Monday, October 31, 2011

From Vancouver to El Port de la Selva

We were still cleaning our house two hours before the new owners took possession! After that we enjoyed a few days visiting family in Courtenay before flying out to New Jersey to visit my relatives there.

Remember the brilliant idea of sailing across the Atlantic in a freighter? Huge mistake, not ever to be repeated! We abandoned that part of our plan after a few days. It was not for us. We enjoyed sailing down the Delaware from Philadelphia and then going up the Hudson past the lights of New York City at 5:30 in the morning. It was quite magical. But by the time the ship docked in Albany we had decided to leave. In fact I decided before we left Philly. We had a horrible little cabin and the food was awful. I couldn’t eat it. There were no other amenities at all, and we didn't click with our fellow passengers (two peculiar Swiss and a pompous Austrian). The meals were at set times and were all meat. The other passengers ate in 10 minutes flat and left. Everything was very dirty.  The lounge area hadn't been cleaned since a party in the Far East, chairs were overturned, the remnants of sad Chinese lanterns hung precariously from the ceiling. Beer bottles and dirty glasses rolled about the floor and the cymbals from an abandoned drum set were filled with cigarette butts.

Albany is only a three hour drive from Boston so we rented a car and made our way to Boston and flew to Barcelona from there. The captain was a gem and really helped us leave the ship.

We enjoyed a few days in Barcelona and then drove up to the Cap de Creus area. We stayed in a town called Empuriabrava. It is a very colourful place built around a series of canals allowing boat owners to have their back gates open on to their own moorage. However we determined that this place generally is very seasonal and tourist/boater oriented.

We rented for two weeks in Llanca, which is a small town where the Pyrenees meet the sea. We really liked it here. The beaches aren’t quite as nice but the water is beautiful as is the scenery. People in Spain don’t want to rent for a year as the renter has rights to stay for 5 years. also, there are many summer rentals where the owners can make a lot of money renting for a short time. This slowed us down a bit.

After visiting 15 of the 17 real estate agents in Llanca we really couldn't find what we were looking for. In fact we were going to return to Barcelona and stay there. You can't begin to imagine our frustration. Some of the rentals we visited were really quite depressing. We decided to look in El Port de la Selva, eight kilometers from Llanca. The third of the four real estate agencies in the village had a house. I am very happy to say that this lovely house, which overlooks the port has been our home for the last three weeks.

Our frustrations aren't entirely over as we have spent much of the last three weeks equipping the kitchen, buying a TV, bedding, outdoor furniture, some indoor furniture and all the things you need for a home. It has taken many trips to a great number of stores. Unlike North America this can't be done with one-stop shopping. However, we are nearly finished. Just a car to buy.

When you can eat your breakfast with the sun shining in your face you know that it has been worth it. We have had a few "days off" for some wonderful visits along this beautiful coast. In fact I must leave you now as we are off to spend the day in Cadaques. More about this tomorrow.

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