While browsing the web and figuring out where to spend this year’s holiday, we came across the HI Connect programme that promotes sustainable tourism and the mobility of young people. The organisation first got the Albergue de La Victoria hostel in Alcúdia, Menorca, to take us in, but two weeks before our trip, they informed us that unfortunately the hostel had been closed. All the excitement of our trip suddenly dissipated, and fear emerged, together with disappointment, anger, and the question what will become of the plane tickets that we had already bought. But, just two days later, we managed to find the solution together – a hostel in Ciutadella in Menorca. We also got tickets for the ferry going from Mallorca to Menorca, so there weren’t any additional costs resulting from the changes. We arrived at the airport in Palma de Mallorca on 31 July and Victor came to pick us up from the La Victoria hostel, which was our first choice. He also offered us a place to stay because we had to catch the ferry for Menorca the following day. That way we had a chance to explore the town of Alcúdia.
Sa Vinyeta is a youth hostel near the port of Ciutadella, 15 minutes from the centre and 7 minutes from a small beach called Sa Farola. The main building is a restored old farmhouse and has new extensions. The farmhouse was surrounded by a beautiful garden, so inhabitants can now rent a plot of land and cultivate it. Valmira, the lady who works there, told us everything about the history and the hostel in the evening.
The month went by really fast on the island. In the morning, we helped out in the kitchen and with the room cleaning. We worked from 9 a.m. to 1 or 2 p.m., while afternoons were spent exploring the island.
We rented bicycles on the first weekend and decided to cycle all the way to Cala del Pilar on the first day, which is 24 kilometres from Ciutadella. We almost gave up along the way because we had no idea the journey would be so difficult, mostly due to wind, heat and cycling uphill. After arriving in Cale del Pilar, we realised there was still an approximately 40-minute walk to the beach. And when we finally got there, hoping to cool ourselves off in the water, we were taken by surprise by jellyfish. That taught us that it’s always good checking the wind direction first, so as to avoid jellyfish.
We also explored the island on foot, by bus, by car, and with a scooter that was lent to us by Guedi, the cook, and took a boat tour.
We were fascinated by Menorca and by its gorgeous beaches, crystal clear turquoise sea and friendly people. We were surprised by their Catalan dialect called menorquín or menorquí in Catalan, which we couldn’t understand at all. We communicated with the hostel staff using English or translation software.
One of our really interesting experiences was the Sant Llorenç party in Alaior. During summer, each town and village in Menorca celebrates its own “fiesta” called Jaleo. The real stars of the show are the horses, mostly the thoroughbread ones from Menorca that are adorned with ribbons and rosettes. They parade the streets together with their riders all the way to the main square. In Jaleo, riders demonstrate their abilities by making their horses rear up in order to jump and dance to the rhythms of traditional music played by a brass band, while the audience tries to touch them. The atmosphere is playful and merry and street vendors sell pomada – a drink made of local gin and lemons – and various snacks.
We learned a lot about the local culture and way of life and spent time talking to the locals during our trip. Had we organised the trip on our own, we wouldn’t have gained these experiences, so we would like to thank the organisation that made it all possible. We would also like to thank the staff at the Sa Vinyeta hostel for delicious food, accommodation and kindness, and Victor for offering us accommodation and givin us a ride.
Nina Zadravec in Dejan Smodiš