The hop to Menorca is like an inter-island journey to Kaua’i, quick and easy. On approach the rocky cliffs and sandy beaches, and clusters of towns and communities from our Vueling flight remind us of our island lifestyle and immediately you realize this visit will be calmer.
We were curious to visit Menorca since our previous guests and friends, Xavier and Lluisa had spoken highly of it and had offered for us to stay at their cottage in Es Mercadal, located in the center of the island. As it turned out, Menorca had a lot of rain prior to our arrival and the day before our departure from Nice, it was discovered that the first floor of the cottage had some water damage. So we changed our plans and booked a stay at the Artiem Carlos III in Es Castell on the east end of the island. The Artiem Carlos III is an adults only brand and their reviews are excellent. What we encountered was friendly staff who expect that you will probably return and guests who were mostly retired seniors with the spattering of younger ones thrown into the mix. Everyone was super friendly, with lots of British guests, Americans, and other Europeans looking for some pampering, some hiking and biking, and some sunny Mediterranean weather.
Our last minute reservation gave us a view of the water right on the entrance to the Mao port. It overlooked the pool onto the harbor front and cruise ships, tour boats, and even a schooner, cruised by all day long. The hotel was on a quiet street and walking about the immediate area was easy. The staff is quite friendly and you are immediately made to feel comfortable. Much like we imagine one might find on a cruise ship, the other guests were also quite friendly and, of course, we found two guests that were from Scotland, Dolly and Albert, whom we befriended for our future return visit to Scotland.
Dinner and Breakfast Hit the Mark
As today was a travel day, we opted for the dinner buffet in the hotel restaurant. We thought perhaps our future lay in front of us; that this is what being on a cruise ship will be like! The dining room opens, guests on half-board stream in, and a buffet with stations offers a range of options to please all. At dinners end, couples lounged at the bar and a 3 piece band played all those songs you’d expect, starting with “Quando Quando” and those that wanted could dance for a song or two. Congenial and easy. What’s not to like?
Although we did not book the half-board rate, breakfast at the Artiem Carlos III was included in the rate. We thought we would need early coffee, but instead found ourselves ready to roll at a much later time than usual. The breakfast buffet was great and included all the essentials; lots of coffee, bran, eggs to order, whole grain bread, and salad greens. This hotel really does go all out to provide the right experience for an adult audience that doesn’t want to settle for average.
We Hit the Road
Our first goal was to seek out the address of where Xavier and Lluisa’s cottage was located. We drove to Es Mercadel in the middle of the island to find their cottage’s address. It was our first opportunity to see what Menorca looked like. Menorca is a UNESCO World Heritage site, so there are restrictions on development, and the coastline is protected much like Hawai’i’s Shoreline Public Access laws that monitors development along the high tide mark. You quickly notice that agriculture and tourism is the mainstay of the island. The interior spine of the island is hilly and parts of it are forested with a pine tree of some kind. Es Mercadal lacks the hotels we encountered along the coast and feel like a more resident population. Our cottage was set on a small narrow street as we took a quick selfie at the front door to show Xavier and Lluisa when we see them in Barcelona. The central location seemed perfect for visiting the various coastlines in any of four directions.
We moved onward beyond Es Mercadal to Ciutadella, the furthest east end of the island. to check it out. Ciutadella is a pretty big town and we found ourselves wandering through the town center eventually on an isolated street on the water, walking the oceanfront near a ferry station. We enjoyed a lunch on a rocky area the juts out along the harbor and enjoyed some sausages, cheese, bread and fruit. We took in the view of the Mediterranean and the city. A leisurely drive took us Blane’s beach among palms and beachgoers. Thankfully, it was late in the season and it was relatively quiet in the middle of October. A moment to take it in and then a drive to Punta Nanti where the landscape of white rock walls and cairns in pastures of cattle were typical of the people here much like the lava rock walls of home to keep livestock in their enclosure. This kind of resourcefulness of making use of what is around created a common bound for us. Of course, it was beautiful to see.
Having met our goal, we returned home to Es Castell hoping to have a meal at El Trebel restaurant, but discovered it was already closed for the season. We instead found ourselves at El Camacho, a family owned cafeteria and tapas bar near the large square a very short distance from our hotel. On the nighttime walk to the restaurant, we crossed through the square, full of children playing games, riding on bikes and scooters, and laughing as you wonder if their parents are at home preparing dinner and having time to reflect on their day. Our tapas included a delicious stew, salted prawns, a green salad, sausages, and a potato salad and beer. Homey and ‘ono.