see the “hip happening” people going to McDonalds for meals! They think they’re so cool. LOL!
At present we are anchored in a river (sorry can’t spell it) that marks the border between Portugal and Spain. As yet, no official has approached us so that’s a good sign. At least we’ll sleep in our own beds tonight! Tomorrow, officials willing, we’re off to Rota which is a convenient place to explore both Cadiz & Seville. I’m really looking forward to experiencing the Spanish music and dancing! It should be fun.
Sorry this update has been so long coming. I’ll fill in the news from this year asap but I find it hard to sit down and write when so many other things beckon. Not to mention that doing absolutely nothing for a day or two is starting to look very enticing.
Hope all is well with everyone.
Cheers Coralie & Allan