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                               THE BALEARIC ISLANDS, MINORCA, Spain

 

August 20

MINORCA

After an excellent overnight sail with light winds and flat seas, we called in at  Fornells, where Aliesha was already anchored.

 

Fornells

Fornells is a large, very well sheltered bay on the north coast. It's claim to fame lies within the village on the west side of the entrance, a cluster of rather expensive  restaurants. We didn't go ashore but had a great visit with Aliesha before heading out the following morn.

Good sail, tacking our way to Mao with Aliesha past moonscape headlands sprinkled with concentrations of towns, stark white against the dry brown slopes.

Mahon (Mao)

August 21  We settled ourselves in a protected anchorage, surrounded by the  large La Mola Fortress, its walls completely enclosing the bay. The anchorage was crowded and wearing clothes seemed not to be the norm!


After a long dinghy ride to town, we were able to tie alongside a restaurant. Mahon had a colonial feel that left a deep impression of what British occupation left behind

The charming streets boasted bright white, Spanish style arches, red roofs, old crumbling Georgian style buildings with a coat of whitewash,  green trim (again) on the shutters, balconies in abundance. The cobblestone alleyways were lined with shops, neo-classical in style.

 18th century Carmelite Church
(where the market was)

Ciutadella

We took a bus to Ciutadella the original capital of the island. The countryside was inundated with unending stone walls making a patchwork quilt out of the rolling countryside. Cleared hay fields, Holstein cows grazing. Mahon is renown for its local cheese.

Ciutadella is a beautiful old walled town, thick with aristocratic mansions from a thousand year-old culture.

Very traditional architecture, stark boxy white homes, with white tile roofs. Small squares with pavement cafes cater mainly to Spanish tastes. 

August 22

We had a good evening with Dick and Pam from Aliesha onboard to say our farewells as they were moving on. We decided to stay for the Equestrian Festival in a nearby town the following day.


 Saint Climent Festival

August 23

Along with Follie, we took a bus to a small inland hamlet of Saint Climent to experience the Festival of Saint Joan. The event involves horses and riders, both elegantly decorated, that perform ritualized medieval maneuvers in the streets of the town.  A full steel band blasts out a Spanish beat (repeated same tune, over and over!!). As the day progresses and the crowds consume more cerveza and local gin, the mass of people reaches a frenzy, swarming around the rearing horses in an attempt to touch their chests in an endeavour of bravery and for good luck.

There were about 30 horses and riders that participate in pairs, the horses being Andalusia or Majorcan bred and most of them black.

The horses were all been trained to rear high in the air above the heads of the crowds but many were able to  remain suspended there or walk on their hind legs for quite some length. It was a very absurd spectacle and completely chaotic with the panicking horses prancing and leaping around, knocking into the hoards of people becoming more frenzied as the day and the quantity of alcohol ingested progressed. We couldn't believe that someone wasn't seriously injured, although there were many ambulances standing by.

Back in the anchorage we met a few new cruising faces - Shiraz, Americans on a catamaran, and a Canadian, that hailed from the same town where Gord was from and lived in the same neighborhood! Always amazing when we run into the "small world" syndrome time and time again! The two boats are both heading toward the Caribbean so it's nice to be putting a group of boats together for the Atlantic crossing.
After our exciting weekend, we set off for the southern coast of Menorca with the promise of numerous callas and indented coves to anchor along the coast. But after a full day of sailing, we discovered that all of the anchorages along that coast were exposed and rolly. We chose the one, according to the pilot guide , that was the most protected from swell. It was the worst and rolliest night we had in a long time and there was no sleep to be had. WE could hardly wait until daybreak so we could head across to Mallorca.

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