Monday, October 27, 2014

Windy days ideal for outing to Cap de Creus and Port Vendres

September and October are the best months in the Port with sunny weather and very few people. The beaches are quiet and the water is warm. Except for two days of high winds, we have been swimming every day.

On one of those windy days we decided to go for a drive to the Cap de Creus, the easternmost point of the Iberian peninsula. It is always a pleasure to visit the Cap with its strange rock formations. We managed to find a parking spot right by the lighthouse but even opening the door of the car was almost impossible. With the winds now gusting up to 100 kilometres an hour I hung on to Seamus literally for dear life. I had visions of doing a Mary Poppins trip over to Africa. Our usual coffee shop was closed but its patio was out of the wind giving us time to catch our breath. Not to be deterred we walked around the ridge to the restaurant on the peak of the Cap but by the time we were close the wind picked up and actually whipped one of my good Mephisto sandals right off my foot. I watched it hurtle down the slope. In the meantime the restaurant owner was signaling something to us. We found out later he was telling us to walk sideways in the wind. Meanwhile he grabbed me and hauled me into the restaurant then braved the wind and retrieved my sandal from a Good Samaritan who caught it as it was in mid flight. Reunited with my sandal it was time for a well deserved coffee and a rest before we headed back down the hill, sideways, to the parking lot. Our afternoon ended with a lovely walk around the waterfront in Cadaques, where things were not quite so windy.

On Friday we decided to take a trip up the beautiful coast road to France. Our first stop was Banyuls sur Mer, where we had a walk along the waterfront before heading to the Botanical Gardens, which we had tried to visit previously. Unfortunately they were closed again. Next time we will try and become part of a group tour. The gardens are run by a university and are somewhat experimental. They look quite lovely just peering through the locked gate. However, we were able to visit a small white church high up on the ridge that we had often admired before.

We carried on further up the coast to the new fish market at Port Vendres. What a lovely selection of fish. We bought some unfiltered extra virgin olive oil, sole for dinner, some Coquilles St. Jacques and some haddock cooked in a pastry. On the way into the port we had passed three French naval vessels. Outside the fish market we noticed a tug head off in the direction of the largest vessel, Thetis, which was preparing to leave port. We patiently waited on one of the wharfs and were rewarded when Thetis sailed by slowly picking up speed. Thetis is used for mine warfare experimentation, to command minesweepers, lay mines, support clearance divers or guide a convoy in coastal areas. It was quite an imposing ship. The two smaller vessels, both mine support ships remained in port as we left. Port Vendres is always an interesting place to visit.

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