World Traveller September 2019


First impressions matter, of

course. And Borja, the smiling

car-hire guy at the airport, aced it,

airily telling us to just leave the keys

in the glove compartment on our

return, maintaining his smile even

after a local woman reversed her

car into ours: ‘Sure, have another!’

We drove off happy to believe that

‘delightfully relaxed’ might be

the default Menorquin mood.

Mahoń, the capital and our stop

for the first couple of days, did little

to undo Borja’s good work. High

above the huge natural harbour

that made the island quite the catch

among Europe’s naval powers (its

dance card was marked by the Brits

for much of the 18th century) we

found a chilled, well-groomed city of

green-shuttered Georgian buildings

and chunky, fortress-like convents.

One is now a museum; another, the

Claustre del Carme, a food market

downstairs, the island’s music

conservatory upstairs. We sat outside

in the sun eating La Menorquina ice

creams, Brahms’s Hungarian Dance

No 5 galloping allegro out of the

rehearsal-room window above.

Wandering through the

pedestrianised centre, we passed

grannies gossiping on benches

beneath orange trees, and watched a

band of folk musicians and dancers

entertain the late-afternoon crowds.

At Can’Oliver, a 19th-century mansion

turned gallery-museum, gorgeous

frescoes on ceilings and the double

staircase were the backdrop to blessedly

succinct displays on the island’s

history, including one panel on the

Brits’ linguistic legacy. Such pride.

A family of suckers for a shoe shop,

we were helpless in the face of one

store’s floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall

rainbow of traditional avarca sandals.

Mallorca’s native shoe is the Camper

trainer; from Ibiza I could recall only

sequins and boho tassels. But this was

authentic summery heaven — window

shopping was not enough. Waltzing

on, freshly shod, we found in Plaça

Bastió a handful of inviting cafés and

bars ranged around a fabulous kids’

playground — the absolute, whydoes-every-town-not-have-this


combo. The four-year-old scarpered









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