Category: Trips

Of Skulls, No Wind and Dolphins !

It was Tuesday, 17th July 2018, after lunch, when Patrik and I finally left Porto Masnou behind us and headed for France!

Since the weather forecast was ok, we’d decided to take the direct route over the Gulf de Lion to Cassis/FR (if possible) and from there along the Côte d’Azur to Loano/IT. Of course we were first and foremost very happy, and super excited about our adventure and what might be waiting for us!

Unfortunately, we didn’t have the winds as predicted, so most of the time we had to use the engine, as we couldn’t afford to lose more time – which was a pity, of course! But, on the other hand, rather too little wind, than a storm, as it apparently isn’t unusual in this area. The mistral has to be respected there!

Anyway, to spare you too many details, I’ll only mention the most exciting episodes.

For example when my first night watch started at 11.30 p.m. (we settled on 2 hours shifts each). Patrik reported to me everything was quiet, a couple of cargo or cruise ships where around, but nothing to worry about. OK, I made myself comfortable in the cockpit, with warm clothes and a blanket (yes, at night it was chilly, while during the days we had over 30 deg. C). After a few minutes I checked the radar and……what the *** was that? A red skull was moving from the right corner above towards us!! It really looked like these pirate skulls, with the crossed bones underneath! My heart missed a beat and I went downstairs, waking up Patrik (sorry darling). He had a look at the screen, but wasn’t bothered at all. He just said, in case it comes too close (within 2 NM), an alarm will go off! Then he went to bed again. GREAT !!

 

Well, as for me, the calmness was gone. I sat in front of the radar and wouldn’t let the skull out of my eyes! And it did come really close, but finally – and luckily – it drifted away!

Until today, we haven’t found out what that was! No description anywhere, neither Raymarine nor Google can present an explanation….So, in case someone knows, we would be very thankful (or maybe not?!), to learn about this strange phenomenon.

But the night had also its beautiful side: We saw so many stars, like, millions! Even one or two shooting stars were visible! THAT was truly amazing! Unfortunately, with the light pollution these days, you don’t see the sky anymore!

We also experienced incredible sunsets and sunrises, with nothing around us, than……the sea!

 

Except….the first early morning, around five, we saw “something” far away and it didn’t take long, until we realized, these were dolphins! WOW, and you know what? They suddenly decided to visit us! It was totally crazy, at least seventy dolphins swam around our boat, playing, jumping, speeding, looking at us by swimming sideways…..It was absolutely the best ever! During the day and in the evening we had a few more visits of these amazing creatures and each time Patrik and I couldn’t believe our lucky stars!

Once more we became sad, how these intelligent and freedom-loving mammals are put in tiny tanks, and let them do stupid tricks for a dead fish…..

  

It was also highly visible that plastic pollution is no rumor! We came across a lot of plastic bottles in all sizes, dishes, inflatable toys, suddenly a sea of Styrofoam….unfortunately, we couldn’t fish out any of it, they were too far away. It’s very sad to see how we treat our blue planet….

After two days of (motor-)sailing we arrived at the Ile de Porquerolle, on 19th July at 6 o’clock in the morning. Cassis was not possible, we would have been there at two or three at night and an anchor spot was not guaranteed. So we sailed a bit further to have some daylight, when maneuvering the boat.

It was a wise decision, as it showed later. The Ile de Porquerolle is a beautiful island and – although masses of tourists are visiting – it shows a very environmentally conscious behaviour. Guests are constantly reminded of how sensitive the nature and its habitants is. Very exemplary!

We decided to spend the day and one night there, to buy groceries and enjoy the beautiful surroundings! All our neighbors – which were changing during the day – were very pleasant and we would have enjoyed chatting a bit more with some of them!

On the 20th, lunchtime we left the Ile de Porquerolle – regretting that we didn’t have more time. Next planned stop was towards St. Tropez, anchoring. From now on we had the famous coast line beside us. No more dolphins, though. It probably was too noisy for them, with all the motor yachts and jet skis, and not enough food available.

   

Around five we found a nice anchor spot in the Baie de Briande. It’s apparently one of the most beautiful bays in the Mediterranean. And after the two or three “party yachts” had left, it was very peaceful and we enjoyed a lovely evening! Patrik even had a swim J

The next day, we hoped to come to Menton, also anchoring. The wind was good at the beginning and we had a speed of around 7 knots, sadly before lunchtime it died again and we had to start the engine *sigh* At least we arrived in Menton, but with quite high waves and a dark sky. But as soon we dropped the anchor, the weather cleared up and the sea became calmer! Perfect!

Since I’ve prepared dinner during the day, we just had to warm it up again and could eat at a reasonable time! We took a lot of pictures of the picturesque Menton – hopefully one day we can visit it again! The night was a bit bumpy, since there were still some uncomfortable waves around, but it could have been worse!

 

Full of enthusiasm, we got up the next morning, leaving early, as we knew our next stop would be in Loano – home for our Luna Azzurra! She behaved, by the way, exemplary, how she got us securely through the sea – we truly enjoyed her very much!

On Sunday, 22nd July, during the afternoon, we finally could see Loano – through the binoculars! What a feeling that was – wow! I think these last two hours were the longest under the whole journey. Almost painful ;o)

After 3 p.m. we entered the Marina di Loano, proud and more than happy! YEAH, we did it!!

After Luna Azzurra was safely moored at her spot – M13 – we went to see Elisa at the marina office. She was very happy to see us safe and sound and welcomed us “home”! Then we went back to our boat and enjoyed our well-earned glass of wine / beer! It must have been the best in the world J

  

Sadly, we couldn’t enjoy much of “dolce far niente”. The next day we had to start cleaning our yacht, inside and outside, throwing things away, more cleaning and sweating (it was over 30 deg. C), Patrik sanded the black painted table in the cockpit (he bought a sander in the end) – at least the worst bit.

We removed her old name “Dorah”, bought 6 brand new fenders, including the “socks”, new mooring lines, went even more shopping… I think I have never cleaned and sweated so much in my entire life!

Anyhow, slowly but surely she looked more and more beautiful, transforming from a sad Cinderella to a pretty “principessa”! The highlight of course was, when we officially baptized her to the name of LUNA AZZURRA! We are sure, she loves that name, it suits her perfectly!

Ah, and we met Matteo and Juliana of course. That’s the couple who will take care of Luna Azzurra, while we are note there. They will be cleaning, welcoming guests, maintaining the necessary, etc. A very lovable pair and we got on from the very beginning!

We even met another guy – organized from Matteo – who runs a B&B nearby and rents out his sailing boat. He showed us his interest of managing Luna Azzurra for us, getting in guests, arranging payments, etc. We would get a part of the profit, of course. Interesting, but it has to be well-considered of course. So we promised to keep in touch and see if we agree on a deal.

On Friday 27th July, lunch time, everything was finished and Luna Azzurra blazed in her new glow! It was really sad, that now, when everything was finished and super clean, we had to leave her and return home! A little tear confirmed our feelings….

It was around 8.30 p.m. when Patrik and I opened the door of our house in Switzerland! Very tired but soooo incredible happy!

S/Y LUNA AZZURRA

Hi there, I’m the new member of this family and I’m very happy about it!

But let me explain shortly, what I did so far:

Built in 2005, I’m a thoroughbred BAVARIA CRUISER 42. My first home was in Finland and apparently my owner took great care of me. That’s why I still look so pretty! He baptized me to the name of DORAH.

 

In 2015 he decided to move to Mallorca – including me! That was an adventure of course and I enjoyed the long sailing trip (naturally, I’m a sailing vessel, hahaha)!

Unfortunately, on the island I got quite bored, since my owner unexpectedly didn’t have much time to enjoy my company anymore. So I was more or less sitting in the marina of Palma and envied the other yachts, which were taken out sailing…

At least I got still maintained….

Then, last winter my owner finally decided to sell me. It came a bit as a shock for me, and suddenly unknown people were examining me, taking pictures and I received a proper swab and all around service. 

People came and visited me, said they were interested….which they weren’t in the end. Well, apparently I had to wait for the right ones – which turned out to be Diana and Patrik……..ah and Odin, their furry companion…..aw sorry, he is actually the Admiral…! 

So end of May 2018 I moved from Palma di Mallorca to Barcelona, to the big Bavaria workshop. There they did some repairs and in mid-July, Diana and Patrik picked me up, in order to sail me to Italy – to my new home! 

I probably don’t have to mention, how excited I was! Finally a proper sailing trip again, after all this time! *splash*  

And, boy, I do love my new marina! It’s in Loano and called….well….Marina di Loano! Very posh with enough space around me! I do also get a lot of visitors, some just admiring me and others renting me. 

Doesn’t matter actually, it never gets boring and that’s the main thing, isn’t it?!

And hey, I also got a new name: LUNA AZZURRA ! Isn’t it beautiful? And so chic….it truly suits me, I suppose!

Here are some technical dates about me:

  • Make: BAVARIA
  • Model: CRUISER 42
  • Year: 2005
  • Length: 42’4’’ (12.99 m)
  • Fuel: Diesel
  • Hull: Fiberglass
  • Beam: 3.99 m
  • Max. Draft: 1.95 m
  • Engine: Volvo Penta
  • Cruising Speed: 7.5 knots
  • Max. Speed: 8.5 knots
  • Fuel Tanks: 210 liter
  • Fresh Water Tanks: 360 liter

I also own a lot of extras, which would be too many to list here!

  

Anyhow, if you wish to visit, or even spend your holidays with me, please do not hesitate to contact me (well, that would be through Diana and Patrik, or the Admiral, if he can be bothered).

I do look very forward to meet you and your friends!

Back home from Nebraska again

Now I am finally home again. The trip took a few days more than planned. I had the flight home booked for the 29th of May but due to extreme heat some work took a little longer than planned.

So I had to postpone my flight home until the 31st of May. Landed in Zurich on the 1st of June early in the morning. So for me the whole first day was to keep awake as long as possible to come back in our own timezone as quick as possible.

Here comes as well a few more pictures from my trip overseas. As I wrote in my last post. This power plant is a working museum and I add as well a few more picture of these old beautiful engines. At least for me as an engineer it’s interesting.

 

Our week in Malta – Part 3

Friday, November 10th

The last day has arrived – well, to do something useful, I mean . Tomorrow afternoon we were flying home again.

Shamefully, we had to admit that we never visited the Three Cities (called Senglea, Cospicua and Vittoriosa) plus Kalkara which also lies there, at the Grand Harbour.

So, we decided to take the bus to Birgu/Vittoriosa. There were a few museums (as rain was predicted for the afternoon), restaurants and the marina with the yachts and super yachts! Of course we had to go there and have a look!

Just before lunch we arrived at our destination and before we knew it, we found ourselves inside the little Parish Church Museum. The friendly volunteer was eager to tell us some historical stories and explaining some artefacts shown behind glass. Of course, we donated some Euros, since the entrance was free.

After that we went to the waterfront/marina, hoping to find a cosy restaurant or bar for a drink. We passed the Maritime Museum, which we would visit a bit later and had a look around the marina with its more or less big and even bigger yachts! Unbelievable, what we saw – some of them simply took our breath away!

Then, sure enough, the sky started filling up with dark clouds and the wind was getting a bit rough, so it was time for a glass of wine and a Guinness. 15 minutes later it was pouring, accompanied by thunder and lightning – Thor was sending his greetings, obviously!

Just next door lies the Maritime Museum, so after we finished our drinks, we rushed over, paid the entrance fee and dived down in Malta’s rich history! There was so much to see and read….you couldn’t get enough. The visit took therefore over two hours, instead of the planned one to one-and-a-half hours! Gosh!!

Yeah well, outside again and being back in “our” time, at least it had stopped raining and we took a stroll along the waterfront. There were even more boats to admire, and slowly we went towards to the bus stop – it was already time to head back to Naxxar! So, of the Three Cities, we sadly only visited one.  Hmm…next time we will complete our task and visit Senglea, Cospicua and Kalkara – promised!

However, we decided to spend our last evening at the “Ta Stringi” restaurant. Since we didn’t eat during the day, we were starving and looked forward to a decent meal.

And we weren’t disappointed: We’ve had such an incredible evening and the restaurants boss and his staff (two of them are his sons) treated us like VIP’s! We really couldn’t believe their affection toward us and the generosity. Again we got a refill with the Grappa/Sambuca, then we had to taste their homemade cherry wine (which was yummy!) and before we left, we received a bottle of white wine….just like that! Unbelievable, isn’t it?! We had absolutely no clue, why we were treated like that! Maybe we were confused with some celebrities….?

It must have been close to midnight, when we were back at our B&B. Happy and with a bunch of lovely memories we went to bed! Good night and sleep well everyone!

Saturday, November 11th

Time to day good-bye! After a last breakfast at the Chapel and lovely chats with Malcolm and Alex, it was time to pack our bags and check out…..it wasn’t fun, that’s for sure!

Since our taxi to the airport wouldn’t be there before 12 o’clock lunchtime, we were allowed to leave our suitcases at the B&B. So we took a last stroll around Naxxar – it certainly is a lovely place! We also found a book shop, because we wanted to buy a “English-Maltese” dictionary. We received a first class service and various books were shown, and more or less recommended. Happily, after 45 minutes, we left the shop with two books. Both of us with high expectations and looking forward to learn at least some basics!

Just before 12 o’clock, we were back at the Chapel and said our good-byes to Alex. Malcolm was sleeping, since he had a busy day! Tony – the taxi driver – arrived as promised and off we were, towards Luqa airport.

The check-in went smoothly and soon we sat at the “Hard Rock Cafe”, talking about our interesting/cool/ sunny week in Malta and enjoying a drink! Cheers!!

The flight home was unspectacular and we arrived in Zurich in time. Then the train to Frauenfeld and from there we took a taxi home. Our beloved Odin was waiting (for us) and looked a little bit surprised, when we opened the door.

The Bottom Line

All in all we’ve had an amazing week in Malta – once again!

Most importantly – and that’s my opinion – I’m more than happy to report that Malta has changed a lot when it comes to animal welfare. Thirteen years ago you could see homeless dogs on the streets and even more cats. Although, they didn’t look sick or injured, it still broke your heart.

Then, there were these countless horse-drawn carriages in every big city, especially in Valletta. What a devastating sight that was, seeing these poor animals moving between the busy and noisy bus station, standing in the sun, waiting for customers, without any love or attention from their owners. Luckily, we never saw a summer with 40 deg. C, but I read about horses collapsing in the heat….

Some carriages are still there, but  a lot less than years ago. It looks like that tourists became more sensible and prefer the electro caddies, which are available in Valletta for example. So, hopefully, the horses will be gone soon from the cities, living a happier life!

We also detected many cat-friendly spots in the numerous parks! People apparently do care (more?) about these homeless animals and started to feed them, setting up shelter and even comfy beds for them. For example, we came across a place called “Cat Village” around Spinola Bay. There we saw cats sleeping peacefully and a little box, where you could donate some money. Of course we contributed!

In Naxxar you can also find an animal welfare shop. It’s a second-hand shop – which sells mostly clothes, shoes, handbags etc – and the money they earn goes to the animals. Well, since we didn’t need anything, we simply went there and gave some money, which was very appreciated. The lady there told us, that finally Malta has started to spay/castrate cats instead of killing them, which surely is a huge step for this country! Suddenly, you also find animal sanctuaries, which weren’t present ten/fifteen years ago!

About wild birds….well, I guess that’s still a problem. Although, this time we haven’t seen the nets, capturing migrant birds, they are still there. Possibly better hidden than years ago…. They too will hopefully be gone one day! Maybe the coming generation(s) will think differently and care more about the precious wildlife!

Our hopes are high and we won’t give up – every animal life is worth fighting for!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our week in Malta – Part 1

Saturday, November 04th

Luckily, our plane wasn’t leaving Zurich airport before 17.40h. That gave us plenty of time to pack, organise Cony – our neighbour – to look after Odin and get ready to leave our home.

Cony was so kind to drive us to the train station in Frauenfeld and at 14.42h our train left! Arriving  at the airport just after 15h, we headed strait to the check-in and further to security. Everything went smoothly and we had a look around at the duty free shop (of course, that’s simply a must, if you need something or not).

Afterwards (I bought a lovely body lotion ;o)), we went to the same restaurant as last year with our friends M&M’s, for an early dinner.

The plane left on time and at 20h we landed at Luqa airport in Malta. As expected, the temperatures were a lot more comfy than back home and we gave us the thumbs up! Our taxi also was waiting for us (as booked) and off we went, heading for Naxxar!

The ride took approx 25 minutes and when we arrived at the hotel – well, B&B – Alex(ia) and Malcolm, the owners of the “Chapel 5 Suites”, were already expecting and welcoming us. We quickly booked the taxi for our departure in one week, at 12h lunchtime and said good bye!

Alex and Malcolm, with their little daughter, were actually on their way to go out, but they took their time and showed us the reception area, kitchen, breakfast room(s) and terraces and finally our room – the “Yellow Suite”. They would show us the rest of the house tomorrow, if that was ok. Yes, of course it was, we were exhausted anyway!

We couldn’t believe our luck – what a fantastic B&B we’ve chosen! A typical Maltese sandstone house, beautifully decorated in the moroccan-arabian-asian stile! We truly were blown away and sooooo happy!

We installed ourselfes quickly and went out, to the from Alex recommended and nearby place, called “Cellini”. Unfortunately for us, it was quite busy (and very tiny too), but one table outside was unoccupied, so we grabbed that and ordered some white wine. Splendid, and cheers to our first night in Malta!

After 11 p.m. we returned to the B&B and went strait to bed, tired and pleased to be here!

Sunday, November 05th 

Good morning sunshine! It was 9 a.m. and we were fully awake after a good night sleep. We heard some of the other guests downstairs having their breakfast and it smelled of coffee and toast, so I had a quick shower, got dressed and we went to the breakfast room. It offered everything one needed and after ordering coffee and been greeted by Malcolm we took a seat and soon spoke to some other guests! That’s the difference, I suppose, to an ordinary hotel, you talk to the other guests.

Around 11 a.m. we left and headed for the bus station, a couple of minutes away. Our plan was to visit Portmaso and Spinola Bay today, to indulge ourselfes with memories of last time(s)!

And so we did, strolling around in the sun with around 20 deg. C wasn’t the worst thing to do on a Sunday! In between we enjoyed a beer (Patrik) and a glass of wine (me) and the world seemed just perfect to us!

At approx 5.30 p.m. we were back at our place and had a chat with Alex. She then recommended a restaurant to us, called “Yue Bistro”, a 15 minutes walk which was fine with us.

After freshening up and showering we were hungry and looked forward to a nice meal. And it WAS nice: Friendly, modern and a good selection of all kind of food – even vegan versions! It definitely was worth the walk there and even more the after-dinner walk back!

It must have been around 11.30 p.m. when we went to bed – good night!

Monday, November 06th

Big day today: At 10 a.m. we would be picked-up by Clyde from the real estate agency! Who-hooo, we were very excited and wondering what to expect.

He arrived in time and after a warm greeting we drove to Mosta, approx 10 minutes away. There Peter, the guy responsible for selling properties, was waiting for us and we talked to him for a while. We got many questions answered and he showed us some examples on the screen, different kinds and different areas.

Then it was Clyde’s turn, who is responsible for lettings. He also showed us some nice apartments, penthouses and even houses in different areas. He even had an available apartment nearby and if we had time he could show it to us, in order to get an impression what a property could look like.

Of course we took the opportunity and while chatting we walked the short distance to the house. The apartment was amazing, although a bit over our budget. And Mosta isn’t the cheapest spot either! But at least we got an idea, what you get for your money!

It was lunchtime and we said our good-byes – promising to stay in touch!

Patrik and I decided to take the bus to Mellieha, up North. It was the perfect decision, since the sun was shining and the temperature was very pleasant! We passed the wonderful St. Paul’s Bay and arrived at our destination. After strolling around the beach for a while we went to the next restaurant/bar to have something to drink: Guinness for Patrik and white wine for me and the sea view for both of us – cheers!

Since we were here we decided to visit the “Red Tower”, which gleamed majestically a bit further away on the hill, overlooking the bay. It was a rather short bus ride and after a 20 minutes walk we arrived at the tower. We paid the entrance and let us educate about the whole story behind this tower, also known as the “St. Agathas Tower”. Very interesting indeed!

Unfortunately, time didn’t stand still and it was time for us to catch the bus back. We took the one passing Sliema and went off at Portomaso, for a pit-stop at the “Raffael” bar/restaurant. A lovely place where we had dinner more than once, at former visits to Malta. Well, this time it was just for a drink!

Afterwards, we took the bus home, showered and at 19.30h we were at the “Cellini” for dinner! And what a tasty dinner we had – fabulous! Around 23h we went back to the “Chapel 5 Suites” stuffed with a lot of impressions to digest – beside the food! Good night!

 

 

 

 

We’re home again!

Our week in Malta is already over….can you believe it?!

We had a blast, exploring and discovering the island yet again! Combined with excellent food, an amazing B&B and better weather than expected!

Yesterday evening, around six p.m. we came home, greeted by our darling Odin. The temps were around eight degrees C and raining – what a “warm” welcome!

Today we’ll begin to sort out the photos and start writing the text for the following post(s)!

Like to see some impressions? Here you go:

 

 

…and we are off!

Where to? Well, Malta is the chosen destination!

Who? Patrik and me…..Odin has to stay home again (poorest thing….)

For how long? From today, 4th until 11th of November 2017 – one week only! Too bad….

Why? Mostly to celebrate my *erm* 50th birthday on the 8th of November! Yes, it’s my turn now, after Patrik celebrated his in January this year.

Some of my friends say, that I finally  become an adult….I doubt it! Hey, I mean what’s better than being childish and laughing about yourself?! hehe….

However, after being back in Switzerland again, we will meet my parents and closest friends to clink glasses! I just didn’t feel like to have a big party with loads of people. You know how it is, you are busy organising the whole thing for a start (it would definitely be easier during the summer months, instead of grey and cold autumn). Then you want to be the perfect host, which is more stressful than running a marathon and before you know it, the day is over and you are ten and out….

So, spending a relaxing week in Malta seems to be the perfect vicinity to celebrate a “special” birthday!

Then, since we are there, Patrik and I decided to meet a real estate agent, in order to get a few questions answered and see a couple of properties. Mainly to get an idea, how much real estate you get for your money. I’ve been in touch with this real estate company for quite a while, and so far we’ve got a good impression.

Yes, our plan still  is to relocate to Malta. But you want to be prepared and organised of course. So, step-by-step we get closer to our dream! Exciting!

We don’t know yet if we’ll have a new post ready for the 11th of November….but we’ll try, promised!

So long and take care! ??

 

 

 

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