All EOS blogs All Spain blogs  Start your own blog Start your own blog 

Max Abroad : The Best of Spain

Quite simply writing about the best things Spain has to offer and anything that might crop up along the way. Spain is a lot more than just sun, sand and sea...

Menorca 1000 BC
23 June 2020

There was a civilisation on the Balearic Island of Menorca which built strange stone constructions known as talayots, taulas or navetas throughout the 1st millennium B.C. It is fairly easy to follow a route around the island to visit these wonders. A good starting point would be the Biniai Nou megalithic tomb. The Me-1 road linking the cities of Mahon and Ciutadella is the central backbone that crosses Menorca from one end to the other. Five kilometres from Mahon, a trail to the right leads to two hypogeal that give rise to the monument. The oldest human remains in Menorca were found here (2300-2200 B.C.).

 

 

Returning to the Me-1, you can head back 1 kilometre to the turn-off for the town of Talatí de Dalt. The highlights here are the monumental taula and several megalithic caves. Next is the Calescoves necropolis, located around 8 kilometres away on the southern coast, in two rocky coves which were a jetty in the Roman and Byzantine periods (towards the 6th century A.D.) here there is a set of one hundred caves that were used as a burial ground.

Not so far away is So na Cassana, where we can find the ruins of a religious complex and, along the same road around 2 kilometres down, is the Talayotic settlement of Torralba d’en Salort with its splendid megalithic monuments, several talayot, a hypostyle hall and numerous caves.

 

 

If you continue on, you will come across the town of Alaior. It is worth making a stop here to visit the picturesque nooks and streets with their traditional white limestone Menorcan houses. Next we take the Son Bou road and, after the Galmés Tower, there are a further two monuments.

 

 

These are the megalithic tomb of Ses Roques Llises and, the most important site, the Talayotic settlement of Torre d’en Galmés, the largest on all the Balearic Islands where we get a better view of what these types of settlements were like.

From here we head into the heart of the island, still on the Me-1. Forests and farmland, which use the traditional dry stone walls for separation, line the route.

 

 

We head through the towns of Es Mercadal (7.5 kilometres), located alongside the Mare de Déu de Toro mountain and shrine, the highest peak in Menorca, and Ferreries (7 kilometres). Here we need to take the road to Es Migjorn Gran to shortly afterwards take the turn-off leading to the Talayotic settlement of Son Mercer de Baix (3 km). The examples of navetas still standing are magnificent.

 

 

The next stop is the Naveta des Tudons, a splendid funereal monument and one of the best preserved and most visited on the island. To get here, we need to return again to the Me-1. At kilometre 40 (5 km after Ferreries), a 1-km deviation on the left leads directly there.

Finally, and after getting to Ciutadella on the western coast of the island, the Son Saura road leads you to the Talayotic settlement of Son Catlar around 6 kilometres on, which stands out for its large 800-metre long wall.



Like 1        Published at 12:30   Comments (2)


Paradise lost in Asturias
16 June 2020

The Playa del Silencio (Beach of Silence) is known to be the best beach in Asturias, North West Spain. The name speaks for itself. The beach is shaped like a shell, formed with cliffs, and is approximately 500 meters long. There are giant rock formations that extrude from the sea like little islands. It has been registered as a protected space meaning visitors must respect the surroundings. This also means you won’t find restaurants and litter in the sand next to you. From above, the view glimpsed through pine trees shows cliff-side steps twisting down a white cliff to a cove.

 

 

The tranquil beach is inexplicably empty, while grey and cream flow-lines of rock strata at the cliff base betray the tumultuous activity of past ages. It makes a great diversion for those on the Camino de Santiago trail. The beach is very popular for scuba diving because of the untainted environment. The sea is very calm here, as the cliffs and rocks protect it from the waves, creating an almost still and silent sea, the small, sometimes unnoticeable waves just tickle the beach with delicacy. The water is quite deep and mussels, barnacles and sea bass are easily seen through the crystalline waters. The sand is fine and golden but peppered with pebbles too, a gratuitous contribution from the neighbouring cliffs. The Beach of Silence is truly a paradise lost. It is perfect and untouched nature and a pleasure to enjoy. For a peaceful and tranquil rest from the hustle and bustle of the modern world, fewer places are better.

 


Ver mapa más grande



Like 3        Published at 19:11   Comments (2)


Spain's Most Valuable Fish
10 June 2020

If we were to name an iconic species of the Mediterranean sea and the straight of Gibralter, it would no doubt be the Atlantic bluefin tuna. Strangely, not many people know about this amazing animal, which is one of the biggest and one of the most commercially valuable fish in the world. Precisely for this, it has been heavily overfished for decades and the victim of widespread pirate fishing especially in its main spawning grounds across the Mediterranean. 

 

 

Adults are typically 2 metres long but can reach over 4 metres, making the Atlantic tuna one of the largest bony fishes and the largest of all the tuna species. Adults average around 250kg, but the largest recorded specimen was a massive 679 kg - that’s heavier than a horse!

How fast can tuna swim? You`ll usually find them cruising around at 2.8-7.4km per hour, but can swim double that, nearly 15km per hour, for some time. But it’s when they’re chasing their prey or avoiding a hungry shark that they really let fly, accelerating faster than a Porsche and reaching speeds of 70, and maybe even 100 km per hour! No surprise then that the word tuna comes from a Greek word meaning “to rush”.

Atlantic bluefin tuna are not just fast sprinters they are also champion long-distance swimmers. These fish are found on both sides of the North Atlantic Ocean, from Brazil to Newfoundland in the west and West Africa to Norway in the east. Throughout their lives they roam this vast area searching for prey, returning each year to their spawning grounds in either the Gulf of Mexico or the Mediterranean Sea. These travels include trans-Atlantic crossings, which a bluefin can complete in less than 60 days. Up to 30% of the total population makes this voyage, with some individuals even making multiple crossings in a single year.

You probably learnt at school that fish are cold-blooded. That’s mostly true - but not for bluefin tuna. Their specialized circulation system allows them to retain up to 95% of the heat generated by their muscles. This means they can keep themselves much warmer than the surrounding water - essentially making them a warm-blooded fish!

Atlantic bluefin tuna must literally swim for their life. Their rigid head helps them to swim fast, but doesn’t allow them to pump water over their gills like some other fish. Instead, water is forced over their gills as they swim with their mouths open. But this means they need to keep swimming - like some sharks, if they stop they will die. 

Tuna are fearsome predators from the moment they hatch. They hunt by sight, and have the sharpest vision of any bony fish. Adult Atlantic bluefin tuna eat schooling fish like herring, mackerel, flying fish, and anchovies, as well as squid, eels, and crustaceans and occasionally starfish and even kelp. They can dive down to around 1,000m to find food. 

Atlantic bluefin tuna larvae have only a 1 in 40 million chance of reaching adulthood. But the lucky few are amongst the ocean’s top predators. They can expect to live for at least 15 years, and even as long as 30. They’re not quite at the top of the food chain though. Their fast speed allows them to escape most predators except for large sharks, toothed whales like killer whales and pilot whales… and humans.

Atlantic bluefin tuna has long been valued in the Mediterranean, where it provided food for numerous civilizations and created wealth. This is in stark contrast to North America, where prior to the 1960s it could only be sold for pet food!

But in the 1960s, international markets for canned and fresh tuna arose following the development of longlines, purse seines, and freezing equipment that allowed frozen tuna to be shipped long distances. Soon, large numbers of commercial purse seiners were catching Atlantic bluefin tuna for canning. 

By the 1970s, attention switched to giant bluefin tuna for the Japanese market, where the bluefin had become a highly sought-after delicacy for sushi and sashimi. 

Longliners, harpooners, and purse seiners all targeted the giants, driven by the high prices paid in Japan - which consumes 40% of global bluefin landings and where a single bluefin has sold for over $ US 736,000! These fleets have used ever-more sophisticated means to find the tuna, including spotter planes and sonar equipment.

In the late 1990s came a new development in the bluefin tuna industry: tuna farms, which could be the final nail in the coffin for the endangered eastern population.

The farms are actually fattening pens for live-caught bluefin tuna, and supply a new market in Japan for cheaper bluefin tuna for sushi and sashimi. Suddenly, the prized bluefin was affordable for nearly all Japanese, not just the wealthy. Demand soared...and so did the fishing effort.

 

 

The practice of transferring live tuna at sea to tug boats for transportation to the farms makes it extremely difficult to keep track of how many tuna were transferred, and what size they were. 

Japan, which imports most of the bluefin tuna captured in the Mediterranean, has strict rules prohibiting IUU fish from entering the country. However, China and other Southeast Asian countries are less strict. Their ports would likely accept illegally caught bluefin tuna from the Mediterranean.



Like 3        Published at 20:25   Comments (1)


The Jellyfish are back...
05 June 2020


The beaches are starting to open again after many weeks of lockdown and already we are seeing cases of jellyfish stings...

Jellyfish, of both harmful and harmless varieties, are a fairly common sight along the Mediterranean coast. They generally occur in swarms, making them readily visible and, in theory at least, easily avoided. Jellyfish are normally to be found between 20 and 40 miles from the coast where the waters are warmer and saltier, coastal waters being generally colder and less salty and acting as a sort of natural barrier.

Concentrations of jellyfish in any given year are dependent on several factors. A warm, dry winter and spring inland, for example, will normally lead to a high build-up of jellyfish at sea. However, when freshwater river input into the sea is lower due to lack of rain, salinity increases and this allows them to breach the barrier. Other factors include winds and sea currents as jellyfish just drift along in the currents.

Hot summer weather also brings them in, the time when millions are bathing, so sting numbers increase dramatically. Tourism being of great importance to the Spanish economy, jellyfish swarms are regularly reported in the local press in summer. However, despite these warnings, hundreds of people are stung every day up and down the Spanish Mediterranean coast.

 

 

One of the most common jellyfish in the Spanish Mediterranean is the Mauve Stinger (Pelagia noctiluca). It may grow up to 10 cm in diameter and is distinguished by a mushroom-shaped, deep bell. It has 8 hair-like tentacles, extending as far as 3 metres, and all are covered in nematocysts (stinging cells). Its sting is both potent and painful, but short-lived.

 

The Compass jellyfish (Chrysaora hysoscella) is readily identifiable by a ring of brown dots around a flattened white saucer-shaped body. It has 32 semi-circular lobes around the fringe, each one with a brown spot. On the upper surface of the bell, 16 brown v-shaped marks radiate outwards from a dark central spot. There are also 24 tentacles around the edge of the bell, grouped in threes. It has a potent sting that can produce extremely painful and long-lasting weals.

 

The Portuguese Man-of-War (Physalia physalis) is undoubtedly a name that almost everyone has heard of. Technically, it is not actually a true jellyfish but a hydrozoan, a floating colony of four types of polyps! But it stings like any other jellyfish so we will call it one. Its highly potent sting can, in extreme cases, provoke cardiac arrest and death in particularly sensitive persons. The nematocysts retain their potency long after death, as many have discovered to their cost after handling specimens washed up on the shore.

If you are unlucky enough to be stung by a jellyfish you can treat some stings yourself using first aid. But if the symptoms are serious – such as severe pain, swelling or difficulty breathing – dial 112 to request an ambulance immediately.

The best treatment for you may depend on the type of jellyfish that stung you. But most stings can be treated with these simple remedies:

Remove stingers. Remove any pieces of jellyfish tentacle in your skin by rinsing the wound with seawater. You can also try gently scraping off the stingers with the edge of an ID card or a credit card. Avoid getting sand on the wound. And don't rinse with freshwater or rub the area with a towel, as these actions may activate more stingers.

Rinse with vinegar or apply a baking soda paste. Rinse the affected area with vinegar for about 30 seconds. Or apply a paste of baking soda and seawater. Each method may deactivate the stingers of some types of jellyfish.

Take a hot shower or apply ice packs. Hot water — as hot as you can tolerate but not above 113 F (45 C) — and ice packs may help ease the pain.

Take a pain reliever and apply lotions. Apply calamine lotion or lidocaine to help relieve itching and discomfort.


These remedies are unhelpful or unproved, do NOT use them:

Human urine
Meat tenderizer
Solvents, such as formalin, ethanol and gasoline
Pressure bandages



Like 1        Published at 01:15   Comments (2)


Spam post or Abuse? Please let us know




This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse you are agreeing to our use of cookies. More information here. x