Menorca: the protected island where nature reigns

The image of Menorca is that of a green island with many pristine coves and beaches. In short: tranquility, nature and living at a slow pace. But if we go and see what beautiful “hides” this island, in reality, there is much, much more: the countryside activities, outdoor sports, local culinary delights, crafts and products.

In truth, Menorca is an island that shows its treasures to those who truly seek them.
The highest point on the island is Mount Toro which measures 358 meters above sea level. The north coast is rugged and wild with sparse vegetation and dark reddish sand. The southern coast, on the other hand, is made up of wooded ravines that descend towards coves and beaches with white sand and turquoise sea.

The blue sea of Menorca
Photo by Cyril PAPOT from Adobe Stock

The climate is particularly mild and temperate, although a feature of the island is strength of the north wind. It’s such a strong wind has shaped the landscape. The island is divided in eight administrative councils: Maó, Ciutadella, Alaior, Es Castell, Sant Lluís, Es Mercadal, Ferreries and Es Mig jorn Gran.

The biosphere reserve

Menorca has been declared a biosphere reserve since October 1993 by virtue of the close link between man and territory. Here the economic growth tries to be compatible with the conservation of the island and, with it, agriculture is also done in a sustainable way.
In the landscape it is clearly perceptible how agriculture still makes use of ancient customs, such as the use of dry stones used to delimit agricultural land for example.

The Albufera des Grau Natural Park, with its 5000 hectares of surface, represents the fulcrum of the biosphere and has a salt pan, a stretch of coast, several islets and wetlands where birds of prey and seabirds can find a home.
The ravines offer shelter to wealth of fauna and flora, including a number of endemic species and endangered aspecies like red kites and Lilford’s wall lizards. The dunes, streams, ravines, holm oak groves, wild olive trees and pines, all contribute to the uniqueness of Menorca as a Biosphere Reserve.

Image by jvilellaCFATB from Pixabay

Archeology in Menorca

The archaeological heritage of Menorca is almost as rich as the natural and marine one if you consider that on the island there are on average two monuments every square kilometer!
One of the most emblematic of Menorca is undoubtedly the Naveta des Tudons, buildings used as collective ossuaries built in stone between 700 and 1000 BC.
Trepucó, Talatí de Dalt, Torre d’en Galmés, Torralba d’en Salort, Cornia Nou are other sites that can give an excellent idea of the prehistoric past of the island.
They are monuments built using large stones without mortar that bring with them a sense of mystery and give an idea of the rituals performed by the first inhabitants who inhabited the island in the past.

The nature

The Menorcan countryside is unspoiled while 70% of the territory is protected. A long stretch of the northern coast is considered a Marine Reserve and many islets belonging to Menorca are unspoiled and have great ecological value.
These small islands are inhabited from endemic animals, including eight subspecies of the Lilford wall lizard, each subspecies unique and different. There are a number of good ecosystems to explore: woods, cliffs, wetlands, streams, spring pools, as well as ravines dug by the erosion of the limestone rock.

Salinas de Addaia.Mongofre Nou.Menorca.Islas Baleares. España.

Along the 216 km of coast of Menorca there are about eighty sandy bays, as well as numerous coves and hidden coves in the shore.
Son Bou, with over 2.5km of sand, is the longest beach. The smallest beaches are barely 100 meters long, although size is beside the point when you are talking about genuine natural paradise placed in what is one of the best preserved holiday destinations in the Mediterranean.

Along the northern coast the landscape is wild and untamed, with predominantly earthy, ocher and golden tones. There are amazing beaches and coves, as well as fantastic snorkelling and scuba diving locations. Cala Pregonda might well be the best known natural beach, but Cavalleria and Cala Pilar are equally stunning.
The beautiful landscape of La Vall is where Es Bot and Es Tancat are located, the twin beaches of Algaiarens. Cala Presili and Cala Tortuga are neighbouring beaches located in the nature reserve Parque Natural la Albufera des Grau.
Those who prefer beaches with some facilities but still want a stunning setting will love the beaches at Cala Morell, Arenal de Son Saura (Son Parc), the wide sandy beach at Es Grau, or Cala Mesquida.

The southern coastline is irresistibly appealing, with turquoise blue sea, fine white sand and leafy woods providing shade almost down to the water’s
edge. The best known natural beaches are: the twin beaches of Son Saura, the famous beaches of Cala en Turqueta, Cala Macarella y Macarelleta, as well as Cala Mitjana and Mitjaneta. Trebalúger and Cala Escorxada beaches are two jewels which are somewhat quieter as it is quite a long walk to reach them. Binigaus is another delightful option: it is the widest unspoilt beach of the south coast and is easily accessible for a day at the beach, as is tiny Atalis beach, at the end of Son Bou beach. The most beautiful beaches next to resorts are: Son Xoriguer; majestic Cala Galdana, which is almost always calm, sheltered as it is by the cliffs; the long stretch of sand at Sant Tomàs and Cala en Porter. The beaches at Binibèquer, Punta Prima and Binissafúller stand out among the beaches in the Sant Lluís area.

Camí de Cavalls

The Camí de Cavalls is a great way to discover The magnificent landscape of Menorca. It is a 185 km route around the coast of the island which includes a variety of different scenarios Its exact origin is unknown; what is known is that the Camí de Cavalls has been used for many centuries as a link between the defense towers that had been built to watch over and safeguard the island from any possible attack or invasion. The path has had various uses over the centuries and has been possibly restored and open to the public in 2010. Today it is part of the long European remote trail network, numbered GR-223.

Cami de Cavalls, GR223. Binicalaf Nou. (2011) Minorca. Balearic Islands. Spain.

Gastronomy and local products

Simplicity is the essence of Menorcan cuisine; its foundation lies in people who are down-to-earth, but who know how to enjoy life and how to make the most of what they have. Within every apparently humble dish there lies a touch of refinement, a delightful hint of foreign cultures. Traditional cookery books all contain recipes for oliaigua and other vegetable dishes, seafaring delicacies such as caldereta de langosta, meat and game recipes, stuffed aubergines and other oven baked dishes like perol. There are lots of recipes for pastries as Menorcans have a very sweet tooth. Carquinyols, flaons, pastissets and
are some of the sweet and savoury pastries that are made here.
The one Menorcan product known worldwide is surely mayonnaise. Experts agree that it was originally a local sauce made here on the island and that it spread to the rest of the world after the French invaded Menorca in the 18th century. The theory is that the Duke of Richelieu tasted the sauce while he was on the island, and then took the recipe back to the French court where
it became known as mahonnaise, in reference to the town Maó

The local food industry has created a hallmark of guarantee Made in Menorca. A prime example is the cheese which has obtained the protected designation of origin (PDO) Mahón-Menorca and has recently been classified among the
best in the world. Menorcan cheese is square in shape, with a darkish reddish brown rind and a slightly salty flavour. The Gin from Maó has been attributed a
protected geographical indication (PGI) and is very well known both in Menorca and abroad. The Menorcan gin is the oldest gin in Spain. It is distilled from wine alcohol with juniper berries and a selection of herbs in old copper stills heated
by wood fires and is one of the most aromatic gins on the market.
There are some traditional liquors and spirits as well as the Menorcan gin that are produced on the island, such as herb liquors, the native camomile liquor and citric fruit liquors which are drunk after a meal as a digestif. In recent years
some artisan breweries have started up. The beer they brew is made from natural unpasteurised ingredients. The result is a range of signature
brews of different flavours and characteristics.

‘Vi de la Terra Illa de Menorca’ is a geographical indication of quality of wine. There are several wineries that have brought back traditional wine
making methods to the island, producing wines of a distinctive island character. A couple of wineries offer tours and wine tastings. Olive oil is another quality food product. There are a few extra virgin olive oils produced in Menorca, thanks to enterprising local producers, although only very small amounts are made at the moment. The hallmark ‘Made in Menorca’ recognises some of the local meat products, particularly cured pork. Carn-i-xulla is the most characteristic product, dating back to ancient roman curing methods.
Other types of cured pork products are ‘sobrasadas’ (both mild and mature), ‘botifarrons’ and ‘cuixots’. There is a small amount of honey made on the island. Prized for many centuries, the Roman author Pliny claimed the island’s honey was the best in the world next to Greek honey.

Menorca: perfect place to admire the stars

Preserve an island with respect for the environment and nature not only mean having a wonderful sea, lots of greenery and many animals but also being able to enjoy the sky without too much artificial light disturbing the vision of the night show.
Since 2019 Menorca also has the “Starlight” tourist destination certification, which means that this island has been selected among the ideal destinations to enjoy the wonders of the constellations and galaxies and meteor showers for example.
In Menorca there are some points suggested by Starlight where you can find the ideal conditions to observe the night sky. Cala Macarella is a quiet and isolated beach where you can see the stars without being disturbed by too many artificial lights. The lighthouses are instead spectacular places from which to observe the sea, the stars and, why not, from which to take fantastic photos to share or to take home and keep as a souvenir. The Faro de Cavalleria or the Favaritx (cover photo) will leave you breathless.

Image by Xose Vidal from Pixabay

Also worth considering Pont den Gil (pictured above) both for evening observations and for taking great pictures

Respect Menorca

Coming on holiday to Menorca does not only mean thinking about enjoying nature and a sea that is unique in the world but also about entering a protected area for a few days which, as such, must be preserved and respected.
The rule of the good tourist and the good traveler implies that in Menorca you have to respect some rules, such as the simpler ones of not dirtying the environment by leaving waste around or perhaps ruining the beaches and the sea. The butts are put in the ashtrays and everything must stay in its place.
The animals and plants that live here must continue to live in total tranquility, as well as the people who have always worked and lived here.
The earth and nature belong to everyone.
When we visit this and other paradises we try to take care of them!

Photos: Adobe stock, Pixabay and Unspash.

Texel: la perla del mare di Wadden

Foto di Evgeni Tcherkasski da Pixabay

Texel è la più grande delle cinque isole olandesi nel mare di Wadden, considerata un’area protetta e patrimonio dell’UNESCO. Su quest’isola vivono circa 13.000 persone e la sua “capitale” si chiama Den Burg. Nonostante la sua posizione decisamente settentrionale rispetto all’Olanda e all’Europa, Texel è senza dubbio un’isola dall’aspetto turistico e più rilassante che mai.

Le ragioni? Prima di tutto con i suoi 30 km di costa, Texel offre uno “scorcio” di mare sia ai fotografi che agli amanti del mare del nord e, in secondo luogo,qui ci sono così tanti chilometri di piste ciclabili che nemmeno una grande città sogna di avere .
Questo significa più sicurezza, silenzio e la possibilità di spostarsi con un mezzo ecologico ed economico in ogni angolo dell’isola.

Panorama di una coppia che pedala verso il faro sull’isola di Texel, Paesi Bassi
L’aspetto naturalistico

Chi pensa di trovare solo spiagge, un faro, chilometri e chilometri di piste ciclabili su Texel, forse non sa che qui come in altre isole del Wadden, molte specie di uccelli marini vengono a “cercare rifugio e casa”. Le dune presenti in alcune zone come quelle intorno a De Koog, ad esempio, ospitano cormorani e platalee.
Arrivando in queste zone attraverso alcuni sentieri vi renderete conto di essere entrati in una vera e propria riserva naturale. Qui può capitare che alcune aree siano limitate per consentire la nidificazione degli uccelli migratori in determinati periodi dell’anno.
Non dimenticare mai che un terzo di quest’isola è considerata una riserva naturale.

Il turismo sull’isola

Spiagge, biciclette, natura e anche il vento.
Se uniamo questi elementi allora è facile pensare che Texel sia una grande attrazione per il turista che ama uno di questi quattro elementi o tutti e quattro insieme. Il 70% del profitto dell’isola e dei suoi abitanti proviene dal turismo. Noleggi bici indispensabili per permettere a tutti di pedalare sui 130 km di piste ciclabili. Una ragnatela se si pensa alle dimensioni dell’isola!

Ma ci sono anche attività da spiaggia come il surf, il kitesurf e tutto ciò che riguarda la balneazione. Senza dimenticare negozi, hotel, ristoranti e tutto il resto. Sette villaggi su un’isola che fa parte di un gruppo di cinque isole che appartengono alle isole Frisone.

è così piccolo il mondo

Texel: the pearl of the Wadden Sea

Image by Evgeni Tcherkasski from Pixabay

Texel is the largest of the five Dutch islands in the Wadden Sea, considered a protected area and a UNESCO heritage site. About 13,000 people live on this island and its “capital” is called Den Burg.
Despite its decidedly northern position with respect to Holland and Europe, Texel is undoubtedly an island with a tourist aspect. and more relaxing than ever.

The reasons? First of all with its 30 km of coastline, Texel offers a “glimpse” of the sea to both photographers and lovers of the north sea and, secondly, there are so many kilometers of cycle paths here that not even a big city dreams of having.
This means more safety, silence, and the possibility of moving with an ecological and economical vehicle to every corner of the island.

Panorama of a couple riding towards the lighthouse on Texel island, Netherlands

The naturalistic aspect

Whoever thinks of finding only beaches, a lighthouse, kilometers and kilometers of cycle paths on Texel, perhaps does not know that here, as in other islands of the Wadden Sea, many species of seabirds come to “seek shelter and home”. The dunes present in some areas such as those around De Koog, for example, are home to cormorants and spunbills. Arriving in these areas through some paths you will realize that you have entered a real nature reserve. Here it may happen that some areas are limited to allow migratory birds to nest at certain times of the year.
Never forget that one third of this island is considered a nature reserve.

Tourism on the island

Beaches, bicycles, nature and even the wind. If we combine these elements then it is easy to think that Texel is a great attraction for the tourist who loves one of these four elements or all four together. 70% of the profit of the island and its residents comes from tourism. Bike rentals that are essential to allow everyone to ride on the 130 km of cycle paths. A spider’s web if you think about the size of the island!

But there are also beach activities like surfing, kite surfing and everything related to bathing. Without forgetting shops, hotels, restaurants and everything in between. Seven villages on one island which is part of a group of five islands which belong to the Frisian islands.

The world is so small…”

Humberstone: la citta fantasma persa nel deserto di Atacama

Se state pensando di un viaggio in Sud America e non avete ancora incluso questa destinazione, forse state dimenticando qualcosa.

Humberstone è sicuramente un luogo di fascino e storia da visitare se siete amanti del mistero e del silenzio.
Nasce nel 1872 con lo scopo di produrre salnitro in un momento in cui la domanda di nitrati era in forte crescita.
In poco tempo diventa un piccolo paese/fabbrica dove si stabiliscono gli operai, si creano nuovi edifici e, nel tempo, si costruiscono cinema, piscine e una chiesa.

Case abbandonate di una strada deserta a Humberstone, deserto di Atacama, Cile.

Con la Grande Depressione del 1929, però, molte cose cambiarono. Tutta la ricchezza creata con il salnitro crolla in breve tempo tanto che Humberstone e le fabbriche della zona falliscono.
Dal 1960 i lavoratori abbandonano gradualmente Humberstone e qui diventa la città fantasma che vediamo oggi.

Nonostante ciò, Humberstone diventa monumento nazionale nel 1970 e patrimonio dell’UNESCO nel 2005.
L’UNESCO mette in luce le grandi ricchezze culturali di questo luogo a partire dal grande lavoro dei lavoratori e dalla loro stessa vita (lingua e cultura in primis).
Nella città perduta si può anche ammirare un teatro dove venivano presentati film messicani e varie operette.
La piazza della fabbrica è ancora aperta a turisti e curiosi, così come un caffè.
Ma il fascino di lasciarsi andare al silenzio di una città così ricca di storia e di vita passata immersa nel deserto è impareggiabile.

Humberstone: the ghost town lost in the Atacama Desert

If you are thinking of a trip to South America and you have not yet included this destination, perhaps you are forgetting something.

Humberstone is definitely a place of charm and history to visit if you are a lover of mystery and silence. It was born in 1872 with the aim of producing saltpetre at a time when the demand for nitrates was growing.
In a short time it becomes a small town / factory where workers settle, new buildings are created and, over time, cinemas, swimming pools and a church are built.

Abandoned houses of a deserted street in Humberstone, Atacama Desert, Chile

With the Great Depression of 1929, however, many things changed. All the wealth created with saltpeter collapses in a short time so that Humberstone and the factories in the area go bankrupt. Since 1960 the workers drop out Humberstone gradually and here becomes the ghost town we can see today.

Despite this, Humberstone became a national monument in 1970 and a UNESCO heritage site in 2005.
UNESCO highlights the great cultural riches of this place starting from the great work of the workers and their life itself (language and culture in the first place).
In the lost city you can also admire a theater where Mexican films and various operettas were presented. The factory town square is still open to tourists and the curious, as is a café.
But the charm of letting yourself go to the silence of a city so rich in history and past life immersed in the desert is unparalleled.