When your ship docks in Mahon, Menorca, one of Spain’s Balearic Islands, it’s tempting to head straight for Punta Prima Beach for a couple hours of sun in the fun. But then you’d miss the complicated history, bucolic views and glimpses of neolithic mystery available on the island. That’s why I chose a 4-hour Menorca cruise excursion offered by Silver Spirit during an Atlantic Crossing.
It always feels good to be out in the countryside after several days on a ship. Pastoral views whiz by as our bus drives up the steep, twisting lane to the summit of Monte Toro, Menorca’s tallest hill. At 1,100 ft., I really can’t refer to it as a mountain. Along the way, our guide educates us about the island’s history. After listening to tales of neolithic discoveries, Jewish expulsions, Islamic domination then defeat, and the Spanish Civil War, I’m tempted to consider Menorca the crossroads of the world. If not the world, it certainly holds a strategic position in the Mediterranean as history has proven.
Arriving at Monte Toro’s summit, we exit the bus to take photos of the panoramic scene. Although it’s hazy, most of the island can be seen from this vantage point. And I can make out numerous cycling and walking routes leading up to Monte Toro—now that would be a fun adventure.
There’s not much to see on the summit besides the view and an imposing statue, although a nondescript 16th century church and monastery share the spot (Menorca’s churches were desecrated during the Spanish Civil War). And be forewarned, numerous cell towers have negatively impacted the beauty of the summit.
Back on the bus, we continue the drive across the island to the megalithic site Torralba D’en Salord. Here’s that Neolithic mystery that I mentioned. These well-preserved taulas—T-shaped stone formations—are only found on Menorca. Archaeologists can only guess at the meaning of the bronze age site, although they believe that the taulas have a religious significance.
I walk along with the group of Silversea cruisers exploring a stack of stones here, another taulas there. The remains are from a civilization dating back to 1500 B.C., but the stones are keeping their secret as to why they were constructed.
Later, I walk down the steps of Cova D’en Xoroi, a nightclub built into caves located in cliffs overlooking the ocean in Cala’n Porter, one of Menorca’s resort communities. It’s fun winding my way past hidden alcoves and patios and on down to the actual caves. At a bar in one of the caves, I accept my complimentary drink—Portuguese beer—then find a seat on one of the patios to contemplate that gorgeous scene.
It will be a long walk back up the 165 steps but the view is well worth it, although I wonder how many late-night revelers have come close to going over the side on their tipsy way home. Highlights of Menorca is a pleasant four-hour introduction to the island. There aren’t any wow moments but if you haven’t explored Menorca, it’s worth your time.
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