As the wind whips our hair up into the sky and the whitecaps fill the usually calm harbor of Maó, I am grateful for the idyllic charm of the Jardi de ses Bruixes Hotel on the island of Menorca. The white washed and stone interior, with high airy ceilings, blue highlights, and country decor, make it an ideal place to hang our hat during cooler weather. The food is exquisite and made from scratch.
It is easy to imagine that early April on an island in Spain is fairly warm, but this has not been the case for us over Easter break. I can imagine this place during the warmer months with crowds packing the sidewalks and harbors. But, for us it feels like a ghost town, with almost all of the shops closed until May, and many of the restaurants as well. However, the beauty of the blue sea and the white buildings on narrow streets doesn't change through the seasons. By forgoing water sports in favor of sites and hiking, we probably got a truer experience of being on the island without the tourist industry that masks the underlying local flavor.
On Easter Sunday, church bells begin peeling at 11:45 and don't stop until noon. We decided to visit another type of cathedral as we hiked to Cova des Coloms, nicknamed by the locals as Cathedral Cave because of the sheer vastness of the size and the height of the ceilings. Walking to the cave involved a trek on a dirt path through fields of wildflowers and old stone fences criss-crossing the country side. The smell of flowers permeates the air, along with the birdsong of many native species, including the endangered red kite.
Another trail that branches off from our cave route and proceeds to the sea takes us to a cove called Binigaus, that can only be reached by foot or horseback. The sea is blue, the sand is white, and not a soul is in sight. Although the water is cold, we walk along the edges and race up the beach. The day is grey but just the perfect amount of cool that turns to warm during the 2 mile hike back.
We pass many of the prehistoric structures called talaiots that date back to 1000 BC. Hiking to the top of a cliff in the town of Fornells gives us a sweeping view of the Cove Tirant and one of many historic lighthouses that line the coast. Although the town is closed up for the most part, the local bar is open for beer and coffee, making it the ideal spot to rest and warm up amidst the people from the town, gathering to speak in the island's form of Catalan.
My children started the trip lamenting that snorkeling and kayaking would not be on the agenda, but left not missing them at all. The nature and history of the island without the crowds was a better experience than a tourist filled town. The peace, beauty, and solitude of Menorca will stay with us all far longer.
Sally and her family have moved to Spain for a year starting July 2017. They are living in a little town called Puzol, which is about 12km north of Valencia. Her kids, Carson and Celia, are attending the American School of Valencia, an International School located in Puzol. The goal for the whole family is to experience another way of life, and learn Spanish. This blog tracks their travels and experiences.