Cruising back to Cartagena with Australians

180720 1 La Clota Local Restaurant Wall

Recently completed Fresco of restaurant wall of the same name. 

180725 6 Great Lunch at Elsa Y Fred Adam and Kylie180725 9 Ciutadella Park Barcelona

Before leaving the port of L’Escala we had one more night to wander the restaurants of the foreshore and enjoy more good food, oh and of course local Spanish wine. The restaurant La Clota had been recommended to us by the harbour and we could having now been there understand why. The marina at L’Escala was just another gem that we discovered in the northern area of Spain for cruising. 

Back in Badalona Marina (Barcelona) we settled into paperwork and cleaning before the arrival of Adam and Kylie from our home town of Darwin on the 25th July. Appropriately they arrived laden with Arnotts Gingernut Biscuits and Chico Boy lollies, two sweet treats for Andrew and most welcome on his birthday. We continued the celebration of his birthday by taking Kylie and Adam into Barcelona, walking the Cituadella Park, the old town area, then dining at definitely our favourite Barcelona restaurant Elsa Y Fred. The restaurant with its air-conditioning was most welcome when Spain was experiencing a record breaking heat wave.

180726 1 Road Trip to Lleida Gramona Winery 1881

Gramona Winery 

180726 2 Road Trip to Lleida Grammona Winery the cellars180726 6 Road Trip to Lleida Grammona Winery the cellars

Weather conditions were not conducive to heading south on Adam and Kylies arrival so once more we turned to the script of a road trip. 

First winery on the list was Gramona just 60km from the marina. Gramona was established in 1881 at a time when the vine disease phylloxera was ravaging the french vineyards. Pau Batlle established Cellar Batlle on the land that was previously operated by his forebears for French producers. Interestingly we have found this to be a common theme that the disaster in the French Vineyards led to the establishment and success of many cava producers in Spain and that now throughout the world all vine stock is grafted with an American Vine Species that is resistant to the attack of the microscopic sap sacking insects that lead to the destruction of the vine for producing grapes. 

180726 8 Road Trip to Lleida Grammona Winery Wine tasting Andrew and Lee

An accountant would most likely have an anxiety attack with the process applied to the production of the Gramona Cava. The wine is laid down in cellars - three historical floors in total under ground for a current average period of 6 years far surpassing any minimum requirement for a title of Gran Reserva. The aging process is still completed with a cork stopper (for wines ageing over 5 years) rather than a metal cap and the bottles are hand turned during the riddling process. "Riddling consists of giving the bottle a 1/8 turn each day with an agile flick of the wrist, shaking, rotating and tilting the bottle at the same time. In this way, we ensure that the yeast sediment accumulates in the neck of the bottle ready for disgorging." Then even the disgorging is completed by hand. Our tour guide commented that their cava is not so accepted in Catalonia as it is far more expensive then the average cava - but then they don’t see themselves as average. 

Our accomodation in LLeida - a Civic Paradore Convento del Roser clustered amongst the buildings 

180726 16 Road Trip to Lleida Castell de Rei La Suda Church180726 17 LLeida Local restaurant for dinner

Our accommodation for the night was at the Paradore Convento Del Roser in the university town of LLeida.  On first impression we did question whether I had finally managed to strike out on the selection list. The town had elements that weren’t totally inviting and I'd still question whether I would return unless there was a reason.

That said a short walk from our accomodation was La Seu Vella - a cathedral that began construction in 1203 and continued up until the completion of the Bell tower in 1431. The Bell Tower with its 400 odd steps not only provided good aerobic exercise but a superb view of the surrounding city and Kings Castle. 

During the evening a short stroll down the hill into the town centre we came upon a small local cafe that provided an excellent opportunity for Adam and Kylie to enjoy local spanish cuisine in a very relaxed atmosphere.

The Paradore as always was very comfortable and welcoming and all agreed the breakfast set in what was once the church to be a great feast of local food - though getting the term for a Poached Egg on our part correct in Catalan may need a bit more practice.

180727 7 Driving Lleida to Winery Scala Dei town of  La Vilella Baixa

Day 2 - Driving from Lleida in search of Winery Scarla Dei 

180727 11 Driving Lleida to Winery Scala Dei  Winery180727 16 Driving Lleida to Winery Scala Dei Oil Tasting with

So Day 2 we headed back towards the boat in Badalona via Parc Natural de la Serra de Monsant passing through such picturesque villages as La Vilella Baixa, navigating some rather twisty roads and enjoying some stunning scenery. Lee chose the cellars of Scarla Dei due to their focus on red wine. Every visit to date though uncovering some great red wines had been primarily focused on discovering Cava (Spanish Champagne.)  From Scarla Dei "the first bottles of Priorat wine came out, in 1878, on the way to the Universal Exhibition in Paris.” With limited time we opted to enjoy a simple wine tasting that was far more, the presenter giving us for every taste of wine an equal dose of history and wine production information. 

The small courtyard of the winery enclosed the wine tasting cellar complete with an original 200 year old barrel, a restaurant that provided  a great lunch stop and an olive shop. Here we met the most enthusiastic and energetic 65 year young woman who through her broken English and our limited Spanish delivered us an unexpected impromptu olive oil tasting experience. Fantastic. 

180729 2 Leaving Badalona for Soller Early morning start Adam and Kylie

Early morning start - Leaving Badalona and the Three Stacks for The Balearics 

180730 7 Soller Katherine on anchor

Katherine on anchor Soller

180730 4 Soller Tram

So back onboard it was an early motor sail out to The Balearics and the island of Mallorca to our favourite seaside town of Soller. Here we spent two days on anchor allowing Adam and Kylie to take the tram into the town proper of Soller, enjoy the water and restaurants. 

From Soller several days were spent working our way south to the island of Ibiza. The most noticeable thing about moving onto Ibiza was that as the size of the yachts got significantly bigger so too did the price of a cocktail from a beach bar.

180801 2 Anchorage Cala De Port Roig Ibiza

Cala De Port Roig Ibiza 

180801 7 Sailing Cala Egos to Cala Boix Ibiza A1 Adam

The majority of the time Adam and Kylie were onboard Spain was in the grip of a heat wave and the wind on the water was to say the least often light to non existent. We were lucky enough however on one day to have just enough breeze to fly our A1 - Big Bird - and for Adam and Lee to gingerly step off the back of the boat into the dinghy to take some photos. 

Add to that the odd dolphin spotting opportunity with water like glass and though we may have been struggling to sail we still couldn’t call it a bad day on the water. 

180803 2 Dolphins from Ibiza to Calpe Spain (1)

Dolphin Spotting always makes you smile 

180805 2 Alicante by Night

After a night in the familiar harbour of Calpe on the mainland we headed to the port of Alicante for its convenience of the airport. It was to be a very short change over of visitors here as we literally farewelled Adam and Kylie in the afternoon and waited to welcome onboard our next visitors.

Such is sailing in the Meditterean seems like a popular place to be. 

(Click for more photos) 

© SV Katherine 2018      Cover Photo: Katherine on Anchor Isle Tabarca Spain