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Menorca 2009

August 16th saw Meebs and I flying out to Menorca for a fabulous holiday of sun, sea, wine and a little boating.

I always like to know a bit about where I'm going, so before leaving I Google Earthed Menorca and found out that it was part of the Balearic Islands and... Spain. Then a few days before take-off, while on the phone to Meebs I realised that I couldn't speak a word of Spanish!

No worries though, I learnt when I got there! I'm now fluent... "ola" hello, "gracias" thank you, "denada" it's nothing / pleasure and "dos grande cervetha pour favour" two large beers please. (Of course I was too busy sipping on wine, cruising on the boat and swimming in the sea to learn the spelling!)

We were based in Alcaufar, a picturesque little village

Alcaufar bay

After a delayed flight and a shared Vitamin Water we were in the air, waving goodbye to Britain. The flight takes about 2 hours from Gatwick and once we realised we were flying over the Med. we were so flippin excited we thought the plane would tip over as we craned our necks, vying for the first sight of land. We shared enthusiasm with the 4 year old next to us, who pointed out that fishes and pirates lived in this sea!

On collection from the airport (thanks Nick) we were driven to the boat, aptly named Girls On Top, for inspection. Features like the 'garage' housing the jet-rib, aircon, TV, open-&-close-able roof and sound system were pointed out by the kids. Two fridges and an ice machine were pointed out by the adults :)

This was followed by a trip to the villa, a walk along the cliffs, through a bit of the village and to the Xouroy Hotel. The Xouroy is on Alcaufar beach, best enjoyed after swimming from the boat to the beach, getting your feet a little sandy and relaxing with a large glass of wine in hand. We did this a few times.

The Xouroy is run by... Mr Xouroy who can be found at the end of the bar counting his future profits and overseeing everything, including decorum on the beach (but I'll get to that).

Now I think the best way, without boring you is to let the pictures (and captions) do the talking:

The outcrops of rock / mini-jetty's were used by the fishermen in the morning, and if you didn't get up early enough for your morning swim, you might be a little scalier than when you first splashed in!

A gentle sunset.

The houses stagger towards the sea.

This picture was taken from the boat, the big block of a building on the left is The Xouroy Hotel

What can I say?

Alcaufar beach.

Alcaufar bay & beach, again.

The rocks on the left form part of the cliffs, on the right a little rocky island - helping to keep the bay nice and calm!

Ah, a lovely picture of Nick and Alistair... or is it? If you look closer (or at the close-up below) you'll see probably a little more than you expected!

When we first saw these lovely ladies the one with dreads was sitting down. We didn't think twice about her, she wasn't holding the baby, but hell, this is the Med! topless is cool. She had just managed to co-ordinate her bottoms with her hair colour. As it turned out, in more than one way!

We had a feeling that we weren't the only ones who had spotted these members of the forestry department. A couple of the local constabulary arrived, but seemed to be too timid to actually approach!

The next morning we were on the boat. It takes a while to get out of Mahon Harbour, but there's plenty of sight-seeing to do along the way!

I just loved all the history and old buildings

There are loads of shops and restaurants behind these boats, great for if you've just sailed in for refreshments.

Chilaxing in the front.

The pirates.

Most clothes worn on holiday. It was more than a little warm!

The villa with pool still looking good (this changed rapidly, from a decent blue to murky green - nice!)

Villa, pool and loungers. Great for soaking up the sun - it's a tough life, but someone has to do it!

The villa by night.

Chilaxing with the most delicious beer - Cruz Campo, you gotta try it!

Word, Will.

What boys do (Will & Tom)

Alistair looking fab, Paul not so sure!

Erika enjoying them.

Paul giving them a go.

Nick darling, they totally suit you!

On our last day we went to Binibeca for lunch (restaurant under umbrella huts). It's great, we swam in from the boat after enjoying a beer-o-clock refreshment, walked up the beach and enjoyed lunch with a view! After lunch we were driven to the airport (thanks again Nick) and it was in the stop-and-drop section that I swapped the sarong for a dress, we grabbed our bags and hoped for a delayed flight!

The water in Binibeca (the darker blue parts are where there is sea-weed.)

Enjoying a game of Farmers Bridge after lunch in Binibeca, glasses of red wine close at hand!

Italic
Lunch table at Binibeca. By this stage we'd lost a couple of kids to the ice-cream shop.
LtR: Kate, Erika, Paul, Alistair, Meebs, Lucky, Nick, Anna.

One evening we went to Cala Fons for dinner. It's a fabulous place where you can buy some great and some grate stuff. It bustles with life. Restaurants face out towards the water and you can amble around for hours enjoying the sights.

Cala Fons... you can take the board-walk into the centre.

Getting into the vibe.

Great old buildings.

Water vibe.

When Cala Fons comes to life

the lights and the boats dance in the bay.

Enjoying dinner.

Anna getting her hair braided.

Mary in the moment.

The kids taking in the Cala Fons vibe.

Some of us went shopping, others enjoyed a brandy. This is taken after all of that, just before going home...

Did someone say 'bogey'?

For Meebs birthday I got her a pair of drinking glasses... Enjoying the moment.

Yo!

Rocket fuel, I mean red wine!

Hmm, a little more please. It matches my dress after all!

Even from behind the rock Girls On Top dominates the bay.

Everyone say "Menorcan Bum Tap"

I couldn't resist adding this picture. If those eyes don't say I've got the winning hand and a full glass of red wine then nothing does :)

This relic was left to rust behind the villa.

What I don't have pictures of (partly due to bad new batteries in my camera) is the lepar colony (not in use anymore) and old battle stations that can be seen sailing out of Mahon Harbour. This got me thinking about leprosy (and of course singing about bits and peices falling off of me...) but I had to know more.

So this evening I did a little research on Wikipedia and found out the following:

Leprosy is caused by bacteria Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepromatosis with skin lesions the primary external symptoms. If left untreated leprosy can cause permanent damage to skin, nerves, limbs and eyes. Contrary to popular belief, leprosy does not directly cause limbs to fall off on their own, instead they become disfigured or amputated as a result of the symptoms of the disease.

Leprosy infections date back to 9000 years ago and it was well recognised in Ancient China, Egypt and India. In the past 15 years, 15 million people have been cured. Forced quarantine or segregation isn't neccessary in places where adequate treatments are available. There are still lepar colonies in India, China, Romaia, Egypt, Nepal, Somalia, Liberia, Vietnam and Japan.

Leprosy was previously beleived to be highly contagious and sexually transmitted and was treated with mercury (also applied to syphilis (first described in 1530).) Today it is thought that many of the early reported cases were syphilis! Leprosy is not sexually transmitted and after treatment is not contagious, although without treatment and before it was developed it would have been.

Some interesting facts:
  • 95% of people are naturally immune to Leprosy.
  • The exact transmission of leprosy is unknown (and definately not through the Menorcan Bum Tap!) But if someone with leprosy sneazes on you - beware!
  • The only animal known to get leprosy is the Armidillo.
  • Worldwide India has the greatedst number of cases, followed by Brazil and then Burma.
  • It is thought that Robert the Bruce, King of Scots may have had the disease.

I passed the old colony alot! In the olden days barrels of vinegar were placed between the infected and regular people to stop the disease from being transmitted!

On a slightly lighter, but equally as interesting note, and while I was ensconsed in Wikipedia, I decided to find out what the site had to say about the history of the Island:

  • The capital of Menorca is Mahon (AKA Mao).
  • Menorca is relatively quiet in compared to neighbouring islands Majorca and Ibiza, and has as many beaches as Ibiza and Majorca combined, but tourism tends to be centred in the south.
  • The culture on the island was influenced by other Med. cultures including the Minoans of ancient Crete. Pirates took advantage of the Balaeric Islands to raid Roman commerce. The Romans responded by invaiding Majorca and Menorca and by 121 BC both islands were under Roman Control.
  • In 418AD the islands Jewish community was converted to Christianity.
  • In 534 the Byzantine Empire recovered the island.
  • When the Moors conquered the Spanish Peninsula in 903 Menorca was given the Arabicized name of Manurqa. In 1231 Christian forces reconquered the island of Majorca, and Menorca became and independant Islamic state (although a tributary to King James I of Aragon).
  • In an Aragonese invasion on 17 January 1287 most of the Muslim inhabitants were enslaved and sold in the slave markets of Ibiza, Valencia and Barcelona.
  • Until 1344 the island was part fo the Kingdom of Majorca, an Aragonese vassal and subsequently unified with Spain.
  • In the 16th century Turkish naval attacks destroyed Mahon (Mao) and the then capital Ciutadella.
  • In 1708 Menorca was captured by the British during the Spanish War of Succession (this was when egg & chips were first introduced onto every menu).
  • British rule was a bit shaky and during the American Revolutionary War a combo of French and Spanish forces captured the island.
  • Menorca was recovered by the British in 1798 during the French Revolutionary Wars, but was finally ceded to Spain by the Treaty of Amiens in 1802.

After all of that, thanks for an awesome holiday, hope you all get out there some time, it's totally worth it!


Lucky


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