A lovely couple of days in Menorca
This month I spent a few days on the smallest and most eastern island of the four Baleares—Menorca. This is a small island; getting from one end to the other by car takes no more than 50 minutes. And the scenery is completely different from neighboring Mallorca. The highest point of Menorca is the top of Monte Toro, which is only 358 meters above sea level, while Mallorca’s mountains tower almost 1500 meters above sea level. But in no way is Menorca flat; it is forever undulating with tree-covered hills and green pastures. The ubiquitous wild olive trees called Ullastre make the landscape look a bit like cauliflower.)
My company and I arrived by ferry to Ciutadella and went straight to the central north of the island—to the city of Fornells. Fornells is a (former) fishermen’s village that has become the main place for sailing-based water sports and specialist fish restaurants serving, among other things, the famous lobster stew. However, this small town was absolutely deserted when we arrived, and we couldn’t even get a decent breakfast! We later learned that it was the end of the season for international flights, which also means the end of the tourist season. Hence the sleepy town. So we left and headed to Menorca’s only golf course, Golf Son Park, where we had a 12 o’clock tee time. This was an obscure “urbasnización” of holiday homes and closed pubs and restaurants, and a very confusing layout of the area. We did manage to locate the club reception and, finally, an almost-closed shop selling the remnants from the tourist season. Dry bread and some sweet juice at least got the energy up enough for us to tee off on time!
Gold Son Park is a picturesque, 18-hole course surrounded by pine woods with a narrow, flat layout and interesting obstacles. I thoroughly enjoyed playing it; however, my game needs a lot of work! I did one session with a pro before leaving, but I really need to work a bit harder. But I still enjoy playing, and J made birdies on two par-4 holes! The first one, hole 7, was an awesome, almost blind, pitch straight into the cup! After the game, we went to our first hotel on the island, Son Vives. This rural hotel has stunning views of the North Coast, and the room was equally beautiful. Leaving the farmhouse for dinner was not an option, and part of the experience was just staying there and enjoying it. The food was good, I’m sure, but not remarkable because I can hardly remember it! We did get to taste the famous Menorcan cheese “Mahon,” but perhaps it wasn’t as special as I had hoped. Anyway, Son Vives was a beautiful place. Stunning views, amazing farmland, and a well-designed hotel
The next day we went up to Monte Toro—of course one needs to visit at least one mountain on a vacation! Or perhaps it is more of a hill. Monte Toro rises above the surrounding farmland and foothills and offers magnificent views on a sunny day. Our day was fairly clear but windy as hell, so I spent most of my time inside the Verge del Toro Sanctuary. Peaceful, quiet, and contemplative. From this hill, we went to our next destination, the winery Binifadet, close to the city of Mahón. or Maó in Catalan. We tried both a red and a white wine, but neither really appealed to me.
After the Bodega Binifadet, we headed into the city, and I fully fell for the charm of this cobbled town! pastel-colored houses, white shutters, and colonial-style buildings. Mahón boasts one of the largest natural ports in the world, and the walk from the old town to the port reveals the city is located quite high above the water—there is even an elevator for those who are too tired for the many steps!
In Mahón, my traveling companion had booked Hotel Sindic, an exclusive, family-run boutique hotel located close to the Portal de San Roque. Very friendly staff, and again, a beautiful room in a hotel for adults only. A perfect starting point for walks around the city. The hotel arranged a dinner at the restaurant La Minerva in Puerto de Mahón. It is located in an old flour factory, but since it was still warm, we had dinner on the floating platform, and it was AMAZING! I had the “Caldereta de Pescado y Marisco a la Menorquina,” or “Fish and Seafood Stew, Menorcan Style.” It was absolutely to die for! That broth carried so much flavor, I can’t even begin to describe it! Yum!
Our next stop would be Ciutadella, but we first paid a visit to one of Menorca’s talaiotic villages, Torrellafuda. It was situated in a shady, old wild olive grove, and for the first time I could smell the island. Flowers, probably clover, are fresh and very calm. From there, we drove to Cala en Turcueta (I think), and this was our first and only contact with what Menorca is really famous for. The many hidden beaches with turquoise water and white sand. We had to leave right after stepping onto the sand to check into the hotel, but I did get a taste of Menorca’s selling point: the beautiful coves. I might need to go back—to relax, try some watersports, and just enjoy the entire coastline of this small island. But that’s for another time!
We checked into the hotel Abril 37, located just one hundred meters from the historic city center of Ciutadella—another small, pretty, boutique-style hotel. Tired from a long night in Mahón, we took a nap before exploring the city. We had reservations for a seafood restaurant, but nothing would top La Minerva in Mahón, so we opted for tapas in a few different places. Ciutadella had a hard time pleasing, mainly because Mahón the previous night had been such a delight!
That was it—Menorca. An unexpected trip that turned out pretty good!