Friday, June 05, 2009


After a fantastic 5 month stay in Miami with a short trip to Colombia, we left Miami via Madid, where we spent 6 days with our friend Elena, a wonderful tour guide, with whom we always experience the city to the max. We then took the train to Valencia mainly to see the new Arts and Sciences complex, which was still being built the last time we were there. It has been built on the river bed after the latter was deviated far from the city due to large floods. The complex is an incredible work of architecture. The buildings mainly white, with touches of cobalt blue and surrounded by reflection pools. The Opera is done in the shape of a whale and the new Agora, in that of a clam. There is a fabulous Oceanographic museum, the largest and best we have ever seen. It houses every species of fish and birds from all continents on earth. The old part of the city has a Loggia, built in the XV C. and perfectly preserved. Valencia has always been one of our favorite cities in Spain, so it was great to be there again. From there we took the train to Figueras, where we met our friend Claudine from Carcassonne, and who drove us to Castelnaudary where Biesbosch has been left for the winter. After such a long time on land, it sure was nice to be back on the boat one more time.

The port at Castelnaudary was under construction during the time we were gone, so the exterior of the boat was very dirty. Layers of dirt and cement powder had built up, but it was an easy clean. Inside, the boat was as neat as when we left, so it was simple enough to unpack and get settled for another season of travel. We stayed there a few days, since Bill had to do some electrical work before we could move on. We set off direction Carcassonne with all the intentions to make it as close to Agde as possible, before we were to meet our friends Justo and Stella in Nice to go with them to The Monaco Grand Prix. However, the day we arrived in Carcassonne, I hurt my back, pretty much the same way I did two years ago, so we stayed in Carcassonne in order for me to start some physical therapy treatments. We then postponed our appointment to take the boat out of the water for the 21. Before we drove to Nice, my back was a little better, so we were able to truly enjoy our Monaco experience.

We had an apartment which one of Justo's clients had lent us in a very central area of Monaco, with a beautiful terrace and all the amenities. We had been given VIP passes for the race, so the experience was incredible. The whole scene was surreal. We arrived there on Thursday, and while we waited for them, we saw so many celebrities, actors, models, and all and all, the beautiful people that frequent these sorts of events. The weather could not have been better all weekend. The port, lined with yachts, each more beautiful than the next, the streets lined with the most beautiful cars, the city packed to the brim and bustling with activity. Our friend Beppe had made a reservation for us in a restaurant at the port, where his friend gave us the best table and where we were able to see the whole night scene and eat very well.

On the day of qualifying, Bill was able to sneak into a building next to the palace from where he took some fabulous pictures. He was in his element, just like the old days. On Sunday, race day, we were met at the Hermitage Hotel and taken to our terrace on Ave. Ostende, so we could enjoy the race. The building has 4 terraces, so we were able to move levels to take photos. The food and the service were unbelievable. We had all the wine and food we could eat and, were so close to the cars, that you felt as if you could touch them. Now I understand why The Monaco Grand Prix is the King of the F1 events. For us, an experience we would not have missed for the world, and we have to thank our dear friends Justo and Stella for wanting to share it with us.

On Monday, we drove to St. Paul de Vence, a beautiful medieval village, walked around it and saw the place where Justo and Stella were to stay. A beautiful Relais Chateau in the middle of town, among the tiny shops and cobble stone streets, typical of the region. We had lunch with them in Vence, and drove back to Carcassonne. The were to stay in Provence for a few days before meeting us here again. We had got them a reservation at The Jardin de la Cite, a Bed and Breakfast owned by our friend Dany, and we wanted them to enjoy the experience. They came for only two nights, so the first night we cooked mussels on the boat--superb! The next day Claudine made us a beautiful and delicious summer lunch which we had in her backyard by her cherry tree. It was fantastic. After that we went with Claudine and Michel to do some wine tasting of Corbieres wines and to Dany's for drinks in the evening. The next day we drove them to Barcelona where we had made a reservation to eat at El Passadis de Pep, a restaurant that Justo knows very well. We had the most amazing seafood I have ever had! They left for the airport and Bill and I stayed in Barcelona walking The Ramblas and the Barri Goti until ten at night. All and all our time with the Azpiazus was a full and rich an experience as it always is.

We made it home at one in the morning, had a very good night sleep, and the next day really felt the absence of our dear friends who continued on to Portugal and then London before returning to Miami. Now, we are preparing to leave Carcassonne this Friday, June 5. Although we are not due in Agde until the 21, we want to take a leisurely cruise down The Midi Canal, before the full season starts. We think the hull cleaning will take anywhere between 7-10 days. We hope all goes well.

Elena and Bill on Menendez Pelayo

Plaza Mayor, Madrid

Tapas in the evening

Calatrava's complex in Valencia

The Opera, foreground

The Hemisferic and The Agora

Modernist train station, left. Plaza de toros, right. Valencia

XV C. Loggia, Valencia

Mercado de Colon, Valencia

Our apartment Building, Monaco

Tour of the paddock by Valentina from Ferrari

Not a bad car.

Monaco from the train station

Only in Monaco


Jenson Button makes pole position!

Dinner at our apartment terrace

Our VIP Terrace at night

Not enough to eat.

VIP Terrace, race day

Race day

Jenson Button, race winner

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