Sunday, June 17, 2012

A drive up the coast and a musical 'espectacular'

This afternoon we followed the winding coast road up to France. On this really hot, sunny day we thought the that there would be lots of traffic but it was relatively quiet. This made for a lovely trip with all the prickly pears dressed in their yellow and orange blooms. Once in France, the road cuts through many lush green vineyards alternating with the rough terrain of the Pyrenees.

As we neared Banyuls sur Mer we passed several wooden buildings, a bit bigger than huts, where you could stop and taste the local wines. Here, you don't even have to travel the short distances to the vineyards. However, we are saving this for another time.

We stopped for a pleasant outdoor lunch  under the shade of ancient plane trees. I started with local, very fresh crevettes or shrimp followed by sting ray, which has quite a mild taste. It is a little odd as you have to get the fish off fan-shaped plastic-like bones. Dessert was isles flottant, soft meringue in creme anglaise, a very light custard. My favourite! Seamus had goat cheese salad with the goat cheese placed on thinly sliced toasted French bread with a bib lettuce with lovely dijon vinaigrette followed by morue catalan -- cod -- with a tomato topping. Almond tart finished off his meal.

Then it was in the car for a short drive, past more wine tasting huts, to Port Vendres. We stopped first at the Charles Rennie Mackintosh museum only to find out that it was closed. It's only open three days a week for two hours now. So much for budget cuts. Rennie Mackintosh is a Glasgow architect and artist, who spent the last years of his life in Port Vendres. We then walked along the port passing a variety of fishing boats both small and large and mounds of rainbow coloured fishing nets, ending up at the fish market. We knew it would be closed, but enjoyed peering in the window at the huge variety of fish that looked like it had been pulled from the sea only minutes ago. Next time we will be better prepared and  bring our freezer bag.

Back in our own Port it was time to cool down and go for a swim. The beach had more people than we were used to but still was not overcrowded. It was lovely to get in the water but what a choppy swim with the water seemingly moving in every direction.

2200 hours. It's "Playback" time. Tonight at ten we were in our assigned seating in the ballroom for Playback, a production put on by the locals under the very capable direction of our friend Carme. What fun. It was two and a half hours of lip synching performances to Bob Marley, Tina Turner, Beyonce, Madonna, and several other well known names in English and Spanish. Who could resist the mayor in a romantic duet? Oo la la. Then we got to see a very slick promotional music video for the town, paid for with some of the ticket proceeds. As the evening drew to a close, five gentlemen provided live performances of two traditional Catalan songs, and then the entire cast and crew took to the stage for a grand finale. The show has been on for three nights playing to packed out houses of 300 a night. We loved recognising all the familiar faces from the community in their stunning clothing and various guises. Roll on August, when we may see "Playback 10", but this time outside.

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