Despite having enjoyed my shortest vacation season since arriving in Spain six years ago, this summer I was fortunate enough to visit three of the Balearic Islands (Ibiza, Formentera, and Mallorca), Bethany Beach (Delaware), and Washington, DC (including my hometown, Potomac, Maryland). And I did so in just seven work days and a short weekend getaway. Here are my brief reflections on the Balearic Islands, beaches and their beauty …
In July, I spent a few days in Ibiza and circumvented Formentera (where I been earlier this year) with my friends Rose and Laura. Because one of my closest friends, Manolo, is from Mallorca, I tend to visit Mallorca a couple of times each year. This summer was no different. A few years ago, I spent a few days in Menorca. Thus, I believe that I almost qualified to judge the beauty of these islands and come to the following conclusions:
Formentera has the best beaches (and water) without a doubt, probably the best I have seen in the Mediterranean and as nice as any in the Carribean. Furthermore, it has few tourists and almost no other distractions than contemplating the sea. Because it is so close to Ibiza (the ideal island for sin), one can always return to Ibiza for those “other” distractions. Menorca has the perfect “calas” or Mediterranean coves. The majority of beaches and calas in Menorca are protected from construction and therefore have crystal clear water. The problem with Ibiza, Formentera, and Menorca (to a lesser extent) is that they lack the cultural and topographical richness of Mallorca. For example, Ibiza’s interior is full of horribly designed architecture and spatial planning. Menorca is windy and it looks similar to being on the moon. In contrast, Mallorca has beautiful picturesque villages, mountains and plains, sandy beaches and coves. Mallorca also has a wealth of cultural patrimony, agriculture and livestock. It is without a doubt the most complete of the four islands.
As a matter of fact, last weekend I drove from Manolo’s new clandestine headquarters near Fornalutx along the Tramuntana through Soller, Deia, and Valldemosa. As moving along Mallorca’s northwest coastline, I kept thinking that these towns (including Estellencs which sounds like “it stinks”) have to comprise the most beautiful countryside in all of Spain. It is typically Mediterranean with its sea, and yet is has wonderful villages built into the mountainsides.
As mentioned (regardless of a short break for time off), this summer was very special. I was able to spend time with Rose and Laura in Ibiza and Formentera, and with Manolo and his family in Mallorca. I kept thinking that this was what was so special about living in Europe. Places like Mallorca and Formentera are only a 50 minute plane ride away. Nevertheless, for some reason when I look at all of my summer photos, I am most moved by this picture of Bethany Beach where I spent a few days with my parents and my brother (and his girlfriend). The Altantic Ocean is so much more powerful than the Mediterranean Sea, and darker, frigid and less allurring. Yet the picture is so much more peaceful.
As a matter of fact, I was overwhelmed in general by the natural beauty that I encountered when I returned home, not just in Bethany but also in Potomac and DC. I guess that’s the homefield advantage.