Being in a mood of celebration, I decided very spontaneously (as I often am) in the beginning of the summer to book a last minute holiday to one of the Balearic island in the Mediterranean – the magnetic Menorca.
The official school summer holiday had not yet started here in Denmark, so I got one week at an unspecified hotel, plus flight and transfer for just over 200 Euro, which is quite cheap for one week holiday from Denmark. I travelled with the company Star Tour which is one of Denmark’s leading charter travel agencies. Apart from the price, I choose the destination Menorca because it is an island that is not crowded with partying tourists in high rise concrete hotels without charm. The island is rewarded the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status and very eco-tourism friendly.
Sant Joan fiesta in Ciutadella
After having checked in at my apartment hotel, Marinda Garden, in the little tourist town on the southwest coast of Menorca, Cala’n Bosch, I jumped into the ocean at the nearby beach. In my home country the ocean water is often very cold, so for me there is nothing better than swimming in the ocean, when I’m traveling to warmer destinations.
Later in the evening I jumped on the local bus to Ciutadella. I have just heard a little about the fiesta, Sant Joan, so was very open to what the night would bring apart from some horses. It turned out to become a very funny and eventful evening and night. Often great surprises are the best!
Unfortunately, I was late for the throwing of hazelnuts at each other to bring good luck. But I was there for the parade of horses, many of them the beautiful black Menorquin race, through the narrow streets of Ciutadella. There was an intense and happy vibe among the crowd of spectators when the horses passed by them and suddenly reared high into the air. I also met some friendly locals who shared with me their local drink of gin with lemonade – Pomade. And I got to practice my Spanish – reminds me that one day I want to spend at least 2-3 months in a spanish speaking country, because there surely is room for improvement 😉
The following day I was in Ciutadella again watching the parade of horses pass by the town hall and later in the evening there were the mediaeval competitions among the horse riders.
The lovely Ciutadella is definitely worth a visit while on Menorca – also when the Sant Joan fiesta is not going on. Eat at the harbour in one of the many seafood restaurants.
Cami de Cavalls and Menorca’s gorgeous beaches
Around the entire island of Menorca runs a path, Cami de Cavalls, originally made for patrolling the coastline from horseback. Today the path is a great possibility to see some of Menorca’s unspoiled nature and reach the many virgin beaches of the island. You can walk, bike or ride a horse, but note that the path is not paved and often very rocky. The entire path is marked with numbered poles.
In the hot midday sun, I hiked almost 10 kilometers from Cala’n Bosch to the beaches at the Son Saura cove – beautiful beaches with white sand and gin clear and turquoise water. Remember to bring your snorkeling gear to have a look at the marine life – there is an amazing visibility. It was so joyful to get out of my sweaty hiking clothes and run into the water when I finally reached the Son Saura beach. To get back after spending some hours at the beach, I took the bus first to Ciutadella and the on to Cala’n Bosch.
Another way to discover the lovely beaches is from the sea. One day, I went on a half day glass bottom boat tour with AMIGO’S from the marina at Cala’n Bosch to the beach Platje de Sant Tomas. We sailed into all the coves to have a look at the many beaches on the south coast of the island and even did a couple of stops first at the Cala Trebalúger beach and later at the Binigaus cave. It was a great day on the ocean!
Discovering Menorca by car
It is very easy to get around Menorca by car – the roads are good and there are signs to help you find your way if you do not drive with a GPS. The main road of the island run from the city Mahon on the east to Ciutadella in the west. From this road you drive out to all the coastal cities as there are no road running along the coast. I payed 50 Euro for one day in a fantastic little Opel Corsa, but again I was very spontaneous so it might be possible to get it at a cheaper rate.
I started my road trip on Menorca with driving to Ciutadella to put on fuel. From there I took the main road to Mahon. It is a 45 minute drive. After parking the car in the center, I went on sight seeing in the beautiful old town and had an amazing view over the second largest natural harbour in Europe. Down in the harbour you will also find the gin distillery Xoriguer where you can taste all the different gins they make, e.g. with coffee, rose or chamomile flavour. Each year they produce 300.000 – 500.000 liters of gin and export to the entire world, even as far away as Australia and Japan.
A woman can never get too many shoes, so couldn’t resist doing a bit of shopping and buy a pair of the traditional Menorquin avarca sandals for the price of only 15 Euro instead of the usual 22 – 30 Euro – the shop was pretty basic, price was low due to direct from factory, but the quality is top and it has been my favourite pair of sandals this entire summer (please buy me another pair or two, if you go yourself – size 38). Menorca is also famous for the Mascaró Pretty Ballerinas. There is a shop in Mahon, but if you get the possibility, do go to their outlet shop close to the factory in the town of Ferreries in the center of the island.
After Mahon, I drove only a few kilometers to the south to the amazing coastal town of Binibèquer Vell. Every house of the entire town is whitewashed – on most of them even the roof is white. In the beautiful center of the town the old houses are standing very close making it very adventurous to walk the labyrinth-like narrow alleys between them.
Next stop on my road trip was the into the heart of the Menorca Biosphere Reserve – the S’Albufera des Grau Natural Park that with its wetland is outstanding for bird watching. During the period of migration it is possible to see up to 100 different species of birds.
In the late afternoon I drove into the small fishing village, Fornells, at the north coast of Menorca. The town in famous for the local specialty “Caldereta de Langosta” – lobster soup, and it is said that the spanish king come here every year to eat it. Apart from fantastic sea food on Menorca, you should also taste the very delicious Mahon cheese and the spicy sausages, sobrasada or carn-i-xulla.
Almost on the middle of the island, in my little car I “climbed” the highest point – Monte Toro. On a clear day you will at 357 meters above sea level have a 360 degrees view of the entire island.
I arrived back in Cala’n Bosch around 8 pm after an amazing day on the road. It is possible to take a look at many of the interesting sights of Menorca in a day, but I would recommend to split it up in two days, and then use the opportunity of having a car to drive to one of the many pretty beaches on the south coast.
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