Cala en Blanes i Ciutadella

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May 25th 2010
Published: May 26th 2010
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Our third day of freedom began at a reasonable hour, leaving our hotel by 10 for Cala en Blanes, the cove only about a 20 minute walk from where our hotel is. We had to again walk past the British invasion but soon enough we arrived at an absolutely gorgeous inlet of turqouise-blue water and an non-overwhelming number of British people. There we remained for some three or so hours taking-in the sun and basking in Menorcan glory. Salt and Vinegar Lay’s kept us alive until finally returning to our hotel.

Back at Los Lentiscos we showered and refreshed ourselves with some pomades (Traditional Xoriguer Menorcan gin with bitter lemon, in this case with lemon Kass soft drink) which certainly hit both our spots. Then it was time for Ciutadella, Menorca’s second largest city and west-coast hub of the island. The city, itself, has been inhabited for hundreds fo thousands of years, visited by the Greeks, Phoenicians, and Greeks until finally the Romans conquered the island in 123BC and named it “Minorca” (the little one). The island was eventually captured by the Moors in 903 as they advanced throughout Spain, but little physical evidence remains of their conquest save several place names beginning with “Bini” meaning “son of”.

Then in 1287 the island was finally conquered by Alfonso III of Aragon who made Catalan the official language. Over the next several centuries the island was tossed between the British, Spanish, and French before finally ending up back in Spanish hands in 1802. Ciutadella remained the capital until 1772 when the British moved the capital to the East coast at Maó. The British legacy remains in the local taste for gin, as well as in many vocabularly terms including “vindou” instead of “finestra” from English “window”.

We arrived in the city at Plaça del Pins, just adjacent to the Plaça des Born at the heart of the city. The central point of the plaza is the Monument dels Reconquistadors, the obelisk commemorating the city’s reconquest from the Moors. Also in the plaza lie a number of palaces formerly owned by noble families, incuding the 18th Century neoclassic Palau Torre-Saure. The city itself is very quaint, and we both absolutely loved the rich yellow painted buildings with their narrow passageways somewhat reminiscent of our time in Nice last fall.

Promenading a bit further into the city we came across the city’s main cathedral, a gothic church founded in honor of Santa Maria by the Liberal Alfonso II after Minorca's conquest in 1287. Alfonso then ordered the construction of three chaplaincies in Minorca, one of which was Ciutadella's Santa Maria, erected inside the cathedral in the year 1795. Destroyed by the Turks in 1558, the vault fell in 1626 and the cathedral has undergone continued refurbishment until only a few years ago. The structure inside was quite simple but at the same time quite breathtaking. I very much enjoyed the various altars inside, particularly the “Retaule de La Mare de Déu de Roser” with its images of Our Lady of Loudres and Fatima flanking the center.

We continued exploring the narrow, golden-yellow streets of the city eventually realizing that most things were closed thanks to Pentecost. Leave it to the Catalans to take any excuse to not work or do anything regardless of how legitimately religious they actually are. We did manage to find some lovely gourmet food shops with nice displays of sausages and local wines that we just may have to buy before our departure. We managed to purchase some “amargos”, these delicious semi-cakey almond cookies very much famous throughout the island.
Eventually we made it to the port with hopes of eventually dining at this one place the Spanish King Juan Carlos is supposed to be seen dining at but of course it was closed thanks to the holiday. Instead we had to have a round of beers next door and rethink our plan.

Lucky for us we remembered vaguely what the New York Times had suggested and ended up at Café Balear just at the end of the port. As it was Alex's birthday we were determined to feast upon lobster stew, but upon learning that it was 65€ per person we changed our mind a bit. Later on we'd realize we must have understood as that is truly heinous as a price, any many other places had it for just a bit over 40€ split between people. Oh well...we ended up with a bottle of Cava, incredible grilled prawns, and then split angler fish and an entrecot drowning in roquefort for our main course. Life could be worse I suppose.

Quite full and ready for some relaxation, we returned to Urbanizazión Los Delfines for a good night's rest. It's crazy how fast the days are going by already...

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26th May 2010

What a lovely island that I would know nothing about if you hadn't traveled there. That's a great photo of you and Alex. Is the body under the altar in the Cathedral a statue or is it an "incorruptible" body of a dead saint?

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