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Posts tagged ‘Menorca’

2016: My Year in Photos

It’s beyond crazy that a year has passed since I last compiled a photographic review of my photos. I remember exactly where I was sitting when I last did it, the rush I felt at writing the post before jetting off the following day to Venice…I practically remember what I was drinking (gingerbread green tea surely… it comes highly recommended). Short of remembering the clothes I was wearing, it seems so ridiculously proximate in time that I feel almost in a state of dreamlike disorientation as I engage on the annual tradition of writing this post. Even filing through my many thousand of photos does not convince me that enough time can have passed for a year to be up already. And there was I thinking that leap year 2016 had one more day to its number.

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And yet my calendar tells me that we are once again here again, coming to the end of another year, and one which for me has been very, very busy but full of light, sunshine and happiness. All of these things have mainly been the result of my location which, for another full year, was based on the paradise island of Mallorca in the Mediterranean sea, a backdrop which provided a daily life rich in sensual pleasures, and from which other fantastic locations such as Barcelona and Granada were only a short plane’s hop away.

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Yet asides from the visual riches so inherent in Spain, 2016 was a year which provided us with the opportunity to explore old favourites such as the enduringly attractive city of Rome, and also to embrace the new: the island of Menorca, Split in Croatia and Vienna in Austria were just three of those exciting new destinations which we were lucky enough to discover in 2016. It was also a year of discovery for my young family too…One of my highlights has to be the visit to Mallorca of my sister and young nephews, and experiencing their joy as they dipped into the warm sea for the first time.

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When I look back over 2016, I remember a year of stark contrasts. Because for all of the beautiful experiences which manifest in these photos shared today, I cannot deny a feeling of trepidation as I leave a year which presented so many new dangers. As if Brexit in June was not bad enough, the Trump election in the US just 5 months later was like rubbing salt into a still unhealed wound. And in my personal sphere, the news that I will soon be leaving to Mallorca to take up life again in London likewise will come with its share of challenges. Only time will tell how this cocktail of external and personal factors will play out, and the experiences which will result. However I am confident that in 12 months time, another year will have quickly passed. I look forward to sharing with you the photographic gallery which will surely result.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 20136and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. 

Across the Water to Menorca, Part 4: Virgin Beaches

So after all the sun shone on our weekend in Menorca, and while our stay saw its fair share of grey skies tumbling across the island, the times of sunshine were all the more remarkable by contrast. And for my final post of my little Menorca season, I am sharing photos captured on a long sunny Sunday afternoon, where the sun did nothing so well as to magnify the sheer stupefying beauty of Menorca’s natural scenery.

For where Menorca lacks in the city buzz of Palma here on its neighbouring island of Mallorca, it gains in the untouched virgin landscape which nature has left for us humble visitors to enjoy. Just as I thought Mallorca’s beauty could not be beaten, along came the calas (coves) of Menorca whose colours just blew my mind. There, the sands were so white, so pure and unsullied by the slightest hint of humans, that as they slowly descended beneath the fringe of the mediterranean coastline, they did so creating a paradisal cerulean blue melting into darker azure tones. Across the waters, the crystal clear seas shone and glimmered, and just underneath the surface, one could admire the camouflage effect of the odd rocky outcrop contrasting against the golden surface of the seabed.

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We could have quite easily spent months visiting the many calas which pepper Menorca’s coastline, such are their number, but we satisfied ourselves with the double whammy of the Cala Macarella and its smaller even more beautiful sister, the Cala Macarelleta, just around the corner. Approached through a densely planted aromatically fragrant pine forest, both beaches are a sight to behold and a treat for all the senses. The waters are every bit the match of the Caribbean, untouched, unspoilt and in the month of May blissfully underpopulated (save for the odd nude bather).

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Here in the Mediterranean, paradise always feels very close at hand, but in the calas of Menorca, I feel we had practically made it.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2016 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Across the Water to Menorca, Part 3: Ciutadella

When we saw the weather forecast for our weekend in Menorca we were on the verge of cancellation. We even went so far as to check the cancellation charges, as rain descended upon the Mediterranean. Could it be possible, we asked ourselves? Surely it couldn’t rain in Menorca. But as it was, we decided to go, lured by the promise of hotel pampering and a change of environment, and as it happened it didn’t rain all the time as the weatherman had promised. In fact for at least 60% of the time, the sun shone delightfully.

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Consequently, our experience of Ciutadella, the beautiful second city of the island in which we based ourselves was something of a mixed weather bag, as we dodged rainfall, spent our time in more cafés and restaurants drinking wine than could perhaps be justified, and constantly revisited the same sights in the hope of capturing the best photos of the famous pink-tinged sandstone which characterises the city. The collection which results is therefore one which shows not only the beautiful city, one filled with little cobbled lanes and impressive palatial buildings, but also the weather conditions which changed its character. I especially love those photos when the buildings are almost illuminated by a hazy sun, but where the promise of a menacing dark rain storm looms in the background.

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Whatever the weather, there is no doubting the charm of Ciutadella as a holiday destination. Far prettier (in my opinion) than Menorca’s primary city of Mahon, it’s hard to see Ciutadella as a city with some 20,000 inhabitants only. However, there is something truly cosmopolitan about its main square surrounded by baroque and classical facades and an impressive town hall built on the ruins of an old Moorish Alcazar, not to mention it’s imposing cathedral whose box like character looks like a large lump of peach coloured soap, complete with gargoyle detailing and a not displeasing perfume of incense.

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The city also benefits from a very beautiful little port which takes advantage of a natural inlet which creeps into the city from the nearby outer coastline from where the views of Mallorca are truly stunning. Back in the centre, this small city can be enjoyed at its bustling best around the popular Placa Llibertat Market, or in the crowded little arched shopping arcade, Ses Voltes, all white washed of course in the Menorcan fashion.

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The Market of Plaça de la Libertad

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Come rain, come shine, Ciutadella is Menorca’s gem. A little historical focal point on an island otherwise characterised by its uninhabited open spaces and utterly unspoilt natural beauty.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2016 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Across the Water to Menorca, Part 2: Pedreres de s’Hostal

There is something about the largely uninhabited central landscape of Menorca that gives it a mystical enigmatic quality like a magical bucolic setting for Tolkien’s hobbits or something out of Wonderland. But this sensation was deeply magnified at Pedreres de s’Hostal just outside the small city of Ciutadella. Formed out of a vast landscape of old and not-so-old sandstone quarries, the organisation Lithica has done the impossible, transforming what could have been an industrial waste land into the most stunningly unique gardens you are likely to see.

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What makes the gardens so unique is the landscape. The shapes left my stone cutters long ago are surreal to say the least. In sharp angular spaces of yellow rock, plants and flowers of every Mediterranean variety appear to have reclaimed the land from the hand of man as they twist and turn across the rock’s surface. Amongst unique anthropomorphic shapes, trees scatter light and herbs their heady aroma. My favourite two gardens were a pristine medieval courtyard garden set within one of the deepest mines like the cloister of a monastery, and a medicinal herb garden planted amongst a twisting path of stone.

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At the centre of it all are two vast mines more recently quarried, in the largest of which a labyrinth has been crafted from stone. Led into the maze by the challenge of finding the centre, we felt almost mythical in amongst a near Minoan landscape of ochre, half expecting the Minotaur to rear up before us at any turn. With the walls soaring up around us at the most peculiar angles, it was truly like being in a fantasy world.

Sadly the weather that graced our visit was for the most part vexingly cloudy. Nevertheless the photos I took are full of the magical spirit of this place, and when, at the end, the sun finally shone, it was like the golden reward bestowed upon us as the centre of the labyrinth was reached.

More information on the gardens can be found at www.lithica.es

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2016 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Across the Water to Menorca, Part 1: Binibèquer Vell

It’s just a small stretch across the water. Reach out your hand from the bay of Alcudia, and you can almost touch the island across the bay, and certainly see its gentle profile floating upon the horizon. Menorca is the little sister of Mallorca, an island which shares much of Mallorca’s Balearic history and culture, but which likewise has its own personality, and much more of the unspoilt beauty which Mallorca too would have retained were it not for the tourism boom. It is an island altogether more tranquil and sedate, with its rolling hills and flattened floral landscape, and with residents so apparently laid back that at times you wonder if they are falling asleep as they charm you with their somniferous tones.

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Last weekend we headed, for the first time, to our neighbouring island of Menorca, and while I have several tales from that trip to relay to you hereafter, I am starting somewhat back to front with the last place we visited, just before we returned on our 20 minute hop through the skies. For in visiting Binibèquer Vell, a tiny little whitewashed village by the sea, it felt as though we were seeing in manifest form the very epitome of this island, unravaged and virginal, a place of pure light and clean simplicity.

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Situated on the southern coast of the island some 15 minutes from the capital Mahon, the “Vell” in Binibèquer Vell connotes its age compared with its more modern counterpart. However, as some commentaries would have it, the village isn’t old at all – rather constructed in the 70s as a kind of reproduction idyll to entice the tourists. I’m not overly sure whether this is as much a myth as the commentators declare the village to be. All I know is that we were both enticed to visit, and enamoured by the whitewashed quaint shapes of this incredibly cute cluster of fishermen’s houses. Caught somewhere between a smurf village idyll and a museum piece, few could deny the charm of this place, with its pure white forms radiating against the almost neon blue skies, and the kind of simplicity which makes the island of Menorca beautiful.

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All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2016 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.