25. Hasta Luego, La Línea!

It was a 3-month dalliance that turned into something rather longer term than any of us had envisaged – or indeed hoped for if we’re honest. We had planned to come here, have Hugo in Gibraltar, get ourselves used to having another crew member, and move on… However, a (continuing) lack of birth certificate for Hugo, a broken collarbone, and a delayed sailing course all contrived to extend our stay month by month by month. The collarbone is now sufficiently fixed, the sailing course completed, and the birth certificate remains (ever hopefully) ‘in progress’, so we have elected to take our chances on leaving with the hope that it will arrive soon and that copies of the paperwork together with some winning smiles will suffice if the authorities decide to pay us a visit!

We have finished off some of the work on the list (still no veg nets though….); the engine is purring like a kitten, and a small sea trial was undertaken when we refuelled in Gibraltar (with diesel at 32p a litre, the opportunity to refuel to the max was far too good to pass up!!).

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On the way to a fuel bargain!!

We also have a new Autohelm to replace the one that sadly passed on during our passage down here; Ray Mk II – being an updated model – did not quite fit into the space left by Ray I so, while I was doing my sailing course, Jamie spent several days making adjustments to the cockpit area so he would fit in… His first real test will come on our outward passage tomorrow!

So. La Línea de la Conceptión. It has a bad rep and is often the butt of yachtie abuse, but we have found it to be friendly, good value, with a good Marina, and nice tapas bars in town. A little ‘rough around the edges’ it may be, but there are plenty of diamonds to be found amongst that rough. We have made friends here – both with folks who live locally, and with others in transit whom we shall no doubt meet up with again on our way round.

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Alcaidesa Marina

As well as easy access to the constant disappointment that is Gibraltar, there are decent beaches on both sides of the isthmus where Bella could run around and we could watch the kitesurfers, there are lovely walks along the coast to other small village suburbs, and green dune areas with decked paths. It also gives great views of Gibraltar (especially when the levante cloud sits over it) without the dreadfulness of having to go there, and we much prefer looking at it rather than around it….

We visited the Matador Museum (Museo Taurino) by the ubiquitous bullring, where the owner proudly showed us around. Bullfighting is a subject which draws a wide range of views, but however you feel about it, it is deeply ingrained in Spanish culture, and pretty much every town has its own bullring – La Línea’s opened in 1883.

Alongside the somewhat gaudy Matadors’ outfits, there were heads of the luckless bulls on display, as well as some ears and the odd hoof, which are awarded to Matadors who have put on a particularly impressive display. There was even a small chapel for the Matadors to pray in before and after fights.

We experienced the spectacular fireworks on New Year’s Eve which went on (both in Gib and La Línea for nearly 2 hours!), and also the atmosphere and parades of Semana Santa (Holy Week).

It may not be the prettiest town in Spain, but we also doubt it’s the ugliest. There are plenty of nice buildings, squares, fountains etc – plenty of open spaces to relax and wander in; the mosaic house, the sherry bar in the market, several parks and tiled squares…

And let’s not forget the extensive selection of tapas bars! We packed Bella off to Julie (our friend who dog-sits for us), and Hugo off to our neighbour Denise, and said farewell to La Línea on our penultimate Thursday with a small tour of some of our old favourites, as well as a couple of new places.

So…. it is finally time to say ‘Adios’ and ‘Muchas gracias’ to La Línea; the next phase of our journey starts tomorrow! As it will be Hugo’s first sail, we are planning to head up the coast in short hops towards Marbella, Málaga, Almería, and Cartagena….

We have got our AIS transponder fitted now too, so you can all follow our progress on http://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/home/shipid:4061111/zoom:10.

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