Menorca, the SetMeravelles.

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During the Puente de Mayo holiday, I had the opportunity to visit Menorca, the only Balearic Island I hadn’t been to. Now, the entire island is a meravella itself, so it was hard to narrow it down to seven. However, I decided to focus on the ones I was able to see, as quite a few coves have yet to be discovered. Menorca is the second largest of the islands. Durante el Puente de Mayo, tenía la oportunidad de visitar Menorca, la única Isla Balear donde no había estado. He de decir que todo la isla es una meravella, entonces, fue difícil elegir solo siete sitios. He decidido enfocar en los sitios que visité, como hay muchas calas que tendré que visitar en el futuro. Menorca es la segunda isla de las Baleares. 

Menorca Setmeravelles.

1. Punta Prima/Ille de l’Aire

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Punta Prima is a beach pertaining to Sant Lluís (population 7449) on the southeastern point of Menorca with beautiful views of the nearby Illa de l’Aire. Very few people are allowed to set foot on the island to protect the habitat of lizards and other animals. It does have a lighthouse though. Punta Prima es una playa que pertenece a Sant Lluís (población 7449) en el punto sureste de Menorca con vistas preciosas de la cercana Illa de l’Aire. Muy pocos puede pisar la isla para proteger el hábitat de los lagartos y otros animals que viven allí. Hay un faro. 

2. Favàritx

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Favàtrix is a lighthouse on the northeast of Menorca that is one of the most photographed places of the island. The area around it appears to be the moon, and the waves dramatically crash against the shore. Favàtrix es un faro en el noreste de Menorca que es uno de los sitios más fotografiados de la isla. La zona parece ser de la luna, y las olas chocan dramáticamente en la orilla. 

3. Cap d’Artrutx

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Artrutx is another cape with a famous lighthouse and is located on the southwest of the island. I saw it right before the skies opened up to pour down rain. The lighthouse was built in 1859 and is 45 metres high. It can be visited when the café/restaurant is open. Artrutx es otro cabo con un faro famoso y está ubicado en el suroeste de la isla. Lo vi justo antes de caer un diluvio. El faro fue construido en 1859 y tiene una altura de 45 metros. Se puede vistar cuando el café-restaurante está abierto. 

4. Cala en Turqueta

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The cove on the southwest side of the island is one of the most visited beaches on the island, but it’s sort of a hike to get to. La cala ubicado en el suroeste de la isla es una de las más visitadas en la isla, pero hay que caminar un poco para llegar. 

5. Port de Ciutadella

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Ciutadella, the second largest city on the island with a population of 29,160, has a beautiful port to walk at sunset. On clear days, Mallorca is easily seen from the Castell Sant Nicolau. Ciutadella, la segunda ciudad de la isla con una población de 29.160, tiene un puerto bonito que es precioso pasear durante el atardecer. Si el día está despejado, se puede ver Mallorca desde el Castell Sant Nicolau. 

6. Port de Maó/Mahón 

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Maó (in Spanish Mahón), the capital of the island, home of mayonnaise, with a population of 29,495, has a 5 km (3.1 mile) long natural port. It’s also another great place to watch a sunset, a running theme of the island. Maó (en castellano, Mahón), la capital de la isla y el hogar de mayonesa, con una población de 29.495 personas, tiene un puerto natural de 5 kilómetros. Es otro buen sitio para ver el atardecer, algo que es muy común en la isla. 

7. Naveta d’es Tudons

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Near Ciutadella is the Naveta d’es Tudons, a megalithic chamber tomb that dates back to 1200 B.C. and was abandoned in 750 B.C. Situado cerca de Ciutadella, la Naveta d’es Tudons es una tumba megalítico construida sobre 1200 a.C y fue abandonada en 750 a.C. 

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Puente en Menorca. Parte II.

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(You can read Part 1 herePuedes leer Parte I aquí.)

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Sunday morning, I awoke to grey skies. I had breakfast in a nearby bar after checking out, and then I sent off to to the Cap d’Artrutx and its lighthouse. I think the grey skies actually made it more dramatic. I stopped at an open supermarket for water and set off to Cala en Turqueta. Domingo, me desperté a cielos grises. Desayuné en un bar cercano después de hacer check-out, y fui hasta el Cap d’Artrutx y su faro. Creo que los nubes lo hizo aún más dramático. Paré en un supermercado que estaba abierto para comprar agua y fui hasta Cala en Turqueta. 

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Most of the drive was in pounding rain. It stopped for a few minutes as I parked the car. I still had about 10 minutes to walk, and the rain held off for the most part until I arrived back to the car. The cala was beautiful, and I can only imagine how beautiful the cove would be with sunny skies. Hice el viaje en un diluvio. La lluvia paró durante unos mientos mientras aparqué el coche. La cala estaba a 10 minutos a pie del aparcamiento, y la lluvia cesó hasta qué volví al coche. La cala era preciosa, y me imagino que sería aún más bonito en un día asoleado. 

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The rain had more or less stopped by the time I reached Ferreries. I had wanted to stop at Santa Agueda to see the castle ruins, but there was no parking so I continued on to the village of 4699 residents. The rain picked up again but had stopped for good by the time I finished my café con leche and ensaimada. Cuando llegué a Ferreries, la lluvia había parado más o menos. Quería parar en Santa Agueda para ver las ruinas del castillo, pero no había aparcamiento suficiente y seguí hasta el pueblo de 4699 habitantes. Empezó a llover otra vez más, pero mientras tomaba un café con leche y ensaimada, la lluvia había parado por el día. 

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I continued on to Favàtrix and its lighthouse. Again, the cloudy skies made the scenes more dramatic, and the weather hadn’t deterred anyone, as I saw more tourists here than anywhere else on the island. The landcape was beautiful though. I parked about a kilometre away, but people drove closer and were ignoring the “no pasar-no passar-do not pass” signs. C’mon. Continuí hasta Favàtrix y su faro. Otra vez, los nubes hicieron las escenas más dramáticas, y el mal tiempo no paró a nadie. Vi más turistas aquí que en cualquier otro sitio de la isla. El paisaje era precioso. Aparqué a uno kilómetro del faro, pero había gente que aparcaron más cerca y ignoran los señales de “no pasar-no passar-do not pass.” Venga. 

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I then went on to Sant Lluis where I had lunch. I didn’t find any parking, so I drove past the village looking for other places to eat and ended up back in Sant Lluis and parked not-so-legally in the car park. Other people had done it too so I didn’t feel too bad. When in Rome. Después fui a Sant Lluis donde comí. No había aparcamiento y seguí conduciendo para buscar un restaurante y al final volví a Sant Lluis y aparqué en el parking aunque en un sitio que no era muy legal. Había otros coches y por eso no me sabía tan mal. Cuando en Roma…

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My last stop before returning the car to the Maó Airport was Punta Prima. The views of the Illa de l’Aire were incredible, especially since the sun had decided to make an appearance. La última parada antes de devolver el coche al Aeropuerto de Maó era Punta Prima. Las vistas de la Illa de l’Aire eran impresionantes, especialmente cuando salió el sol. 

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I returned the car and caught a taxi to the hotel in Maó for my last night. The capital city of 29,125 was spectacular. I explored the town on foot before watching the sun set over the port and making sure my dinner included mayonnaise, which was first produced in Maó. Devolví el coche y cogí un taxi hasta el hotel en Maó para mi último noche en la isla. La capital de 29.125 personas era espectacular. Exploré el pueblo a pie antes de ver la puesta del sol por el puerto. Tenía que cenar algo con mayonesa porque se lo produjo por la primera vez en Maó. 

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Monday morning, before leaving, I went to Es Castell, population 7692, a 15 minute bus ride from Maó. It was another quaint village with a nice port. Lunes, antes de irme, fui a Es Castell, población 7692. El autobús tardó unos 15 minutos desde Maó. Era otro pueblo pintoresco con un puerto bonito. 

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I had lunch with views of the port before heading to the airport, extremly sad to bid adieu to the island. Comí con vistas del puerto antes de ir al aeropuerto, bastante triste para decir adiós a la isla. 

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I hope one day I can hike the Camí de Cavalles…and it was a fins aviat, not an adéuEspero poder hacer el Camí de Cavalles algun día…y que fue un fins aviat y no un adéu. 

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Puente en Menorca, Parte I.

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Menorca is probably the least famous of the four major Balearic Islands. Everyone knows Ibiza and Mallorca, and Formentera’s beaches and proximity to Ibiza also make it popular. I’ve been wanting to explore Menorca for quite some time, and when I found a 50€ return ticket (including priority boarding) from València on a bank holiday weekend, I jumped at the opportunity. Menorca quizá es la isla menos conocida de las cuatro Islas Baleares principales. Todo el mundo conoce Ibiza y Mallorca, y las playas de Formentera y su proximidad a Ibiza también da fama a esta isla. He querido explorar Menorca durante mucho tiempo, y cuando encontré un billete de ida y vuelta por solo 50€ (incluyendo prioridad de RyanAir), de València durante un puente, aproveché la oportunidad. 

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Menorca is the second largest of the islands and was once a British possession. In 2010, the population was 94,383. The capital and largest city is Maó (Mahón in Spanish), population 29,321 and is the home of mayonnaise. The island is only 47 km long and 17 km wide (or 29 miles long and 10 miles wide), making it perfect to hire a car for the weekend. Menorca es la segunda isla en tamaño y perteneció a Reino Unido durante unos años. En 2010, tenía un población de 94.383 personas. La capital y ciudad más grande es Maó (Mahón en español), población 29.321, y es donde hicieron mayonesa por la primera vez. La isla solo tiene un longitud de 47 kilómetros y anchura de 17 kilómetros. Por eso, es buena idea de alquiler un coche por el fin de semana para explorar. 

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I arrived to the Maó airport around 16:30 and caught the courtesy van to the car hire agency. I was on the road by 17:15. My first stop was Alaior, a village of 8671 people 12 kilometres from Maó. Free parking (lots of free parking during this time of year at least) so I explored the town and tried a pastry called “media luna” (half moon) that was delicious. Llegué al aeropuerto de Maó sobre las 16:30 y cogí la furgoneta de cortesía hasta la agencia de aquiler coches. Estaba en marcha a las 17.15. La primera parada fue Alaior, un pueblo de 8671 personas situado a 12 kilómetros de Maó. Había aparcamiento gratis (había mucho parking gratis durante esta época del año). Exploré el pueblo y probé un pastel, “media luna”, que estaba rico. 

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I continued on to Ciutadella, stopping at a scenic point which wasn’t so scenic with the sun in my eyes. Ah well. I arrived to my hotel around 19:15, dropped my luggage and car off and went exploring on foot. I ended up walking out to the “Castle” San Nicolas along the port of Ciutadella at sunset, enjoying every minute of it. Seguí hasta Ciutadella, y paré por el camino para ver una vista panorámica que no era tan bonita con el sol en mis ojos. Bueno. Llegué al hotel sobre las 19.15, dejé el equipaje y el coche y fui a explorar a pie. Caminé hasta el “Castillo” San Nicolas por el puerto a la hora de atardecer, y lo disfruté mucho. 

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I had tapas and vino at a restaurant in the city centre and got some much-needed rest. Cené tapas y vino en un restaurante por el centro y dormí bastante (tenía insomnio la semana anterior). 

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Saturday morning, I awoke, had breakfast in the hotel restaurant before getting in the car and starting my day. The first stop was at Naveta d’Es Tudons, a megalithic tomb dating back to nearly 2000 BC. Sábado por la mañana, me desperté, desayuné en el restaurante del hotel antes de ir al coche para empezar el día. La primera parada era Naveta d’Es Tudons, una tumba megalítica construida sobre el año 2000 a.C. 

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I continued on to Es Mercadal, a village of 5396 residents in the centre of the island. After exploring a bit, looking for a suitable café to try an ensaimada, the typical Balearic pastry, my intention was to climb the El Toro mountain, the highest mountain on the island with an elevation of 342 metres (1,122 feet). This isn’t the Himalayas. I thought there would be another parking next to the trail, and I thought wrong. Before I knew it, I had driven to the summit. Ah well. La próxima parada era Es Mercadal, un pueblo de 5396 habitantes en el centro de la isla. Después de explorar un rato, buscando un buen café para probar una ensaimada, el pastel típico de las Baleares, la intención fue subir el monte El Toro, el monte más alto de la isla con una elevación de 342 metros. No es las Himalaya. Pensaba que iba a tener un parking a lado del sendero y pensé mal. Estaba en el cima enseguida. Pero bueno. Es lo que hay. 

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The mountain is home to the Verge del Toro sanctuary. El Toro comes from “turo”, which is “hill” in menorquí (in standard Catalán and Valenciano, it’s “puig”). I admired the views and continued on to Fornells. En el monte hay el santuario Verge del Toro. El Toro viene de “turo”, que es “colina” en menorquí (en catalán estándar y valenciano, es “puig”). Disfruté las vistas y seguí hasta Fornells.

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I decided to first stop at the Cap Cavalleria. I parked about 1.5 KM from the lighthouse and walked out to it, then stopped at the cove to admire the vistas. The water was still too cold to swim in in late April.  Antes de llegar a Fornels, decidí parar en el Cap Cavelleria.  Aparqué el coche a 1,5 kilómetros del faro y caminé, y después fui a la cala para disfrutar de las vistas. El agua estaba fría para bañarme en abril. 

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Next stop was lunch in Fornells, a picturesque village of around 1000 people, located on a bay. This meant the prices were pretty expensive. The service was especially slow. This comes from someone who has lived in Spain for 10 years, so I’m used to slow service. La próxima parada era para comer en Fornells, un pueblo pintoresco de unos 1000 personas en una bahía. Quiere decir los precios eran altos. El servicio era lento, y digo eso después de vivir en España durante 10 años y estoy acostumbrado a servicio lento. 

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After lunch, I walked to the nearby tower before getting back in the car again. The next stop was Cala Morell, which had more awesome views. I ran into some valencianos there. I love my adopted city. Después de comer, subí hasta el torre cercano antes de volver al coche. La próxima parada era Cala Morell, que tenía más vistas impresionantes. Crucé con unos valencianos allí. Como me encanta mi ciudad adoptada. 

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The final stop for the evening was Punta Nati, where there was another lighthouse. Growing up, my mom always had to see all the lighthouses, so it was a theme for the trip, that I would take photos for her. It was a great place for a sunset, but I ended up back in Ciutadella and walking to the city lighthouse before dinner. I had to rest for the next two days. La parada final del día era Punta Nati, donde había otro faro. Cuando era joven, mi madre siempre quería ver todos los faros. Por eso era una meta del viaje, que iba a hacer fotos para ella. Es un buen sitio para ver el atardecer, pero volví a Ciutadella y caminé hasta su faro antes de cenar. Tenía que descansar para los próximos dos días. 

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A continuación….

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Mallorca. My worst holiday could be your best!

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A long time ago, when this site was just beginning, I wrote about Ibiza (Eivissa), but I didn’t include Mallorca or Menorca. I still have yet to discover Menorca and its many treasures (I’ve seen the photos), but I have been to Mallorca.

It was my worst trip ever.

In retrospect, I totally blame the circumstances going on. I had just been fired from my job for being “demasiado reservado” (too shy and reserved), and I had also taken the chance and told the guy of my then dreams (now I wouldn’t touch him with a ten-metre pole) that I had feelings for him. It was unrequited (no correspondido).

Never do this the night before a weekend getaway! It cast a bad mood over everything. I felt so lost and alone. Everywhere I saw, every couple (straight or gay), reminded me of my eternal singleness. As it was a Ryan Air flight, I would’ve lot more by cancelling than by not going, so I went.

I did my best. Palma de Mallorca is a nice city, and the Spanish Royal Family have a summer residence there. I only got to visit Valldemossa (I regret not going to Deià instead), where everywhere I went I was greeted in German, which I don’t speak. If only I had my B1 in Catalán then!

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I know out of all the places I’ve been to, it is probably Mallorca that deserves a second chance. I know I missed the best of the island for sure.

And we’re in luck, as I actually wrote up a decent entry in my personal travel journal about what I was experiencing. Yeah, Mallorca needs a second chance!

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It was sort of a bad-luck trip all around.

The plane arrived about a half hour late, and we all know I hate flying. Then the hostel gave bad directions for the bus to town, which meant I ended up seeing practically all of Palma de Mallorca. Then, the hostel sucked. The people working there were incredibly unfriendly and somewhat rude. And I had that funk. The part of town it was in was dodgy, and it was a 45 minute walk to the “centre historic” (CATALAN). The beach was even further. At least the weather was nothing like it was forecast to be.

I was going to go to the castle first, but I had no clue how far up it was. I was rather hungry too after getting up at the butt-crack of dawn and not having much to eat. So I eventually found a place to have a bocadillo de tortilla close to the centre. I was getting annoyed because NO ONE SPOKE SPANISH. It was mostly German with some English thrown in. There were hardly any Spanish whatsoever. The place is just too damn touristy.

I did see the palace where the royal family holidays. I skipped entering the cathedral as it’s probably a sin to charge people to enter a house of worship, eh?  I walked around the Parc del Mar, which was beautiful, made it to the beach…walked back, stopping at the Hard Rock, even though I didn’t buy anything til the next day. I ate another bad meal and elected to catch up on sleeping. Having your heart broken keeps you from sleeping more than three hours ya know.

Saturday I woke up about 8.30 so I could have breakfast at a really awesome cafe, then I went to catch the bus to Valldemossa. But wait, the web site was wrong, so I missed the bus! I ended up walking around the centre historic for a bit, going to a gay cafe, then catching the bus at 12.30. Valldemossa was beautiful. I had a decent lunch there, then went back to Palma…I went to the beach, but I didn’t stay long as I went back to try to take a siesta as I had a headache. I went to a farmacía so I could speak Spanish and bought some ibuprofena. I then went to the castle, which was amazing as usual. I had dinner at the cafe where I had breakfast, and the waiters set off the gaydar. A few minutes later I heard them talking about his “novio”, so my European gaydar…I totally forgot the word! CONVERTER! has finally arrived.

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Palma de Mallorca

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With over 400,000 habitants, the capital city of the Illes Baleares is located on the south of the island. The city dates back to 123 BC when the Romans conquered the island. The yearly average temperature is 21ºC (71.2ºF). There are many churches, including the cathedral La Seu (built on a prior mosque), the old city and the Arab baths. The Royal Family’s summer residence is found here, and there is also a beach. What more could you ask for?

Castillo Bellver

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Located on a hill 3 kilometre west of Palma, the Castillo Bellver is one of Europe’s few circular castles. It was originally the residence of the Kings of Mallorca when they weren’t staying on the mainland and was built in the 14th century. It has been a museum since 1932 and has served as the city’s history museum since 1976. It’s one of my favourite castles I’ve been to, and I didn’t have to risk herpes simplex I by kissing any of its stones!

Valldemossa

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Although the small town only has 2025 habitants (2014 figures), it has a lot of history and has attracted various people throughout history. Ramon Llull, famous in Catalán circles, lived in the area. Austrian Archduke Ludwig Salvator was a fan, as was composer Frédéric Chopin (and to a lesser extent, Chopin’s lover George Sand. Today you can still visit the Royal Charterhouse of Valldemossa, a former Carthusian monastery.

Deià (To be discovered)

Deià, a small coastal village of less than 800 located 16 km (10 miles) north of Valldemossa, is one of my biggest travel regrets. Writer Robert Graves was a fan, as are Mick Jagger and Mark Knopfler. It’s the cliffs on the sea and the coves that brings so much attention to it.

Sa Dragonera (To be discovered)

Just off the west coast of Mallorca lies the islet and Natural Park of Sa Dragonera. As the island appears like a dragon, it received the name “dragonera”. Sometimes foreign languages aren’t so daunting, eh? It’s about 3,2 kilometres long and 500 metres wide, and the highest peak is 360 meteres. The Audiencia Nacional prohibited construction on the island in 1984, and the Balearic government declared it a national park in 1987. It is a part of Andratx.

Andratx (To be discovered)

At the tip of the island and at foot of the Sierra de Tramontana mountains, Andratx, population 16,000 or so, dates back to the Roman times. It was built inland to avoid pirate attacks, and 12 of the towers built to protect from pirate attacks still exist today. The town has undergone a transformation since 2004 and has become one of the most popular areas for foreigners and is beginning to attract celebrities on holiday.

Pollença

The port town of 16,000 on the north part of Mallorca, Pollença is a lovely port town that was founded in an area that would avoid pirate attacks. Beware, Captain Jack Sparrow! There are a few coves (calas, or small beaches), and a 365-step staircase that leads to a church and impressive view of the town and area.

Ibiza. Eivissa és més que festa.

Ibiza is an island known for its parties. Mariah Carey herself has one of her rappers name check it in her “Don’t Forget About Us Desert Storm” remix. David Guetta got his start there in the discos. This is the Ibiza known to the world.

I challenged that notion. I’ve been wanting to go to the island for a long time but in “plan tranquilo”, as the Spanish say. I went the first weekend of March, risking “bad weather” (I live in the Basque Country and grew up in Ohio. Unless it’s a Mediterranean storm, I’m not going to be too fazed) and being bored. Neither happened.

I stayed in Ibiza Town, the biggest city with a population of about 50,000 people. The clouds were a bit grey, but nothing that deterred me from exploring the Dalt Vila, their Casco Viejo, recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. The views of the sea and nearby island Formentera were incredible. Medieval villages and cobblestone streets never get old in my book, and I explored this part of the city to my heart’s content.

Despite being March, there is a bit of nightlife in Ibiza. My morning flight kept me from really seeing the discos, but I had a few drinks in the Plaza del Sol. The locals were friendly and excited that a guiri spoke catalán. They seemed separated from the political drama of Catalunya’s quest for independence and Valencia’s quest for language independence for their “valenciano” dialect. As long as you didn’t call it “mallorquín”, they were okay with it being called catalán.

On Sunday, they were having a celebration, as apparently March 1st is Balearic Island Day. A parade nearly had my bus ride to Santa Eulària des Riu cancelled. The bus made it through, and I went a half hour north to the third-largest city on Ibiza. The church on the hill made me feel more as if I were in Greece than Spain. The white décor and blue roof enchanted me, and the views of the spectacular sea below were nothing short of breathtaking. It was about 20ºC (68ºF), warm enough for a nice, long, barefoot stroll on the beach.

The highlight of the trip was the nearby island Formentera. This is the stuff desert islands are all about. The choppy waves made the half hour ferry ride torturous, and for the first time in my life, I got seasick. It was one of the windiest days I’ve seen in my life, which meant no bike ride through the island for me. Darn. I did take a hike to the nearest village from the port of Formentera and fell in love with the island.

By going during off season, I got to experience an Ibiza far removed from the parties and tourists that would make it a living hell for me during the summer. I found a quaint, picturesque island and friendly people. It was a nice return to “Spain” after living in the Basque Country for so long, and it is a place that I would enjoy returning to. I definitely preferred it to its big Balearic Sister Mallorca, which I think is owned by Germany at this point. I look forward to the day when I can go to Menorca, the least-known Balearic Island and supposedly the most beautiful. I can’t speak for the summer night life, but for a late-winter escape for those wanting tranquility, Ibiza can’t be beat.

CINC MERAVELLES D’EIVISSA

  1. Formentera
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  2. Dalt Vila, Ibiza Town
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  3.  Santa Eulària des Riu 
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  4. Puig de Missa, Santa Eulària des Riu
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  5. This Sunset
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