Magical Menorca – Menorca, Spain

After dropping our little car at Pisa Airport we caught the PisaMover back to Pisa Central station. From here we caught three trains to Malpensa Airport in Milan. We were headed for Menorca which is one of the Balearic Islands off Spain in the Mediterranean Sea. We were going to stay with our Scottish friends David & Audrey who have a place in Son Parc on the northern part of the island.

After travelling most of the day and getting to the airport with plenty of time to spare our flight was then delayed. There had been a flash storm which had caused some surface flooding on the runway so our inbound plane couldn’t land – it was diverted to Turin about 150km away. The EasyJet staff were doing their best but really they had no idea what the state of play was – the storm had passed, so theoretically they could land and then get us on our way.

This eventually happened and instead of departing at 4.15pm we eventually left at 7.30pm. Meanwhile I had misplaced my hat somewhere in the airport. This hat was purchased in Portugal in 2014 for 5 Euro and was well used during that nine months we were over this side of the world. We had left the hat in Switzerland at Karin & Elvis’s when we came home in January 2015 and didn’t expect them to keep it for 3.5 years but they did so I was reunited with my hat when we visited in July.

I was a bit sad but it wasn’t life changing. I had a thought that I might see someone else wearing my hat in the airport and when we went to our new departure gate there it was on the head of a little girl. She looked so happy that I didn’t want to spoil her joy so I was happy to let her keep it. Next minute her Dad was wearing the hat too so the joy was spreading 😂. Cest la vie 😊 🎩.

We arrived in Menorca at about 9pm and David was there to greet us 👍🏻. It was about half an hour to Son Parc where Audrey had prepared some solid as well as liquid 🍷 refreshments for us. We had left the hotel in Tuscany at 5.30am that morning but rather than crashing we got a second wind and next minute it was 2am! We had last seen David & Audrey in late 2014 so it was a good old catch up. It seems that all houses in Spain have a name and David & Audrey’s place is called Las Amapolas or The Poppies 🌺. We were looking forward to our few days at Las Amapolas 😊.

As you can imagine it was a bit of a slow start the next day before we took a drive to Mahon which is the capital of Menorca. Because we had arrived in the dark we didn’t see much on our drive to Son Parc so we could now get a feel for the landscape. It reminded us of our time in the Algarve in Portugal and then in the south of Spain in 2014.

Mahon is also where the Port is and that area reminded me of the Caribbean. It was a Sunday but there a few things open and a cruise ship in. We wandered around and then decided on a lovely little place called Bar a vins for lunch – we took the set menu option for 10 Euro each – bread, main, desert and a drink 😊. We went back to the car and headed for the supermarket – enroute some muppet realised he had left his phone behind at the restaurant 😬. David turned the car around and then was kind enough to walk back up all the steps with said muppet to the restaurant where said phone was retrieved. I really shouldn’t be so mean 😜.

That night Steve and David fired up the coal BBQ and cooked some steaks – not as successful as Steve had hoped but it was nice to have a home cooked meal. A case of déjà vu followed and the 🍷 flowed. It wasn’t quite as late as the previous night but it wasn’t far off.

On Monday we went for a walk along the cliff top overlooking some of the bays on the northern side of the island. It was quite windy which is unusual for this time of the year. The colour of the water was amazing. We had a nice lunch at a cafe at the beach before walking back via the touristic side of Son Parc.

That evening we caught the bus into Fornells which is a quaint little town with a marina – very picturesque. We had a drink at Es Tap and the boys enjoyed a little tapa each that had a quails egg on top.

Dinner was booked for 8.30pm at Sa Proa which was amazing 😉. For my entree I had their take on the Menorcan Bomb – little roast potatoes with black and red sausage covered with scrambled eggs and some basil pesto – 😋. The traditional ‘bomb’ is similar but has a fried egg on top with a runny yolk so when you cut into it the yolk gets mixed in with the potatoes and sausage. I couldn’t resist the desert either – a chocolate coulant (soft centred moist chocolate cake) and tangerine sorbet. Heaven 😇.

On Tuesday we dusted off the golf clubs (it had been about 15 days since they were last used) and went to have a game at Golf Son Parc Menorca which is about 5 minutes from Las Amapolas.

The course was opened in 1977 with 9 holes and today it has 18 holes a high quality competition course redesigned by the late well known course architect Dave Thomas (creator of many prestigious courses such as San Roque and Brabazon, where the Ryder Cup was held at The Belfry). The Par of the course is 69 and is comprised of 6 Par 3’s, 9 Par 4’s and 3 Par 5’s.

The golfing rivalry started in Scotland in 2014 carried over to Menorca – David had won the Scotland game and Steve wanted to even the score. It was a close game with the lead bouncing back and forth. David had a two shot lead at one stage but Steve bounced back to win one up until they revisited the shot holes – Steve was to give David one shot so it turned out that they had halved the match. Steve had originally said that there shouldn’t be any shots as David had home course advantage. Technically they halved but David said that Steve could take a moral victory out of it 🙄.

That evening we visited another great restaurant called Cann Marga – they specialise in steak, cooking them the Argentinian way over hot coals. Given Steve’s fascination with this cooking methodology he made himself known to the chef who was a jolly Spanish man. David & Steve shared a Menorcan ‘bomb’ to start. Again the food was exceptional and we finished off with a chocolate texture desert which was amazing but a quarter of it would have been ample. There is no doubt that our visit to Menorca was a culinary delight. It is great to be able to benefit from inside information from the ‘locals’.

Wednesday morning came around and it was time to leave David & Audrey in peace and to give their livers a break 😂. I revisited the cliff top walk we had done on Monday – it was much calmer and the sun was just rising over another beautiful day. Menorca is a beautiful island and we can see why David & Audrey have chosen it as their second home. We feel very privileged to have spent a few days in their company and to share some of their favourite spots around the island 🙏.

Menorca

Menorca or Minorca is one of the Balearic Islands located in the Mediterranean Sea belonging to Spain. Its name derives from its size, contrasting it with nearby Majorca – Insula Minor, later Minorica “smaller island”.

Menorca has a population of approximately 91,170 (at 1 January 2017). Its highest point, called El Toro or Monte Toro, is 358 metres (1,175 feet) above sea level.

The island is known for its collection of megalithic stone monuments which indicate very early prehistoric human activity. Some of the earliest culture on Menorca was influenced by other Mediterranean cultures, including the Greek Minoans of ancient Crete.

Invaded by Britain’s Royal Navy in 1708 during the War of the Spanish Succession, Minorca temporarily became a British possession. Great Britain took possession in 1713, under the terms of Article XI of the Treaty of Utrecht. Under the governorship of General Richard Kane, this period saw the island’s capital moved to Port Mahon and a naval base established in that town’s harbour.

In 1756, during the Seven Years’ War, France captured the island after the Siege of Fort St Philip and a failed British relief attempt. Thanks to the Treaty of Paris of 1763, the British returned to the island again following Britain’s victory in the Seven Years’ War. In 1781, during the American War of Independence, the British were defeated for a second time, in this instance by a combination of French and Spanish forces, and on 5 January 1782 the Spanish regained control of the island, after a long siege of St. Philip’s Castle in Port Mahon. On the feast of the Epiphany, as an expression of joy, King Charles III of Spain ordered the viceroys, captains general, governors, and military commanders to bring together the garrisons and to extend his greetings to army commanders on the so-called Pascua Militar. The British ceded the island back to Spain the next year in the Treaty of Versailles. Menorca was invaded by the British once again in 1798, during the French Revolutionary Wars, but it was finally and permanently repossessed by Spain by the terms of the Treaty of Amiens in 1802. The British influence can still be seen in local architecture, with elements such as sash windows.

As with the rest of the Balearic Islands, Menorca was not occupied by the French during the Peninsular War, as it was successfully protected by the Royal Navy, this time allied to Spain.

In October 1993, Minorca was designated by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve.

Wine production has been known on the island since ancient times, but it went into a heavy decline over the last century. Now, several new, small wineries have started up, producing wines locally.

Lingering British influence is seen in the Menorcans’ taste for gin, which during local festes honoring towns’ patron saints is mixed with lemonade (or bitter lemon) to make a golden liquid known as Pomada. Gin from Menorca is not derived from grain alcohol but from wine alcohol (eau de vie de vin), making it more akin to brandy. It has the distinction to have geographical identity protection. Probably the best known gin is Gin Xoriguer which is named after the typical Menorcan windmill which was used to make the first gin. One of the reasons it is also known as Gin de Minorca or Gin de Mahón.

Also famous is Mahón cheese, a cheese typical of the island.

One origin story of mayonnaise is that it was brought back to France from Mahon, Menorca, after Louis-François-Armand du Plessis de Richelieu’s victory over the British at the city’s port in 1756. The story goes that Richelieu stopped to eat in a tavern in Mahon. He was served this sauce which he liked so much he took the recipe back to France, where it became known as mayonnaise or is that mahonnaise 😜.

Cami de Cavalls

The Cami de Cavalls is a walking route which goes around the island’s coast. It stretches for more than 160 kilometres and was originally used to connect Menorca’s watch towers and fortresses. The island is about 48 kilometres long and 16 kilometres wide. There are seven lighthouses on the island.

Wooden Gates

I kept spotting these funky wooden gates on our travels – they are traditionally made from olive wood.

Avarcas

Menorca is well known for producing high quality leather shoes and they still manufacture an individually styled sandal called the Avarcas or Menorcan sandal.

Avarca is a traditional sandal originally developed in Menorca. They were originally made from a leather upper and with the sole made from a recycled car tyre. Nowadays however the soles are made in the style of a car tire but from a purpose made mould. These are hard wearing and much lighter in weight than the original car tire sole. Only original avarca manufacturers are granted with the label ” Avarca de Menorca “. This label is granted by local Government and guarantees that avarcas accomplishes minimum quality standards and avarcas are really manufactured in Menorca island.

About SUNGRL

This blog was originally set up to share our 9 month adventure around Europe and the USA with friends and family in 2014. On returning to NZ in January 2015 I decided to carry it on so I could continue to share any future travel adventures - it has become my electronic travel diary. I hope you enjoy and get inspired to visit some of the wonderful places we have visited.
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