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Posts Tagged ‘swimming’

Another enjoyable day on Mallorca was a drive along the south coast visiting a number of beaches and coves where the gentle still water was a light turquoise and the sand white and soft. Both Menorca and Mallorca are very rocky with few natural beaches. The best swimming however is at the coves where a steep rocky path or stone steps lead down to deep inlets with just a patch of sand. The water is transparent, calm and there are no rocks in the water – again, just like a swimming pool!

Stunning swimming cove in a nature reserve on Mallorca

Stunning swimming cove in a nature reserve on Mallorca

Organic shop in Campú

Organic shop in Campú

As we drove back to our hotel among the almond orchards, we noticed that newly built houses all had windmills – modern stainless steel ones – built as part of the structure. Our guess is that instead of milling stuff, they are now used to generate energy. We stopped at a marvellous organic shop in Campú selling all my staples of pulses, nuts and fresh produce. We bought a bag of each the purple-black figs (red centres and juicy) and green figs (wine-red inside and very sweet).

Cove beach near Cueva Dracha caves

Cove beach near Cueva Dracha caves

There is a large network of caves on the island, two of which are open to the public. We drove over an hour north-east to “Cuevas del Drach” (dragon caves), by far the most spectacular one. Because it’s so popular, one has to buy a timed entry ticket to join the tour. We managed to get the first tour, at 10am, so to while away the time until then we quickly drove to a nearby cove to go swimming in glass-like light blue languid water. The sides of this cove are developed, but in an architectural pleasing way: all-white villas cluster together on the steep slopes, with slight variations in style but all had characteristic red tile roofs. (I remember how the roof tiles were painted white as well on Menorca to deflect the sun rays.)

Back at the caves, we were disappointed to be part of a huge group of people (our guess was about 300). Nevertheless, after descending 29m via a broad, easy path and many steps we reached a cool, softly lit wonderland. Having been to many caves before, this one struck me as particularly beautiful. The calcium formations were incredibly delicate – massive expanses of the roof was covered in thin needle-like stalactites; others formed Oriental pagoda forms or huge cauliflower columns. We were amazed at other structures that resembled thin, almost transparent gently folded curtains. The caves contain one of the largest underground salt lakes in the world, with a depth of 6 meters. We all sat down on benches near the lake, when the lights were dimmed. Three boats, lit with faery lights around their rims, were slowly being paddled across the lake in front of us while musicians gave a 10 minute classical concert. It was spellbinding and felt as though we were on a set of the Hobbit film!

Moorish architecture in Palma

Moorish architecture in Palma


One morning we drove to Palma, its heavy morning traffic on 4 lane motorways not unlike that of any big city. The inner (old part) of the city turned out to be quite nice as we visited the gardens of the erstwhile Moorish palace, 10th century remains of the Arab baths, stared at the very colourfully painted buildings, bought another bag of figs in the beautiful covered market and had tea and later an early lunch in cafeterias situated in converted palaces with glass-domed courtyards.

Although we had an enjoyable time on the Balearics, by comparison I prefer Menorca: there is a lot of pride in being uniquely Menorquin having their own language, culture, history, centuries-old festivals, community feel, pretty and well-maintained villages, more laid-back life-style, cleaner uncrowded beaches, lack of heavy industries, and not being suffocated by mass tourism as Mallorca.

Quiet town of St. Lluis on Menorca

Quiet town of St. Lluis on Menorca


We can hardly believe our 3 months in Spain are over, having had a fantastic time exploring and learning. Lasting impressions are: its friendly and patient people; incredible pride and adhering to strong traditions to preserve local language, customs, festivals and dishes; the country’s commitment to the ecology with its hundreds of wind turbines and solar panel farms; its impressive and well-maintained road system of incredible motorways and extensive, costly tunnels; the huge change in landscape, climate and architectural styles; the wealth of fascinating history; the commendable fact that Spain imports virtually no fresh produce (not even from close neighbouring countries like Portugal or France) and instead produce everything itself and having a national program to preserve historical buildings.

orange trees
It was a country that was in fact very easy for a vegan to travel around in, contrary to what I’be been warned about (mostly by non-vegans!). Nowhere did I have to explain what vegans eat or don’t eat and I’ve always encountered a friendly, professional attitude to my dietary needs. Other useful information: health shops are called “Herbolario” (mostly small but useful for supplements, refrigerator items and snacks; Happy Cow lists most organic shops (there are in fact a lot more which I discovered by just walking around) and a huge department store, called El Corte Ingles found all over Spain has a large area in its food hall that stocks organic produce and amazing vegan foods (either in several isles or as a separate area within the food hall). In my next blog, I write more extensively about holidaying as a vegan in Spain and explaining various dishes and menu items.

We are not relishing our next two days which will be spent on 3 flights, but we’ve got countless memories and pictures that will play over and over in our minds for months to come.
Albacín: sleepy cat

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