Tag Archives: Landscape

Cami de Cavalls day 18 – Departure day and final thoughts

Saturday 2 October 2021 – We’ve been home for a couple of days, so now that we’ve caught up with the unpacking, washing and ironing, and are starting once more to get used to the rhythms of life at home – which don’t sadly, involve drinking gin every day – I thought I’d reflect on our final day in Menorca, the journey home and any other rambling that occurs to me.

We were due to be taken to the airport by taxi at 1345, which gave us the morning to fill. Although we’d seen pretty much all that Ciutadella had to offer the tourist, it’s such an attractive city that we went wandering round anyway.聽 This was last Thursday, 30th September; when we visited Menorca previously in 2019, October 1 was the date when all the bus services beyond the main route connecting the large towns was suspended, as this was officially Out Of Season.聽 So it was interesting to note, as we walked around in the harbour, that some of the restaurant umbrellas were being jetwashed.

Now, it may be that this is a standard practice for a Thursday, in preparation for the weekend; or it may be that this was an end-of-season activity, preparing to put things away for the winter. We don’t rightly know, but it had a slightly sad valedictory feel to it, somehow.

We carried on wandering around, noting a couple of other quirky artworks.

(The chap with the plunger was connected to a drawing of a pile of TNT.) We’d bought a couple of bottles of the local gin to take home with us, because we know that, unlike much booze that is consumed on holiday in The Foreign, Xoriguer gin travels well.聽 So we complemented it with a purchase of some sobrasada, the local sausage meat which figures prominently in Balearic recipes, particularly tapas. Let’s see if that travels as well, eh?

After a final farewell coffee in Es Pou, it was time to get back to the hotel and await the cab to the airport.聽 From there on, the travels went perfectly smoothly, with the minimum of time wasted standing in a queue waiting for the check-in desk to open.聽 The flight was on time – well done, EasyJet – perfect punctuality for both outward and return journeys and a perfect amount of gin and junk food available for purchase on board – and the UK passport gates seemed to be talking to the other Covid systems so we wafted through the border with no queue at all and without having to show any paperwork beyond our passports.聽 My bag was number 19 on the conveyor, with Jane’s not too far behind,聽the taxi was not only awaiting us but had enough fuel to get us home, and so we entered our front door some 80 minutes after the plane touched down, which was nice.聽 The 15掳C temperature and the steady rain was less so, but it was still good to get home and find it still standing.聽 No-one had raided our cars for fuel, either, which was comforting.

The only fly in the ointment was our Day 2 Covid test back in the UK.聽 We’d booked it and DPD were supposed to deliver it, but failed because their driver (who I’m pretty sure has delivered to us before) got us confused with the nursing home at the end of our track.聽 聽The UK government web pages don’t specify what you’re supposed to do if the test delivery is cocked up. And anyway the rules change on Monday.聽 We’ve both taken Lateral Flow tests (negative) and have a full audit trail of the efforts we’ve been to to get a test delivered in a timely fashion, and I have no idea whether The Men From The Ministry will follow up in any way.聽 We’ll just do the PCR tests assuming that DPD don’t cock up again on Monday, but it was very frustrating.

So, here we are, back home, and here I am on a rainy Saturday in Surrey, with the temperature at 13掳C outside, thinking final thoughts about a memorable 18 days.

  • It’s been a great experience; although we’d recreated the mileage a year ago, it was pleasing to know that we could still take this sort of mileage in our stride.聽 Although we did less vertical ascent than last year, we found this year generally harder going; the heat was one factor and the surface underfoot was another which made this year’s exertion greater.
  • The pattern of the days was different from my original expectations. Like last year’s re-creation, I had hoped to be able to walk about half of each day’s distance, find a hostelry of some sort, have a drink and some lunch and then finish the walk.聽 As it turned out, with only a couple of exceptions, we did all of the walking without breaks of any pith or moment. The heat had a lot to do with that – we wanted to get the walking done before the day got too hot.
  • The exercise emphasised to me what a wonderful thing the human metabolism is.聽 On our longer walks in the UK, ones on which we take water with us, it is not unusual for me to have to dive off into the bushes for a discreet pee.聽 Over a fortnight of walking in the heat, despite taking on a fair bit of water as I walked, not once did I feel the need to relieve myself; and I never got dehydrated, either.聽 My bodily systems just sent the water where it was needed, including as sweat to try to keep me cool.聽 It nearly succeeded in that last. Nearly.
  • One of the great things about this holiday was the fact that we could indulge ourselves with slightly too much to eat and drink (what’s a holiday for if not that?) and not come back half a stone heavier than when we left. Garmin Connect estimates that covering the Cami used up 18,625 calories, which converts to just over 5lb in weight.聽 I have arrived back weighing pretty much the same as when I left the UK.
  • Would we go back to Menorca?聽 Actually, probably not, not at least in the foreseeable future.聽 It’s a lovely place and I’m glad we (a) visited and (b) went back; but we’ve now seen a great deal of what the island has to offer, and there are plenty of other places in the world we haven’t yet been to that I think now have a higher priority (particularly whilst we have our health and mobility).
  • Would we recommend it?聽 Yes.聽 The island’s a delight, the Cami360 team do a great job, and I would unhesitatingly recommend it as a walking holiday, though I think it wouldn’t be wise to undertake it in the heat of August.聽 Apart from anything else, they need tourists – we were quite surprised at how few English voices we heard, and one of our taxi drivers was quite vocal about the excessive number of Spanish tourists that have visited this year.聽 Covid has had quite an impact it would seem.
  • Photography note: I could have taken my Big Camera with me, but didn’t.聽 I trusted that a Samsung Galaxy Note 20 would do a good enough job and it has.聽 I also had a small video camera with me (DJI Pocket 2, since you ask) but I only used it once and actually the phone would have done a pretty good job if necessary. The light was normally perfectly good, there weren’t any tricky wildlife shots or other unusual circumstances where a more capable camera would have been needed, with the one exception of the Cova des Coloms, where I would have liked to have with me a camera that could cope with a bigger range of light.聽 But one photo out of a couple of thousand doesn’t in my mind justify having to lug the extra weight, particularly in that heat.

Here’s a map of where we actually walked. The various colours are assigned by Garmin depending on the speed we walked.

So there we are – another holiday over and another set of blog pages satisfactorily drafted.聽 I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them as much as I have had writing them.聽 There’s still a lot of uncertainty about international travel so our plans for future trips are still somewhat fluid.聽 But I plan to be back among these pages with more photos and commentary and I would be delighted to have your company whenever that happens.

For now, stay well!

 

Cami de Cavalls day 17 (1) – The Rain In Spain

Wednesday 19 September 2021 – Before I get on to any further details of What We Did On Our Holiday, I thought it was worth reporting that both Jane and I were declared free of the dreaded lurgy by the Spanish authorities, which means we are free to leave the country tomorrow. So, we had just one more full day in the delightful city of Ciutadella.

The weather has been lovely these past couple of days – sunshine and not too much humidity.聽 The Met Office forecast for today, though, suggested a 40% chance of a light shower.聽 So when this聽happened

 

 

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it was a bit of a surprise, not least for the hotel.聽 The restaurant is in an open courtyard, and has many umbrellas and suchlike devices for shade; but these were not equal to the task of withstanding this deluge.聽 After the rain stopped, we went to get breakfast and were confronted with scenes of mild chaos.聽 I have a suspicion that the restaurant is a little undermanned (like the hospitality industry everywhere, really), as the staff there always seem to be scurrying to keep up; so when half the tables and chairs were soaked (and, I might add, cornering at speed in the courtyard was a tad perilous), they were really struggling.聽 So we went back to our room for half an hour to let them catch up, and when we went back things were somewhat better, though not completely under control. The practical upshot is that we got our Earl Grey and I got my Marmite, so this, along with our clean bill of health, made for a reasonable start to the day.

Ciutadella is a lovely city;聽 we know this from a previous visit and time here during the Cami walks, and it is the reason we had decided to stay here for a couple of days’ relaxing after our exertions.聽 Actually, this was possibly a very slight tactical error.聽 Yes, it’s lovely, but it’s also quite small, and we’d by now explored most of the easily-accessible nooks and crannies.聽 It might have been a better idea to find somewhere new on the island for these relaxation days so that we had better scope for exploration and discovery. On the other hand, the Can Faustino is a delightfully luxurious hotel, which has been a pleasure to stay at.

We decided to walk around the city some more, and, to give us a sense of purpose, rather than simple aimless wandering, we conceived – and superbly executed – A Mission Of Importance:

but, in discharging this solemn duty we got some more pictures from around the city.聽 Buildings and harbour area are really striking

and there were also some lovely quirky little vignettes, starting with this unusual piece of garage flooring.

There were also some nice instances of street art of various sorts

(actually, I think the last of these is more likely to be an advert for the supermarket round the corner, but let’s give it the benefit of the doubt, eh?)聽 So it was a pleasant walk in sunshine and relative cool – about 25掳C; looking at the weather forecast for Surrey, I think we’re in for a bit of a shock when we get home tomorrow.

Before we headed back to the hotel, we decided to revisit a scene of horror and gruesome memory from our previous visit to the island, two years ago.聽 Then, we were staying in Mah贸n, and took the bus to visit Ciutadella.聽 Very soon after leaving the bus station here to walk into the centre, we happened upon this scene, which I reconstruct for you today.

It was sufficiently photogenic that I thought it would benefit from being just a little above street level to take a photo, so I stepped onto the nearest of the planters you see in the foreground. Imagine my surprise! when instead of supporting my weight and giving me the elevation I had expected, the thing tipped over as I stepped on it with one foot, with the result that its cast iron edge arrived with some force on the big toe of my other foot. It bloody hurt – and I use the adjective advisedly, as we had to find a caf茅 fairly sharply so we could steal handfuls of their paper napkins to stuff into my shoe to stop the blood making even more of a mess of it than it already had. Amazingly, these deadly dangerous devices can still be found lurking all over Ciutadella, lying in wait for other passing unfortunates to victimise, with not a single health and safety warning sticker to be seen.聽 Disgraceful, I call it.

After this opportunity for closure (my toenail has by now just about grown back, thanks for asking), we decided it was time to head back to the hotel and gather ourselves for the evening’s delight – an evening meal in the lovely Moli des Comte building that I first mentioned about a week ago. That’s why I am writing this blog entry now, because I’m likely to be too pissed tired to finish it later.聽 I will report further; I’ll post an update when I can.

Cami de Cavalls day 15 – A Towering Achievement

Monday September 27 2021 – Well, here we are – at the start of the final day of walking around Menorca on the Cami de Cavalls, the horses’ trail. The official distance we had to cover was 18km – the three final stages, 18-20 of the Cami de Cavalls – and for the first time for a while, we had a deadline – 5pm in the Cami360 office in Mah贸n. In the end, we left our studio in Binibequer Vell early, which gave us some time to wander round and take some photos of this amazing, if slightly shabby, place. Rather than bore you with all of them here, I’ve collected them into a Flickr album alongside some others I took a couple of years ago, in case you would like to take a look.

As ever, you can see the route and some photos in a summary video on Relive. I may try to merge the thirteen videos into a single, fascinating, overview. You never know your luck.

Having started out early, we realised that we were going to be on roads for much of the day. This can be a bit dull, but progress is faster; so we knew we had some slack in the schedule. This turned out to be A Good Thing.

Anyhoo, along the road towards the end of the first of today’s stages at Punta Prima, we saw some interesting houses

some interesting pedestrian crossing design

some interesting garden decoration

and some steps,

which, for once, we didn’t have to climb, thank goodness. We passed Cala Torret, which was a lovely jumble of buildings

and presaged its USP, which is a tower – watch tower, and one of several we visited during the day (hence the title).

We walked round the tower and. having spotted the entrance, decided to try the door. It was open, to the amazement not only of us, but of the lady who was inside. It turned out that this tower can be hired (for example as a youth hostel overnight place) and she was cleaning it. She actually let us go up the tower and have a look from the top, which was wonderful.

We had a great view of the Punta Prima lighthouse

and over Punta Prima to the next Tower on our route,

and down the spiral stairs! She was really delightful in giving us a lovely moment of serendipity on our final day.

We carried on around the coast towards the next town, bidding farewell to Punta Prima and its lighthouse

and its beautifully colourful coves

and, via a stop for coffee and extra breakfast which also marked the end of this short stage of the Cami

moved on to the next stage, stage 19. We actually left the road for a trail

which led past a Mystery Object

and what we think are the foundations of some military buildings once related to the tower

but, I’ll be honest, we’re guessing on that last bit. The path ran parallel to the road, across which were some buildings which looked to me like the sort of thing American architects would create as being their version of what a Spanish Villa should look like.

They looked more like something one would see in Florida rather than in Spain. Nice, but slightly out of place, somehow. The road led on, as these things often do, to the next town, and, in this case, the next tower.

This stands guard over the town of Alcalfar, which is stunningly photogenic.

We walked into and round it, past possibly the local version of Stamford Bridge.

The track beyond the town went past a magnificent bloomer

which Jane identified as Port St. John Creeper. Just thought you’d like to know. And we found another wild tortoise!

The track continued between drystone walls

past some handsome buildings

and finally led to my road

which was to lead to my cove. However, on the way there, we passed a couple of unusual things: a line of palm trees, unfortunately behind heavy gates so I couldn’t take a really satisfying picture of them (and neither, by the way, could any of group of 15 German tourists with whom we were by now entangled);

another watchtower, the Torre d’en Penjat,

which was still sufficiently fortified that, after ten minutes of unsuccessfully trying to get near it, we gave up and moved on (but the Germans didn’t; it looked like they’d found a way in, but our schedule was calling us on by this stage); and some great views of the fortifications which guard the entrance to Mah贸n’s extensive harbour.

So we walked down into my cove, the Cala St. Esteve, which is very pretty,

and which is the end of Stage 19, and hence the start of the final Stage of the Cami, no. 20.

This stage starts with a little bit of track, but it soon turns into road for the rest of the trail into Mah贸n. There are only four posts marking this first part of the stage, which means that post no. 4

is….wait for it….The Last Post. Thank you. Thank you for reading my joke.

The Cami from this point simply follows the main road into Mah贸n, which is a bit dull, even if you get an interesting view back to the palm trees,

but we had a small diversion planned, which was to end up by the water in a cove called Cales Fonts, which is achingly pretty

but which also – and this is important – features a place to stop for lunch called Dinkums; we knew about it because it had rescued a hot and sweaty walk two years previously. So we treated ourselves to lunch there, and it turned out our timing was spot on. As we were ready to leave, the group of 15 Germans turned up and sat themselves down – great for business, but something of a strain on the bandwidth of the waiting staff and probably the chef, too.

The reason we needed to leave was another piece of serendipity, as we had to get to Mah贸n, and specifically the finish of the Cami, to meet someone we’d never met before – a chap called Ian Burley, whose acquaintance I’d made online when he started following this blog and my Instagram posts about the Cami, because he was about to undertake the trail himself. You can see his Instagram posts about the Cami and other stuff here.

He started the circuit from Ciutadella a day after we’d passed through, but, being younger, fitter and much more experienced at hiking than us, was doing the whole thing in ten days, as opposed to the wimpy thirteen we’ve been taking. It turned out that he’d overtaken us in Binibequer Vell and had already reached Mah贸n. So, the miracle of technology and the internet meant that we could arrange to actually meet in person, rather than simply exchanging likes on social media.

So we hit the road, passing through Es Castell and its military buildings

and ignored the main road into Mah贸n, which was the formal Cami trail, in favour of the old road, which kept us away from the boring old traffic for a while.

But then we had to finish the route on the main road, passing the end of the harbour

and arriving into the town.

The Cami route passes along my favourite road in Mah贸n, the Calle Es Castell, with the trees along its centre (see the post at the start of this series), and we ended up having coffee and beer with Ian near the Tre Cavalli (Three Horses) statue where our trek had started, 13 days ago.

It was a pleasure to meet Ian – actually meeting him IRL is a great example of the good things the internet can do. He’s a very keen traveller, kayaker and hiker and you can read about his peregrinations on his blog.

For us, though, all that was left for the day was to get to the Cami360 office to pick up our baggage and our congratulatory tee shirts, and to say “thank you” to the Cami360 guys and girls who had done such a good job of keeping everything together for us – and the other several dozen groups they are supporting. Their last act of kindness was to organise a cab to take us to Ciutadella. As I type this, I am sitting in the dusk outside the lovely and superbly luxurious Can Faustino hotel, where we can relax for the next couple of days, enjoying the delights of the city – and getting ourselves Covid tested so that we’ll (hopefully) be allowed back into the UK on Thursday.

According to Garmin, we covered 15 miles today, so our total mileage for the trail has been 145 in 13 days. I suspect this is somewhat overblown; I’ll do some more detailed analysis in due course and report back.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these pages as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them. I will post a couple more updates over the next couple of days about our time in the city and the experience of getting Covid tested and getting (I hope) back into the UK, and I’ll include those detailed stats about our fortnight’s walking; but for the moment, this marks the end of the long trek round Menorca, the Cami de Cavalls. We’ve had a blast!