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The Best $100 I Ever Spent
September 29, 2009
It was a mistake. On to my screen popped an airfare to a place called 'Menorca' for $100. "Where the hell is Menorca?" I asked myself.
A quick Google search revealed it to be in Spain. Suddenly it didn't matter where Menorca was, it was $100, and I was booking it.
The price error was corrected the next day, but not before I told all of my friends and family about it, and then
proceeded to let the rest of the Internet in on it.
Suddenly there were 767s full of Canadians heading to an island off the coast of Spain for $100, and surely somewhere, somebody was fired.
Sun Sep 20
- Left Ike and Jessica's wedding at 6AM. Drove back with Steve & Hoa.
- Met Mike, Brad, Heather & Sean at the airport.
- Boarded our plane for Toronto. CB's video screen didn't work. No compensation, but the stewardess kindly pointed out to a seat that had a working screen. Hey, whaddya expect for a hundred bucks ?
- Toronto to Madrid. Managed to sleep a bit. Lots of good movies to watch. Thank god for seatback entertainment.
Mon Sep 21
- Madrid to Mernoca. Finally found the Poppy Car representative in the airport. Negotiated our way into a
6 seater van/car Fiat Multipla.
- Drove to Apartamentos Binicudi in Binibeca, which was just south of the airport. Saw lots of
cool stone walls along the way. After a few wrong turns, we found our apartments.
- Took a walk around Binibequer Vell. Walked a little further down the coastline and
found a small cove. Walked back to the apartments.
- Went for dinner in Binebequer. Chris had prawns, I had chicken with curry sauce. Got our first taste of Mahon cheese, yum.
- The lights went out momentarily in the restaurant. Apparently it's quite common on the island. After dinner Brad said it was the best meal he'd ever eaten.
- Went back to the apartments, had a few drinks, and headed for bed. Everyone was still a little tired from the flight.
Tue Sep 22
- Piled into our funny looking Multipla and drive into Mahon.
- Had some hot chocolate and an ensaimada, a local pastry speciality they've apparently been making since the 17th century.
- Went to the market and bought some Menorcan cheese, bread, and fruit. Then proceeded to the Xoriguer gin and bought
a gin/pomada drink for later. Xoriguer gin is another local speciality, which they've been making for over 300 years.
- Went sea kayaking along the south eastern coast of the island, and saw some really cool caves and topless girls, always a bonus. Got caught in a rainstorm on the way back.
- Drove to Fortalesa Isabel II and walked around.
- Drove to the Talayot settlement of Trepuco, which dates from 1500 BC.
- Back to our room to get ready for dinner. Brad accidentally smashed their bottle of gin. :(
- Drive to Cala 'n Porter to meet up with Heather & Sean. They were quick to laugh at our car/van/whatever.
- We had dinner at La Palette. Food was delicious, and everyone had gigantic portions.
- Tried to go to Cova d'en Xoroi (a nightclub built into a cave overlooking the ocean) but unfortunately they were closed for the season.
Wed Sep 23
- Caught an early flight to Barcelona.
- Arrived and took the train/metro into the city. Steve spotted some suspicious characters eyeing us up. Luckily they didn't try to rob us.
- Made it to our B&B (Ana's Guesthouse) and then went for a walk down Passeig de Gracia .
- Went into Casa Mila, also known as 'La Pedrera', one of Gaudi's buildings. Saw the rooftop, attic, and the apartment.
- Continued down the street past the block of discord and looked at Casa Batllo from the outside (another Gaudi building)
- Took a break and had some gelato. Dulce de leche for Mike, chocolate blanco for CB, and nota for CM.
- Made our way back home, then met up with Steve/Hoa/Brad for dinner at Cerveceria Catalana. We thought it was really average, and were pretty disappointed considering all the great reviews we had read about it. We even thought we might have the wrong restaurant, but verified later that we were at the right place. I did like the really cheesy lasagna though.
- Went to the football game to watch RCD Espanyol vs. Malaga. We had good seats, and the score ended up being 2:1 for Espanyol after coming back from 0:1. CM was so tired he almost fell asleep. One interesting thing was that there was no actual beer served at the stadium, Steve & Brad had to settle for non-alcoholic beer, ouch!
- Got stuck in the underground subway station wedged in a huge crowd of university students out drinking and had to walk home the last 15 blocks.
Thu Sep 24
- Had breakfast at our B&B
- Walked to Sagrada Familia and looked at it from the outside. CM impaled himself on the fence and ripped his brand new Barcelona shirt.
- Went to Park Guell (designed by, you guessed it, Gaudi), took the steep way up. *Lots* of tourists. The Japanese people loved the dragon statue. We walked around the park, taking it all in.
- Rushed back to the Barri Gotic district and watched the Desfile de los Gigantes, or Parade of Giants.
- Walked over to Placa Sant Jaume to watch the castellers (human castles). *So hot* *So crowded*. Ducked into an air conditioned fast food restaurant and watched from there.
- Performed the world's fastest walk-through of the Picasso Museum. We're not really big museum people, but hey, it was free admission on this day (Merce holiday), and we thought we might see a famous painting or two.
- Took the subway down the port area. Walked to Port Vell to look for the food/wine festival that we had heard would be there. Couldn't find it.
- Walked up La Rambla to find the market, but it was closed. 2 strikes!
- Went back to the guesthouse and had a snack/drink and caught up with Mike, who was just getting up! (Big night the night before).
- Had a siesta, and went for dinner at Inopia. Really good tapas, probably one of our top two meals in Spain. After that we walked over to the magic fountains and caught them just in time for the last show.
- Walked back to the train station.
Fri Sep 25
- Caught the train to Montserrat. It was an interesting train ride winding up the side of the mountain.
- Hiked around Montserrat, made it up as high as we could. Chris felt woozy and delirious. Ran back down. Checked out the monastery for a brief moment.
- No time to freshen up or go back to the hotel, headed straight to our cooking class. We got there early, so we wandered around and had some good ice cream.
- Entered the cooking class and met Bruno (our instructor), an Irish mother/daughter duo, a Canadian, and a couple from Cleveland.
- Bruno showed us how to make sopa de tomates (something like gazpacho, cold tomato soup in a shotglass, with garlic aioli, hazelnuts, and a hard grated cheese), a spanish omelette (tortilla de patatas y pan con tomate or potato omelet with tomato bread), paella de marisco (seafood paella), and crema catalana (Catalan version of creme brulee)
- The paella was salty, and really oily, but overall everything was quite tasty.
- Went to watch fireworks on Barceloneta beach. Laid on a beach chair. They were even louder than your average fireworks, thanks to the echoing over the water. Really good fireworks!
- Met Mike, Steve, Hoa, and Brad after the fireworks, and took the subway to Plaza Jaume. Watched some Spanish Celtic band, not who we wanted to see, but Steve/Brad enjoyed that fact that beer was delivered to them in public.
- Gave up waiting for the Go! Team after the 5th Celtic Spanish encore song. Took the last subway home.
Sat Sep 26
- Woke up really early, and took a taxi to the airport.
- Flew to Mahon. Picked up our car, this time an updated version of our previous Fiat Multipla. It even had some upgrades, like a radio!
- Drove west to Ciutadella. Checked into our hotel, Mar Blava.
- Incredibly tired from our early, early flight, we walked part way into Ciutadella and had a bite to eat. Walked back to the hotel and had a 2 hour siesta.
- Drove north and met Heather & Sean in Fornells. Had dessert there.
- Drove to Pregonda beach, and had a small section of the beach to ourselves.
- The boys swam and snorkled (but didn't see much).
- Went for a walk through the rocky coastline along the sandstone. Chris + Mike filmed a short Star Trek fight scene video.
- Drove back to Fornells to drop Heather & Sean at their car.
- Sean locked their keys in the trunk of the car. Heather called the car rental company but the spare key was in Madrid.
- Sean & Mike went to a store and somehow managed to translate that they needed a coat hanger, but not luck getting the car open.
- The assistance guy arrived and told them they would have to break the window.
- Sean weakly and feebly tapped the window to gently break it open.
- Went for dinner in Cituadella. By the time we finished it was almost 2 AM, finally we were on the same schedule as the locals.
- Went for a walk around Ciutadella (old town) - CM thought it seemed to have a Persian/Morrocan feel.
Sun Sep 27
- Slept in a bit, then walked into Ciutadella for breakfast at a bakery (Mexipana?) - it was so good that we went back and bought more for lunch.
- Drove to S'Hostal quarry and walked through it. Walked down into a big hole that had good acoustics (they have concerts here sometimes).
- Went and saw Naveta de Tudons, which is apparently the oldest roofed structure not only on the island, but apparently in all of Europe (it dates from 1200 B.C.).
- Next we went to Cala Turqueta beach - nice aqua coloured water - not as many naked people as we though there would be (based on Heather & Sean's experience the day before) - better snorkeling though, even saw an octopus.
- Mike climbed the rock face on the side of the beach - the naked guy in front of us looked quite interested - luckily he spared us all and didn't try to climb it.
- Next we went to Mitjana beach - another nice beach with big cliffs on either side, but had a weird smell. The water was quite warm.
- Tried to go for dinner with everyone near San Lluis, but couldn't find anything open. Even the supermarket was closed.
- Went to Mao for dinner and had a mediocre meal at the only place still open.
- Headed to the airport in Mao and took our late night flight to Madrid.
Mon Sep 28
- Arrived in Madrid and took a taxi to our hotel. Our taxi driver was a little loco, constantly whistling and taking wrong turns.
- Our room turned out to be pretty nice. Woke up early to check out Madrid, everyone else bailed, taking the opportunity to catch some sleep.
- We checked out Plaza Mayor, and then over to Catedral de Nuestra.
- Then we headed north to Palacio Real, and through Plaza de Oriente.
- Then we walked through Plaza de Espana and down Gran Via, stopping in for churros con chocolate at Nebraska diner.
- We accomplished all of that in about 90 minutes, which has to be some sort of record for the fastest walking tour of Madrid.
- Quickly rushed back to our hotel to catch the shuttle for the airport.
- All in all the trip was fantastic, and Menorca was a lot more interesting than any of us had thought it would be. Best hundred bucks I ever spent!