gr 223

GR223 MENORCA: 10/11th OCTOBER

It was nearly dark as I followed the track between resorts across rock and scrub looking for someplace to pitch my tent. At the southwesern tip of the island with the lighthouse of Cap d’Artrutz flashing at me I made do with a flat patch of rock beside a civil war gun emplacement. I figured if the forecast rain happened and the 15€ Aldi tent didn’t stand up to it I could hunker down in the bunker.  

 In the morning I was still dry but clouds were brewing.  

   The last leg up the west coast was a cliff top hike across lumpy limestone, once I’d cleared the holiday hotels and lighthouse.  

   I passed the nodding seed heads that had greeted me on my first day on the trail and another ageless stone shelter with its gravity defying roof construction.  

     

Before I knew it I was in Ciutadella. At the ferry port there was a boat due to leave in 20 mins but I was too late to buy a ticket apparently so I had a day meandering the narrow city streets probably clocking up as many km as I would on the trail. It was photogenic though so forgive me any overexposure.  

                             I was puzzled by this completely walled in boat.  

 

The sun was shining again so before my ferry left I had a final swim with the fishes from the little city beach.  

   

Back in Port Alcudia the shining morning sun slowly drew out the beach goers.  

     Walking to the bus I reflected that you can look all day for a phone box and then along come 5 at a time.  

 Driving in an hour past the mountain range it had taken me 8 days to hike I got to Palma where my funky and busy hostel was smack in the middle of the old quarter.  

 I dumped my rucksack and floated off 12kg lighter to explore. Again the street scenes demanded recording so bare with me.  

               The cathedral by the way was 400years in the making, started after the re conquest from the Muslims on the site of the mosque. Gaudi did a load of stuff for a finish. The rose window is the largest in Europe I think but unfortunately being Sunday the cathedral was shut (?) so I didn’t get me admire the multitude of stained glass.  

         

It struck me again how wealthy and sophisticated this island is, particularly compared to its neighbour Menorca. Even the ice cream parlours are pure class.  

 And the lap dogs have carriages.  

 

I walked down to the marina to be a voyeur on an alien life form and lifestyle. Who are these people? 

   Raoul was “entertaining” in full view of us rubbernecking tourists but didn’t seem to be pulling to me.  

 Sated by the boat porn I returned to the normality of a 6 bed dorm in a back street hostel to prepare for re entry. 

For I decided to postpone the remaining 2 Spanish islands (actually I’m sure I can find more) for another time. I’ve been a deserter from the Homefront for long enough and I’ll be flying to Ireland in the morning. 

These two routes have been good. I missed out the highest and possibly the best of the Mallorcan route due to weather conditions and missed out the worst of the Menorcan route due to time constraints but both were special and recommended. But there’s no place like home.  

 

                      I’m outta here. 

  

Ps  Stay tuned for more adventures in December  and I’d love to know who is the avid reader in Italy  

GR223 MENORCA: 8/9th OCTOBER 

Two of the best days hiking so far have brought me along the south coast of this surprisingly unspoilt island. The south is easier going than the rugged north and thankfully flatter. 

After leaving the monumental stones of Torre d’en Galmes to their timeless slumber I retraced my steps to the Cami de Cavalls and wove my way through the wild olives ( of which there are thousands but no cultivated ones ?) pines and juniper.  The track was blocked in places by tree fall from last weeks storm. 

      There is a gin distillery on the island, a hangover (!) from the British colonial days but I read they import the juniper berries as there are none on the island. The way went passed white limestone cliffs sporting brave little trees starting out on a tough life, and down to a little cove at Caleta Llucalari.  

     

Then came the shock of civilisation.  

 Now that’s what I call sensitive development. To be fair it’s few and far between and after walking nearly all the way around the coast I’ve been pleasantly surprised how little of it has been touched at all. It could be down to the fact that MENORCA was the last province to hold out against Franco and so was left out of any tourism development money during the 60’s and after. 

Anyway the holiday villas have some lovely floral displays, sometimes getting out of hand.  

   Some buildings have features you couldn’t get away with in the rain sodden North.  

 Some developments never made it.  

 And some you might wish hadn’t. I wonder what the Irish Republican boys would think of their flag flying with this lot.  

 Still I was soon off down the trail with other oiled up sun seekers 

 into a pastoral countryside of white cows and white birds, black horses and white birds and reed rich wetlands.  

       The coast featured many islets and many walkers ambling between resorts.  

   And as this Camino was originally for horse riders unsurprising to find them also.  

 More development at Sant Tomas and then the wilds again.  

     At this point the Cami de Cavalls heads inland but an alternative route sticks to the coast and passed beaches I didn’t want to miss. A lovely cliff top path through pines and over jagged limestone.  

       There were steps and cave houses cut into the rock.  

     And interesting remains of former lives trapped in the stone.  

   The boating crowd found safe anchorage.  

 Then came adventure. I got to Cala Trebaluger where my guide mentioned a river crossing. It wasn’t as I imagined.  

 After watching a couple strip off and wade neck deep across the channel I was wary. My phone could get wet. Everything else, down bag, tent, clothes, food, clothes etc could also end up in the sea. It was a Bear Gyrils moment. Channeling my inner Ray Mears I stripped off stuffing everything in bags, in bags, in waterproof sacks. Hoisting my 12kilo rucksack on my head I gingerly followed the route across indicated by my fellow intrepid adventurers. It got tricky on the last leg across the deepest dip but luckily they were there on the rocks to release me of my load and I scrambled ignominious and naked up to join them. We can be heroes. 

No way horses could follow.  

 So off through the woods again to find a place to camp. I thought the next beach, Cala Mitjana, might be nice and so it was.  

 I found myself a sheltered hut set amongst civil war defences and an old limestone quarry overlooking the beach.  

       As I settled in about 15 kayaks paddled in and set up camp for the night. So much for the 4000€ fine for camping.  

 A nice night spent listening to the lapping and flapping of water on the rocks. 

More pine woods in the morning led to the resort of Santa Galdana a 5 hour walk from my destination for the day at Cala en Bosch on the southwestern tip of Menorca.  

   One feature of the domestic buildings on Menorca I hadn’t seen before are the zigzag tile downpipes.  

 I was tempted to swim here as there were beachside showers but it wasn’t hot enough so after a cafe con leche and wifi chat with home I headed off into more pine woods on a wide track and long and winding steps to a succession of beautiful access free beaches.  

         Some rocky stretches and interesting scat for the admitted minority interested in such things.  

   I came to what I knew was the last nice isolated beach on my trip so had to don the goggles one more time.  

   Refreshing. 

There were a lot of civil war emplacements in the following stretch that I explored as well as some much older structures.  

       

I met up with Birgit again on her journey in the opposite direction. It’s amazing how after meeting briefly once fellow travellers can seem like old friends. May the road rise to meet you Birgit. 

Speaking of fellow travellers, I came across the cave/ house mentioned by Olof back in Cala Morell but it was too early to consider staying there and also too busy with tourists.  

     A little later the sights and sounds of the resort of Son Xoriguer drew me to the bar where I write this. Tomorrow is an easy 4 or 5 hours back to Ciutadella where I started this odyssey. 

But now I have to find somewhere in resortville where a man and tent may go unnoticed.