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-   -   Report from Menorca (http://www.notesfromspain.com/forums/showthread.php?t=490)

Alan 11th July 2006 01:27 AM

Report from Menorca
 
Hi folks. i'm sitting on my balcony after an evening of altogether too much wine. My girlfriend has gone to bed and i've been left here to ponder the world. I've come to the conclusion that it's not such a bad place :)

We arrived on Saturday night. the bus that was meant to take us to our 'allocation on arrival' hotel was too full to carry us. Lucky for us - there were four stops before we arrived at our hotel. A minibus was hired to take 6 of us to our hotel on the west of Menorca, near Ciutadella, the old capital. I didn't cath the woman's name, but she took us from east to west of the isla in a surprisingly short time. she was very stressed looking and I gave her a 3€ tip.

We arrived in time for dinner, which closed at 10. What a greeting, I thought. as I helped myself to some paella de vermicelli (!!). But it was very nice. I was surprised by the clientelle in the hotel restaurant, mostly Spanish or Italian. This is not what I'm used to when I think of a package holiday! I assured myself that this was to do with the time of day. The Spanish eat later and the English had their dinner at 5pm...

The next morning I found that this was not so. In fact there was barely an English speaker to be found, save the receptionists. I was delighted to find that most of the residents were Spanish. Great, Then they won't accept any crap :) We pretty much spent the day lazing around - fair enough given the story I can't be bothered to type out on my mobile phone.

So today, we got up and had breakfast. We then went to swim a la playa, a small cala full of, but not overcrowded with, holidaymakers. I wanted to leave, but was persuaded to stay by my girlfriend, and i'm now quite burnt. My usual strategy is to hide from the sun.

At about 4.30 we decided to get some lunch - dinner is served until about 10.30pm. We went to a restaurante overlooking the cala called the Miramar. We went in looking forward to some nice fishy dishes and ended up ordering lasaña and espaguetis. My lasaña was cold and I was concerned about my girlfriend's spaghetti. It was full of prawns and other random seafood. I called the waiter.

''sta fria' I said.
'¿fria?'
'si, fria.'

I allowed him to take it away while my girlfriend chewed on her prawny spaghetti. I waited. Nada. I waited some more, and still nada. My girlfriend finished her meal before I had really started mine. And NOW he decided to return with my reheated lasaña. How tempting.

'No lo quiero' I said.

I was greeted by Menorquín rambling. I assumed he was just confirming that no, I did not want the reheated lasagne. And I'm pretty sure he told us to **************** off.

Lovely, I thought. Our first venture outside the hotel for a meal and we've been told where to go. In my typical Scottish manner, I shouted after the fleeing waiter that I would pay for the spaghetti, but I was greeted with a Parisian shrug. Fine, crap food, but at least I got a free beer from you :)

I was not impressed with the food, but he could have been nicer about it. At least, I thought. we'll not be taken for mugs :)

in whole though, I have found the people here (both the staff and holidaymakers) to be very friendly and helpful. But if you don't speak Spanish it is difficult to get what you want.

It's more of a rambling than a post, but I hope it's useful/enjoyable. I'll try to post tomorrow if I can persuade the reception staff to allow me to charge my phone!

al

Ben 11th July 2006 08:14 AM

Thanks Alan, I hope the food situation improves, but apart from that it sounds like you have ended up in the right place! Some time you'll have to tell us how you post from your mobile too, I'm intrigued. I hope you are taking lots of pics to show us later too!

Ben

Brian 11th July 2006 12:14 PM

Good for you, Alan, that you didn't take being taken! Sounds like being in Spain is a perfect fit for you. Enjoy your holiday.

Alan 11th July 2006 02:22 PM

please excuse the lack of capital letters and punctuation. i'm typing from my phone. well, it's more of a computer than a phone :) it runs windows. I have net access at all times, but I'm probably paying a fortune for it.

we're going to take a trip into ciutadella tomorrow. i'll take some photos there and there is a pay-as-you-go computer in the reception. i'll try to get some photos up soon.

we'll have a car on friday and through the weekend. we'll take a trip over to maó and to a beach which is known for its clay. think of lucia y el sexo :)

one thing you can't fail to notice is the number of birds. they're all over the place from the wee sparrow ones which share the pool, and the cala had a family of ducks.

it really is a lovely place.

Marina 11th July 2006 04:28 PM

Seems like you are ejoying the holidays, also I'm very "proud" that you complained in the restaurant. I think quality of food and service can really improve if people complain when things are not right.

I'd love to see some pics when you are back!!!

Alan 14th July 2006 07:22 AM

It's proving more difficult to get my photos online than I thought. It may have to wait until I get back. There is a pay as you go computer in the hotel but it doesn't have a USB port. The hotel staff don't seem to understand what it is and insist that is has one. I wonder how long it takes for them to find the power switch on the office computers. My mobile phone doesn't plug into the wall - I need a USB port. I tried to explain this to the receptionist and she pointed to the computer in the lobby. Yes, I was expected to wait for hours while it charged.

I find it very funny that technology is just not as prevalent here. When the receptionist finally understood why I wanted her to take it she was very embarrassed and helpful.

I'm watching the TV. Hundreds of young men are being chased down the street by about a dozen bulls. There is a clock on the corner of the screen, presumably waiting to report the time of the first fatality. There seem to be four injuries - three of them from horns and one from falling down a set of stairs.

We were told in Scotland that the bus service was terrible here. Compared to what, I wonder. Seems pretty good to me, and if we're going by Scottish standards they're positively luxurious. The seats in Scotland are so close together, designed by a pissed off midget determined to get revenge on the world. They are programmed such that the heating system breaks in the winter but they always manage to fix it in time for the summer when it is no longer required. And you get no change.

Here the buses arrive every half hour to an hour (not bad when you remember the population of the island). When you step on, they are like fridges which is very welcome. Yesterday it was 35 degrees.

10 mins on the bus took us into Ciutadella, the old capital. It's a lovely town and if you can possibly visit, you should. Of course, it's very touristy but that's to be expected from an island on which everyone depends directly or indirectly on tourism. We had a lovely lunch of calamares, patatas bravas, pimientos al padrón and cuttlefish. I have a photo of it and I'll post it when I can.

We wanted to visit some of the touristy stuff but the siesta hours of 13h to 17h are so well respected that during those hours, it is impossible to do any shopping and only possible to eat crisps. We didn't get to see anything and the tourist office shut too.

Through the old streets you are reminded of Italy; Small closes that you could reach across and hand a pot of coffee to your neighbour and probably smell what they're making for dinner.

Ciutadella port is very picturesque. The waters are full of fish - a waiter very keen on practising his English informs me that they are mullet. We got a couple of very expensive 'you're paying for the view' drinks and the waiter supplied us with bread. As word got round the port that there was a Scots tourist giving away bread, larger and larger fish arrived. Again, I have some pictures.

The staff of the retaurant were out to have their lunch and talking about whatever girl they had seen passing (¡guapa, guapa, guapa!). We talked about the decline of tourism in Menorca, the similarity of the Scots and the Irish to Asturians, and a mutual hatred of the French (the final 's' of 'los franceses' was hissed) . I actually don't hate the French but it felt good to walllow in the latest World Cup exit. The chef told me how Ciutadella basically shuts in the winter and that he goes fishing then. I don't know if I could take 6-8 months of fishing . . .

Anyway, I'm going to get ready to go to Fornells. ¡ciao!

Edith 14th July 2006 09:18 AM

Great travelogue Alan! Please keep us posted! I have never been to Menorca, sounds like a nice place.

Quote:

We were told in Scotland that the bus service was terrible here. Compared to what, I wonder. Seems pretty good to me, and if we're going by Scottish standards they're positively luxurious. The seats in Scotland are so close together, designed by a pissed off midget determined to get revenge on the world. They are programmed such that the heating system breaks in the winter but they always manage to fix it in time for the summer when it is no longer required. And you get no change.
Are you sure you aren't talking about Holland? ;D

Brian 14th July 2006 12:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Alan
It's proving more difficult to get my photos online than I thought. It may have to wait until I get back. There is a pay as you go computer in the hotel but it doesn't have a USB port.

USB Ports are wonderful, but commonly missing on public kiosks for security reasons.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Alan
We talked about ... the similarity of the Scots and the Irish to Asturians,

Interestingly, many Northern Spaniards (Especially Galicians) are from Celtic descent. It makes sense.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Alan
The chef told me how Ciutadella basically shuts in the winter and that he goes fishing then. I don't know if I could take 6-8 months of fishing . . .

Careful, Españolero might object to that barbarism. ;D

Edith 14th July 2006 01:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Brian
USB Ports are wonderful, but commonly missing on public kiosks for security reasons.

By 'public kiosks' you mean cybercafés etc.?

Quote:

Interestingly, many Northern Spaniards (Especially Galicians) are from Celtic descent. It makes sense.
Yes, they also use bagpipes (gaitas).

Marina 14th July 2006 01:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Alan
We wanted to visit some of the touristy stuff but the siesta hours of 13h to 17h are so well respected that during those hours, it is impossible to do any shopping and only possible to eat crisps. We didn't get to see anything and the tourist office shut too.

They were not respecting siesta hours:D. That is the shopping time table all around Spain (except in big superstores and chain shops) it is called "horario comercial" comercial timetable and it is usually from 10-13:30 and then from 5-20:30. In their lunch break people usually go home have full lunch (remember that food is very important in Spain;)), and ok maybe they have a short nap but that is not the main reason for the comercial timetable. The good thing about it is that one can go shopping after work as shops will still be opened till 20:30 h.

ValenciaSon 15th July 2006 03:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Edith
By 'public kiosks' you mean cybercafés etc.?



Yes, they also use bagpipes (gaitas).

Wasn't there a time in history in which Spain and Ireland experienced a lot of cross-migration?

Brian 15th July 2006 04:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ValenciaSon
Wasn't there a time in history in which Spain and Ireland experienced a lot of cross-migration?

Yes. The Celts, a nomadic people group, are believed to have originated in Greece. They spread westward into France and NW Spain, eventually into the British Isles.

Even today, you see pockets of Celtic culture in parts of France (Especially Brittany), and also in Spain (Galicia and Asturias mostly). Check out the picture at this link:

http://seabed.nationalgeographic.com...k=3&priority=1

Does that sort of thing look familiar to our British friends?

Brian 15th July 2006 04:16 PM

Sorry to keep hijacking your thread, Alan, but I wanted to link this picture in to show the distribution of Celts through Western Europe.

http://www7.nationalgeographic.com/n.../mp_full.3.jpg

ValenciaSon 15th July 2006 06:28 PM

El Listo, you might have to become the Islands Correspondent for Notes From Spain. ;) I really enjoy your entries. I hope you enjoy the remainder of your stay.

Alan 15th July 2006 06:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Marina
They were not respecting siesta hours:D. That is the shopping time table all around Spain (except in big superstores and chain shops) it is called "horario comercial" comercial timetable and it is usually from 10-13:30 and then from 5-20:30. In their lunch break people usually go home have full lunch (remember that food is very important in Spain;)), and ok maybe they have a short nap but that is not the main reason for the comercial timetable. The good thing about it is that one can go shopping after work as shops will still be opened till 20:30 h.

Ah, I´m just calling it that because the hotel staff seem to be. I know it´s normal for that to happen everywhere except tourist resorts. In Fornells, we went for lunch and the restaurants were very busy. I´d love to show some pictures but it seems there is no way for me to get my pictures onto the computer!! It´s very annoying.

Anyway, it was a wee restaurant right on the waterfront, called "El Pescador". The waiters were very forthcoming and friendly, very interested in making you feel welcome and obviously receiving a big tip. Well they got the big tip and deserved it.

The first waiter came: "Holahelloquetalhouareyou?" he said and gave us the menus. After much consideration, we decided on the arroz negra con sepas y gambas.

"¿Y para entrar?"

We hadn´t thought about a starter. It was only lunch after all, but I didn´t realise just how seriously they take lunch. Often, I miss it altogether. I haven´t had any lunch today.

"Ehhh, uhhh, los . . . " and forgot the word for mussels. ". . . mussels!".
". . . mariniera". He understood.

It was the best lunch I´ve had in a long time, and definitely beats beans on toast. It was also very reasonable (and probably expensive by Spanish standards) at €50 including drinks. I can spent that in the shabbiest of restaurants back in Scotland.

Last night we went to Mahon (or Maò depending on who you ask). While walking in Ciutadella I spotted a poster about a Celtic music concert. It had been organised by the Centre of Asturias and was held in the Claustre del Carme. I jumped at the chance of buying tickets, because I am a big fan of Asturian music. After finding the small ticket shop, we paid and the assistant handed us the tickets. Number 1 and 2. Great.

So, naturally, we were quite concerned that we were the only two people in the crowd. I thought about not going, but the Scot in me realised that I paid 15€ for the tickets and I was bloody well going to go. We drove into Mahon.

It´s bloody difficult to park in Mahon. We could not find a parking space anywhere on the street and ended up parking in a car park. It closed at 12. I tried to negotiate with the parking rep on an extra few minutes, but he said no, he had to go home at 12. If I wasn´t back, he´d close the doors. And I´d have to pay for the convenience.

Anyway, the concert was great. Asturians are very friendly people. They drink cider and the music has the same rhythm as Scottish or Irish folk. They play the backpipe (gaíta) and we even share some folk tunes. It´s very interesting. We arrived to find that we had missed a warm up act, but there were some dancers outside. It was good to watch for a couple of minutes, but dancing has never interested me.

So we went in and bought a couple of bottles of cider and explained that we were from Scotland etc etc. This excited them very much and they offered to pour us a drink. You should see this (and soon will). The glass is held almost on its side as low as possible and the bottle very high. Most of it ends on the floor. Quite unacceptable to a Scot, but they wouldn´t let us drink it any other way.

Today we went back into Mahon and wandered around. The market was not up to usual standards, but it was okay, I suppose. Within an hour of the market finishing, the streets were spotless.

We decided to climb upto a church in Es Mercadal. It took about 10 minutes to get up and we could see the entire Menorcan coast from the top of the hill.

So that´s it for now. Speak to you soon!

¡Hasta Luego!

Edith 15th July 2006 06:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ValenciaSon
Wasn't there a time in history in which Spain and Ireland experienced a lot of cross-migration?

Apparently yes, and then there is the legend of the so-called Black Irish:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Irish

http://www.darkfiber.com/blackirish/

Not everyone seems to agree on the supposedly Spanish origin of the Black Irish, so more research is needed I guess.

ValenciaSon 15th July 2006 06:44 PM

Hi Alan,

Great entry! I look forward to seeing your pics. The asturian festival seems like a great place.

BTW, mussels in spanish is clochinas.

Edith 15th July 2006 09:30 PM

Just got this interesting bit of info from someone on another forum:

DNA shows Scots and Irish should look to Spain for their ancestry

http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/scot...id=1064152004/

Brian 15th July 2006 09:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Edith
Just got this interesting bit of info from someone on another forum:

DNA shows Scots and Irish should look to Spain for their ancestry

http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/scot...id=1064152004/


Not surprising in the least. My other hobby is genealogy, and a couple of years ago I took part in a worldwide DNA sampling for people with the same surname as I.

The interesting thing about DNA is that a father passes an exact replica of his Y Chromosome to a son. Every 8-10 generations, a slight mutation might occur, but typically, you can use DNA testing for such genealogical uses to determine if 2 people who claim to share the same distant ancestor truly are related. It can help to establish migration patterns, also.

Amazingly, when I compared my DNA results with others who'd taken the same test, there were several in Portugal and Spain with the exact same DNA result as I.

Edith 15th July 2006 09:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Brian
Not surprising in the least. My other hobby is genealogy, and a couple of years ago I took part in a worldwide DNA sampling for people with the same surname as I.

The interesting thing about DNA is that a father passes an exact replica of his Y Chromosome to a son. Every 8-10 generations, a slight mutation might occur, but typically, you can use DNA testing for such genealogical uses to determine if 2 people who claim to share the same distant ancestor truly are related. It can help to establish migration patterns, also.

Amazingly, when I compared my DNA results with others who'd taken the same test, there were several in Portugal and Spain with the exact same DNA result as I.

That's interesting Brian! Human genetics are fascinating!


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