The Return Island – SundayWorld.com
White sandy beaches and idyllic coves, spectacular walks through lush green meadows divided by drystone walls reminiscent of Connemara and equally empty, so many shades of blue in the sea that it would take a farrow painting board & Ball to identify colors – I’m like a steroid travel brochure.
and, in truth, no other Mediterranean destination has struck me for six like Menorca did on a first visit to the second largest and least populated of the Balearic Islands.
It started out as every traveller’s nightmare – not one was missing, but the two connecting flights, arriving in the dead of night, minus our luggage, which had been unloaded in Barcelona and only arrived halfway through. our stay.
But there is nothing quite like putting your makeup, bathing suit, and a beach blanket that doubles as a babydoll or dress in the carry-on. An inexpensive T-shirt, sandals and shorts from a market stall in the charming old capital of Ciutadella helped me get through my vacation wardrobe crisis.
Now the good news: direct flights between Ireland and Manorca, unavailable for a few years, have resumed.
Ryanair operates bi-weekly flights between Dublin and Menorca in September and October, when temperatures have cooled but remain comfortably warm, and when the busiest family complexes have emptied, hotel prices are also cheaper.
The island is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, with more beaches than Mallorca and Ibiza combined. Menorca was already encouraging sustainable tourism long before it became fashionable, battling the kind of overdevelopment that has plagued Spain’s coasts and beyond.
As a veteran of Mallorca and Ibiza’s high octane vacation packages in the younger days, I had visualized a stripped-down version of nightlife and party tourism. Menorca turns out to be very low-key, and if you like quaint and laid-back towns, affordable organic food and wine, and deserted beaches and deserted coastal paths, here is nirvana.
The island excels in active vacations, from biking to hiking and snorkelling to kayaking, which we have all tried and loved.
The hiking trails of the Camino de Menorca took us on the Cami de Cavalls path which stretches the entire coast, crossing splendid beaches, plunging into ravines and winding through vineyards and olive groves. The complete route (GR 223 long-distance hiking route) takes up to a week to cover on foot, on horseback or by mountain bike. Our last morning was devoted to an equally spectacular walk, weaving through a narrow chasm, scaling rocks on a path that meandered under cave dwellings clinging to a cliff.
Over 200 species of birds are found in Menorca and we were able to observe the impressive Egyptian vulture, a pair of red kites flying over an escarpment, booted eagles, hoopoes and small songbirds.
Strategically placed in the western Mediterranean, Menorca has been inhabited since the third millennium BC. Nowhere in Europe are there so many ancient monuments per square kilometer. About 1,500 are listed, thousands of years old, and are all the more remarkable as the island is only 30 miles long and only 10 miles wide.
Among them are megalithic rocks, balanced on top of each other in a “T” shape, like a Stonehenge for the Lilliputians. After a while your eye gets so used to all the prehistoric monuments that you miss some of them. But you can only notice Naveta d’Es Tudons, one of Menorca’s most intriguing sites.
Under a scorching midday sun, we descended a rough track, arriving at a construction of large stones. Built without mortar in the shape of an overturned boat, it served from 1400 BC to around 900 BC as a communal burial chamber.
Distant Favaritx, dominated by a lighthouse and scanty, dark-colored land and slate-like rock eroded by centuries of storms, is another standout landmark on the edge of the s’Albufera des Grau from Menorca.
Let’s not forget another attraction that has nothing to do with archeology: shoes. Menorca is renowned for its shoe-making, from the Avaracas – comfortable sandals made of supple leather – to the Pretty Ballerinas, whose classic ballet-style pumps are universally beloved. You can even grab a bargain at the RIA Avaracas and Pretty Ballerinas outlet stores in Ferreries.
Menorca’s largest population centers, Ciutadella and Mahon, lie on opposite sides of the island and both have their own charm and atmosphere. A little eclipsed by Mahon in the past, Ciutadella flourishes with many new boutique hotels opening up into old mansions and ancient churches along winding alleys and shady plazas.
On the rooftop terrace of the highly recommended Ses Voltes restaurant, we enjoyed a memorable lunch of local specialties after exploring the historic city walls and visiting the bustling fish market. A waiter standing in front of a nearby restaurant explained, “Tourists can buy their own fish at the market and bring it to us; we cook it for a few euros. It’s a cheap meal and everyone is happy because customers usually order fries, salad and drinks. also.”
Mahon (Mao), the bustling commercial capital of Menorca, has one of the longest natural ports in the world which has brought it much prosperity in the past, stimulating navigation, commerce and naval activity. A 1-hour glass-bottom catamaran tour from the harbor that takes you across the bay to the old key defense fortress La Mola is worth taking before you see all the sights. atmospheric restaurants in the port.
The island’s favorite house distilled alcohol, Pomado (gin), is mixed with cloudy lemonade instead of tonic. The perfect place to savor this concoction is at Cova d’en Xoroi, one of the most photographed bars in the Mediterranean that literally hangs above the cliffs of Cala en Porter. As you watch a spectacular sunset sink below the horizon, you will realize that Menorca is perhaps the Mediterranean’s best kept secret.
Travel file: Menorca
See menorca.es and spain.info
- Two-course lunch in a rural tavern with wine around € 15; a little more expensive in town. A rental car for crossing low-traffic highways is the best option for getting around.
- For more information on Menorca, as well as practical tips for traveling to the island during the Covid period, see menorca.es and spain.info. See also ryanair.com for direct flights.
WIN two nights with the Flynn Hotel Collection to celebrate their BeLeaf Fall Sale. Falling leaves mean lower prices at this collection of independent family hotels nationwide as they announce their ‘big treat, no tricks’ seasonal sale.
For just seven days from August 31 to September 7, savvy savers can treat themselves to a luxury break with breakfast for 20 pc less at the Imperial Hotel in the heart of Cork City at the Old Ground Hotel 18th century building in central Ennis, Co Clare, at the Park Hotel in the harbor town of Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, and the Newpark Hotel in Kilkenny, set on 40 acres of beautiful parkland.
And while you pay less, you’ll get more, as guests will also receive a food credit of 0.21 per stay to use at the hotel.
The fall sale will go live at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, August 31.
Visit flynnhotels.com to book. To celebrate the BeLeaf 2021 Fall Sale, Flynn Hotel Collection is now giving a lucky Magazine + reader the chance to win a two-night stay at one of the four hotels. Or you can stay overnight at two different hotels.
For a chance to win this amazing prize, send your name and contact details to [email protected], with “Flynn Hotel” in the subject line. The contest ends on Friday August 10. The usual general conditions apply. Reservation is required and subject to availability over the next six months.
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