Before we ever started on this grand adventure, we were informed and educated about not being able to commit to any timeframe WHATSOEVER. This is absolutely the truth. We know it now firsthand. This wouldn't be such a problem if we didn't happen to have people coming to visit from far away. For Matt and Jess' visit I'd say we had beginner's luck. Our plans to make it to Ibiza were pretty spot on. For my parent's visit, different story. Its not to say we didn't have a terrific time on the boat, its just that we never made it to the Balearic Islands... They are troopers and were game for any place we'd take them :-) and that's why they are amazing people to travel with!
They flew to Madrid and then took the train to Alicante, loaded with a few, no, a lot! of necessary items for us, and met us aboard Shift. We leisurely sailed the next day to Mar Menor with perfect conditions and stayed in Tomas Maestro Harbor. Summer weather has gone so temperatures are on the chillier side. Since we had to have our dinghy refitted for new tubes, the original 1 week timeframe turned to 2 or 3 and going to the Balearic Islands without it wasn't feasible.
So, the plan was to keep going to Cartagena but by the time we passed the point and headed directly into the wind and swell for a few hours, we turned around and went back to Tomas Maestre. That was the swelliest and roughest water we'd sailed so far and it was no fun. My mom deserves all the medals in the world for how brave she was - her grip on the table and look in her eyes showed she was not in a happy place! But she never complained or let us know how terrified she really was. I have no idea why! Anais on the other hand was loving the rodeo - she got a full ocean shower from the hatch above [which should've been tightly closed] and laughed and laughed. She was made for this stuff! The return was successful and we celebrated in a great restaurant that night. Nature won and we are reminded to respect it. The forecast for the next few days was much more favorable and it was well worth waiting. The passage the 2nd time around was a breeze and I've never seen my parents so relieved!
Our first time through Cartagena was much too quick so we were excited to go back and see more of it. Its a city rich in history and culture and we soaked it all in. Because the weather forecast was unfavorable going north, we opted to rent a car and visit Valencia for the last days my parents were with us. None of us had been and it was only a 3 hour drive from Cartagena. It was the first time we'd leave Shift and sleep on land since september.
We booked a great apartment in the city and drove via the coastline to Valencia. Our lunch stop in Carpe was mediocre and we got drenched in the rain. Exactly what we were avoiding while on the boat. Glad to have rented the car. Its been a change to be in the city and we've enjoyed it. The old part of town was perfect to meander and wander around. Andreas' mom drove from Madrid to meet us as well.
Valencia is a great town near the ocean with a converted old river path that meanders through the city with perfect bike trails and awesome museums. There were bikes to rent next door to the apartment so we were able to enjoy riding to the ultra modern science museum. For our last day we drove out to the Albufera national park where rice is cultivated and is a bird paradise. And we were finally able to have a traditional Valenciana paella - yum, yum, yum!