Time to go

Sunday. Last day in Barcelona. It’s a lay day, because we have done just about everything we wanted or could do in the last three weeks. But it is also a getaway day, so a few good-byes must be said.

Sunrise from our apartment. How could you ever, ever get tired of this view?

Brunch at Milk. Still the best Bloody Mary in Europe. The yellow stuff being spooned into the mixture was celery salt, exactly what we add at home. And he squirts an enormous amount of citrus from a squeeze bottle into the concoction. Plus the beer topper. Not sure I will try that at home.

Eggs Benedict are near perfect. Well, maybe just completely perfect. The eggs are expertly poached. The yolks run a rich, deep orange. You can use the toasted baguette to mop up, but the Lyonnaise potatoes are even better. We timed our entrance precisely at 10 a.m., walked right in and were immediately seated at the bar to watch the masters at work. Within 15 minutes, we could see in the back bar mirror a crowd of petitioners waiting in the street for their turn at Barcelonan brunch excellence.

We waddled back the two blocks to our apartment for a quick respite, then walked up to the cathedral to see if the band was playing this Sunday and the locals were dancing the traditional sardana we had seen our very first day here. To our disappointment, there was no band on the steps of the cathedral, no group dancing. The placa is taken over by scaffolding and lights for the Christmas celebration (aka sales tents) that will start next weekend.

(By the way, since Spain and Europe are not burdened by Thanksgiving, they have already started Christmas decorations and promotions. Milk was festooned with garlands and a Christmas tree when we walked in earlier today. Signs have been posted for at least a week on the major shopping thoroughfares like Passeig de Gracia promoting the beginning of Christmas shopping any day now.)

The light standards are already in place for the Christmas sales market on the plaza in front of the Barcelona Cathedral.

No dancing, no music at the cathedral, so we made our way back to the apartment and started to do a little advance packing. We have found that packing 75% in advance saves 90% of the hassle and stress on getaway day.

Then it was off for a last walk through the harbor to look at the monster yachts. Ona had already departed, leaving Phoenix2 and Mayan Queen to loom over the quay. They are still massive, still waiting to head to the islands for winter.

And after that a final visit to Fastnet, our Irish sailing bar in Barceloneta. Mariola, our Polish/Irish bartendress, welcomed us warmly, and as she drew our last beers, she announced that she too would be leaving Fastnet in a week to go back to Poland for Christmas then return to get another job in Barcelona. We bade safe travels to each other and promised to ask after her at Penny Banger when we return. They will know where she winds up.

Finally, it’s off to Sensi Tapas for our last supper in Barcelona.

As always, Sensi was superb. Made for Americans. Comments about that another time. After dinner drink at Penny Banger. Good night and good bye, Barcelona.

Up MontJuic and down one more time. And again.

One of our favorite spots in Barcelona is MontJuic, as it is for most Barcelonans too. It’s an extensive park with fountains sprinkled throughout the green space and topped by the historic castle and the Olympic Stadium. From our apartment, getting there is part of the fun. We walk down Passeig de Colom to La Rambla, then take the Metro one stop to the funicular, which transports us right up the hill, all on one Metro ticket.

The funicular brings you right to MontJuic on the same Metro ticket.

Saturday was at least our third ride up the hill. This time we were bound for the Olympic Stadium and complex at the top, a walk of about 15 minutes or so from the funicular station. The idea was to tour the stadium, then walk all the way down to Placa Espana at the ground level. The trip offers some of the best views of Barcelona around, with Tibidabo in the distance and Familia Sagrada standing out on the horizon depending on where you are on MontJuic..

Barcelona, which is not all that much larger than New Orleans in population,  hosted arguably one of the most successful Olympics in modern history back in 1992. The main Olympic stadium, officially named Estadi Olimpic Luis Companys, was originally constructed in 1927 for the 1929 International Exhibition and Barcelona’s 1936 Olympic bid, which went to Berlin. It was refurbished and repurposed for the 1992 Olympics and continues to host athletic events and major concerts to this day.

The Olympic Stadium is named after the last elected president of Catalonia, Luis Companys.

Remarkably, the stadium is open to the public to tour and walk about for free . The main concourse overlooking the field is open for viewing about 180 degrees around the stadium. A  gift shop and cafe are both conveniently located steps from the main entrance.

Open Jump is one of the programs for kids to participate in sports on the actual Olympic field. The spire just to the right of the clock was the Olympic flame during the 1992 Games.

A new program called Open Camp Europe offers young people the opportunity to go out on the field and actively participate in a number of sports like soccer and track, plus other fantasy activities like broadcasting from the press box. Tickets range from 5-20 euros, depending on the level of participation. It was in full swing when we visited.

The interior of the stadium includes a shop for team jerseys and tickets to participate in the sports activities on the field.



The stadium is the crown point of an extensive plaza that leads down MontJuic all the way to Placa Espana. It is a most interesting walk down past the Olympic arena, the rows of tall columns flanking the center and the Telefonica needle that served as the visual symbol of the Games in 1992.

The walk down from the stadium is named Placa Europa, landscaped all the way down to the fountain at Placa Espana.

Beyond Placa Europa, a monument to the origins of the EU, the rest of the walk is a pleasant stroll that winds more or less around MontJuic to the huge fountain in front of Placa Espana on the ground level. We enjoyed that so much that we decided to do it again and go up to the Museum of Catalan Art, about halfway up the hill.

Rather than walk all that way, we availed ourselves of the convenient escalators that whisk passengers up MontJuic to the museum past the cascading fountains, all of which were in full operation. Once again at the entrance to the museum, we walked right in, since our tickets were good for two days.

We made a quick visit to view a temporary exhibition of paintings by a rare female artist in Barcelona, Llüisa Vidal, who painted around the turn of the 20th century. Although considered “modernisme” by the museum, her style was reminiscent of late Impressionism and quite attractive.

When all the fountains are in operation, the effect is pretty impressive. Not surprisingly, the walk down from the museum is named Placa des Cascades.

Then it was back down MontJuic along the series of cascading fountains, all of which were in operation and quite impressive in their totality. As we descended Placa Espana to take the Metro back home, Lynn noticed an extensive shopping mall inside the station. It’s hard to miss, with a food court on one level and department stores, etc. on the next two. She had been on the hunt for nail polish remover for weeks, so hunt we did through the Mall de Placa Espana. And by golly, she found it.

Great fountain, but it could use a heroic central statue.

Now all we had to do was get back to the Metro station, which was not all that simple. First we descended one level too far and wound up in the parking garage. Then we finally reached the station for the L1 train, and, weary from  walking, Lynn plopped on the bench to wait for the next train. Unfortunately, we needed the L3 line not the L1, so off we walked again, this time for what seemed like a half a mile to get to the correct platform. Even then, we went to the wrong side by mistake and just barely missed a train home. Luckily, even on Saturday the trains only run three minutes apart.

By the time we reached our apartment, we were pretty tuckered out. Going up and down MontJuic twice will get your three to five miles of walking in for the day and then some. But it’s well worth the effort.




Two last museums

We have seen so many museums, they tend to run together. But we keep searching and visiting and marveling.

One that we have long wanted to see but for some reason had never visited was the National Catalonian Art Museum perched up MontJuic park overlooking Barcelona and the Placa Espanya. Getting there was a most pleasant walk through MontJuic’s gardens and water features after a scenic funicular ride up the hill.

One of the many fountains and water features scattered around MontJuic.

Once again we turned down the hill too soon and found that somehow we had missed the monumental museum building. Luckily for us, the Barcelona government has installed a series of convenient escalators to whisk visitors to the museum from the bottom of the hill.

Fortunately, there is also a series of escalators to carry visitors up the hill to the museum. But the steps are quite attractive.

The museum is housed in a most impressive building that looks like an ancient castle or capital but in fact was built in 1929 to house a museum. How convenient.

Impressive building that certainly looks more than its actual age.

The National Museum of Catalan Art is noted for its collection of Romanesque church paintings, all salvaged from ancient buildings now destroyed. The collection of Gothic paintings is also impressive, and the Renaissance and Baroque rooms display a large number of excellent examples of El Greco, Velasquez and Ribero. It also includes an large collection of modern art and design, including two rooms exclusively devoted to Gaudi’s furniture.

The galleries are organized well, and art is displayed in a human scale, despite the soaring ceilings in the building.

It’s not a small place; it took us all of three hours to walk through the collections, including a stop for lunch at the cafe on the edge of the huge performance hall.

The performance hall dominates the center of the Catalan Art Museum. The museum galleries surround the hall on two floors.

One awfully considerate aspect of their ticket pricing is that seniors pay nothing at all. And the tickets are good for two visits within a month, just in case you can’t get through the entire place in one trip.

The next day Lynn found reference to the Frederic Mares Museum, which we had never heard of but is located right behind the Barcelona Cathedral and the Gaudi Museum. How we had missed this for the last three weeks is a mystery, as we have walked past there literally dozens of times.

Right next to the Barcelona Cathedral. In fact, there are at least four museums surrounding the cathedral.

Frederic Mares was the most distinguished collector of Catalan art in the 20th century. He donated his entire trove of sculpture and–what else can you call it?–“stuff” in 1946. Mares was a noted sculptor in his own right, and some of his works are also on display. The massive collection is now housed in a restored section of the old Royal Palace of Barcelona next door to the cathedral.

Just one room of sculptures in the collection, this one houses mostly 20th century works.

The museum is organized into two sections. The first is the collection of sculpture ranging from ancient times to the 19th century. Mares collected scores of pieces on the same subject. Entire rooms are filled with Gothic Madonnas. Other rooms hold dozens of Gothic crucifixion statues, some larger than life sized.

One of the rooms full of Madonnas. There were other Madonna rooms, plus a separate room of life-sized Crucifixions.

One room even showcases an entire portal of a Romanesque church salvaged for display before it was completely destroyed.

One of the more simple, organized rooms of “stuff.”

The second major section, called the Collector’s Cabinet, consists of room after room of “stuff” from Mares’s personal collections.

Two rooms of ceramics.

A room of fans. A room of pipes. A room of jewelry. A room of watches and clocks. Plus rooms of photography, toys, keys, pharmacy bottles, posters, documents and on and on consisting of no fewer than 17 galleries. All crammed full of stuff.

The impact is overwhelming, because you just can’t view everything. Mares must have never thrown away a thing, the ultimate hoarder.

A small antechamber adjacent to the entrance shows a number of large photos of the actual interiors of Mares’s home as he lived with his trove of “stuff.”





Gaudi’s first palace

One reason our trip down from Tibidabo was a bit shorter than the voyage up the mountain was that we saved two stops and a transfer on the Metro to visit the Palau Güell, Gaudi’s first major work for his long-time client.

Eusebi Güell was an industrialist, a politician and Gaudi’s biggest and most enthusiastic patron. The two became BFFs, and Güell’s palatial home just a block off La Rambla was Gaudi’s first major commission from his client. It’s called a palace for a reason.

Lynn listens to the audio guide in one of the several semi-public rooms in the palace.

The home stayed in the Güell family until 1945, although the patriarch himself only lived there a few years before moving his residence to Colonia Güell, his experiment in collective living for his mill workers. Apparently, Mrs. Güell didn’t like the place much herself. The Palau Güell has only been open as a museum for about five years, even though it was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO back in 1984.

The dining room, as sumptuous as it is, seems a bit small for a family with ten children.

The excellent audio guide takes the visitor through all the rooms of the magnificent home and clearly explains many of the prominent architectural and design features that make the house so unusual, even by Gaudi standards. Gaudi touches abound everywhere, even though this is a very early work of his. Güell was rich beyond imagination (his fortune was estimated to be $70 billion in today’s dollars), so no expense was spared. With ten children, Gaudi needed a lot of room.

A very spare bedroom, bereft of furniture.
The view out the bedroom proves this is a real neighborhood.

One minor criticism is that all the rooms are for the most part empty of furniture. I would prefer to see furniture, even if not originals, in the rooms so that the visitor can get a better feel for how the occupants actually lived there. In their defense, much of the home’s furnishings were distributed to other Güell residences as the descendants moved into their own homes over the years after the death of the patriarch. However, the museum audio guide includes a number of photographs of the rooms as they appeared when the Güell actually family lived there.

Those are just some of the chimneys that have been reconstructed.
At the peak of the attic spire is a weather vane in the shape of a bat with intricate wings.

The roof alone is worth the visit, because there you can see what later became the fantastical features of Casa Batlo and Casa Mila years later. The chimneys in Palau Güell are for the most part reconstructed in recent years from Gaudi’s plans and models. But together they create a theme park of Gaudi’s imagination not to be missed.



Sunday afternoon at the beach–in November

Barcelona has a number beaches, some of which are quite near us in adjacent Barceloneta, the neighborhood where the Fastnet bar and Somorrostro are located. We have walked near the beach many times but never actually strolled along the sand and viewed the Mediterranean.

After a post-Milk Bloody Mary/brunch nap, on another gorgeous autumn Sunday in Barcelona, we set out for the beach.

The city beaches are well maintained and artificially refreshed, with breakwaters quite a bit like the Mississippi Gulf Coast every quarter mile or so to reduce the inevitable erosion of the sand out to sea. Our bartender at Penny Banger told us the better, more natural beaches where the locals go in the summer are several kilometers up the coast in Costa Brava.

One of several sculptures that grace Barcelona’s beaches.
A sailboat raced ends, as the committee boat heads back to harbor. It was a very, very light air day, and it looked like the race was called off.

Nonetheless, on this beautiful Sunday, Barcelona’s nearest beach was crowded with families, residents and tourists. And merchandise sellers. By the hundreds.

We have seen these guys (rarely a woman) all over in just about every city we have visited in Europe. But never in the numbers that lined the Barcelona beach that Sunday. Almost exclusively African, each one lays out a blanket with ropes tied to all four corners joined in the middle so the entire haberdashery can be pulled up and moved out in seconds when law enforcement shows up. We have seen them near the bridge over the marina here, in front of rail stations everywhere, in the squares and plazas and bridges and riverfront walks of all major cities.

The trash and trinket trade goes on and on along the beaches of Barcelona.
In both directions.

But never in these numbers. They stretch on for nearly a mile. And this is just one beach. Each “vendor” sells only one kind of merchandise–purses for one, sneakers (mostly Nike) for another, bracelets, key chains, scarves, and on and on. The selections actually repeat themselves–once you walk past about a half dozen, you start over with purses, sneakers, scarves, key chains, etc. all over again. Lynn theorizes that they are all independent operators who pick up their merchandise from a central warehouse that dispatches them to certain geographic areas.

All the major luxury brands are there–Gucci, Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Nike. I’m sure they are all genuine.


Provisioning, press releases and more boat porn

Monday was sort of a bifurcated day. I had to move a press release for the Zurich Classic at 7 a.m. CST, which is 2 p.m. our time here in Barcelona. So we needed to be back home about lunch time without having time for a big lunch.

We needed a few things for the pantry and had wanted to visit Mercat Boqueria, Barcelona’s largest market and located just off La Rambla. Boqueria is indeed huge and packed with people streaming through the narrow aisle between the stalls. Lynn easily found the sausage she was looking for and the peppers to cook with the sausage. We also located a very nice wine store featuring Catalonian wines and others at reasonable prices. Following Boqueria, a short walk up La Rambla took us to the Carrefour, where we bought a bag of coffee to wake us up the rest of the week.

Loaded with our Monday market shopping, we ducked away from the bustle of La Rambla and into the quiet narrow streets of Barri Gotic in search of an early simple lunch. After a couple of detours at shoe stores for Lynn to check out boots, we stopped at a little shop right around the corner from our apartment that we have seen several times with a line stretching out into the street.

No wonder. The place is tiny, just a couple of tables and a counter. It is a Greek-Spanish establishment that features bocadillos (Spanish poor boys) to take out and tapas to eat in. For 4.50, we grabbed a 12-inch chicken bocadilla fully loaded with feta cheese, two different sauces, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, olives and lentils. It was plenty for both of us, accompanied by a small glass of wine.

Press release released, we went back out for another stroll, this time to the harbor to see yet more boat porn, a third maxi yacht that had just pulled up alongside the quay behind the Phoenix2 and the Mayan Queen.

Ona us about to go on the market, so save your pennies.

Ona is even bigger than the first two, topping out at 110 meters (363 feet). It was built in 2008 by Lurssen, the same shipyard that built the Phoenix2 parked right in front of her. My research could not identify the reclusive owner, but did discover that he is in the process of building a replacement to Ona that will be about 156 meters (500+ feet). Ona is apparently not a one-owner boat, having been previously named Dilbar. In her present configuration, Ona can carry up to 20 passengers and a crew of 47 at a cruising speed of 18 knots.

While I could not discover the nae of the owner, I did learn that he is building a new boat of some 500+ feet. So Ona will be on the market soon.


Voyage to Tibidabo

Tibidabo is the highest point in Barcelona, 1,680 feet up with a spectacular panoramic view of the city below all the way out to the Mediterranean. You feel like you can almost see Majorca in the distance.

Even through the haze, the view overlooking Barcelona is breathtaking.

At the peak of Tibidabo is the odd combination of a Gothic church and an amusement park next door to each other.

Not too many places will you see a Gothic church and an amusement park cheek by jowl together.
The main church of the Sacred Heart is relatively small and unusual for Gothic churches, square in shape, with no apses on either side of the nave.
Not uncommon, but the crypt has a more elaborate interior than the main church.


The Tibidabo amusement park offers a vintage airplane ride in addition to the assortment of conventional rides like the carousel, Ferris wheel, monorail, etc. all situated on different levels of the mountain.

Here is how you get to Tibidabo from our apartment:

  1. Take the L4 Metro at the Jaume I station for one stop.
  2. Transfer to the L1 Metro at the Urquinao station.
  3. Take the L1 Metro for one stop to Placa Catalunya.
  4. At Placa Catalunya, take the FCG train, either S1 or S2 to Peu del Funicular. (Be sure to board on the correct side–the one with open doors. It’s embarrassing when you try to go through the wrong side of the train.)
  5. At Peu del Funicular, take the funicular to the top at Vallvidera.
  6. At Vallvidera, take the 111 bus to Tibidabo.
As we waited on the 111 bus to Tibidabo, that little bar was starting to look pretty welcoming.

As long as your journey does not take more than an hour and 15 minutes, you can do all this on a single Metro ticket.

We cut it close on the way up, because we must have missed the 111 bus and had to wait 15 minutes for the next bus to arrive. We returned back down in less than an hour, catching the bus, the train and the Metro all right on time.

The funicular is Barcelona’s oldest. The photo is probably a century old, but the entrance looks exactly the same today.

Regardless, the view alone is worth the adventure. And now we know which side of the train to board.


The best Bloody Mary in Europe

Our friends at Fastnet actually recommended another brunch spot named Milk that is located just two blocks behind our apartment.

Milk does not take reservations for brunch, so we marched out Sunday a little after 10 a.m. to encounter a small crowd of people standing in the street waiting to get in. When I inquired about a table, the very friendly hostess/waitress put us down as the fifth two-top on the list, a wait of about 20 minutes.

Milk Bar & Bistro, home of the best Bloody Mary in Europe. Trust me.

We were actually seated a few minutes early at the bar, where we customarily enjoy sitting and watching the work of the kitchen and the bar. Everyone in Milk speaks near-perfect English (as does everyone at all the Sensi retauarants), so we had no language barrier in ordering their Bloody Mary.

The bartender sprang into action. This promised to be much more than tomato juice with vodka. He asked if we liked them spicy, and we replied affirmatively. However, we asked him to spice it with Lea & Perrins (simply called Perrins in Spain–Lea must have lost his spot) rather than just Tabasco, which is ubiquitous in Europe.

He went well beyond. He added a lot of Perrins, some Tabasco, squirted a load of lemon juice and spooned out from a separate jar a dollop of some yellowish sauce that I could not recognize. Then he pulled up the jar of horseradish, and we knew we were in for something special. For a finishing touch, he drew a topper of beer from the tap. He even garnished with two olives, a slice of lime and–wonder of wonders–a stalk of celery.

The result was the best Bloody Mary was have enjoyed in Europe. And as our faithful readers know, we take Bloody Marys to the level of obsession. This is one to obsess over, and all for 6.75.

Milk couples great drinks with an excellent brunch. Lynn’s Eggs Benedict were perfectly poached and the egg yokes flowed out a deep orange. The accompanying potatoes were some of the best, resembling Lyonnaise with a touch of Spanish bravas. My omelette with black sausage and gruyere cheese over wheat toast (that too was a first) was equally savory.

The line of people waiting for tables as we left an hour later was even longer than it had been when we first arrived. Our bartender explained that this happens every day.

We will arrive at 10 a.m. next Sunday, our last full day in Barcelona and this trip, and wait patiently for our last but best Bloody Mary in Europe.

A long walk-about

After three days of intense Gaudi gazing, we planned Saturday for a relaxing walk over to Barcelona’s City Park and the fashionable Born area. That modest goal turned into a miles-long walk around Barcelona.

But first, we had errands, shopping at the Santa Caterina Mercat for meat, vegetables, cheese, paté, followed by a stop at the supermercat for paper products. Once again, we managed to misidentify paper towels for toilet paper, so we wound up with too much of the former and a looming shortage of the latter.

Market day accomplished, we ventured out toward Barcelona’s City Park just a few blocks in the opposite direction from where we usually go.

Just down the street from our apartment toward City Park is one of Barcelona’s several regional train stations. Old and small but that’s the way train stations should look.

City Park here is pleasantly green, with large, wide walks that resemble the Tuilleries in Paris. The park was originally the site of the 1888 Barcelona World’s Fair. On the seaside end of the park is the Barcelona Zoo, and on the far end downtown is the Arc de Triomf, which was built as the main entrance to the World’s Fair site. It had to have some sort of purpose, because poor Barcelona did not have many triumphs to celebrate and build monuments to over the last five centuries.

Barcelona’s Arc de Triomf was built as the entrance to the 1888 World’s Fair. It doesn’t really celebrate any great triumphs because poor Barcelona never had many. Ironically, the street leading up to the monument is named after Luis Companys, the last democratically elected president of Catalonia who was executed by dictator Franco after the Civil War.
The Barcelona Zoo is on one end of City Park, situated very similar to Audubon.

Between the zoo and the Arc at the northern end of the main park is Barcelona’s museum of natural history, also known as the Castle of the Three Dragons. It too was built for the 1888 World’s Fair as a cafe-restaurant but was late opening. Over the last 130 years or so, it has served as a museum of zoology, natural history, archeology and biology. It is considered characteristic of Barcelona’s modernisme architectural movement of the late 19th century, and today serves as the Museum of Natural History.

Castle of Three Dragons, built as the restaurant for the 1888 World’s Fair, sits on the other end of City Park.

We kept walking past the Arc de Triomf and turned left on Calle de Trfalagar, where incidentally, we started out stay in Barcelona, because that is where Friendly Apartments has their headquarters. We visited with Friendly for a few minutes to complain about the dog barking next door and procure a new map to replace the thoroughly ripped one I have carried in my pocket the last two weeks. We really don’t need the map anymore, but it has a good subway schematic that is quicker to refer to than the one on my phone.

From Friendly, we kept walking until we reach Via Laeitana again and started our way back toward the port. By now we were on the hunt for a lunch spot and found little Taperia Princesa, where we enjoyed a few tapas. For some reason, we didn’t pay attention to what we were ordering, and we wound up with all meat dishes, including their “bomba,” which is a meatball surrounded by mashed potatoes, then fried. “Bomba” in Catalan means exactly what it says–a bomb. And it was.

By now it was mid-afternoon, and we were getting fairly leg weary. We realized we had walked a few miles in a large circle around Born, Laietana, Barri Gotic and Port Vell, the waterfront. To reward ourselves, we stopped for a glass of wine at Fastnet, and on the way back to our apartment we inquired about the sign that offered the rental of a Porsche starting at 88 euros.

Great offer–until we learned that was for 20 minutes.
They look good but are a tad pricey to rent.

That would be for 20 minutes. An hour and a half would be 349 euros, and a full eight-hour day would run into the very high hundreds, depending on which car we chose. And that includes an instructor in the passenger seat to make sure you don’t scratch the metal. We said we would think about it.

I remembered that our boat needs a wax job, which would cost about the same.



Boat porn

This one just pulled into the harbor and moored right in front of Phoenix 2.

Just slightly larger than her neighbor astern at the dock, the Mayan Queen tips out at 306 feet.

Mayan Queen is slightly longer than Phoenix 2 at 93 meters (306 feet). She is owned by Alberto Bailleries, reportedly the third richest person in Mexico with an estimated net worth of $10.9 billion. He owns the second largest mining company in Mexico, a large insurance company and a chunk of the largest Coca Cola bottler in Mexico.

Service truck from New Orleans? We work dat!

The boat was built in 2008 by Blohn + Voss, the same company that built the Queen Mary 2.

Just a guess, but I think that Barcelona may be the last stop in the Mediterranean for maxi yachts to stock up on fuel and stores before heading down to the Caribbean for the winter.

That’s not a manatee swimming in front of the boat. That’s the bulb of the vessel that is usually underwater.

Mayan Queen’s bulb is awash just forward of the bow, indicating she is riding pretty high on her lines. And a large service truck is parked alongside the quay. Meanwhile, the crews of both boats seem fairly busy in their chores, perhaps getting ready for the delivery to the islands.