The Balearic Islands Part 1

The Balearic Islands

This entry has become too long and thus I have decided to break it into 3 different posts. The first will be Ibiza and 2 Southern Ports in Mallorca while the next post will be the 2 Northern ports in Mallorca and finally the 3rd will be the as yet un toured unseen island of Menorca on which we have just arrived today.

Our anchorage in Ibiza with Gratitude in the background

On any given summer, the four islands which comprise the Balearic Island chain are teeming with visitors from around the globe but during a Covid crisis, the anchorages and villages that dot the landscape are anything but over run. We begin our tour of the islands from the South with Ibiza. Though Formentera is the Southernmost island, we decided to bypass it in search of more towns and activity. Ibiza, long purported to be the jet-set, party island for socialites and hangers on – we saw little of that during our short 2 weeks stay. Due to Covid, all of the nightclubs were closed, so likely even had we gone looking for this scene, we wouldn’t’ have found it. We did take a dinghy trip to Sant Antonio – the epicenter of the party scene and didn’t see anything at all that would warrant an overnight trip with dockage in the 500-700 Euro per night range. Anchored out in a lovely harbor near Cala Coral, we were able to take our dinghy to shore and tie up for about 20 Euro per day. From here we could take a taxi anywhere else, which we did – to Puerto de Ibiza.

Puerto de Ibiza reminded us a lot of Key West. It was charming in architecture and the shops and restaurants were plentiful. This is the only place thus far that finding a last-minute reservation was not possible. According to the cruising guides, one should not even attempt a last-minute reservation in any of the Balearic Islands – especially in a boat our size, but during Covid – that is all we have done. Had we been a tiny bit more proactive or patient we certainly would have been accommodated, but we just didn’t feel strongly that we needed to be in Ibiza for more than the day we allowed ourselves, so we simply continued along making our way to the next island North, Mallorca.

Our first stop on this Spanish island was Santa Ponca. According to Navily, the anchorage and port app we use, this anchorage was well protected based on the winds for the next few days. As it was also a short 7-8 hours cruise from Ibiza, it would be the perfect place to spend the night. Santa Ponca was perfectly idyllic, and we ended staying for nearly a week. The anchorage, like all of the anchorages we have thus explored in the Med, required the flopper stoppers as there was more surge than we have encountered elsewhere, but with the generous permission to leave our dinghy for the day – protected and tied up, it made for a wonderful first stop to explore by foot and by bus the surrounding area in the South West Coast of Mallorca. Santa Ponca was where King James 1 of Aragon took the island from the Arabs in 1229 after 300 years of Muslim rule, and this is commemorated by a monument which provides an interesting backdrop to the cliff from which teens jump into the harbor. Part of the municipality of Calvia, Santa Ponca is 18 Km from Palma, the capital of Mallorca, which can be accessed by frequent bus service. Another day was spent on a zipline obstacle course similar to the park that we enjoyed nearly weekly in Portugal. A bit of school took place – we studied the effects of evaporation in the Mediterranean Sea water, then used the newly acquired salt to make Mediterranean Sea Salt carmel which we drizzled on ice cream. I love school!!!

After spending a week enjoying the lovely secluded beaches and restaurants, we decided to move on to Palma. Having checked it out in advance, we found a perfect marina location right next to the Cathedral in Palma called Mollvell where we made reservations to arrive the next day. Originally planning just 3 days at the dock, we ended up staying for a week, and in that time, hardly sat still. Built in the Gothic style common in the 14th century for King James II, the Bellver Castle serves today as a history museum set on acres of wooded land surrounding it and makes for a wonderful hike – 6 miles round trip from the dock. The other highlights of our time in Palma include a trip to the Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma which began construction a year after King James I of Aragon took the island and continued for nearly 400 years, finishing in 1601. True of many European Cathedrals, it sits on the site of a previous Mosque and contains a nave that is 40 metres wide and 44 metres tall. By comparison, according to Wikipedia the height of the central nave in Notre Dame in Paris is 33 metres. Impressive. Adding to its splendor, Goudi made several changes to the cathedral in the early 20th century after a fire including a crown of lights hanging above the altar.

The crown of lights above the alter contributed by Goudi early 20th Century

For Jack the highlight of this stop most certainly was the Segway tour and the trip to Toys R Us – the first we have seen since we left the US and for me the highlight must have been the cafe’s and pastry and bread and markets…. its all about the food!!!!

The Year in Review 2020

The year in review

The year in Review

Im a goal setter.  Its the thing that gets me out of bed and gets me going.  Its what keeps me on task and moving forward.  And its what helps me to the be the best version of myself that I can be.   But sometimes life – or Covid 19 happens – and the goals need to be tossed out the window.  In these times, I like to look at what moved on track this year and how getting derailed in the past has actually been the blessing in disguise that I have needed.  

We had planned to be in Portugal for 5 months – Knowing that we can’t really move the boat too much in the winter and knowing also that we don’t have the disposition to live in cold/overcast climates indefinitely, this was a planned stop.  It has really been fantastic in hindsight as it offered us so many of the conditions we were hoping for.  For one thing, cruising is challenging.  Moving the boat and your family -often times constantly -for a whole season (which can be 5-7 months depending on your area and tolerance for lousy weather) takes its toll.  It is not unusual for us to just take a mental health day during a particularly aggressive month of cruising to just stop and reset for a day (or few) before doing anything else.  While traveling to new cities we have never been before is fun and exciting, it also requires planning which can range from minimal to many days/nights of reading.  Getting the boat safely into a dock or harbor is, of course, step one.  Planning the route, the weather, the fuel and the tides are just a few of the considerations each of these trips involves.  In addition, planning the meals, the sights, the museums, the recreation, the schooling etc all the while making sure that we don’t miss the “must do” in any location and deciding what must wait until our next trip here  – is all work.   Don’t get me wrong – Im not complaining – its wonderful work and we are thrilled to be doing it but it is work.     We aren’t sitting around with umbrella drinks having our laundry and sheets cleaned by staff.     All of this is to say that the winter was to be a giant reset essentially giving all of us time to rest, catch up on school, fall into a routine of work/exercise and allow visitors a chance to come see us.  We were also excited to actually wake up in the morning and know where the best place to have coffee is or our favorite pizza place after a long day.   Lagos, Portugal – YOU DID IT!  Honestly  -given our hopes for this winter of rest, Lagos nailed it (thanks Marci and George).     

Can you spot Gratitude? (one of the few non-sail types:-)

But now we are SERIOUSLY ready to move.  This is that goal setter in me who looks at the plan and shrieks “We have to GO!”   I somehow feel like I am failing, Im falling short of my goals and dreams.  I know that Im not the only person in this situation surrounded by amazing good fortune for which I am so speechlessly grateful yet feels “I should be doing something more”.    So on the off chance that there is another person out there like me who feels that they are “missing out” or failing to meet their plan or goal, or just basically feeling like a slacker for spending the day doing nothing – playing cards or chess or watching netflix – this is for you – and it is for me.     Time for a recap of the year to put into prospective what a few weeks of doing the responsible thing of “hangin’ on the couch,  is really about.    I would really encourage you to do the same in your life – even mention it on the blog!  Its all the virtual friendship anyway!  Tell me and each other what we have achieved in the last year before this all happened.  

The recap

In 5 weeks time, we will have been living aboard Gratitude for a whole year.  In that time, we have traveled roughly 6,000 miles (at a basic walking pace), seen 10 countries and 4 islands visiting 20 cities.  We have managed to keep ourselves fed and watered and, thank God, afloat for all of it.  Alec continues to amazing and delight us with the impeccable manner in which he maintains Gratitude, fixing every issue big or small the moment it arises.  Jack has moved into 4th grade and is flying through his studies with a new momentum and commitment that impresses me beyond measure.  We have planned a very aggressive and thorough trip to the Baltic region this summer but it is very likely we will be examining a Plan B or even Plan C with this Corona Virus as our immigration concerns are mounting with our protracted stay in Portugal.  We crashed and burned on the Portuguese lessons.  After committing to lessons both online and in person, it became burdensome to the point of harming Jacks other studies.  Basically, we needed to do exactly what we are doing now – we examined the benefit/work ratio and decided that the work, while honorable, was not likely to pay off in any meaningful way.  Nearly everyone here speaks English so there was little chance to practice.  Really working on and practicing Portuguese would make sense if we had obtained residency here but that never worked out either.  Given that we may or may not be here next winter (immigration issues again) there was little point to committing the time necessary to learn this challenging language.  Sometimes you just gotta punt.   

We have made new friends and old friends have visited.  We have thoroughly and completely traveled and learned the Algarve as well as a few other well known Portuguese cities.  So even though the cruising goal may become sidelined for the time being, the goal of living overseas continues to thrive.  The blog is gaining momentum thanks to readers like you – so thank you – you make it enjoyable to write and to share our experiences with you.  I have submitted 2 pieces of work to magazines and I continue to work on and learn how to improve my writing.  We have all spent far more time reading this past year than ever before and we all continue to exercise and eat well.  So on balance – even though this isn’t exactly what I thought  or hoped we would be doing right now, Im going to take a deep breath, thank God for this opportunity to just “be” and send all of you love and calming energy.  

Thanks for reading!

xo

Laurie