Saga Pearl II blog - Captains' blogs
22nd November, 2018
A heavy rain shower marked our approach into Mahon’s beautiful natural harbour in the early hours of Thursday morning. Fortunately, this would be the last sign of any water from above and the remainder of the day would clear to become pleasantly Mediterranean.
Mahon is housed within an exceptional natural harbour which, coupled with its strategic location, has made it a desirable stronghold over the centuries. The island was occupied by the British in the 18th Century; two clues of this occurrence are the San Antoni Mansion which holds a collection of Lord Nelson memorabilia, and the continued production of a rather nice gin. The city stands high over the harbour, with remnants of the original city wall surrounding it along with buildings offering attractive examples from all sorts of eras including neo-Classical, Baroque and Romanesque.
The island has much to offer, with some beautiful countryside, lovely old towns and a vast selection of stunning little beaches, varying in size and sand colour as one rounds the coast. Tours today offered scenic drives around the island, visits to various coves & villages, as well as a trip to the UNESCO Biosphere reserve of S’Albufera d’es Grau – a freshwater lagoon enclosed by dunes, linked to the sea by a single channel.
I decided to take a bicycle for a whizz ashore today and ventured south to a little spot called Binidali. After leaving the old town of Mahon, this took me a pleasant 8 miles or so initially through well maintained cycle lanes and then onto winding country roads. En-route I passed fine old farmhouses and lovely country villas, many sporting large swimming pools. The only irritant on my trip was the presence of bugs in the air – many of which seemed bizarrely keen on entering my mouth as I breathed slightly heavily whilst cycling at a pace. Fortunately I had brought my sunglasses along to protect my eyes from these floundering fleas, however the ones I swallowed I suppose did act as an interesting appetiser for my much anticipated Spanish lunch.
Upon arriving in Binidali, I found a small cluster of villas with a restaurant at the centre, and nearby was a lovely beach. I didn’t see a single other person around – an obvious sign of Mediterranean winter time; despite it being calm, sunny & a delightful 22oC. If this were Britain, the beach would be packed with sunbathers…
The restaurant unfortunately was closed, so I decided to cycle back via a town called Sant Climent and see what it had to offer. I was delighted to discover a seemingly endless list of tapas on the menu of the first little restaurant I came across, and so parked my bicycle up and enjoyed a jolly good lunch.
Returning to the ship, I cycled through the centre of Mahon’s old town, and as I did so came across several Saga passengers roaming the cobbled streets, enjoying the shade and architecture. Keeping to a sensible pace to ensure I didn’t mow anybody down, it was nevertheless a fun cycle ride down the winding hill back towards our little ship.
With everyone back on board at 17:00, it was the Staff Captain’s turn to drive out this afternoon, and I’m pleased to report that Simon weaved perfectly between the outcrops and islands on the way out of this picturesque harbour. Once clear of the outer channel buoys, we altered to starboard and skirted the coast to the south of the island before heading directly towards the south-eastern tip of Spain for our leisurely transit across the western Mediterranean towards Granada. Tomorrow we would enjoy a day at sea, with good weather forecasted and – a sure highlight for most – a lunchtime feast on deck featuring food themed upon Moorish Mediterranean. Yum!
Captain Kim Tanner
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