We visited a very interesting place. The famous author Jules Verne is probably the most well-known individual born here. So what was more appropriate than to celebrate him in style on a very interesting localtion, right in the heart of the city - Le ôle de Nantes - where the once so lively shipyard had several thousand 'chantiers' building all kinds of large vessels. The yard today is a fascinating mix of old buildings, art, like the spectacular series of circles along the river on the western side of the island. The island is within the Loire River, that flows through the city and naturally was a superb location for ship-building. Just opposite the yard, on the S shores are the houses where the 'Cape Horn'-skippers used to live and on the opposite shore, north of the ôle(island) are the buildings that once contained the offices of the companys involved in trading overseas, also including the not so glorious slave-trade.
Anyway, when all the workers of the huge ship-yard got laid-off and the ship-building became history here (there is still a big yard in S:t Nazaire also along the river) some of them used their skills to build a giant - think a Huge Marionette doll) that became famous and now is touring the major cities of the world.
Their experience from that encouraged them to go on, and someone came up with the brillinat idea of constructing a series of 'machines' in hommage to Jules Verne and all his creative innovations.
First, they built an elephant - 'The Sultan's Elephant'- that's 12 meters high and weighs 42 tonnes! It consists of a steel skeleton with beautifully crafted wood sections forming the body. It's powered by a Cummins diesel engine and the very natural, albeit slow, movements are hydraulically powered. (see pictures in the Photo Gallery side link)
The elphant takes passengers for a stroll around the area and was a tremendous success that has become a trademark of Nantes by now even if it's just 3 years old. The Elephant has been followed of aa series of other machines and there are more to come. The workshop seemed very busy.
Children and adults alike enjoy themselves in this lovely place.
The National Day of France, and here we are with Isabelle's family to take part of the celebrations. In memory of the French Revolution 1789, which led to the decapitation of Louis XVI and his Marie Antoinette on January 21 1793.
(Thank you Eric for correcting me on this)
For me as Swedish I had expected this day to be celebrated a bit more vigorously, but all in all it is quite similar to the National Day back home ( June 6)
Fireworks at night, a parade or two during the day. The President holding a speach (would be the King in Sweden) and so on.
I am sure everybody enjoy their day off work though, that's a common thing too.
The picture of today is a Hortensia flower, so characteristic for Brittany, where you can see it against almost every wall facing the sun on the houses.
The longest day of the year, the summer equinox has always been a time for feast in Scandinavia, long before we got christians around 1000 years ago. The famous Light of the North makes the night a mere twilight, lasting a couple of hours, depending on the latidude you are at.
Our celbrations consists of meeting family and friends and also, I have rented the house. Since we are planning to live our life for years to come with the boat as 'our house' it makes sense to let someone else make use of it and also take care of the garden.
Because of this we had to move my remaining landbased possessions to a storage, and visit my parents at the same time.
We managed to do a bit of 'tourist work' too, as can be seen from the latest uploaded pictures. The cute village of Bönan, s few kilometers north of my home town Gävle (at the coast 180 km north of Stockholm) with the old houses of the fishermen, the lighthouse built in wood and the pilot station. Unfortunately I was unable to show Isabelle the interior of the lighthouse since it was locked. Only a few guided tours are held here durng the summer vacation period these days. This was a surprise to me since I've been spoiled with the possibility to go in there on my own since many years.
The times are changing even here.
We also had a look at Stockholm, especially the Old Town and the adjacent waterways. 'The Venice of the North' showed itself from it's best side this sunny summer evening.
In a few days we'll go to France to visit Isabelle's family
06/05/2010, Mértola// Minas San Domingo
Mértola, 38 km north of Alcoiutim on the Guadiana is in the province of Alentejo (a well known good wine production area). It is hazardeous to reach it with our boats, so thanks to Mo, our new friend resident on the Guadiana shores, we drove through the steep hills and deserted landscape. We all got in his van for a little discovery trip. with Andreas, Swedish first met in Falsterbo who just came with his boat to Alcoutim. Since Antiquity, the area was already well known for minerals and for its prime location along the river. The Romans had established a good base at Mértola as show important ruins close to the Moorish forteress. The little village has been a very impressive settlement dominating the narrow valley since the pre Roman era. The Moors took over and the islamic culture left its trace even nowdays, some islamic holidays are still celebrated. Farther in the Alantejo where a torrid and dry wind sweeps the smoother hills, we go see the Minas Santo Domingo. The mines were closed in 1943. Exploited since the Romans, it is now a open wound in the landscape. The region is ruined by the acidic mineral deposit. The little village where the miners lived is still surviving among the remains of the mine and the acidic small artificial lakes with their bare and unhealthy shores. Far from the coast and its often clashy tourist traps, there is a lot to discover if what you want to see is the Portugal which still belongs to the Portugueses. Few tourists go deep in the country, and even fewer cruisers who prefer the security of the English speaking costal towns and marinas. Well they miss a lot, but we surely do not miss them around us !!
New pictures to the Photo Gallery
is like on the picture... looks mysterious and we don't know which way it really leads us.
One day at a time, we are following our intuition.
In a couple of weeks we'll fly back to Sweden and France to meet family and friends, and also to deal with some practical matters.
Our itinerary. not written in stone, for the next 6 months or so is to explore the Guadalquivir river to Sevilla, and then sail to the Canaries, Cape Verde and Senegal before eventually crossing to Brazil.
No fixed dates, what so ever, we'll stay as long as we're enjoyng it and heave anchor when it feels right to do so.
Some new pictures uploaded to the Gallery