Category Archives: Costa Blanca – Spain

The start of the 2013 Cruising Season from Spain to Turkey

Saying Goodbye to Namibia from the roof of the Hilton Hotel in Windhoek!
Saying Goodbye to Namibia from the roof of the Hilton Hotel in Windhoek!

Since I’ve left Italy:

It seems like such a long time ago that I have left beautiful Tuscany behind at the end of September 2012 … The daunting scenario of having to take trains and buses back to Rome and then the long flight via Cairo…to Johannesburg and that same night back to Australia … all by myself without missing a flight!

We arrived at Cairo about an hour before sunset and it was amazing to see the Nile Delta and the city from the sky! I made a note in my mind book … this is a place we have to see…Especially with the young Egyptian man that was sitting behind me and enlighten me on all the wonderful places to visit … he did not think Cairo was worth making a stop – the traffic is horrible he said and the city crazy and polluted. I remember the smile on his face when he told me about their last snorkelling holiday at the coast of Egypt -well I never would have thought of Egypt as a snorkelling destination! It sounds great – not a place to go with Scolamanzi (necessarily) but certainly worth putting on my list.
I arrived home dead tired! The 3 hours sleep in the hotel at the Johannesburg airport was a lifesaver! Arriving at the airport in Mackay (Australia) meant that I have to drive myself home – the longest 2 ½ hour drive of my life!
Back home … 3 Elliot street …I remember my first night back home so clearly: I was overwhelmed with joy to see Johann after 4 weeks of travelling on my own. I had so much to share and catch up on, but at the same time I had this terribly empty/deserted feeling … sad to think that I have left so many amazing places (visited and unseen) behind; the rich culture and old history of places I have been to … Sad to think that I will wake up without the sound of the horse cart that brings the fresh milk and cheese and freshly cut flowers into town at Radda… sad to think that I almost call Tuscany, Denia and the small little Cala’s of the Balearic Islands my home. I got use to waking up every morning with a different view from my “bedroom window” on Scolamanzi …Now … it will be the same wall I will stare into that I have seen for the last 16 years! 🙁 I started living for the day I can go back!
It was hard work and long hours which make the 5 months flew past! Before I knew it…we were getting ready to start the next journey!

Annaboom... near Gobabis in Namibia
Annaboom… near Gobabis in Namibia

This time we went via Namibia (a town called Gobabis, to see my Mom and siblings).We stayed on the farm Annaboom with my sister Lientjie and her husband Pieter. I soaked in 3 weeks of African sounds, smells , people, culture, food and animals.The wild life is certainly one of the most missed things in my life in Australia …that and the specific sense of humour that you only find in South Africa and Namibia is pretty special.

Looking for game...
Looking for game…

Johann joined me a week before we had to depart for Spain. I will always remember the time there as one of quality people, my best friends(my sisters) always finding special monments, giggles and laughter, lots of baby animals roaming the farm …baby goats, foals, kittens… (but the baby goats were the cutest and stole my heart!)Then there were the evenings around the fire having a “Braai” (BBQ)! In Australia, we just don’t make a fire and sit around it= (for a few different reasons) …that is moments reserved for an African experience only!
We left a beautiful green Namibia behind (after a week of wonderful rain!) for the blue water of the Mediterranean sea.
Acacia trees are one with this lovely country, Namibia!
Acacia trees are one with this lovely country, Namibia!

With a few lose ends at home and at work we couldn’t help to wonder how much we will really be able to relax on this trip!… Only time will tell.

The Start of our last season on Scolamanzi:

Arriving at Denia, we realised that we are not going to have a warm start! It is the middle April and far from warm! In fact, we had difficulty getting up early in the mornings to start the day .. just because we do not have enough cold weather gear on board…and could simply not dress up warm enough! Scolamanzi is after all a tropical sailing boat … she is certainly not build for this kind of weather!

Getting a good clean before we leave
Getting a good clean before we leave

Some of the days became slightly warmer and as long as the wind does not blow we were fine! But the show must go on and we want to get going to leave for Sardinia as soon as possible!
It was wonderful to walk onto a clean Scolamanzi after 6 months! Absolutely spotless and fresh with no boat smells (only Yachties will know what I mean!) I have to thank Karl (Charlie) and Judy at Mundo Maritimo in Marina de Denia! They did a splendid job looking after Scolamanzi, making sure the engines and genset get started regularly and checking on dock lines and safety of the boat.
Karl  and Johann watching on as Scolamanzi get her manicure!
Karl and Johann watching on as Scolamanzi get her manicure!
If you ever think of overwintering a boat in Denia, then Marina de Denia has great off season deals and Mundo Maritimo will be a great call for someone to manage your boat while away.
The engines were serviced without a problem. We have decided to take Scolamanzi out on the hard to change the anodes and to make sure the anti-fouling is still in good condition. It was magic to hear the engines starting without a problem. It sounded like music in our ears! It was fabulous to be on the water again … although it was only 150 metres from the berth to the lift! Only the two anodes on the prop needed replacement , the anti-fouling were in splendid condition after 15 months!…and within an hour she was back in her berth for the last night in the marina in Denia! We had to quickly get Scollie in the water to put her in her “travel cradle” and even her little engine started with only a gentle nudge! It is great to know Scolamanzi and little Scolli are so reliable – our lives depend on them after all!

We still had enough time to spend a couple of hours with our friends Bill and Romie over a bottle or two and a delicious lunch! It is always wonderful to see them and I have to admire them for being so fit and energetic at their ages! We will be back in Spain with or without this Scolamanzi! Spain has grown on us and if I have to choose another country to settle … this might be the one pretty high on my list!

The route from Costa Blanca (Denia) to Sardegna (Sardinia)
The route from Costa Blanca (Denia) to Sardegna (Sardinia)

We had a good afternoon nap after our late lunch (that lasted just about 2 hours!) We there and then decided that the weather window is favourable and we are leaving right now (seeing that we had rested well) in stead of tomorrow morning. We left Denia for the last time this year and with this boat at 7pm with a sun that was sitting low ready to set in about 30 min!
Leaving in bitterly cold weather to start our season of sailing in the Med in 2013!
Leaving in bitterly cold weather to start our season of sailing in the Med in 2013!

The weather forecast indicated that a massive low pressure system is forming in the Gulf du Lion! Weather that might just affect the last leg of our crossing from the Balearics to Sardinia! We thought we might just go to Minorca and wait there for the next weather window. We started with windless conditions and glassy seas when we left Denia and therefore plenty of sleep and very little worries! By the time we were next to Ibiza, we could get reception again and downloaded some more weather forecasts. The decision was then made to push on without a stop and see if we can beat the system before it arrives at Sardinia. The whole voyage was on mirror smooth water and no winds! Unbelievable! Not a ripple on the water!
The most amazing sea ... no wind
The most amazing sea … no wind

With seas like that you suddenly notice every movement on the surface. We have decided that that is where Blue bottles (small jellyfish) are coming from! Millions of them were drifting in seemingly endless streams! Massive turtles were just lying on the surface having a feast of jellyfish and we have noticed a whole lot of huge sunfish doing the same!
Mr Dolphin keeping an eye on me
Mr Dolphin keeping an eye on me
Dolphins often take on the race just to get here, have a good look and disappear into their distant playing fields… They are not as playful as the ones we have seen in South African or southern Atlantic waters – where they can easily stay with you for 20-30 minutes at a time! It was still wonderful to see them with the water so clear and still!
As soon as I get it figured out, I will have to add a slide show of both Namibia and our Crossing! Hopefully my IT guru can give me a hand 😉

Thanks Jonathan! The IPad friends will be delighted that it is not a slide-show any more! At least they can see the pictures too now!! Remember that you can open them all up to enlarge them. Happy viewing everyone!

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Altea … long overdue:

The famous little Parochial church - 'Virgen del Consulo'
The famous little Parochial church – ‘Virgen del Consulo’

Altea: means ‘health to all’ (from the moorish name ‘Althaya’).

We have been trying to see what Altea looks like for a while now, but with no anchorage close by, we just never got to see it. The town has looked like a postcard from the boat as we sailed past – especially the church with its lovely blue roof surrounded by a hill packed with white houses. Today was the day I have put aside for Altea … a visit long overdue!

Altea as seen from the sea
Altea as seen from the sea

I took the train in from Denia – and hour trip there and an hour back for 4 Euro was a steal! The train has only two coaches – so it is pretty small and stops at a few towns – but literally for 2 min and you have to be quick to get on and off in time! I had a bit of a close shave there because I was not sure at which station to get off … the only language I could find to help my way out was with my rusted German! (With my still very limited Spanish and no English spoken by anyone around me!) That was quite a challenge (Amazing what you suddenly remember if you have to!)

Arriving in Altea I had to first visit the Markets while it is early and all the fresh produce and mainly fish will be in. Just to see once more all the beautiful fruit and veggies, cheeses, ham, seafood, olives and delicatessen shops with wonderful balsamic and olive oil variations and pastries (!) was on its own a treat! I could not withstand the figs – the most wonderful purple and green figs! So it was me and the four figs in the plaza with the early morning coffee seekers buzzing around the tables of on the square.

The most famous street in Altea ... steep and a long way up to the church!
The most famous street in Altea … steep and a long way up to the church!

The most famous street in Altea must be the one where every tourist have his picture taken – so did I! You will always find a friendly tourist to do it for you! It is a very steep and very long cobbled stone street with big steps on either side leading you to the church. The old part of Altea is perched on top of a hill from where you have a splendid view to either side of the big bay in which Altea is situated. Here you can see the silhouettes of the Peñon de Ifach (Calpe) to the one side and Benidorm’s massive sky-scrapers to the other side on the horizon. The ascent, along steep slopes and steps of the paved and staggered streets, reveals a surprising view at every turn, of the sea over the top of the terracotta tiled roofs. Altea still gives you this kind of Spanish village look that you think of once you have seen pictures of old Spanish towns.
A stunning view from the "Dels Artistes Restaurante"
A stunning view from the “Dels Artistes Restaurante”

The mountains (reaches up to 1130 mt high hills) surrounding Altea forms a gorgeous backdrop for the picturesque town and on the way in the train I actually thought it could have been anywhere in the Stellenbosch area (near Cape Town in South Africa) … if it wasn’t for the Olive and Almond trees in amongst the vineyards and orange groves that gave it away!

Altea is a charming Mediterranean settlement that dates its origins back thousands of years. In the very modern marina white yachts are bobbing alongside brightly coloured fishing boats in a bay that traces the rounding of a coastline where Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and Moors once sailed, and modern beachside boulevards with restaurant upon restaurant divided only by one street from the old town.

The lovely street with my favourite shop in!
The lovely street with my favourite shop in!

The most outstanding feature of Altea is the famous little Parochial church right at the very top of the hill, crowned with a blue and white ceramic tiled dome, typical of the region. Views of this icon of Altea, is exactly what made me go there! -The church of ‘Virgen del Consulo’ overlooks whitewashed buildings and a bustling square, filled with quality restaurants and cafes that encourage you to linger over lunch… And so I did!
The inside the church is flooded with light through the glorious stained glass windows with beautiful murals and sculptures on display on the sides.

These cobbled streets, filled with wrought iron balconies overflowing with flowers, has a refreshing surprise around every corner!… with stylish shops selling handmade pottery, jewellery and other artefacts and you can see the old walled town has a unique charm. The many small art galleries and art studios reflect that Altea was a haven for artists because of the fabulous light experienced here and along with the artisans, writers and musicians who has given it very much a bohemian charm.

After my visit at the “Hippy Happy” shop ( to buy two loose-fitting pants to wear in Italy) and a wonderful lunch – of garlic snails and plate of homemade Foie gras (which reminded me so much of a good friend Gerhard) with port sauce and toast , caramelised red onion, Jamón and fresh toast … and a glass of vino Rosado – it was time for me to grab a coffee on the way to the station to go back to Scolamanzi!!

I will always have fond memories of Altea … and I do want to go back … but next time with Johann …it is a very romantic little place and should not be visited without the love of your life!

I cycled to the station early this morning and was very happy but not surprised to see my liitle white bycicle still waiting there for me (although locked – my African experiences made me still wonder about the safety of my belongings!) The cycle back to the marina was a upwind struggle all the way! Back on the boat I found it amazing that I would only be away from the boat for a day or two and the sea-legs are gone!! The rocking of the strong wind and swells made me feeling slightly strange …just as well I had such a big and wonderful lunch in Altea – it would have been a crime anyway to follow it up with any of the scraps I have left on board and was quite happy to go to bed with my memories and a slightly empty stomach. 🙂

(Please note that I have taken some of the information directly from a tourist website due to the fact that I have had no information while I was visiting)

You will need Adobe Flash downloaded to see the picture slide show underneath every post I made!