Thursday, 17 January 2013

Spain & Sunshine

When we originally planned our trip we had intended to take our boat down the Rhone, into the Mediterranean, down the coast of Spain and spend the winter on the southern coast of Spain.

Then we crossed the English Channel and remembered (a) how seasick Stephen and I both get (not Emma, she is the best sailor on the boat) and (b) how boring we find sailing at sea - there's nothing to look at, apart from your sick-bowl.

So, that plan was altered and we moored in Roanne for the winter.

However, the cold weather meant the return of Stephen's chest infection (he had pneumonia earlier in the year) and the damp air seemed to be causing Emma's eczema to worsen so, after a particularly cold spell (ice on the inside wall of Emma's cabin one morning), we returned to our plan to go south for the winter.

Pershilla with a sprinkling of snow
The view along our quay

After a bit of searching we found a lovely apartment just outside Marbella in an area called either Las Chapas or Elviria, depending on who you ask. We are a five minute walk from the beach which is sandy and virtually empty at this time of year.

The apartment is wonderful and we are still enjoying the novelty of having baths (there are two! What luxury!) and being able to use a washing machine whenever we want, instead of having to haul all our clothes to a launderette every couple of weeks.

The view from our patio - I just love the colour of the sky!
We drove down over four days, stopping at Beziers on the first night, then in Barcelona, followed by a night with my cousin Zack, his wife Inga and daughter Dayana and then a last stop in Granada. It was wonderful to see Zack and his family, we hadn't seen them all since Zack and Inga's wedding party, which must have been about 6 years ago.

In Barcelona, only having a short time available we decided we'd visit the Sagrada Familia. Our hotel was near an underground station, so off we went.

Thirty minutes later we were no near being able to understand how to make the underground ticket machine give us the correct tickets (even using the English language version of instructions) and since the station was deserted we admitted defeat, decided it was time for Emma's tea and went next door to Ikea for Swedish meatballs and chips.

Next morning we deciding that driving into central Barcelona and parking near Sagrada Familia would be easier than fighting with the ticket machine again, and so it proved. The building is absolutely amazing and is currently scheduled to be finished in 2025.

Sagrada Familia
Christmas in Spain was very quiet, partly because the apartment complex is pretty empty and partly because the main celebration in Spain is Three Kings Day, which takes place on Twelfth Night (aka Epiphany, January 6). In the evening of 5 January children leave their shoes out to either be filled by the Kings with presents or a piece of coal, depending on their behaviour.

Stephen took part in the celebrations by eating most of the Three Kings Cake which we bought. The cake was an enormous ring made of enriched dough (like a brioche or pannatone), split horizontally and filled with whipped cream and topped with candied fruits and sugar. Way too sweet and sticky for my taste, but he declared it to be delicious.

Our cake got eaten before I could get a photo of it, but looked a bit like this, but with cream in
In a similar way to our hiding coins in Christmas Puddings, two prizes are also hidden in Three Kings Cakes, a bean seed (it looks like a runner bean seed to me) and a small china figure of the Christ Child.

We have been taking things pretty easy here in Spain, enjoying the sunshine, walking on the beach, trying Spanish wine and exploring the area.

We have also enrolled Emma in swimming lessons; the first lesson was last week and was not an enormous success. The lesson is 30 minutes long, she spent 25 minutes shouting and screaming and the last 5 minutes having fun. However, every day since she has been asking to go swimming again, so I am hopeful her second lesson will be much better!


  1. Glad to hear all is well and you're enjoying a bit of warmth. It's the complete opposite here as I'm sure you know - we're snowed in at the moment! The apartment sounds lovely - have fun exploring, and best of luck with the swimming lessons x

  2. Alison, I've really enjoyed reading about your travels through France and into Spain. I have taken up your term, MAMIL. Very many of them around here, mostly on bikes, emerging en masse as soon as the sun peaks out. With their shiny helmets they look like an overgrown bunch of harlequin ladybirds, having emerged from their winter nooks and crannies. I blame Bradley Wiggins.

    Looking forward to reading more,