Impressions of Menorca No. 2

Hey there!

We thought it was time for a challenge, so we planned on travelling across the island in one day, spending a few days in the western part of Menorca (near Ciutadella) and eventually cycling back to the capital Maó one day prior to our departure.

Rocky Road
What a plan!

https://goo.gl/Q2gwGj

But this... this was our return route. On the way to Ciutadella we biked along the southern coast. 

We started our journey at 10 am - we thought if we headed off this early, we would have a few hours of the day left to explore the surroundings of our accomodation in Cala Blanca (we were wrong!).

One of the bikes and our baggage
From Maó we headed to Cala en Porter. First we cycled on the motorway, next to friendly car drivers, who always left sufficient space for us to ride our bikes. After a while we turned off the motorway and onto a narrow rural road leading us downward through the hills past orchards and eventually onto a more challenging stoney path. From the first cove onwards we only travelled along the sea. Which was extremely beautiful and impressive, however it was also extremely challenging and energy/time-consuming.




We passed numerous gates made of olive wood, lots of flowers, some orchards and magnificent coves and beaches.


The Bay of Son Bou

Along the way we once lost a few belongings (luckily a friendly kindergarten group picked them up and gave them to us in the neighbouring bay) and had to constantly motivate ourselves to keep on cycling. By the way - we had never done a mountain bike tour before, so we were absolute beginners travelling with mountain bikes. At times it was very steep, as you can see in the photo.


We only travelled with small backpacks and a camera - to save the extra fee on the plane and because we wouldn't have been able to do such a tour with a suitcase anyway - which is another point for the disadvantages of excess baggage.

When we arrived at Son Bou, we had to push our bikes through sand, as we were too lazy to take a detour inland, which made us very tired. But the view definitely made up for the tiredness.



After the sandy part, we cycled a while through the colder forest. It was great to move forward in the shade, since we had been in the blazing sun for more than 6 hours.
Also we thought it was beautiful to see so many different faces of Menorca. We had seen a rocky landscape, agricultural areas, dunes, beaches and forests when we finished the tour.


At one point we got lost.

This is the last photo we took at 6.38 pm. After that all we wanted was to arrive at Cala Blanca, where we would be staying for the next few days.


We had been cycling through the forest for a while and our GPS track told us to keep cycling. We ended up at a lonely beach; no road or civilisation in sight. Our "trustful" track meant to lead us to a path that started a few feet up the cliff line - impossible to reach for us, especially with our MTBs.

That was the breaking point. 

I thought for a few seconds I would most likely die there, since we didn't have any signal, battery nor a few drops of water. (Have you seen the film Into the Wild? If not, watch it and you'll understand.)

However we kept on trying; back up the hill where we came from and through the forest again; somehow westward.

Miraculously we eventually arrived in Cala Galdana (not our final destination) at 9 or 10 pm. The sun had already set, we were hungry and wondered where we could sleep. 
We couldn't possibly keep on cycling, as we didn't have lights attached to our bikes and our energy level was close to zero as well.

The only solution was to be picked up by a taxi. We were really lucky in the end, because our driver knew how to demount bikes making it easy to fit them in the boot of the car. 

At 11 pm we arrived at our accomodation, drank lots of water and fell onto the most comfortable bed on earth.

More to come!

Steph (still owning the travel bug, despite this adventurous day)

Impressions of Menorca No. 1

Hey there!

So I thought I should share some photos and write a blog post series about my visit to the beautiful island Menorca during my mid-semester break in May.


Menorca is part of the Balearic Islands - consisting of Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera -which are all located in the Mediterranean Sea, a few hundred kilometres south of Barcelona, Spain.
https://goo.gl/v2ccPX
The name Menorca means "the smaller one". This becomes obvious when comparing it with Mallorca, which is approx. 3 times larger than Menorca - and therefore a lot busier. 
Menorca is calmer (span.: tranquilo), more authentic than its neighbouring islands and less touristy.

The entire island is listed as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve including its coasts and marine systems surrounding it and Menorca's habitants put a lot of effort in reserving their island as it is/was.
Moreover a huge national park can be found in the northeastern part of Menorca. 

Unfortunately during my stay I didn't make it to the national park, since my travel partner and I didn't have a car to drive around.

- BUT, we did get around the island with mountain bikes we rented in the capital of Menorca, Maó.

On the first day - after we arrived - we hiked from the airport to Maó to save the transport cost and to gain a first few impressions of Menorca. 

Along the way we saw some sheep, beautiful flowers, a cathedral and great empty fields.
















Maó is situated along one of largest natural harbours. Its historic centre sits upon a hill overlooking the water. When walking around the city, the English influence (18th century) can be noticed through specific design techniques (windows, doors, etc.).


















But also the Moorish architecture (Spain was influenced and conquered by the Moors between approx. 700 - 1490) can be seen in Maó. The Alhambra in Andalusia is another example for the influence of the Moors in Spain.


During the day we walked around the city, went out for dinner to try some typical tapas and had some fresh fruit.



There's more to come!
Steph

The Spanish dinner

Hey there!

Fourth stop: Spain



Retrieved from: https://www.weltkarte.com/europa/spanien/spanienkarte.htm
This month's international dinner was dedicated to Spain.
The Spanish cuisine is primarily made up of dishes including fish, seafood, different spices and delicious ham or meat.

In Spain people tend to have a small breakfast, then have lunch around midday and that's it for a while. They might have a small snack in between, but the main meal of the day is prepared in the evening. In contrast to Germany the southern countries of Europe, such as France, Spain or Italy will cook a warm dish not earlier than 8pm - simply because it is too warm during the day to have a hot meal.

Of course I can't speak for every habitant of southern Europe, but this is what I've heard from my friend with a huge affinity for Italy.
Also when I took part in an exchange with an Andalusian (southern Spain) school during my high school time, this was what I experienced.

In Andalusia, in Seville, my host family took me out to have traditional tapas in a restaurant.
If you ever set foot on Spanish ground, do try as many of them as you can.

But what are tapas?

Well, tapas are a wide variety of different appetizers - either hot or cold. They can be combined as a full meal or just eaten as a small snack. They are often served in small bowls or on ceramic plates and with a bottle of red wine (preferably from a Spanish wine region).


So we thought we should give it a try and compose a Spanish meal made up of different tapas.

For our Spanish dinner we prepared the following tapas:





Cooked capsicum with almonds and honey





Albóndigas 
(Meatballs with tomato sauce)





Olives


Papas arrugadas (wrinkly, salty potatoes)

Mojo Rojo (spicy red sauce; consisting of olive oil, garlic, capsicum, paprika powder, etc.)

Mojo Verde (less spicy green sauce; consisting of fresh parsley and other ingredients like Mojo Rojo)



Tomato and eggplant dip





Peppers filled with cream cheese





Roasted mushrooms







Jamón serrano 
(Serrano ham)







Stuffed mushrooms

Roasted chicken liver with sherry

Tortilla española (Spanish omelette made up of potatoes, onions and eggs)

Chorizo al vino (Spanish sausage roasted with red wine)


For dessert we had

Crema catalana

And now it's your turn! Be creative and make up your own individual tapas meal.

¡Que aproveche! (Enjoy your meal!)

Steph