Monday 22 May 2017

Tortoises, or nightingales? Running in Menorca

That was the question we asked ourselves as we shut the door behind us each morning to go for our dawn runs.  Should we run north along the Cami de Cavalls where wild tortoises would likely stop us in our tracks?
Wild tortoise   (Click to enlarge pictures)
Or run west to be serenaded by illusive nightingales as they skulked in the leafy trees to blast out their beautiful songs?  Nightingales won 8 times out of 12.
Intruders on the nightingale run
We were once again at the Xuroy in Menorca where I'd celebrate my 85th birthday in relative quiet.

I hate parties and celebrations, unsociable creature that I am, so prefer to get away from it all where no such things can happen.  I'm not too keen on birthdays either but prefer them to the alternative.
Returning from a tortoise run
As on a previous visit we were first to arrive at the hotel, which opens May to October, and the staff hadn't quite got their act together.  We'd been promised a room facing west, overlooking the pool, but were allocated one on the ground floor.  Boss man was called and we got the room we wanted.
The Xuroy with its feet in the sea
The coffee machine growled and refused to part with anything, but the waiter obliged us (regulars) with cappuccinos from the bar/restaurant downstairs.  The toaster was ridiculously slow which resulted in queues as more guests arrived.  Queues blocked access to plates and cutlery which were tucked away beneath the toaster and coffee machine.  As items of food ran out they weren't being replaced fast enough.  My wicked sense of humour had a field day watching fraught expressions and listening to choice language.  Things ran more smoothly during our second week.  A little...
Setting out on my birthday run...
We'd some cracking weather, no rain, temperatures mainly in the high 70's with just a couple of cooler days. the Tower
Unfortunately my birthday coincided with one of those cool, cloudier days but was still warm enough for a celebratory run and a swim in the pool.
Then a refreshing swim to cool off
It felt really good to be running the old trails again.  Jagged and pitted limestone isn't every runner's favourite terrain but it suits us fine and we were out running it on all but two of our fourteen mornings.  Road running is not for us.
Returning from Punta Prima
All our nightingale runs finished with a rocky diversion to the elevated Martello Tower.  Swifts screamed around us as we stopped for a brief rest to feast our eyes on the wonderful views of Alcaufar and a lighthouse on the uninhabited island of Isla del Aire.  We were told the island is home to a particular species of lizard and a large population of rabbits.
Looking across to distant Isla del Aire, and lighthouse, from the Tower
In addition we walked many miles on every day bar one.  Some were linear walks when we'd catch the bus to Mahon or San Lluis and walk back by some picturesque route lined with flowers and aromatic herbs, ringing with birdsong and afloat with butterflies..
Cala de Sant Esteve - on a walk back from Mahon
We did exploratory walks to archaeological sites, the main one being Poblat d'en Galmes that dates back to 1400 BC.
T - shaped taula at Binissafullet
It covers a vast area with T-shaped taulas, tall talayots, ancient burial chambers, underground food/water storage holes, etc., all on a scale that is absolutely mind blowing.
This was all part of someones house at Poblat d'en Galmes!
How those ancient people could move, shape and erect those tons of stone, or excavate vast underground chambers, is beyond comprehension.
At Poblat d'en Galmes.  How did they lift those stones?
Having bought a book listing 'Flowers of Menorca' we went in search of the hundreds featured within its pages.  Either descriptions weren't very good or the many we discovered on the ground hadn't yet been catalogued.  We considered taking the book back and asking for a refund!
Flower hunt in a wild garden
We revisited the hidden gem of Cala Rafalet, a rocky deep sea inlet with crystal clear water that belies its depth.  Our intention of going back with swimming costumes later in the week somehow got lost under the welter of other plans.
Cala de Rafalet
Fornells is a beautiful little fishing village to the north of the island full of white painted houses and a harbour bobbing with white boats on a turquoise sea. It's also a favourite haunt of windsurfers and kayakers.
Harbour at Fornells
Lobsters are a speciality, apparently much enjoyed by the King of Spain on his rare visits, but nowadays a very expensive luxury.  We gave them a miss when the menu priced them at 65 euros, ordered two cappuccinos then shared an apple while waiting for a bus back to Mahon.  We're from Yorkshire!
On the rocks
But we'd enjoyed our walk to the lighthouse and a defence tower high above the town.  We basked on the rocks as the sun blazed down on us.
Girl afloat
Far below on the clear, green sea a girl dreamed away the day in her dinghy floating idly on the tide.
Goats on the rocks - or marauding people's gardens if gates were left open!
Menorca is a magical island and every day we spent there was magical too. I love the little lizards that scamper in and out of the walls, birds of prey riding the thermals, butterflies that refuse to be photographed, cushions of bright flowers that flourish in the barren earth and the wild tortoises mooching among them, the Titian skies and turquoise seas.
Early morning.  Casting a long shadow
But a memory of which I am most fond is of one evening when sunset had left a rosy afterglow cresting the trees beyond the pool. I sat on our balcony in the gathering dark, bare feet on the warm tiles, bare arms and a glass of rich red wine to hand, listening to nightingales.
 I treasure that.  


  1. Bare Feet on the warm tiles, bare arms and a glass of rich red wine to hand... that is going to have to wait till September! while the days are sill sunny (drought in Cape Town) the nights are cold, and we wait for rain so we can sit by the indoor fire!
    your holiday sounds lovely and I long for one myself!

    Happy Birthday young (at heart) man

  2. It was indeed a lovely holiday Coach, and Thankyou for your good wishes for my 85th. Though you may have to wait a while for warm sunshine I suspect the red wines will be ongoing? Keep on running.....

  3. Your holiday looks and sounds lovely.
    That last memory is to cherish ...

    Belated Happy Birthday Wishes

    All the best Jan

    1. Thanks Jan. Enjoy the Spring Bank holiday. Cheers!

  4. Wow you are looking well for your age.

    1. Thanks Gordon, reckon I must have some good genes. Cheers!