We recommence the clarkesailing blog for our fifth season in the Mediterranean. It is hard to believe that we have been doing this for so long. If you read this please do leave a message at the end to prove that we are not transmitting this to an eternal void.
We left Sydney on April 17th, a 13-hour flight to Vancouver on Air Canada to visit Edward and Charmaine. They’d had a lot of late snow; the ski season had closed that weekend so it was a deserted winter wonderland on our arrival in Sun Peaks. The boys played golf, we met the builder who’ll construct their duplex this summer, even got Terry into an IKEA for a couple of hours.
England also turned on snow flurries during our 4-night visit. Julie had a day in London, lunch with Lois Grassi, delighted in Giulia’s renovation in Holland Park and met daughter Chloe.
Thence to Vienna, our first Renaissance Tour, 12 days of opera and concerts. The first two of the Vienna Ring were performed on consecutive nights but then a week before Siegfried and another three days before Götterdämmerung made for a rather disjointed Ring experience.
However, four intervening nights in Budapest treated us to a wonderful chamber music recital in the Solti Hall of the Liszt Academy, a superb performance of Werther and a controversial Elektra at the Hungarian State Opera House.
Between Budapest and Vienna is the Esterhazy Palace in Eisenstadt. Built in 1364, restored by Count Esterhazy in the 1660’s in baroque and classic styles. Joseph Haydn served as music director for over 40 years. It is only recently that the last of the Esterhazy dynasty died at the palace.
On our return to Vienna, Julie had to seek emergency dental treatment, on a Saturday evening, having put up with pain for 5 weeks. There was only one dentist open in Vienna, so a taxi ride to the Prater, into a dodgy building to find a small, shabby waiting room full of suffering Viennese. There was one dentist, one nurse and one receptionist. One room with two chairs. The dentist had been working since 9am and looked exhausted. Four other patients were treated in the other chair during Julie’s treatment, not once did the dentist wash her hands between patients. The receptionist took the x-ray, a bad start. After much drilling and some packing there was some pain relief and an invitation to return on another day. More pain so a real dentist was located but 3 days later, she re-did the Saturday job and found another tooth needing root canal therapy and a third requiring a filling, so yet another appointment, with her colleague. Thus three dentists, three teeth and three appointments with strict instructions to avoid eating on that side. However the pain is now gone and we just hope these temporary measures will last until our return.
To add further insult to injury Julie managed to close the car door on her right index finger. (We have a photograph but won’t show it.) Later still she fell off a ladder getting on to the boat and now has an enormous bruise in her thigh. And this is supposed to be fun!
During the last five days in Vienna we saw the St Petersburg Philharmonic at the Musikverien. A programme of Prokofiev, Shostakovitch and Stravinsky. The acoustic in this hall is quite perfect. Sadly, the Eugene Onegin at the Vienna Staatsoper was a disappointment.
Bryn Terfel had pulled out of the Vienna Ring, to the disappointment of most, however we were delighted with his replacement in Walküre and Siegfried. The Pole, Tomasz Konieczny, was powerful as both Wotan and the Wanderer. In fact, Act 1 of Siegfried with Stefan Vinke as Siegfried and Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperracke as Mime was electrifying. Even the production was cleverly conceived in that Act. Sadly, Petra Lang is no more a Brünnhilde. She did make an epic effort in Götterdämmerung but we would not attend another of her Rings.
From Vienna we returned to Marina Veruda on May 11th. to find Exotica in very good shape having been well cared for by Bole Yacht and she was relaunched on May 12th.
There were a few minor problems, including some leaks in the fresh water system, almost certainly caused by frozen pipes during this particularly cold winter, despite the fact that all the water had been flushed from the system, some patently remained. However, everything else was in order and we were able to set off to the north as planned on Tuesday May 16th.
We had an excellent sail intending to spend the night in Rovinj. Imagine our surprise when arriving in the harbour to discover that the marina had completely disappeared under a building site. Since we needed to get ashore for some provisions we decided to keep going north and finally arrived in Porec, another charming Venetian style coastal town where we found the Restaurant Aba for an excellent meal.
The next day after the usual delays and excursions caused by customs and police for leaving Croatia we made the 57-mile passage across the northern Adriatic again to Venice. It was a delightful day, warm and sunny but with only a light breeze from the north east so we had to assist the sails with the motor. It was mid-afternoon when we arrived in Marina Sant Elena where we propose to stay for a month. This is a quiet marina on the furthest eastern edge of Venice but with very easy access on foot or by ferry to the whole of the city.
During our stay in Venice we are planning a week in Stockholm for yet more Wagner opera, friends to stay on the boat and then sailing through those islands off the Croatian coast which we have not yet explored.