A Winter Home

October 27, 2009

Great jubilation! We’ve finally managed to pursuade the rather severe Ingrid at the Marina Office to let us have a berth here at Port Vell for the next six months. The prospect of having to travel 160 miles back to Valencia as winter progresses was unsettling though perfectly do-able. However we have both fallen in love with Barcelona and really wanted to stay so we’re very relieved. We now have a postal address too though we would hasten to say that we do not plan to send any Christmas cards & likewise, do not expect to receive any. However, for future reference our address until the end of April is as follows:

Julia & Duncan Byrne

Yacht “Rampage”, Berth E5

Marina Port Vell S. A.

C/. Escar, 26 (Moll del Rellotge)

08039 Barcelona



Breakfast in the cockpit, Maggie's last morning


Artists in Las Ramblas (note the Skipper wandering off without me!)

After bidding Maggie, the last of the Stunning Ruins, a fond farewell on Saturday we did a brief shop & then set off on bikes for the Ramblas. When we got there, there were so many people about that we decided to chain our bikes up and wander round on foot – to be honest, the only thing to do in the Ramblas. It is great fun just pottering round the little craft stalls selling hand-made leather goods, jewellery and ceramics, carved wood and hippie clothes. There are artists selling every style of painting, some persuading passers-by to sit for an impromptu portrait, plus lots of flower stalls & “souvenir stalls“ selling postcards & all the usual tat. There are also lots of bars and restaurants all the way up the street which must be ½ a mile from near the waterfront right up to Placa Catalunya – Barcelona’s equivelent of Trafalgar Square. We’ve been warned however, not to eat on the Ramblas because you apparently pay a premium for the location.


A charcuterie stall in the market

Duncan pointed out the main covered market here in Barcelona, which we Ruins managed to totally miss last week. It seems every bit as good as the grand market in Valencia if not as ornate. On the way back to our bikes we were attracted by the sound of drumming in a street off to the right.


A fruit & veg stall at the main Barcelona market

We went to investigate & discovered 50 or 60 people with every shape & size of drum making the most tremendous din, encouraged and led by their enthusiastic conductor/musical director. We stayed to listen for quite a while – it was such fun. It was getting dark by then and there was such a brilliant atmosphere – everyone relaxed & happy & enjoying themselves. I was however, quite relieved to find the bikes still chained up where we’d left them as Barcelona has a bad reputation for pickpockets etc & I was quietly worried that they might have disappeared.

There are often musicians playing in the wide paved area between the marina and the street and people wander along or sit and listen to the music. As well as pedestrians there are lots of cyclists and people on roller blades; it is all very chilled. Just as we were going to bed that night, there was a firework display down on the beach at the far end of the marina which we sat & enjoyed with our neighbour, Josie.


Revellry at the pontoon party

On Sunday we had a quiet day doing some domestic admin and girding our loins for the pontoon party which began at 4pm. We’d seen a notice in the loos, inviting all comers and later Josie mentioned it to us; she seemed to be one of the instigators. Everyone brought drinks & munchies. Our Doritos and dips were very modest compared to some of the kebabs and sate etc other people had brought along. As well as Brits, there were Americans, Canadians, Swedes and Josie who is Dutch. Everyone was very friendly, (especially after a few drinks !) and we were given lots of useful local information including the best places to eat, concerts in the Madrid Bank on a Friday night for €2.50 ahead and an enormous DIY emporium which we tracked down this afternoon. We were also invited along to a Cava Bar at midday today – see below. Duncan was also delighted to be offered some electronic charts which cover italy, the Adriatic and Aegean in exchange for a bottle of rum.

Yesterday Duncan & I went off to hunt for a chandlers’ shop he’d seen an advert for in the marina. When we tracked it down it proved to be a great find – much bigger and better stocked than either of the other chandlers’ we’ve found. We bought some potion recommended by our friends Brian & Rose for dealing with rust marks on the gel coat. Later we set to with brushes and buckets and the hose to scrub the decks. Rampage looks a lot smarter for the attention. We then went on a recce to find the bus station in anticipation of Polly & Tommy’s arrival this evening. I managed to fall off my bike for the second time since getting them – no damage this time but humiliating nonetheless. Luckily it was in the park & not in the street. No I hadn’t been drinking (on that occasion,) but swerved following a last minute change of mind about which way to go and skidded on loose gravel.

Talking of drinking, the Cava Bar today was brilliant – a bottle of fizz plus a delicious filled roll each for €7! Can’t be bad. Needless to say the rest of the afternoon was pretty well a wash-out. D went for snooze (no surprise there I hear all those who know him cry,) and I sat & read my book (Road to McCarthy by Pete McCarty which I highly recommend.)

Having recovered somewhat we went to inspect a paserelle (gankplank) which one of the Cava party is thinking of selling. We are managing without one just now but inevitably will need one at some stage & have been on the lookout for a likely plank of wood for a while. There is a system of swapping goods that takes place in the loos here. We’ve come across book swaps before but here anything goes. D has returned from his morning shower armed with a bicycle basket, a battery operated fan and several thimbles (eye shaped devises which you splice into the end of a piece of rope to make a neat loop.) Tonight there was lots of clothing hanging up in the ladies but I haven’t got quite that desperate yet & besides it was men’s clothing!

This evening we are walking up to the Arc de Triomf to meet Tommy & Polly who will be arriving on the airport bus from Girona. They are staying til Saturday & we are really looking forward to showing them some of the sights. We’ve signed up for Spanish lessons which start next week & are invited to a Chestnut Party on board one of the boats in the marina next Wednesday. Watch this space for more exciting updates…


One comment

  1. Wow, sounds like one long party! Glad you’ve got your winter berth sorted out although I was kind of looking forward to visiting you in Valencia. No importa! Hopefully, we can find a time in the Spring to come – probably avoiding half-terms by the sounds of it. Hope you have had a great time with Polly and Tommy. I much enjoyed the Ruins’ visit if somewhat vicariously. We are experiencing some nice autumnal weather today – wet and windy! Besos x

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