18 April 2014

Walking on a cloudy day, dreaming new dreams

On Day 1 we walked on the south coast from Cala Turqueta to Son Saura

Day 2 was cloudy and we went to the north coast and walked from Algaiarens to Cala Morell where there is a white almost ghost town of an urbanisation on the hill above a glistening sea. We didn't go down to the cove as the little town looked so artificial and the carefully designed houses were all too much of a muchness to feel inviting. Someone had tried to make it pretty but somehow it just felt de-humanised.
The walk to get there was beautiful though. And with a cloudy sky it was so much more comfortable

On the south coast we had passed many other people walking or cycling but here on the north west it was peaceful and quiet and for most of the day we were totally alone

It was rockier but still with inlets and small bays

The rocks kept changing from sandstone to limestone and something was very porous at the end that was almost impossible to sit on comfortably to eat our sandwiches. This one was streaked with white in a pattern which always makes Catalans remark see the four bars of their national flag

There was more variety of wild flowers

The gates of Menorca are made from olive wood

On the way back - we always have to walk out and then return to the car - we stopped to create a cairn. 

Back in Ciutadella we had supper in the Ulysses cafe beside the old Fish Market.




















I really feel like I am on holiday!
Even wondering how it would be to live here - it is so familiar even while being new and strange.
It is an island where you can imagine creating new things.










Walking to happiness in Menorca

We have been thinking of coming to Menorca for several years but the sticking point for me was how to get here with Bonnie. I read that the conditions on some of the ferries were very poor for travelling dogs with dirty cramped cages, times where you were not allowed access to the animals and in one story the cages were in a lower deck that was hot and noisy close to the engines.  I asked the ferry companies, wrote on travel forums and got in touch with people who live in the Balearics but the stories were mixed and in the end I never trusted that it would be comfortable for Bonnie so we didn't come.

Now of course Bonnie is no longer with us so we decided to come to Menorca for Easter.

First the practicalities:

Balearia and Acciona-Trasmediterranea are the two ferry companies that take you between Barcelona and Menorca. 

We came out on Balearia to Ciutadella and will return from Mao on Trasmediterranea.  One of my tasks is to look for myself at the dog accommodation areas so that in the future I will know what to expect. You never know - one day I may be travelling again with a dog!

There were a lot of dogs on the crossing to Menorca. They were housed in portable cages in two different sizes. The cages were lined up on a small deck with an area for exercise which was protected by a roof but otherwise open to fresh air. The cages were basic and small and the area was not large and could be noisy if there was barking - which there was. But there seemed to be no restrictions on visiting and letting your dog out to sit with you in the exercise area. I was glad that Bonnie wasn't having to travel there but I could imagine doing it with a younger dog. The journey is 10 hours so it could be stressful but it wasn't impossible to imagine doing it.

We are staying in Ciutadella in a lovely flat lent to us by a friend of a friend. We were met at the harbour, given a key and a place to stay and a beautiful reminder of the ancient art of hospitality.  Both Greek and Celtic cultures are known for the sacred practice of hospitality to friends and strangers and it is alive and well in Menorca too. 

We are walking the Cami de Cavalls, exploring different parts of the island.
The beaches are sandy and clean

The water is an incredible turquoise

The path - which is for walkers and bicycles and horses - winds around the island and is well marked

There are cliffs

Sand dunes

And many beaches covered in seaweed

which the action of the wind and the water turns into thousands of small hairy balls



What do you do while walking?   Here is what I do.....
Singing, thinking, listening to music, talking, pretending my dog is with me and calling her or throwing one of these little balls for her to chase.  Thinking some more. 
It is strange to be on holiday without Bonnie but it is also much easier of course.  I feel bereft and sometimes the memory of her comes at me like a punch in the belly and tears surprise me running down my cheeks.  But there is also a new freedom that comes with loss.  I am free to come and go as I please.  With no-one dependent on me, I am alone again and this is both sad and liberating. 
I spent day 1 thinking of this and many other things, of people who have gone, of times that are past, of my own family and childhood.  Swimming on one of the golden beaches I suddenly had a strong sense of being alive and living the life that I always wanted to find. Ever since I was young I had a dream of living abroad and learning new languages.  And here I am!  It has not been just a series of accidents although sometimes I see it that way.  I have actually created the life that I dreamt of.  Surely that must be something to feel good about?   My next step - self confidence for real!


16 April 2014

Easter on Menorca

Menorca.

Sunshine.

Walking walking walking

And I have managed to set up my phone to act as a modem so now I can write here without having to sit in a cafe in the evening

We are off to walk and to swim but soon there will be photos!


15 April 2014

Hidden gems in Clot

When I go to Barcelona to meet my friend Cristina we meet in Clot. The train from Granollers stops there before it reaches Passeig de Gracia and it is easier for her to get to from home. We have been able to explore a different part of Barcelona.  It is a bustling place - full of cafes and little independent shops but there is a peaceful atmosphere that makes it less tiring than meeting up always in the centre of the city.

I needed to buy some paint brushes for my art class so it was good to find this small corner shop selling lots of things like plaster figures, decorating materials and paint brushes and easels
 Rent rises and high city taxes have been making many of these small businesses close down
 Every week there are fewer of these emblematic Barcelona shops. Such a horrible thought that one day it could be a city just like any other with only chains and multi-nationals.

I got my brushes - we need big ones to make the base for these pictures - drawn with a stick on top of very thick white paint. Then when it is dry we painted on top.