We had visited Menorca and its capital city Mahon a few times before we realised that the city's cathedral held lunchtime organ recitals during the summer months.
The Church of Santa Maria in Mahon, Menorca, has a prime position. It is close to the traditional fish market and the indoor market now housed in a former convent and other fine buildings. A cafe offering panoramic views over Mahon harbour is a great place to take in a snack, coffee or beer as you watch the world go by.
During the tourist season the Church of Santa Maria holds daily organ recitals (except Sunday).
In 2014 the recitals cost 5 Euros per person, began at 1pm and lasted around 40 minutes.
We popped in to one session when the midday sun and toasting temperatures became too much. The calm cool atmosphere of the church was perfect. The organ recital soon broke the peace though, albeit in a tuneful way.
The huge organ sits high above the congregation. It was impossible to see the musician responsible until the recital ended. He spoke in Spanish but whether you know the classical pieces he plays or not it will be a stunning performance.
Here is some information about the church via Menorca Live: "Built in the 18th century on the site of a 13th century gothic church this impressive building creates one of Mahon’s chief landmarks.
The interior is of neogothic style but of great note is the monumental organ that has great instrumental and artistic quality. It was commissioned in 1806 by the rector Gabriel Alenyar from the masters Franciso Otter and Joan Kiburz who lived in Barcelona.
It took three years to make and when it was ready there were problems with its transportation not only due to the fact that the Napoleonic war was on but also due to its immense size. It has four keyboards, 3006 organ pipes – 197 of which are wooden and the rest are metal. Eventually it was inaugurated in 1810 and its artistic ornamentation was carried out by the Menorcan sculptor Francesc Comas."
An interesting place to visit but the organ recital is the icing on the cake.
Its central location means it is easy to visit when you are in Mahon.
In June 2014 when we visited the church bells went into overdrive to celebrate a new King of Spain.
Church from 07.30 to 12.00 and from 18.00 – 20.30
Office from 18.00 to 19.00
In May 2017 we enjoyed a brilliant sun-filled vacation on the Balearic Island of Menorca.
But the small and perfectly formed Island of Menorca can experience bad weather in particular when it is slightly off season.
The main tourist months are May to October with the hottest and driest months usually July and September. You can get very hot weather in May and June if you are lucky and September though rarely in October.
However each month has its own charm and usually fairly good weather.
But when it rains boy can it rain.
Here is a report come diary entry from a few years back relating to one particularly wet afternoon.
"A late vacation to the small but perfectly formed Balearic Island of Menorca was unexpectedly hot for October. However just to keep us on our toes there was one wet, wet, wet day the first week and a mega-windy one the second.
Neither really brought cold temperatures but both were predicted.
If you holiday on the island of Menorca check out the local weather forecast online or at hotel reception. Either can usually tell you exactly what days wind or rain is likely to occur. This is done with much more accuracy than in the UK.
Here comes the rain
We took a bus from Mahon station to Ciutadella during the morning. Mahon is the capital of Menorca and in the east, and Ciutadella the old capital and in the west.
Mahon has the deepest natural harbour in the world and was useful to the occupying British many years ago.
These days cruise ships and ferries utilise the port.
We arrived back in Mahon from Ciutadella after lunch. The skies were cloudy but the first few drops of rain only appeared as we reached our hotel a short walk away. By the time we arrived in our room the heavens opened and the rain set in.
The place looked deserted as other guests opted to sleep through the wet afternoon.
It rained and rained and rained until late evening but that was it. The next day the sun shone in clear skies and the temperature soared to 31 C, very hot for October in Menorca.
It was only afternoon during the downpour but the hotel lights automatically kicked in with the rain giving a dismal feel to the day.
I had rung reception but there was no reply as they were all busy closing windows and making sure the place was safe and dry.
Just as we thought we would have to go to reception the "cavalry" appeared in the shape of the hotel maintenance man.
We shot the footage below from outside of our room.
It includes the hotel maintenance man Augustine who was dispatched to lift drain covers and remove dead leaves from filters to prevent guest rooms flooding. (The other guy looking on is husband - the mutterings are Hubby and I)
We have visited Menorca many times but it never ceases to amaze or appeal.
And most days it is the sunshine that dazzles."
Turkey was not for us as we chose the wrong resort and hotel and visited at the wrong time of year, for us that is!
My sister-in-law who with her husband accompanied us on our two week vacation to Turkey fell in love with the country. As she wrote on her postcards home "Well I have to say that Turkey is a delight to me" which was a clever and probably pre-planned pun on the sweet treat consumed in Turkey and around the world namely Turkish Delight.
Looking back down the years, and through rose coloured glasses, Turkey was a great place to visit as it has stunning scenery, beaches and at the time of our vacation the local currency went a very long way.
I guess the problem for me was that I was having medical treatment which made me moody and depressed at time during our vacation. We visited in the middle of June, as that was the only time my sister-in-law could get leave from her work. This meant that the weather was hotter than hot; in fact it was positively sizzling. Finally our resort was not really for us and the accommodation laughingly called 'Hotel Best' was dire.
As someone who usually tries to get the best out of any vacation I just found it hard to feel enthralled all of the time. This holiday had its good moments but more than once I actually wished that I was home. I never do that on vacation and this was the only summer holiday that has left me with such a feeling.
Let me share with you then The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of our two week vacation to Marmaris, Turkey.
Where is Turkey and Marmaris?
Turkey is a large country that straddles Europe and Asia. Take a look at the image to the right for its exact locaion on the globe. Marmaris is in the south west of Turkey along with quite a few other resorts.
Turkey has some similarities to Greece, but both countries would be appalled to hear that. However, for a visitor, both countries welcome tourists, offer similar fare and have lovely beaches. Turkey and Greece have not shared a happy co-existence though. At one time if your passport had been stamped from a visit to Turkey, it was doubtful if Greece would let you enter their country.
Greek Islands, such as Rhodes and Symi, are very close to the Turkish coastline which means that day trippers will in effect swap a day in Rhodes for a day in Marmaris and vice versa.
Our two week vacation in Marmaris, Turkey
We flew to Turkey from Humberside Airport in the UK.
At the time this airport was even smaller than today and there was absolutely nothing to do as we waited for our flight.
Friends had already warned us that we would need to pay £10 each for a visa at the Turkish airport check-in. This was duly handed over but you do not receive a visa or in our case a smile but the Turkish guard let us in. Hooray.
The airport is very modern and large; it is truly an international airport which we have not always found when travelling to countries around the Mediterranean.
The journey to the hotel was fairly unspectacular but I was struck by the rural beauty of Turkey. In my mind's eye I had envisaged sand and a barren wasteland; I am not sure why but I had. Instead I was faced with greenery, roadside Oleanders in full blossom and mountains or large hills.
We had almost picked Marmaris by sticking a pin inthea holiday brochure. We all knew that we wanted to visit Turkey but that was the extent of our demands; budget was also a consideration.
As we approached Marmaris it is was plain to see that although the area was still very beautiful it had been over commercialised, in order to please, especially the British, tourists. In doing so they had sucked Turkey out of this resort. Of course this would make it ideal for some British holiday makers but it did not for me.
Had we foolishly thought that the name of this hotel suggested quality? Perhaps we had but suffice to say it did not. Of course, some problems cannot be helped. The hotel staff were all warm and friendly and the small layout of the bar and swimming pool were fine. However, we had some problems.
As I came down after unpacking I moved a net curtain on the stairs, in order to appreciate the view. I received three hornet stings on my hand. Back to the room then for basic first aid with help from from hubby. I always take my anti-histammine pills and after bite creams on holiday just in case. This first problem was just one of those things and I was determined it would not spoil my vacation.
The room was very basic. There was a carpet down which is unusual in hotel rooms in hot countries. It was fairly tatty but looked clean. It did make it hard to spot the bugs that came out each night though.
We slept for two weeks with the light on all night; Hubby would sit for a long time before dropping off to sleep reading as he watched out for unwelcome visitors. His large boot was kept busy night after night after night. Cockroaches and many other horrible large bugs would run a riot in our room, and everyone elses I think also.
The hotel was in a good location, in that it was close to the amenities but far enough away from noisy bars so that you could get some sleep, bugs permitting. You will also need an insect repellant plug in order to keep the mosquitoes at bay. We had taken plenty of insect repellant in cream form and you do need to apply this each evening before going out.
Marmaris has a great waterfront and boat area which is lovely to stroll around. However, as we visited in early June and the temperature was often almost 40 degrees centigrade we had little energy to do so.
Along the edge of the water where there are bars, restaurants and shops you need to have nerves of steel. When we visited the saying of the day was "Asda Price" and young Turkish men would stand outside of their cafes and bars trying to entice you in to eat or drink. They would slap their back pocket and shout Asda price. The first once or twice it is funny; however this feeling does not last.
Each time you wander along here you will have to run the gauntlet of these guys. Arms around your shoulder, compliments and more are all used to win you in. This is even when you are walking with your husband or partner and are getting on a bit in years. Young and single people be aware.
Knowing where you want to eat that night will not help. You will still have to run this gauntlet unless you can find a short cut to your restaurant or cafe.
There are also tour salesmen along here and you will repeatedly hear someone shout Turtle Beach, at you.
Here are the pros and cons of Marmaris in my opinion. Of course, you must remember that what is a con to me, may be a pro to you.
One of my fond memories is sitting with my sister-in-law in the bazaar at Marmaris. She and I had decided to do a little tourist shopping. The young man, like all the other traders, expected us to barter. However, if we were prepared to sit on the low stools, drinking apple tea and have an English conversation with him the price would be good. This charming young guy really just wanted to learn what he could about the UK and our language. In the end the Turkish Delight we bought was so cheap he may as well have given it to us.
I guess it is in order to avoid bugs but the cleanliness in restaurants and cafes seems second no none. As you are eating any crumbs dropped on the table are instantly swept away by a waiter with a little brush. If you put a tiny piece of paper in the ashtray it is immediately emptied.
The local transport is the Dolmus. It is a cross between a taxi and a bus. It is a small mini van that does not set off until it is full. You are then given a fun but bumpy ride to your destination.
If you want to visit places in Turkey such as Pamukkale use the local traders as their tours are cheaper.
Icmeler has more German tourists than English. It is within easy reach of Marmaris either by boat or Dolmus but if you are feeling active you could walk. It is developed but has a classier feel and is prettier than Marmaris.
You may see signs of the Turkish army and weapons as you travel around. Take care. You definitely would not want to spend any time in a Turkish jail.
A return visit?
I would love to visit again but this time I would visit in May or September as the weather would be cooler. I would also research the accommodation more and perhaps pay a higher price if the hotel was a better standard.
Oh and I would definitely not choose Marmaris as my destination. You, however, may love to.
Note: Current tensions in the Middle East may affect a vacation to Turkey now and in the future.
Where in the world do you want to go today? One Woman uses personal experiences to show you some of the best places to visit in the United Kingdom and beyond. Enjoy!