It been quite a while since we last posted a blog. The last blog was posted from Valencia, where Sabbatical III spent roughly two months. Now we are in the ancient city of Cartegena. In between we had two trips away from Valencia without the boat. A ten day trip (April 3 to April 12) took us by train and bus to Cuenca, Madrid and Toledo, and then by plane from Madrid to Lisbon and back to Valencia. We took many wonderful photos of that trip. Unfortunately, our camera disappeared on the last day in Lisbon and all of our photos are lost.
The second trip in early June (May 31 to June 12) took us to Saint Paul, Minnesota to visit Laura’s mother, Shirley, and then to Chicago for the PhD graduation of our son Benjamin. While in Chicago we spent time with the Pitt side of the family — our daughter Hannah, my sisters Fran and Naomi, brother-in-law John, nephew Daniel, and niece Nina and her two children Justin and Vera.
While we were in Valencia we worked on boat repairs and improvements and took the time to become very familiar with this beautiful city. It helped that we had a rental car the entire time that we were there. Access to town, as well as stores and restaurants, was so difficult from the Valencia Yacht Port, where Sabbatical III was berthed, that a car was a must. Plus, at 23 euros a day, the price was right. I did not like driving in Valencia. There are very few street signs, Google Maps often did not provide good directions, and parking was tricky. We did finally find our way around but finding our way to new places was always an adventure.
One of our favorite places was the Turia River Park. The river used to flood regularly, and after a particularly bad flood in 1957, approval was given for the river to be diverted away from the city center. Since then, the 7 kilometer long river bed has been transformed into a mixture of playing fields, cycling & walking paths, and gardens. At one end is the City of Arts & Sciences and the old city is at the other end. On Sundays, we would park somewhere near the park and spend hours walking and people watching. We ate a traditional Sunday mid-afternoon meal at El Riconet and then walked back to the park to lie in the shade while the effects of wine and food wore off. We were not alone in doing so.
We also discovered the nearby parklands (Parc Natural de l’Albufera) around Pobles del Sud, a large lake that forms the center of the rice growing district south of Valencia, as well as the beach walk and restaurants at Pinedo, just across the Turia River bridge from the marina.
Finally, we enjoyed spending time with Chimo and Jane of “Pangea Barco”, berthed only one dock away from us at the Valencia Yacht Port. They took us for great paella, cooked us marvelous meals, and directed us to interesting places.
On June 17, we left Valencia for an overnight sail to the island of Ibiza. We spent about three weeks in Ibiza. We were anchored out every day and noticed how the anchorages became increasingly crowded each day. By the time we left, the crowd of boats, some with careless anchoring techniques, made us nervous. But no harm came to Sabbatical III and we thoroughly enjoyed our time. Finally we could swim off the boat again.
We caught some unusually great sailing weather for the overnight sail (July 6/7) back to mainland Spain. The excellent conditions ended when we were approaching our destination of Cartegena. Squalls came up bringing strong winds (30+ knots) and even some rain tinted with African dust. Unwilling to enter the marina at Cartegena in these conditions, we found a little semi-protected notch in the coast 5 miles past the town where we anchored in a swell. The squally conditions continued until sunset and then the roll from the swell diminished and we had a decent nights sleep. The next morning (July 8) we headed into the Yacht Port Cartegena.
This is a much smaller city than Valencia. The marina is right in town and everything we need is within walking distance. More on Cartegena later.
Above: short video of Sabbatical III sailing from Ibiza to Cartegena