Monday, June 16, 2008

Mahon, Menorca, ESP

After a full day of sights in Barcelona, I boarded the overnight ferry to Menorca. There was a little confusion on which ferry I would take, as there was a major protest in Spain going on, and no fuel was able to make it to the port of Barcelona that day. The company I booked with was unable to sail a ship, so they transfered my reservation to another company that did have a gassed up ship. I was slightly troubled at the thought of going to an island with no guarantee of return if the protest kept up, but hey, I could get stuck worse places than an island in the Mediterranean, right? I woke up the next morning to see a lighthouse painted just like my favorite one in Buxton, NC, on the Outer Banks. A little later we entered the mouth of the port of Mahon, the second largest deepwater port in the world, second only to Pearl Harbor. It averages 40 meters deep, that’s deep, but it doesn’t see nearly the traffic most other harbors do! As we neared the harbor, the harbor pilots came along in a little boat, and one jumped across to a rope ladder on our ferry, headed to the wheel house, and took over the steering. We passed by lots of pastel colored buildings and lots of pleasure yachts, cliffside houses, and some seriously steep and curvy streets that led to the top of the cliffs. I rode my bike to the hotel, a brightly colored place, with some hippy types in charge. The rooms were all different colors, and there was a really cool patio on the roof that overlooked the main part of the city. My room was by far the brightest room I have ever slept in, ever. After I settled in, I took a cycling tour of the city. The standard method I use is to head first to the waterfront, then just ride till I am completely lost, find myself on the map, orient myself, then repeat till I can’t get lost anymore. This adventurous exploration method works really well, in the smaller cities especially. In my wanderings I found a gin distillery with original equipment from the 1800’s, still in use. They had an all you can drink, self serve, unattended tasting room. Too bad I don’t like gin at all, but I did get to witness several Aussies getting way out of hand, any nobody said a word to them. After exploring, I headed out on the bike to find that lighthouse, and the remote beach near it. It was about 12 miles away, in a national park, and the walk to the beach was 45 minutes from the parking lot! The beach was amazing, and there were only about 4 other people there when I got there. I stayed to swim and lay in the sun for a few hours, then headed back to Mahon. Later, I took a really cool harbor tour aboard a glass bottom boat that I really enjoyed. Tomorrow it was on to Ciutadella on the other side of the island. I was talked out of riding my bike across the island by the skipper of the tour boat, he claimed that there was nothing to see in the interior, and the bus would only cost me $2. Besides, my folding bike was perfect for the bus trip. As it turns out, he was totally right.

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