Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sept. 6, 2012 Mahon, Menorca

The 'hurricane hole' of Cala Taulera, a completely sheltered anchorage in Mahon 

Mahon harbor

After resting and recovering at a large scenic bay at the south coast of Menorca, we slowly sailed around the island to Mahon in a gentle following breeze. The storm of the previous days had passed, leaving a clear, blue sky with cool temperatures. It felt like early summer in Ontario, warm in the day but not hot, and cool evenings. It seems summer has come to an end right on schedule. Menorca lacks the dramatic high mountains of Mallorca, but it’s also a bit less ‘touristy’, and there are numerous bays around this island with beautiful beaches and perfect for anchoring.

We reached Mahon in the late afternoon. Once we rounded the south-east corner of the island and into the exposed north shore, the wind shifted from a light SW breeze to a strong north wind. The change was dramatic; one minute it was moderate wind gently pushing the boat along on a smooth sea, the next minute it was strong head wind, white caps washing onto the foredeck. Fortunately we were only a few miles from Mahon so we turned on the iron sail and turned into the completely sheltered anchorage at the outer harbor.
There’s an old saying that the only good times to sail in the Med is: July, August, and Mahon. Mahon is a huge natural harbor, several miles long, narrow in the entrance so it’s like a large lagoon. The marinas here are very expensive, and the only place where anchoring is allowed is at a bay called Cala Taulera near the entrance to the harbor. The cala is a very sheltered anchorage, but to get into town it requires either a 45 minute dinghy ride, or a long walk through a 6 km car road. We decided to try hitch-hiking, and was pleased to find that we had no problem getting a lift by nice tourists and locals. It feels like being young again, sticking our fingers out to hitch a ride.

The long walk from the anchorage to town.

The massive fortification of the La Mola guarding the harbor. It took 20 years to build, but has never been under attack

Horse rearing as part of the fiesta

We were in luck. During this last week of summer, there is a major festival (fiesta) taking place in town - Mare de Deu de Gracia, with horse riding shows, firework, and dance parties. Every day we hitched a ride into town to do some sightseeing, enjoying the ambience of this magnificent water front city, with its English architecture and Georgian townhouses dating back to the 18th century when Menorca was under British rule.
We took a 1 hour bus ride to visit another city, Ciutadella. The city was founded by the Carthaginians more than two thousand years ago, and in the 9th century under Arab rule was called Medina Minurqa. Thought to be the most beautiful of Menorca’s towns, with its 18th century aristocratic places, narrow arched passageways and courtyards, Ciutadella has a far more Spanish feel than the distinctly Anglo-Saxon Mahon. 

Ciutadella harbor and town

1 comment:

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