A Change of Plans Redux

Crossing the Bay of Biscay
Crossing the Bay of Biscay to A Coruna

Eons ago, back in February, when we first visited Galicia, the plan was to stay the winter. Off the beaten track, inexpensive, cool in summer and winter: Ideal.

Then, life happens and the best laid plans of mice and men go astray.

So, plan B was formulated.  For those of you keeping score at home, it was really the original Plan A, but then who’s counting.

Then less than two weeks ago, while in France, an English sailor on a very big, beautiful sailboat, convinced me that to linger too long in the Bay of Biscay or even in Galicia or Northern Portugal, was cruising for a bruising.

Now, I may not heed, but I always listen.  And now, having heard the same warnings yet again, I decided this needed to be one of those times I also heeded.

Thus, just last week, I bit the bullet and had to tell my three sets of friends who are coming to meet Dauntless and I over the next two months, and only weeks earlier had bought plane tickets to Spain, that they would have to change those recently bought tickets as Portugal was now the meeting point.

Galicia is out, Portugal is in.

And like most decisions, once made, it was clear to me, it was the right thing to do.

A Coruña is a wonderful town, wonderful food, beautiful people and fantastic wine.

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Vermuteria Martinez in A Coruna

We had two dinners in an absolutely great small restaurant, Vermuteria Martinez, that we had found in February.  A must stop for anyone visiting Galicia.

But I also realized it was time for me to move on.

Now, even the extra stops I had planned over the next week have been nixed.

Sometimes the past is like an anchor.

One of those real expensive anchors with the hoop, plated in gold or platinum (or certainly priced as if they are) and while you hate to part with, having cost a small fortune plus your two middle children, you come to realize that it’s time to get the fire ax and cut that chain before you are dragged down.

Galicia and Spain, so many wonderful memories, in fact, nary a bad one, but now moving to the past. It’s time to move on.

It’s time to get to Portugal.

New places, faces and spaces.

But one cannot leave A Coruña, Galicia and Spain without a bit of melancholy or even “triste”

Thus a little Charles Aznavour seems appropriate at this time.

Charles Aznavour, “Come è Triste Venezia”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dauntless Cruise Plan 2016-17 Europe to Asia

Make the Plan, Do the Plan.

So here is the plan.  The first four months show little change, but after I get back from the USA in mid-October it will be a lot of cruising.

Previously I had decided to stay in Europe this coming year, but life happens and circumstances change. Therefore, In November Dauntless and I will start to head west not to return for many years.

The good news is that while it is a lot of miles, over 17,000, those miles are spread over 17 months.  Since almost 10,000 miles are passage miles, in which we do about 150 miles per day, it means that over 300 days of the 500 we only have to average about 35 miles per day.  Much less than last summer.

So, while nothing is in stone, this is the tentative plan and you know me: Make the Plan, Do the Plan.

The dates are somewhat firm in that to get to Korea in the fall of 2017, I must be able to get to Japan in early August, as I want to cross the Bering and North Pacific in July and early August.

This is a plan that is based on the weather, meaning it’s doable with “normal” weather.  But there are a number of things that must happen:

  • Leaving the Canaries for the Caribbean needs to happen by early December.
  • Arriving in Kodiak, Alaska needs to happen by early July 2017.

Now of course, this depends on a few factors besides just the weather.  I could be kidnapped by some Greek and decide to spend a year in Lesbos with the rest of the refugees.  Some other mechanical or personal issue could overtake plans.  But most likely, the weather does not cooperate.  For this plan to work, I must have favorable weather during the winter and spring along the west coast of Central and North America.

If the winds do not cooperate, then we’ll spend the winter and spring in Central America and Mexico, then come up the west coast to B.C. and S.E. Alaska for the summer and winter over in S.E. Alaska, a fantastically beautiful destination all in itself.

This Plan B is not a terrible outcome and I’m sure many will think it should be Plan A, but I’ll let Fate and the wx gods decide.  At best it’s a 50-50 proposition, or maybe better yet, 49-49-02, the 02% being something unforeseen like the Greeks or something.

Want to join me at any part?  I can always use help, extra hands and advice, and most of all, the company.  We will be doing a lot of miles, over 17,000 but who’s counting!  There will be many opportunities in the next 17 months, but the better times (summer vacation) and destinations, (Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, Alaska) will fill before the more tedious parts.

Oh, wait, there are no longer any tedious parts.

In any case, drop me a line and let me know your thoughts, no matter how tenuous.

Richard on Dauntless

I expect to be in the place or nearby by the date in the column to the left.

.E.g. I expect to arrive in the Lesser Antilles on 22 December.

25-May-16 Ireland, Feet Wet
02-Jun-16 Scotland
18-Jun-16 Ireland, Waterford
02-Jul-16 Ireland, Waterford
07-Jul-16 France, Brest
05-Aug-16 Spain, San Sabastian
25-Aug-16 Spain, A Coruna
15-Oct-16 Spain, A Coruna
20-Oct-16 Portugal, North
10-Nov-16 Portugal, Algarve
16-Nov-16 Gibralter
22-Nov-16 Morocco (maybe)
28-Nov-16 Canaries
05-Dec-16 Canaries
22-Dec-16 Lesser Antilles
12-Jan-17 Panama Canal
01-Apr-17 Baja Calif
02-May-17 Southern Cal
20-May-17 Pac NW, Seattle
15-Jun-17 SE Alaska
01-Jul-17 Kodiak
08-Jul-17 Dutch Harbor
16-Jul-17 Attu
25-Jul-17 Japan, Hokkaido
21-Sep-17 Japan, South
12-Oct-17 Japan, South
14-Oct-17 Busan, South Korea
01-Nov-17 Yeosu, S. Korea

Spain – What’s Not to Like?

Just got back from a quick, one week, reconnoiter of Galicia in northwest Spain.

NW Spain and Northern Portugal Spent the first two nights in Leon; Then on to Oviedo and Aviles, just NW along the coast, though we stayed in a hotel inland. Then onto A Coruna for two nights and finally Vigo for two nights.
NW Spain and Northern Portugal
Spent the first two nights in Leon;
Then on to Oviedo and Aviles, just NW along the coast, though we stayed in a hotel inland.
Then onto A Coruna for two nights and finally Vigo for two nights.

A great week, that just confirms that the Dauntless adventure on the Iberian Peninsula this year and 2017, will be fueled by fantastic food and wine at prices that even a New Yorker would love.

Everything good, nothing bad, don’t even need any of my usual qualifiers. And that includes two run-ins with the police that were so very helpful, not punitive; an example of what every inhabitant of this planet yearns for.

So much was good, people, wine, food, hotels, costs, etc. So here are just the highlights:

  • Leon – City of free tapas. We spent 4 hours going to 7 different places, drinking a total of 8 glasses of wine (each) and eating delicious tapas at each place.  Total cost 30 Euros or $35. Try that in NYC and the bill will be 10 times more, PLUS 20% more for tips.
  • Our favorite place in Leon, Meson Jabugo.
  • Wines & Tapas – I loved:
    • Ribera del Duero, Rías Baixas aka Albariño; Ribeiro.
    • My favorite tapa, morcilla, simply because it was so good. In Leon, the cured beef, sliced like the Jamon, was also great.

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      Cathedral in Leon
A Leon Favorite
My Leon Favorite

We went to check out these two towns in particular because they are large, good transportation access and most of all, the marina is within minutes of the town centre:

  • A Coruna – The heart of Galicia. Only slightly more expensive then Leon, but Dauntless can’t get to Leon.  Galicia is Celtic and the similarity is evident in the people.  We took in the military museum after checking out the marina ($300 per month in October).  We had gotten to the museum about 5:15 p.m., 45 minutes before it’s closing.  Virtually empty of visitors, a wonderful.

    Morcilla
    Morcilla, eaten with the bread and wine. All this cost $7
  • Vigo – The largest city in Galicia. Here the cost of the marina for a month for a Dauntless would be around $400, but it’s a year around cost and includes electricity.

Encounters with the police:  EEKwp-1456518551979.jpg

The first time I pulled over
The first time I pulled over
  1. Went to get car upon leaving Leon. We had parked
    Pizza as a tapa and free. Total cost here $3
    Pizza as a tapa and free.
    Total cost here $3
    Going down the pass
    Going down the pass

    just outside of the old center, but evidently, on the wrong street.  My mistake, the hotel staff had told me exactly the area I could park in and this block was one block sooner, but I misinterpreted the parking sign.  Yes, I know, cats speak better Spanish than I.  So, I get to the spot and see no car.  But I do see the spot it was in and as it had just rained, it was clear I had just missed the car disappearing by less than an hour.  Two hours later, after having a great visit with the policemen of the traffic police, we were underway.  Total cost was about $150.  The police were so apologetic from beginning to end.  I was relieved that the car had not been stolen nor damaged and it was clearly my mistake.

    Downhill, the snow is letting up
    Downhill, the snow is letting up
  2. Leaving Leon, we have headed north northwest, over the mountains to the coast of North coast of Spain and the city of Aviles, where I wanted to check out the marina. We took the smaller road N-630) and avoided the autopista.  As we got north, we started climbing into the mountains, the clouds came lower and lower and the light rain turned quickly to snow and then very heavy snow (2-3” per hour).  Our rental car had crappy summer tires, but I do know my snow.  Going ever slower, we made the summit of the pass, at an elevation of about 5,000 feet (1800 m).

I was relieved, as going uphill in always more problematic, so my plan was to wait until a snow plow came by and follow him.

The north coast
The north coast

OK then I discovered that traction was really bad, temperature too close to freezing, so the snow plow track was icy. It was better on an unplowed road. And in fact, I had to get on the shoulder to stop the car.

After waiting a bit, maybe 15 min, it was time to try again we did at a slow speed, but I was in second gear and this let the car get going too fast, maybe 20 mph.

Vigo
Vigo

We come around a curve, and there is a car off the road, with a police car behind him, but a policemen was standing in the middle of the road.

Marina in Vigo
Marina in Vigo

I go to slow and pull left, but any braking action, even with the anti-lock brakes, did not help and I realized that I was close to losing control in this curve.

So first I honked the horn, to warn the policeman standing in the road and then got totally off the brakes to stop the skid and knowing it was the only way to get around the turn.

After those seconds we went around the curve in the outside lane and on the next straightaway, pulled to the shoulder to stop, which we finally did in about 12” of snow.

We bought our food for the flight the next day here
We bought our food for the flight the next day here

We were stopped, but now stuck.  I waited a bit to think about the ills of the world and the errors of my ways.  About 10 minutes later the police came by and I did not know what to expect.  In the US, at best they would give you a lecture, at worst, give you a ticket and tell you the road is closed, so you must stay there for the rest of your life.

Empanada Morcilla (Masa Gallega) It was different then Leon, but excellent; not too rich.
Empanada Morcilla (Masa Gallega)
It was different then Leon, but excellent and not too rich. We had hesitated at buying such a big piece ($5), but we gobbled it up and it was sooo good. A wonderful way to end our trip. Every Day was Perfect.

Being in Spain, we got neither.  Instead, probalby grateful that I had not run him down, they were very helpful, he asked me what gear I had been in, I told him second and he said I needed to be in first gear, so the car doesn’t get going so fast (this was a 15 degree down grade).

We thanked him and he was gone.  I tried getting the car out of the ditch and after a bit of thinking, (front wheel drive cars always have better traction in reverse) I got out and we were underway again.

In first gear for a few miles until we were down to about 3,000 feet and the road was not so steep, at which point, all was right with the world again.

I’m really looking forward to being in Spain and Portugal this coming year and into 2017.  I wanted to share the details above because it is indicative of Europe in general and Spain in particular.  In all my years in Europe, I have never been in such friendly countries as Ireland and Spain.  I’m sure the Celtic connection is part of that reason.  I am looking forward to meeting new friends and having new adventures.

The fact that Spain is the most affordable country I have been in Europe in the last 20 years just makes this choice even better.

Anyone who wants to see Europe, but has a limited budget, 2016-17, will be the time to take advantage of Dauntless’ hospitality.  It won’t be until 2019 in South Korea before we experience such inexpensive places again.

The fact that Spain also has some of the absolute best wines and food, just make it ever sweeter.

And here is ashort, cute video of happy kids in A Coruna