Up Home in the UK Barry and Lindy Samarang The Great Trip


We had been told about the Spanish fishermen protesting about the price of diesel but we didn't expect the protests to be ongoing.  When we arrived at Barcelona from Menorca we were told by Marina Port Vell that they were expecting us BUT we couldn't get into the port because of the barricade of fishing vessels which had been there for some days!  There was nothing anybody could do so we moored alongside the breakwater with the help of some other stranded boats who were trying to get to the Boat Show - we had arrived on the first day.  Welcome to Barcelona!!
We sat and had lunch in the cockpit and watched as a couple of frustrated single-handed yachts motored up and down endlessly.  Other sailors came back from a supermarket somewhere with more provisions.  One boat had run out of water and containers were being carted back and forth.  The Guardia Costero looked on.  The weather then started to deteriorate - the sun disappeared, a cool wind came in from the North and the face of Barcelona developed a scowl.  We were preparing to settle down for the evening when the fishing vessels broke the blockade.  We never found out why but we were able to go and find our winter berth - a mariņero helped take our lines but there were no other friendly faces.  The port office was short-handed and due to close so we were told to come back tomorrow with our papers.  We wandered back to the boat in the cool evening,  with just a dim light to show us the way - had we made the right decision??  Was this the Barcelona that everyone had raved about??? 
Well actually yes - Barcelona is a remarkable city - beautiful, stylish, interesting, clean, and one of the shopping capitals of the world. The transport system is fast, cheap and efficient so no real need for the bikes and it is such a joy to walk in this city.  A very minor down side of the excellent transport system is that you can never use it as an excuse for being late - "Sorry, I was stuck in a tunnel on the central line for half an hour" would gain you sympathy and nods of resignation in London, but here you get the feeling that a train on the metro being a minute late would make the front page of El Periodico.
Barcelona is also described (rightly) by its residents as the largest open air architectural museum in the world.  There's Gaudi, Dali, Picasso and Miro at every turn and they keep investing in new stuff.  The landmark of the city of course is Gaudi's Sacrada Familia (the one that looks like a bundle of baguettes).  It's not finished of course and being able to walk around it with construction still ongoing is the most remarkable thing.  The big debate for the last 70 odd years has been whether to finish it with a new architect in control, or not.  This would seem to be a bit of a no brainer as Gaudi wasn't the architect who started the project anyway (he took over from someone else early on) and it was normal with all the great cathedrals of the world to have more than one architect - just because they took more than a lifetime to build - just like the Sacrada!  Actually Gaudi was often asked during his lifetime just how long it was going to take to finish the Sacrada - "The Client is not in a hurry" was his answer!  Anyway the debate seems to have been settled and one new remarkable entrance has been completed.  On the other hand  there's one entrance that can never now be built because of a dual carriageway.   
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But we're getting ahead of ourselves.  Barcelona is also a wonderful city to just pick a bar, eat tapas and watch the world go by - we think you could live here for years and not do all the interesting ones (or find the last one you were in). It was actually several months before we finally visited the Sacrada. 

Our home for the winter was to be Marina Port Vell, it's right in the centre and very protected with good facilities although a tad expensive.  The cruising community is pretty well established - actually some boats have been here for years so "cruiser" is a bit of a misnomer - but pontoon parties, coffee mornings (male and female), cruisers 'net' etc are all well established.  In the first week we opened a Spanish bank account, set up our internet access, arranged for a supermarket delivery to the end of the boat, washed sails, etc, etc. 

Most importantly (as it was to define our lives for the next couple of months) we enrolled in an intensive Spanish course with International House - 4 hours per day, 5 days a week for 7 weeks plus city visits in the afternoon AND homework.  The hours alone don't really adequately describe how "intensive" this type of course is.  We were exhausted. We always felt as if we were barely holding on by our fingernails and at the weekends we slept for hours (which of course made us late for starting our homework).  There was an amazing mix of people on the course who joined and left as the weeks went by.  At one point the oldest member of the course was 82 - Irish polo pony breeder, with farms in Ireland and the USA.  The youngest was Sami 22 - Asian English who had just finished studying to be an English teacher with IH and got the Spanish course thrown in.  One thing all of the students had in common was that they had all spent more time in Spain and spoke better Spanish than we did (do?). 

As part of the course, there were a number of extra curricular cultural activities.  One of these was an all day Saturday trip to Girona and to see the  Dali museum at Figuera which is staggering, though a day is not enough, the word Genius does not adequately describe the man and no photos can do his museum justice - he built it and stocked it himself!. Most of us are slightly familiar with Dali's surreal stuff, but the museum is full of work in a multitude of different styles, any one of which would have been enough to make another artist famous.

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The story continues in the 2006 diary or you can click "HERE"

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Last updated 18th March 2018