Posts filed under ‘Beaches’

Canada, The First Week

We’ve done a lot over the past week. Signed our lease, got our medicare cards updated and I joined Hart House so I can get back to the gym.

Our apartment is right down town and actually 3 floors directly above our old one. Talk about luck. We move into the place in June. This is our little oasis in the middle of downtown Toronto.

Yesterday, Pearl took us to a park right near her place. Consider this, the park is in an urban area, cycling distance (long maybe) from downtown Toronto. When we went I felt that the ambience and feelings were Canada. This park represented how I felt about Canada. It was great. I had never felt that way before but as Alex explained, sometimes you have to leave and come back before you notice these things. It was so true. There were loons diving for fish, geese flying low over the water and lines of other water fowl flying in formation past the point. The mist was light and the air cool. It really struck me that I was back in Canada.

Not many people around either. After the crowds in Barcelona, this was nice.

The trees had not yet grown their new leaves and most of them held only the hint of green. Some were further along than others but the mixture was lovely. Subtle coloring in the background and calm waters made for a sensuous ambiance.

The boats were ready for another season and people were out cleaning and socializing. For boaters, it was more socializing than cleaning……

Alex exploring the photo ops of bleached driftwood. She bought herself a new digital camera and was testing it out.

We had a great time thanks to Pearl. We will be doing this once a week like we did in Barcelona. We hope to pick a neighborhood in Toronto every week and go exploring with our cameras. I’ll post something about where we went and some photos and if I can, I’ll give a little history. Our friends in Barcelona will be able to know more about Canada. I hope it makes them interested enough to come visit.

May 10, 2007 at 3:32 pm 1 comment

Last Visit

This was the last visit to Barcelona’s beaches. It was ana mazing day and lot’s of people were out. Many booths were open on the boardwalk and the crowds were thick.

It was kind of weird though, looking south the sun was shining and the air clear but looking north was another view altogether.

A fog was rolling in off the sea and it had this really strange effect. People were wondering what was happening and the sun worshippers began to leave in droves. Soon, the beach looked like this…….

The fog itself was low and buildings above it still had sunlight. Made for a neat photograph and dramatic effects.

All in all, it was a dramatic last view of Barcelona’s beaches. One I’ll not forget.

May 10, 2007 at 2:35 pm Leave a comment

Photo Morning

This morning I didn’t really feel like going to the gym but I had to do something. I decided to go down to the docks where all the commercial fishing boats are. My intention was to try and get some interesting photos.

Alex and I headed out the door at 8:00 and the first thing we noticed was …………IT WAS COLD. Not Canadian cold but cold enough to make your bare hands uncomfortable. Actually, it was 5 C but windy. We took the bus down to where Alex is doing her research and stopped for a coffee near there. She went to work and I took the tram down to the beach. I walked along the boardwalk looking for something to photograph. The sun was shining straight in from the Med and it was bright. The waves were breaking a little off the beach and the sun behind them made for an interesting subject. I’d never shot waves before so here was my chance. Down to the water’s edge I go, get the camera out and …… couldn’t see a thing. Camera settings were on the lcd but the sun was so bright I couldn’t see anything. I had to guess and use the viewfinder. Here’s what I caught and I’m quite pleased considering …….

This last one was the worst of them all. The sun was directly in front of me and I couldn’t even see the actual wave. I went by the sound and shot when I thought it was breaking. Pure luck.

I kept walking to the docks but I couldn’t get close to the water. Everything was blocked off on the dock side and the beach side was full of construction. I was getting coolish (a true Canadian would not be cold in +5 C) at this point so I headed back home. At least it wasn’t a total waste and I actually enjoyed the morning.

Oh, here’s another photo I came across on my computer. Just loaded it up to Flickr

Have a great day.

January 24, 2007 at 1:12 pm 2 comments

A Weekend for Beaching

This weekend was a weekend of sun, sand and water. It was beach time. Since Alex’s family is from Brazil they wanted to get some beach time in. We went to Sitges on Saturday and they really enjoyed the beach there. We also did a bit of tourist and walked around the town. It IS a very picturesque pueblo.

The day was perfect for the beach and we still needed a sun umbrella to escape the heat. Sitges was winding down their anual film festival so there were all kinds of interesting people wandering around.

That night we took them to Placa España to see the fonte magica. MNAC had it’s crown of spotlights and because the air was slightly misty I was able to capture the scene.

On Sunday we went to bogatel in Barcelona. Once again it was a perfect da.

Alex and I had enough of beaches so we dropped off her family and went off taking photos.

Matheus really enjoyed the water.

We had to keep an eye on him because of the size of the waves. They were breaking with a lot of power.

It was such a gorgeous day that even cyclists stopped to enjoy the surf and sun.

October 17, 2006 at 9:06 pm 4 comments

A Park and an Airshow

I cannot believe that September is over. The time seems to be flying past as quickly as some of the aircraft we saw this weekend. It seems like yesterday when Norbert and Carole arrived and they left over a week ago. Once again I had trouble adjusting to the quiet after being busy. It always takes a day or two to readjust.

This Saturday, Alex and I took the metro up to Parc del Laberint. It’s way up in the mountain, just beyond the range of the city maps. Needless to say, it is off the tourist path. We took the metro L3 up to Mundet and walked up from there. It’s quite different from the Barcelona we know in Eixample, much more modern. By the way, we didn’t realize that it cost us 2 Euros each to get in (it’s free on Sundays) but we didn’t mind since the fee is used to help maintain the park.

The theme of the park is that of the neoclassical garden of the XVIII century. Very romantic with lots of statues and fountains and most importantly, secluded benches. There is a house which belonged to the Marqués de Llupià y de Alfarràs but it is in great need of repair and is closed off to the public. In a garden house nearby, there is a defence tower, known as the Torre Subirana, which dates back to mediaeval times.

There were very gnarled, twisty trees lined along one of the pathways. Quite interesting shapes but I didn’t capture the feeling in the photo.

We hurried thought the park because we arrived there later than we had planned and Alex had things to do at home. To be honest, it was not an inspiring day but you can’t expect every day to be.

On Sunday, we headed down towards Forum. We caught the number 6 bus and took it to the end of the line. It’s another area of the city that we had never been to and the area used to be industrial. It’s in the process of change and a very interesting place to be with a camera. We couldn’t explore because we were going to see an air show. It started at 9:00 and we got off the bus at around 9:20. I could here jets, not the muffled jets that propel commercial aircraft but the growl of high performance fighter aircraft. I can usually recognize a Harley Davidson by it’s sound and jet engines are the same. We hurried to the beach and when we got to the boardwalk an F16 was streaking by the beach with full afterburner. OK, I got goosebumps and Alex laughed at me.

The beach was actually empty because we were so early. It was a gorgeous day too and people were in the water.

I was soooooo sorry I didn’t have a longer lens because I just couldn’t capture the majesty of these aircraft. A french Mirage shot by as we walked towards Mar Bella.

They weren’t flying high but were out over the water where a large naval rescue boat was cruising in case it was needed. The ship was fairly far out making the Mediteranean look so inviting.

When we got to Mar Bella, two Harrier’s flew by, boy are they ever loud in flight mode ……

It was a slow fly by so maybe they needed power to stay in the air. One hovered in front of the Forum and scanned the horizon like a hunter seeking prey. It actually looked ominous as it hovered there………

The beach was starting to fill up as more people arrived to take in the show so we went down to the water’s edge to watch from there.

The aricraft stopped for a while and some parachutists put on a display. One carried a huge catalin flag on his way down, truly impressive and the control these people have is amazing.

They all landed in a little marked off area of the beach. Some seemed to hover way up while waiting for the others to land. While he was coming down he freaked out the crowd by diving towards the beach. We thought hi chute had failed but it was a controlled, RAPID descent.

A group of prop aerobatic aircraft did some loops and stuff ………

For piston engined aircraft, they were pretty impressive. Those engines must be pretty powerful to pull the aircaft straight up like that.

We were waiting for the grand finale. Vueling was supposed to do a fly by with an Airbus 320. They were going to fly past the beach at 200 metres and I really wanted to get some photos. They never showed so I guess they needed the aircraft for something else. Oh well, I probably would have been disappointed with the pictures because I didn’t have the proper lens for the show. We left there at around 12:30 and started walking towards the city.

We wanted to go to Barceloneta and meet up with Patxi. It was the last day of a week long fiesta and we were going to have lunch there. It didn’t happen and we ended up at Wushu’s for lunch. It was packed, we were tired and hot and the cava tasted GREAT. While waiting for a table, Jackie and her family showed up. We met her parents and her aunt and chatted with them for a bit. Wushu was too busy so they went on to Cardemons. We had a great lunch (as usual) and chatted with the owners Bradley and Paula for a bit before going home. It was quite a full day.

October 3, 2006 at 12:48 pm 5 comments

Delta del Ebro(Delta de l’Ebre)

This past week was really something else. The football game on Tuesday, an amazing dinner at Cardamon (C/ Carders, 31) on Thursday night and a great weekend with friends at the delta. The restaurant is in the old part of Barcelona and is in a building built in 1734. That’s older than I am, wow. The food there is great and it’s not too expensive. Naomi introduced us to this place a few weekes ago.

Then on Friday, Francisca, Jackie, Sebastian, Naomi, Alex and I took the train from Barcelona to Delta del Ebro. The following description is an excerpt from the Barcelona city guide.
The Ebro Delta covers 320 square kilometres and is the second largest wetland area in the western Mediterranean, after the French Camargue.
It has many natural habitats not common to the rest of Catalonia: large lakes of salt water (such as La Tancada) or fresh water (such as L’Encanyissada), kilometres of beaches with sand dunes (El Fangar) and salt wastelands (Erms de la Tancada, Punta de la Banya), places where underground fresh water comes to the surface (Els Ullals), shallow bays (El Fangar or Els Alfacs), riverbank woods and fluvial islands that, together with the ecosystems created by man – rice fields and salt pans – constitute a unique landscape of great natural wealth.

This diversity of ecosystems and flora and fauna has led to the protection of a large part of the Delta and in 1983 it was declared a “natural park”. It is in fact an ornithological paradise where you can see more than 300 species of birds.

We rented a nice little house in Sant Carles de la Rapita and arrived Friday evening around 7:30.

Off we go to explore and walk by the sea towards Sant Carles. On the way we passed by the fishing port. Lot’s of activity there.

We found a place where we rented bicycles to go cycling the next day. Sebastian is quite the cyclist and has cycled all over the place. Places like New Zealand and in the Himalayas (almost as far up as base camp for Everest climbers). You can tell he is comfortable on the bike just by looking at his form……….but that’s a whole other story.

Sant Carles is a tourist town and very popular.The mountains on one side,

the sea on the opposite side and the delta to one end. The delta itself is very flat and a large part of it is used by farmers to grow rice. Because rice grows in water, there are many irrigation canals flow control gates in the fields.

We cycled along the dirt roads that run all over the area and went down any road that headed in the general direction we wanted to go. It was quite windy so the heat wasn’t much of a problem.

We eventually ended up in a conservation area and nature park. This was the wetlands of the area.

Lot’s of birds. As a matter of fact, the park is a very popular bird watching area so there are lots of blinds for observing the wildlife as Francisca is.

We ended up in a pueblo (small village) called Poble Nou where we stopped for lunch. The menu consisted of 6 plates. The food was amazing (as usual) but we only ordered the menu for three because we would not have been able to eat all the food that was on the menu for one. There were six of us and we still walked away stuffed.

We cycled from there to the beach at platja dels Eucaliptus which was about a 30 minute cycle from the resaurant. I must confess that my butt was becoming slightly tender. Once we got to the beach I was in the water in minutes. Floating in the salt water was soooooo relaxing. Soon, we had to start back. We had no idea how far we’d gone or how long it would take us to get back to Sant Carles. We had to have the bikes back by 8:00 or risk paying extra but you know, we were on a holiday so if we got back later, so what. We weren’t going to race back to get there on time. Ok, a confession, even if we wanted to we couldn’t race back to get there on time. All we could do was hope to get back period. The following photos were taken in the middle of the ride, please note the expressions on the faces of the cyclists, Jackie and Alex. Let me just say that we all didn’t look that fresh at this point.

We finally made it back to the shop and we were still in good spirits, tired but very happy to be back and we were on time. We calculated that we had cycled at least 50 kms that day. I know it doesn’t sound like much but it was a full day.

We started walking back towards our casa and picked up food from different shops along the way. Francisca and Sebastian were playing catch with a half full water bottle which brought looks of concern on some passers by. About a kilometre from our casa I decided it would be far easier to run than continue walking so I finished up with a short run.

That night Sebsation cooked on the barbeque and we sat, drank wine and chatted the evening away.

Sunday was a quiet day for me, too much sun the previous day. The chicas went to the beach and Sebastian and I stayed at the casa playing chess. Actually, he was playing chess, I was playing Rambo. We left for the train station at 4:30 and that was the weekend.

Alex and I had a great time.

August 28, 2006 at 10:27 am Leave a comment

On Sunday Life is a Beach

Talk about spontaneity. Naomi called this morning to inform that they were heading up to Sant Pol de Mar. alex was feeling better and she thought a day at the beach was just what the doctor ordered. We gathered our beach gear and went over to Jackie and Sebastien’s place. By the way, I DO have to mention here that Jackie loves the sugar pie (big smile on my part). Naomi had to head home to get her beach gear so we agreed on the 12:48 train. As the time approached to leave for the station, Jackie had a shower and was applying cream to protect her body against the harsh beach environment. Now, let me explain a little something about German and Canadian attitudes towards schedules. We LOVE to have extra time to be where we are supposed to be without the stress of hurry and worry. Now for those who are last minute arrivals(am I referring to Jackie) and are used to being like this, I do believe there is no stress or worry. Needless to say, Sebastien told Jackie we’d meet her on the way to Placa Catalunya. We started our walk towards the station with a stop at the bank, a five minute wait at the top of Ramblas and another few minutes at the entrance to the station. We decided that we would now go for the 1:18 train since Jackie was nowhere in sight. We went into the station to buy our tickets and a familiar voice hollers out from inside the turnstyles. Jackie had been there for a while. She was waiting for us and we were all stressed about her being late. Anyhow, we bought our tickets and called Naomi to tell her we were back on track for the 12:48. She says she’s out of the station buying some water, taking it easy and if she gets there fine if not, she’ll meet us there. Now that is the way to be, totally relaxed. In the end, everyone got on the 12:48 and we were on our way.

The day was great, not too cold and not too hot. It was quite windy so surf was up and we could body surf one metre waves for approximately one metre. Really short runs. Naomi was in the sun soaking up the rays and got some really nice color.

It was time for food so the following went to the beach restaurant.


Alex and I

Detlef , he owns a german restaurant (Pano de Boca) in Lisbon. Read about it in Naomi’s blog.


Jackie and Sebastien

Kevin (Sylvie’s brother visiting from Germany) Sylvie’s other brother stayed on the beach and slept through it all. I gather they had been partying pretty intensely. In Barcelona, parties usually end sometime after the sun comes up

Our sweet Naomi (aka Shark)

and this is what we had, a lovely paella.

We were all pretty stuffed after lunch and our bellies were sticking out (but just a little) so we decided we needed to put our bellies back into their proper sizes. After all, we were at the beach. I really think that Naomi had a very crushing experience with cheeky Jackie and Sebastien close behind.

We had a great day and everyone went to another beach party that evening. Alex and I headed home as she still isn’t quite up to speed.

August 13, 2006 at 7:29 pm 3 comments

Gordon and Jean’s Last Week

First of all, the photos in this post were all taken by Gordon or Jean.

It was a great week with Gordon and Jean. On Tuesday we went with them, Kaiko, Joy and her boyfriend to Sant Pol de Mar. The weather was amazing. The beaches there are made of a more pebbly sand which I prefer. As a result, the water is much clearer so snorkeling over the rock is more of an adventure. Of course we went to La Platjola, arestaurant right on the beach. The paella there is great and so is the wine.

After lunch we were all feeling a little slow. We went back to the beach and most of us plunged back into the water. After paddling around our energy returned. I took one of the rubber mattresses and swam way out to the yellow buoy. I could have swam there without the mattress but since there was no safety net I used the mattress. Gordon had a tire tube and it was awkward to swim with.

Later in the afternoon, I found my shade and crashed. Alex and the rest walked up to the old church at the top of the hill. A great view from up there.

The group gathering at the top of the hill. I guess Jean took the photo.

And this is the way we head back to Barcelona, on those same train tracks……..

When they returned we had to deflate all the toys Joy brought. They had these special valves and it was quite the challenge to deflate them, as you can see by Kaiko’s expression…….

Wednesday was spent trying to catch up on things that they wanted to see. We did not cover them all but hopefully they gained a sense of what Barcelona is all about.

Gordon and Jean generously took Alex and I out for supper that night, their last in Barcelona. We went to Me, an upscale restaurant on C/Paris. This was the second time we’d been there and we were not disappointed. The food there is amazing. Alex and I will try to eat there once a month to see how it evolves. The food is a fusion of Saigon plus New Orleans and Barcelona cuisine.

Thursday morning saw Gordon and Jean hop in a taxi to catch their Air France flight to Paris and on to Montreal. We had a lot of enjoyment having them with us for a few weeks. I hope they enjoyed their visit and saw and experienced everything they wanted to.

August 5, 2006 at 5:06 pm 1 comment

Another Day, Another Beach

After sharing Jenn’s adventure we all decided we needed some down time. Jean really wanted to visit Sitges and Alex and I had never been so………..

Bright and early Saturday morning we headed down to the train station at Pg de Gracia. We met Kaiko and Francesca there and off we all went. It’s only a 40 minute train ride in air conditioned comfort. As usual, we ended up chatting with a catalin woman on the train and as usual were all captured by her stories. We arrived in Sitges and headed directly to the beach. This photo was taken from the point at one end and looks across the beach.

We left our towels and umbrellas (yes, I only sit on a beach under a beach umbrella) and headed over to a restaurant that Jean had seen. Heading down the steps I had to capture las chicas. Kaiko, from Japan, Francesca from Italy and Alex from Canada via Brazil. Our common language is spanish and it’s just too funny to hear us talking. I’m the least fluent of the three so I usually end up making up the story as I go along.

After eating we went back to the beach for the rest of the day. Kaiko had to leave at 5:30 because her boyfriend finished work at 6:30n and they were heading off yo a movie. The rest of us stayed put until around 7:30 when we decided to walk around the town.

Jean and Francesca in a medieval street

One of the narrow streets of Sitges with a walkway from the palace to another museum. The town is beautiful and so clean.

Gordon and Alex in front of the palace.

Walking in from the sea and meandering through the streets we looked back at the cathedral.

We finally reached the train station but decided we needed to have a clara before leaving. There were so many trains back to Barcelona that we took our time and caught the train that passed by when we were finished.

We arrived home at around 9:30, tired but smiling after an almost perfect day.

July 30, 2006 at 12:35 pm 2 comments

One Long Weekend

Leone is a woman from Australia whom I met at Speakeasy (a spanish language school). Through her, Alex and I met her daughter Naomi. Leone went back home in June but before she left she made me promise to introduce Naomi to Sara, our spanish profesora. This Friday I fullfilled that promise and took a photo to prove it. Leone, here is proof that Naomi and Sara have met (love to have a comment on that)

Sara and Naomi

Saturday, we spent most of the day cleaning. In the morning we went up to the market in gracia. What an active place in the mornings. It’s full of positive energy and the vendors have a great sense of humor. We had breakfast before coming back to our cleaning chores. Wednesday, Jenn, from Montreal, is coming to visit for a few weeks. Gordon and Jean are coming next week so we’ll be pretty busy over the next few weeks. It will give Alex and I the opportunity to see areas of BCN that we haven’t yet visited and to rediscover places we have seen. I’m really looking forward to introducing them to Barcelona.

Sunday was beach day. We left BCN at 10:48 AM (the train) and went back up to Sant Pol de Mar. This time we made a reservation at the restaurant for 4:00 so we wouldn’t have to wait. I set up my umbrellas (yes, I use two) and my towel and settled in for the day. I don’t enjoy laying directly under the sun so I always bring the umbrellas. We bought masks and snorkels because the water is so clear so I was all excited and eager to get in the water. I took my mask and snorkel, ran down to the water and dove right in. I guess I spent about 30 minutes exploring the rocks and see bottom. Getting back to my refuge from the sun, I plugged into my ipod and looked for my glasses. I suddenly occured to me that I didn’t remember taking them OFF before hitting the agua. Alex didn’t believe me but I went back to the place I dove in and looked around. After aminute or so, I saw the shape of glasses for a fraction of a second. I dove down to where I had seen them and guess what. I found them, safe and sound. Boy, talk about lucky. We had a great meal with wine, caught the train and got home around 7:30 all tired out.

Alex’s friend Dana is moving to El Paso. In January, Dana won a tenure track position at the university there and she and husband Bobby are moving. It’s sad because we were just getting to know each other before we left for BCN and I felt that we got along really well. Toronto won’t be the same when we return. Hope they have a safe and pleasant journey.
Alex and Dana

You know, I’ve been retired for almost 2 years now and it still feels like a long weekend. It’s such a weird feeling to have such a LONG WEEKEND.

July 18, 2006 at 8:09 am 2 comments

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