Hi everyone! For those of you who don’t know me, I am Jane Gracia, married to Pedro, joining his quest to live smartly, happily and healthily to 100 and beyond. I believe, in order to keep the mind sharp and create new memories, we must continually strive to do new things, experience new sensations and have more adventures. We have, in the past, lived on a sailing boat and the free nomadic lifestyle it gave us was, in equal measures, enriching and exciting coupled with frustrating and sometimes scary !! But I do believe the more “negative” aspects only served to make the positive ones even better.
Last weekend we decided we would have a mini-adventure in Menorca, camping in our car, not a roomy van I might add, a Peugeot 206 hatchback!! We were inspired by our daughter, Matilda, who just a few weeks previously had carelessly thrown a few things in the back of the (even tinier) Ford Ka and off she and her partner, Matt, went… What struck me was the mindset of youth. Let’s go exploring and camp in the car, they said.. and that is exactly what they did. I thought to myself, surely if we do “young people’s excursions, activities or adventures, this must act in a very positive way on the mind, keeping us youthful and promoting longevity!!
So, the inflatable mattress was purchased, the back seats removed to create a flat base, a dummy run followed and all fitted perfectly. We are lucky to have a ferry service literally on our doorstep as Balearia run a regular service from Alcudia to Ciutadella. As residents of Mallorca, we are able to obtain a 75% discount on all travel to other islands or to the mainland! Car packed, tickets in our hand.. let’s go!
The crossing was smooth and speedy and we arrived in Menorca one hour and 15 minutes later. Due to COVID 19 restrictions, the ferry was not as full as it would normally be in August so all passengers had plenty of room to maintain social distancing. We have been to Menorca several times but did not know the north coast very well so that was where we headed… The island is small and in 25 minutes we arrived at Cala Morell. It felt a little bizarre because the first thing one usually does when arriving at a new place on a mini-break is to go and check-in at the accommodation… Instead, we had a little drive around looking for an overnight “camping” spot, but all too residential. We didn’t have those very smart sun blocker pads to stick on our windows so we had planned to pin sarongs and towels for a bit of privacy. We reckoned that some concerned residents might call the local police if they were to spot our car parked outside their house all night, festooned in brightly coloured fabric like some type of travelling market !!
So, after a bit of lunch and a swim, we decided to explore a little further along the coast… Cala d’Algaiarens was our next stop and ticked all the boxes. A large sandy parking spot, plenty of other people with the same idea I might add, camper vans galore!! A delightful afternoon on the beach and then we headed into Ciutadella to buy some provisions for our evening picnic…
Fast forward a few hours and picture us ( a few glasses of wine later!!) standing beside our car thinking.. “right, now we have to transform the vehicle into our bedroom!!”. For any of you out there thinking to do this, I have some very important advice.. before you begin the “transformation” be sure you have all you need for the night ahead in one bag, whatever that may be… For us it was toothbrushes and paste, torches and books, reading glasses (vital) and toilet paper (very vital!!). The reason behind this is that once the car has been prepared for sleep and all our belongings were squashed and shoved into whatever space we could find, it is impossible to find anything, and I mean IMPOSSIBLE!! So, the front seats were moved forward and the backrest inclined as far forward as possible, then the inflatable mattress was pumped up, on went the cotton/linen fitted sheet (Just a tiny touch of “luxury”) and up went the makeshift curtains… As we were leaving the windows and the hatchback partially open we threw a giant mosquito net over the whole car… However, despite being plagued by these blood-sucking demons in Mallorca, strangely not one single bite did we receive over there.
So, how did we sleep..? Well, it was a little hot, to begin with, but the mattress was very comfy so that was a plus and I think I would have slept well if it hadn’t been for the noise of fellow campers! Not so much the ones parked nearby but there was a large group of midnight revellers in a wooded picnic area about 50 metres away and they partied until dawn!! However, that didn’t dampen our camping enthusiasm, and our dawn swim as the sun rose was perfection! I did have a bit of a laugh at myself as I hadn’t anticipated the fact that other people would be out there camping just like we were!! What did I think? That we would be on a desert island?
That day was spent exploring the delights of northern Menorca with a stop off for lunch in Fornells. It has many similarities to Mallorca but yet is so different, the countryside, the vegetation, the Fresian cows in the fields!! Menorca is a big cheese producer, so that explains it! We enjoyed a swim and snorkel in Cala Pregonda, such a breathtaking spot, and rounded off the day with supper overlooking the harbour in Ciutadella. To enjoy the full camping experience we decided to sleep on the beach that night and that proved very successful. In the Balearic islands, it is prohibited to pitch a tent, although some people do it anyway, but you can sleep outdoors almost anywhere you fancy… Within reason !! However, if we had been in a tent we wouldn’t have seen the glorious night sky, liberated from light pollution, and more shooting stars than we could count.
Menorca has a pathway called the Cami de Cavalls (the horses’ trail) GR223, and this path winds its way all around the island, staying as close as possible to the coast. On Sunday, we decided to have a taster walk, as one day when we have the time, this circumference trail is one we really want to explore. We headed off westward from Cala d’Algaiarens and walked for hours, stopping to swim, picnic, and admire the beauty of the coastline.
That evening we cracked it with our choice of camping spot!! True, it was a Sunday evening so definitely fewer people were camping out, but we found a parking spot in a large sandy layby, a short walk to the beach and the best news of all.. it was empty !! We had the camping prep down to perfection and had the best sleep ever.
We stayed only 3 days in Menorca, but it gave us so much. The thrill of stepping away from home comforts and camping in nature, the beauty of this gem of an island and the excitement of discovering it. The perfect undiluted time together, no interruptions and no distractions. We will return!
Stepping out of our comfort zone, and giving new experiences to both our body and brain has become one of our favourite strategies to keep us youthful on our journey to our 100th birthday and beyond !!! You should try it too.
Take care my friends, until next week.
Smart living to 100.
PS: We were really inspired by Marissa Peer’s youtube video. Here it is, I hope it inspires you too.