For the longest time I have really, really wanted to go to Menorca. I don’t know why, I’ve just had it in my head that that was where I wanted the next family holiday to be. I probably saw it on the telly and thought it looked like a paradise that was easy to get to. Also, I was vaguely aware that there was good food to be found!
We got there the usual way, EasyJet from Bristol. It worked out to be about £400 cheaper than flying via Flybe from Exeter, which annoys me because I could walk to Exeter airport from home in about 40 minutes.
Where to Stay
I spoke to a friend who went a year or two ago. She told me where she’d stayed and where she wish she’d stayed instead. The wish place was Ciutadella. It’s just under an hour by car from the airport, which is pretty much the entire length of the island. It’s quite a small island.
We Airbnb’d it. I won’t tell you which villa we stayed at cos we didn’t like it. It looked the part but not only was it on a busy road, it also reeked of must and mould. Not good. It’s such a shame because it was a beautiful space, the gardens were big and the pool was lovely. If they’d looked after the inside like they did the outside, it would have been perfect. It was only a ten minute stroll to the nearest beach (Sa Caleta) and a supermarket wasn’t that far either. We booked in February, if we’d done so a few months earlier there probably would have had a better crop to pick from (I fell in love with a farmhouse surrounded by beautiful fields but nope, someone else had got their mitts on it first). You can’t win ’em all.
What we ate
Menorca has a reputation for its very good food. Therefore I assumed it would be dead easy to find a cheap little cafe or restaurant that local people loved. Well, bum, we didn’t eat out at any of those (wherever they were hiding). One place (a cafe in the main square of the capital city, Mahon) barely served real food at all, it was gross. I also disliked the food at the restaurant we went to in Fornells. We chose a busy one ( because that’s what you’re supposed to do) and again, it was half arsed. I had stuffed aubergine as it’s a Menorcan classic but it was effectively brown slops on a plate. The other place we tried was in Ciutadella and it was the nicest, which wasn’t terribly hard. We ate grilled cuttle fish and patatas bravas and we actually quite enjoyed that, even with the party of ants that had joined us at our table.
It boiled down to this: we couldn’t afford to eat in the restaurants that give Menorca its good food rep. I didn’t get to eat the caldereta de langosta that I had my heart set on because it was too expensive. It’s sad day when you can’t even afford “peasant” food.
The markets, on the other hand? Yesss! Sooo much better and loads of fun. I really enjoyed using some dodgy Spanish to ask for what I wanted (a huge change from my chickening out on last year’s trip to Spain). We went to the fish market in Ciutadella twice. We came back with loads to put on the bbq and it was delicious. Then there was a food market on the Saturday morning too where we bought locally made bread with sobrassada, eggs and some fruit n veg. We took it all back to the villa and had a lovely lunch with yummy stinky cheese that’s made on the island as well.
I almost forgot the fish market/deli in Mahon. That looked fab but I was too full of crappy omelette from the crappy cafe to enjoy all the pretty tapas. We got a couple of things but dammit, I wanted it all! Gutted.
Meh, I didn’t research and paid the price. I’m forever cursed with being a lazy food snob.
Oh, I liked the gin a lot even though it’s “not real” gin (it’s distilled from wine not grain). It was interesting, refreshing and tasty but I preferred it with schweppes, not lemonade as is traditional in a pomada. Came home with a bottle of that, some vac packed cheese and sobrassada.
Stuff to do
You go to Menorca to go to the beach. You just do. It has loads of them. Beach too full? Walk to the next one. That one full? Pop across to the next etc… This is another reason why it’s a good idea to come in the half term hols. I gather that in July and August Menorca is heaving with people. Like sandy sardines in a tin. We avoided all the ones near resorts assuming they’d be busiest. We parked at Son Saura twice. The first time we went to Bellavista, which was very nice but the next time we parked here, we walked a bit further to Es Talaier. It was stunning. A beautiful, beautiful beach. There were a few jelly fish but we swam in the warm water anyway. The boys had never swam in the sea before and were beyond excited! I, however, didn’t swim too vigorously because a boob would bounce out the bikini if I got too enthusiastic.
Oh, and Mitjana is gorgeous too. Sort of. There was a big group of loud teenage school kids on a trip plus a load of crusty seaweed spread across the shoreline. We walked further on and found a teeny cove to climb down to but I bust a flip-flop, which put me in a mood and there was nowhere to sit apart from a small spot next to Ugly Naked Guy.
Caves! There were cool caves. Man-made by real cave men! We all really liked it here. The youngest boy absolutely loved clambering all over these. And you do have to climb a little bit to get to them. Good views when you’re at the top. I don’t think I’d want to live in a cave but they were fun to stop by.
What else? I dunno. We went to Fornells but thought it soulless. Very grey. The littlest boy said it was like being on the moon. It wasn’t bad but it didn’t do it for us.
I’d like to have tried a couple more towns such as Es Mercadal and Ferreries. We ended up running out of time and felt like it wouldn’t be much of a holiday if we were rushing round trying to squeeze in as much as possible. The aim was to take it easy so we missed out on a few things.
I did go shopping though! Got some new shoes! Oh my, they are so comfortable and I’ve worn them everyday since I got them. If you find avarcas, get yourself a pair. I’d like all the colours of the rainbow, please!
In Ciutadella I found three (or even four) fabric shops and two places that sold yarn. Can you believe I didn’t buy any?! It’s not a woolly sort of place. The yarn wasn’t Spanish, so I wasn’t interested. OK, there was some Katia in an indoor market in Mahon but that’s not what I wanted.
It’s more expensive than Venice! I feel naive for not knowing. But I’ve been and I’m glad of that. Box ticked. We’ve got some saving to do now. No more holidays abroad for quite some time. It’s been an indulgent couple of years. The children are old enough to buy us some freedom so we’ve been taking advantage of that. I also received a little bit of money when Nanna and Grandad died; I think they would have wanted me to enjoy it. I certainly did! Thanks N&G for Amsterdam, Spain, Venice & Menorca! It’s back to camping in Dorset!
A few more pics below.