Tuesday, 1 November 2016

7 Things Worth Knowing About Menorca


ACCOMMODATION

There is every type of accommodation you could wish for on Menorca from luxury lodges to eco cabins and everything in between.  Be warned, some of the more popular beaches are crammed with Brits on package holidays.  If this is not your thing, and if, like me, you prefer to get among the locals, hiring a villa in a small town or village is the way to go.  We hired a villa which came with all mod cons and a swimming pool, it was perfect. I  like a bit of authenticity when I travel so one of my great pleasures was to go to the village store each day to buy food along with the locals,

Villas for rent are available throughout the island - this was ours, we loved it.

TRANSPORT
  • BUSES - The buses on Menorca are luxurious and the drivers are polite and friendly.  There are large bus depots at both Mao and Ciutadella with routes servicing a lot of villages.  However, there are many places impossible to get to by bus and the timetables are also very limited.  Bus transport on Menorca is comfortable and pleasant but it takes forward planning to make it work.
  • TAXIS - We discovered that there was only one taxi on the island licensed to take 5 passengers.  As we were a family of five it meant taking two taxis most of the time, an expensive exercise.  The taxi drivers we met were prompt,  friendly and obliging.
  • RENTAL CARS - We did not hire a car, managing to get to many places by bus or taxi but we all agreed that another time we would, for at least a few days, in order to explore more of the island.  It is important to book a hire car well ahead of your holiday because demand is high.   Poppy Cars  www.poppycars.com is highly recommended, but be careful and read reviews of hire companies before booking.
  •  FERRIES - There are regular ferry services to mainland Spain from both Mao and Ciutadella
  • CYCLING -Menorca is also perfect for cycling holidays with its relatively flat terrain and lots of cycling/walking trails


LANGUAGE

The people of Menorca have their own language, Menorquin, a dialect of Catalan with its roots in Latin, Italian and French.  It is quite different from Spanish.
For example, here are a few useful words and phrases:
The beach in Menorquin
Bon dia - Good morning
Please - Si us plau
Thanks - Gracies                                                                         Goodbye - Adeu
How are you - Con estas
Sorry - Ho sentim
I don't understand - No sentec

The city of Mao is also known as Mahon (Spanish) but the locals prefer Mao (Menorquin).
You will become a friend if you use some Menorquin words

FOOD SPECIALTIES

 Menorca has its own unique cuisine, drawing on influences from the various countries that have occupied the island over the centuries.  It is different from Spanish cuisine in a number of ways, for example, the far greater use of cheese and dairy products which is a legacy of British rule.  Here are a few Menorcan delicacies worth trying:
Mayonnaise - Gets its name from Mao, where it was invented by a French chef during the French occupancy
Stuffed aubergines - ( Moorish influence)
Seafood - all kinds
Menorcan Cheese ( Queso de Mahon) - which has won many International awards 
Ensaimadas - the soft, fluffy breakfast breads baked in a spiral shape
Sobrassada - minced pork with paprika - a spreadable salami type product, sometimes eaten with honey
Lobster stew - very expensive but, I'm told!, worth it
Xoriguer Gin - (British influence) Menorcan gin is made with grapes, not grain.  It comes in many flavours, the most popular being the Pomada, a long lemony refreshing drink, drunk at fiestas and often on tap in bars. It is sometimes served as a slushy.

CULTURE

Menorca boasts more than 1500 monuments dating from the Talaiotic culture, 2000 BC. These are unique and many are still in an excellent state of conservation making the island a paradise for keen archaeologists.

There are plenty of fiestas celebrated throughout the year.  Get in and enjoy the fun.

A Talaiotic monument in Mao
NATURE

UNESCO biosphere status was awarded to Menorca in 1993 due to the exceptional conservation efforts of the residents.  Apart from its pristine waters and coastline Menorca has 700 square kilometres of nature reserve criss crossed with walking trails through farm lands, canyons, lush woodlands and coastal dunes and wetlands.  Bird watchers can spot Peregrines, Osprey, Vultures and Eagles on their walks.

SHOPPING

Markets are held weekly at various towns around the island.  Stalls offer fantastic value leather goods and the usual T shirts and souvenirs. The ubiquitous leather sandals, worn by everyone on the island, the avarca,  is on sale everywhere.  I bought mine at a shop on the main street on Mao and found it was no more expensive than those on sale at the avarca factory shop.
My picks for souvenirs are leather goods, avarcas and gin. 

Handbags, sandals and belts are excellent buys at the market