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Spain and France

August - September '02
- a really different adventure -

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Click here for text written by Chrissi

It was hurricane season and Naga was safely tucked away, well south of the hurricane belt in Colombia, at Cartagena's Club Nautico "Marina." It was the perfect time to fly to Europe for a long-overdue visit with Jack's brother where he lives and works - in Barcelona.
(Thanks, Howie and Carmen!)

Spain —


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Our first night in Barcelona, at the Patronales Festival in the Gracia section of the city.
Jack, his brother Howie, and Howie's wife, Carmen, toast with flaming rum drinks.


The Magic Fountain in Barcelona


Barcelona's famous Magic Fountain mechanically alters its flow of water through its many water jets, sometimes spraying water high into the air, sometimes swirling it in low concentric spirals. Spotlights within the fountain flash, swivel and change color in harmony with the shifting water flow, and all this is set to dramatic music played from hidden speakers.



We visited many beautiful churches and cathedrals, but the one that stands out most is the Sagrada Familia Cathedral. It is a monstrosity of towers, winding stairways and intricate stone carving.





Carmen created a delicious
traditional paella for us!




A typical street in Barcelona's
famous old gothic section



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Howie and Jack pose at the exotic bird show
in Port Adventura.


We spent an entire day at Port Adventura, a massive theme park run by Universal Studios. We caught interesting performances like the exotic bird show, a thousand and one ways to tie a pareo, Polynesian dancing and an oriental magic show. We also rode the massive roller coaster and several other thrilling amusement park rides.





The Dragon Khan: eight complete loops.
Its the worlds loopiest roller coaster
and we all had a great ride!


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Chrissi bundled up in the village square.
Hot coffee and a sarong used as a scarf
help to keep her warm.

The medieval village where Carmen had lived as a child was having its annual festival. We were invited to stay at Carmen’s aunt’s house where we were given a comfortable guest room, and treated to traditional Catalonian lunch feasts.





We watched as angry bulls were let loose in the town square. The men taunted and teased them, then bravely ran across the square while the bulls charged after them. Spectators remained inside the steel cages provided, but the bulls were angry enough to attack the cages too.



Here's a brave little dog
doing his part taunting the bull
- except this "bull" happens to be a cow.




Although many of the houses in this village have been refurbished and modernized, many still maintain their old-world charm and magic. This is the cellar in Carmen's Aunt's house. Stepping down the stone stairs, we see drying herbs, sacks of grain and old wood casks and barrels. With the exception of the light bulb, this room could have looked the same five-hundred years ago!
Barcelona's Rambla Colon is a long pedestrian walkway set between two roads, running from the harbor to the Plaza España. All along its length there are open-air cafes and restaurants. Artists and craftsmen sell their work alongside flower stalls and newspaper and book kiosks. There are exotic bird venders selling parrots and songbirds, and musicians and street performers ply their eccentric trade. Of the street performers, my favorites were the "statue people." They were painted and dressed as some fanciful character, and would stand or sit perfectly still until a coin was dropped into the hat or bowl in front of them. Then, with mechanical slowness, they would acknowledge your presence and make some kind of theatrical movement, then return to their immobility.


Jack was surprised to meet "Che" among
the statue people!



After two weeks in Spain, we rented a car and drove to France
where we visited some of Jack's old friends
and some of his favorite areas of the country.

France —

Villages and towns in the department of Tarn et Garonne,
a little way north of the major southwestern city of Toulouse,
were first on the agenda.


This old house is pretty typical of the ancient village of San Antonin.
Jack spent some seven delightful months in San Antonin back in the
early '90's. He finished his book there: "La nuit où les bateaux volaient."

Tiles embedded into the walls of the houses proclaim the street names in the old language of Oc. Most of the town’s architecture dates back to the 12th and 13th Centuries, a bygone era of feudal lords, peasants and serfs. The village not only looks and smells old, it stirs a sixth sense with a ghostly feeling of days long past that meld only reluctantly with modern times.


Picturesque old church and cemetery near the tiny village of Fenyrols.




Eat Your Heart Out Walt Disney!

The ancient remains of a castle perch perilously high on a weathered outcrop overhanging the Aveyron River in Penne.




Short of time, we zoomed north on the high-speed French Autoroute to
visit old friends in Brittany.

Fort Bloqué, just north of L'Orient.
At high tide, you would have to swim to get out to this castle.
But low tide is another story, as you can see from all the boats aground here.

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Jack's good old friend, Daniel Charles, is the world expert on the history of yachting (in fact he is now the world's only Doctor in the subject!) and he is a well-known author, with many books to his credit. Here he delves the depths of an obscure and fascinating topic in his kitchen with Chrissi.


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Jack , super sailor
Nigel Irens, famous multihull designer
Daniel Charles, yachting historian and architect


It had been years since Jack had seen most of his old racing friends and we had another wonderful meeting with his old friend Nigel Irens in La Trinité sur Mer, the world capital of offshore racing trimarans. Nigel is arguably the top trimaran designer in the world, and he showed us a new 60 ft. trimaran racer that was under preparation just outside town.


One of Nigel's super fast hydrofoil trimarans being finished.
These sailboats are capable of more than 30 knots!



A beautiful cool Brittany day, and a small portion of the anchorage and marinas in La Trinité, home of some of the fastest sailboats in the world.


Sailing in a suit?!
Yup. It was a new one on us too!
It was a brand new, first of series, 52 foot, 1.8 million dollar catamaran! Yves Gallot La Valle was an old racing friend of Jack's - a fellow competitor in the 1982 Route du Rhum transatlantic race. Yves was now the boss of the Catana catamaran factory in L'Orient, and we were invited out for a test drive on this, the latest Catana. The contrast in the photo, Jack on the left and suited corporate officer on the right, perfectly expresses the contrast between this expensive boat and the style to which we are more accustomed.


Castles guard the entrance to La Rochelle's inner harbor.

After wonderful reunions with people and places, it was time for a fast dash by car back south to Barcelona, onto the plane, and a return to the steaming heat of tropical Cartagena in September.

Our sailing adventures in photos and textEvery kind of helpful resource for sailors and travelersWeather for sailorsMaking a living onboard or on the roadLinks to friends and related sites