How much longer? I wonder as I wander along Sydney’s stunningly beautiful coastal walk after having watched Leo’s latest ‘Before the Flood‘. We’ve got the power, know-how and tech to change it all for the better – and yet the lack of political is making for a silent, helpless scene of watching indescribable pollution on all levels – environmental, social, spiritual – slowly eliminate our own race… Mother Earth will survive. We and many of the living things we so treasure might much sooner be history than what we though-, if we don’t start changing drastically now.
A beautiful Sunday out sailing in Sydney Harbour – three months back into land-life. What can I say – bitter-sweet! Thanks to Judith and Martin for taking us 4.5 out on their beautiful classic sailing yacht, once circumnavigated with by non other than the Adams who later went on to building strong Australian sailing yachts. Both of you, all the best in pursuing your dreams!
You are not always where you necessarily want to be, but inevitably where you need to be.
(a dear yogic friend of mine yesterday in deep conversations about the funny odd turns in life…)
Whilst for us spending a week with old Spanish-Sri Lankan friends from Sydney and seeing them grow into a family, this time round was by far our highlight of Andalucia, even without that this most diverse and sun-kissed region in Southern Spain is a fabulous hodgepodge of anything a traveller’s heart could wish for. Here’s only a few reasons of why to go.
1. It’s beautiful
From UNESCO heritage sites, over splendid nature in all its shapes and forms, the few English settlements on the Costa de Sol aside, there’s not a spot on this land that anyone could call anything but breath-takingly beautiful. If you like picturesque cities, from Granada and Sevilla over Cordoba or smaller towns like Ronda and Jimena de la Frontera – there is a more than abundant premium selection to pick from. If you are a beach lover, you can chose from the English pub and fiesta beaches by the Costa de Sol, to more beautiful scenery further East or West. If you like it colder, head up one of the many mountains and national parks covered in lush forests and green pastures.
Driving south from Madrid, past castles and Manchego factories in Castillo la Mancha, we first pass olive tree fields as far as the eyes can reach, then stop for lunch in one of historians world mekkas, Granada, from where winding roads through lush mountains finally land us by the endless beaches. We couldn’t have asked for more variety in two days of travelling from Madrid to the Southern coasts.
2. It’s dry
This might sound irrelevant to non-sailors. But all those who’ve lived on a boat for any amount of time, who now the litres of mildew sticking even to the smallest items the moment night falls, who have experienced skin blisters and bruises not healing for the constant humid environment, and understand what it means not getting that humid salty air out of any of their clothes, blankies and cushions – all those will appreciate like us, the beautiful warm, dry Andalucian air like nothing else.
3. People are most laid-back and friendly
Spaniards in general are hard to dislike with their happy, open and chilled-out attitude. Southerners take it to the next level. Siesta is a must. Stress unknown territory. Talking about savoir-vivre, they’ve got it!
4. Kids are welcome
When one of the littlies starts giving their best karaoke in the middle of a restaurant without stop, instead of grumpy looks its more likely to blend in with the generally loud and joyous atmosphere of Spanish life. At most, the waiter or grand-ma from the next table will come and start playing or hugging your kid. Nothing for touch-averse people, but a paradise for curious and flexible travelling families.
This, unfortunately does not include many accommodation options which tend to charge extra for each child. Make sure you check in advance whether there is extra charges for extra beds, cots and/or breakfast.
5. Tapas are delicious and generous
Often with neither ordering nor having to pay for them, beverages are accompanied by the most delicious snacks. We are not talking greasy packaged chips here. Tapas can be anything from tortilla de patatas, over some egg variation, little sandwich with local ham, cheese, seafood and other local specialties. An unwritten rule tends to be that the further into the rounds of cerveza you head, the more elaborate the tapas get. For instance, while the first one might get you a few delicious local olives, the tenth round might see you and your mates dipping into oysters or scallops.
6. There are many off-the-beaten tracks to discover
Although tourism is well developed in the coastal areas, cities and some mountain towns, there are still many areas like national park tracks, small mountain villages not mentioned in the latest Lonely Planet. Even just the hinterland of more developed coastal towns sometimes awaits with delicious local-ness and a magic touch.
7. For those who like it loud…
Of course there are the LA/Gold Coast remixes as Marbella and the like. You don’t need to look hard to find them and honestly, get your Lonely Planet for this as I won’t be able to tell you any secrets about that scene anymore. I’m a mum! Nostalgia, nostalgia, nostalgia… the past is the past, jaja.
8. Arabic culture in European environment
If Africa feels a bit scary, but you are still curious to discover some of its culture at first hand, Andalucía is the place to be. With hundreds of years of Moor influence, many of the places like Granada and the famous white villages in its surroundings, show at least as much Arabic influence as Christian or Jewish. The further south you head, the more common hammams, more abundant Morroccon cuisine, and more omnipresent moor architecture become.
9. Uncountable national parks
Just from a general map I counted over 14. Many of them unknown even to my well-tracked Spanish friends. From hippie havens inviting for handycraft stops in quain villages (Alpujarras), over abandoned railway tracks offering miles of walks or bike rides through tunnels and stunning scenery (Parque Natural Sierra de Grazalema) to mountain hikes past rivers and Roman ruins for all levels. Andalucia has got it all.
10. Uncountable beaches
Given it’s miles and miles of coastline, it doesn’t come as a surprise. Most of Spain’s southern coasts have made a name for themselves and once again you can chose between party zones, remote beaches, big, small, developed and chilled.
A little extra handy characteristic for adventurous travelling nomads like us: Africa is just ½ hr ferry ride away. And that’s where we are heading for as I send off this post.
One of the things we love most visiting is local markets and ruins. The latter somehow has a magic spell on me as I trip over old carved and inscripted stones past rock tombs, my third eye sees the ghosts of the people who lived ordinary lives here thousands of years ago. Somehow visiting those places, whether it’s Lycian towns in Turkey, a former Lepper colony on Spinalonga Island or Myonian Palaces in Crete, are a tangible remainder of our own human mortality.
We take so many things too serious, yet almost everything will go the day our bodies disintegrate into dust and soil. I wonder what our descendants are going to say one day if they walk through the ruins of Mexico City, Shanghai and Cape Town, or observe the crumbling remainders of Sydney’s Harbour Bridge. This time round, however, it might be the end of humanity as it is hard to imagine that London would turn into ruins, while New York City would continue to build skyscrapers. Contrary to back then, it is a connected world. Unfortunately not a united – and this might be the very reason it goes down one day? Until then, remembering the lightness of our own transience, enjoy each moment of every day – and live a life that’s worth living. Carpe Diem.
Refreshing cold feet and drinks IN the river by a massive gorge – tables semi-submerged. Kids loving it. Grown ups too.
Appreciating small things is a great achievement!
On another walk through stunning and abandoned ruins the other day, I couldn’t help but ponder about the difference between a large and a small aperture – metaphorically for life’s bigger and smaller picture. What to focus on when – without losing sanity when doing the latter? Big picture – has this world gone crazy? Too tired to list all the obvious… Small picture – such tremendous beauty, and us, a little sailing family right dot in the middle of it;)
I think this morning I slammed the door towards ever going back to what most in the Western world would consider a remotely normal life. I ‘just’ went for a snorkel swim to the beach and subsequent run (bless me foresight – having left my trainers on the beach the night before!). The ‘just’ another morning run once again took my breath away. Around the first corner came into view the most stunning tucked away bay with esmerald blue water, rock caves and pine tress down to the water’s edge. Around the next corner the remainders of a Byzantine village revealed themselves. We are talking thousands of years of history at hand-reach! I checked out their kitchen and chimney which were still clearly distinguishable. Around the next corner and a sweaty run up the hill (even at 7am the sun’s already starting to get rather powerful. Disclaimer: If you don’t like dripping heat, the Med is no place to be in July and August.) a little tree top Café pops out of nowhere with the phone number of the owner who lives down in the vast and otherwise uninhabited valley. A few steps on, majestic arches of an ancient Lycian town take the rest of my breath away. Sooo much natural beauty – countering all the horrible atrocities you hear on the news. This world is full of extremes and I guess we chose which impressions to take in. I trust that impressions on the soul are at least as powerful and influential for our health and happiness as is the food that we eat and the people we chose to surround ourselves with. Here’s a massive bow with tons of gratitude towards the beauty of this world, the courage and luck we’ve had to discover it, and the future of my children growing up surrounded by a beauty for which worlds simply fail me.
Beauty might bring happiness. But happiness always brings beauty.
Back on the boat, ‘real’ life is back as we discover our watermaker has given up on us just as the tanks are running low. The over five year old membranes need a clean but now the pump doesn’t seem to work so we can’t pump through the cleaning solution ourselves, it seems. Finding a qualified professional who knows what they are doing is a thing close to impossible in Mediterranean countries in the absence of trustworthy (key word!) local contacts. It also means we have to pay horrendous marina fees for at least a night every week to top up our tanks until we can get this issues sorted – worst case until we get new membranes, probably not before Malta two months down the line. Ah, the joys and challenges of cruising life. Ok, maybe that door that I slammed before is not quite that closed – maybe one day I’ll be ready again for the convenience and ease of life ashore;) Never say never to anything!
When cruising, there never used to be enough internet for blogging anything beyond regular updates through posts. Now that Pablo is working from on board, he’s luckily sorted it out through our own wifi router which has been working excellently here in Turkey. This has allowed me to upload a few more pics than usual and for those who don’t have the time or muse to write at the moment – or are relatively new to the blog and want the story of the last two years or so since we started our nomadic adventure in quicker digestible picture format, check out Galleries (top hand corner of the homepage form now on next to Recipes, Online Yoga Studio, Yoga Retreats and all that). It’s an organically growing project portraying my passion for photography and our travels. Some you can also see and like on National Geographic. So far there’s three folders:
2015 Mediterranean Cruising Season – This is a work in process, so here’s just the beginning, from our quick trip to the UK, to leaving Malta in a non-stop five day sail to Kithara in Greece, followed by two amazing weeks of Meltemi sailing through the Cyclades and Dodacanese and our new Mediterranean favourite: Turkey. Enjoy the pics and leave a comment as we always love to connect with people beyond just a one-way-street;)
A winter in Malta – 2014/15 we once again stopped for a few months in winter to top up our kitty, ground ourselves and enjoy the conveniences of semi-settled life for a change. Here’s out winter in Malta in pictures.
Sydney, Europe, Med & UK 2014 – It is hard to put the whole journey into picture, but here some of the highlights from committing to the dream still back home in Sydney, to leaving for Europe shortly after our second boy was born, living in a Caravancruising Europe for several months in search for our perfect boat, topping up the kitty in the UK and finally moving on board in Greece. What a year! It was never boring, it was always adventurous, it was always beautiful and most of the time hard. Looking back, it was the biggest challenge to overcome, finding your own space in a dream turned reality. Looking forward, I wouldn’t wanna have it any other way.
For more random snapshots, check out all the posted Gallery section in the right hand column under Radio Interviews, Videos ,Quotes and all that.. Remember we always love hearing from you – connecting with people, close and far, foreign and similar, crazy and normal – that’s one of the most enjoyable parts of our journey and one of the main motivations of dedicating precious time every day to pouring my heart and soul out on this blog. You get an insight into our lives – we’d love to hear from you too. It’s not a one-way road. Love and light and thanks for reading, watching, writing to and following us;)