Of human and goats – or how to conquer one of the best virgin beaches in Spain.

While in London I decided to travel solo.

One of my trips was to Menorca, Mallorca’s more unspoiled sister, full of sandy beaches with pristine water. Some Spaniards told me is the place to visit, not as hectic as Ibiza and not yet as crowded as Mallorca. A colleague had a trip there a few weeks before I was planning my escape and for some months she was still in some state of ‘daydreaming’.

These were valid reasons to book the flights and a nice room in an aparthotel. MenorcaMar is a beautiful location, spotlessly clean and relatively close to the main town, Ciutadella. Mind that in Menorca hotel owners are not allowed to build tall constructions so they don’t spoil the view and the coastline. Airbnb is also not popular there.

menorca 1

I was craving for sun and sea, so on my first day in Menorca, I decided to go to what is considered one of the best beaches on the island, Tourqueta  – a virgin beach, 20 minutes from Ciutadella by bus. I took my towel, my book (The Good Terrorist – Doris Lessing), some water and the sunscreen. I couldn’t forget my floaters. At 30, I was one of those lame adults not being able to swim in the sea.

…….

I am heading to the bus station in Cap d’Artrutx, 5 minutes walking from my aparthotel. It’s hot. I have sweat beads glittering under my pink sun hat. 10 minutes. No bus. 15 minutes. I get sweatier. I am dying to jump in the water with my orange floaters. 20 minutes. Where is the bus? There is no other soul in the station and I am wondering if the bus is actually running.

An old dusty red is slowing down on the other side of the road. The car has stopped. Someone is rolling down the window and I can see a white head with a smile.

‘Senorita, a donde vas?’

‘Ciutadella, senor.’

An 80-year old Menorquin grandfather, as old as his car, wants to give me a ride to the town. Yes! Vamolos abuelo! I decide to practice my Spanish – actually, I am successfully mixing Spanish words, Romanian words, English words and sign language. I am having a proper conversation in the end about the beautiful island, some politics including the independence of Catalonia. Abuelo has kind eyes, neat hands and a lot of passion when talking. In less than 15 minutes I am in Ciutadella. I would have liked the ride to be longer.

I take the bus from the centre of Ciutadella, completely packed, to the virgin beach. 20 minutes, of which 10minute-off road. From the bus stop, where a small shop is selling water and ice-cream, I need to walk another 10 minutes in the woods to get to the magic beach. Yes, I can see it! And the turquoise water! And the golden sand!

But my virgin magic Tourqueta is suffocated. Tens of people and screaming little people are running and swimming and eating and scratching and pinching and playing. Towel next to the towel. A cruise ship is coming closer to the virgin beach, slowly like a heavy lazy monster. Oh God, I can’t breathe, I was hoping for a tranquil environment. “Tourqueta has lost her virginity”, I whisper to myself rolling my eyes.

menorca 3

My first challenge: find a spot for my towel. It’s already late, almost 13h00, so I can’t be in the sun. I have no umbrella but I see a good spot under the shade at the end of the beach. Hurry, put your towel down. Take out your dress, put on the floaters, leave the phone in the bag, don’t stress about it, no one will steal it, don’t be paranoid. Jump in the water! I manage to take my feet off the ground and swim a bit. I am moving forward! Meanwhile, kids are swimming like mermaids. Their moms, aunts and grandmothers are swimming like mermaids. 5-year olds are jumping like superheroes from high cliffs directly in the crystal-clear water.

A crowd of people from the cruise are conquering the empty strips of the beach. Two more families are placing their towels next to mine. My towel is surrounded now by kids and toys and Tupperwares with fresh fruits and sandwiched. And by…goats. Jumping from a bush. One of them is brave and steps on my towel. It’s sneezing my beach bag.

‘Goat! Goat, leave my bag alone. Take your nose out of there. Goat!! Stop chewing! What are you chewing?’

I have to stop my swimming performance abruptly and run back to my towel, shhhs-uing the black, small and shameless goat. It takes out its head from the bag with my phone in its mouth.

I am pale. I feel I can’t breathe anymore. ‘Goat!’ I am running faster to catch the animal and rescue that little device that has people in it. People from my home(s).  And passwords. And maps. And my soul. Leave it there!

I am most probably screaming. The goat gets scared, drops the phone and runs back into the bush. She pulls a magic, disappearing trick. My device is ok, no scratch, just zero signal.

Cool, I feel like having an ice cream. Jumping myself like a goat over people’s towels, I am heading to the shop by the bus station to indulge my taste buds in a sweet refreshing treat. I am leaving my towel and the book under the shade as I will be back in 20 minutes. Go ahead goat, chew my book, the story hasn’t caught me.

Note: I lost some photos from Menorca, therefore I only have a goat-free image gallery. 😦

12 Things You Should Know Before Moving To London

I first arrived in London four years ago, for a one month experience in the UK headquarters of the consultancy I used to work for in Bucharest. “I am sure I will love the city”.

I hated it. I was so happy to leave once that month was over. The commuting, the robots walking to their offices in the morning, confined spaces that made me feel claustrophobic, the overall impatience of the city, all these freaked me out.

“I will never be able to live in that horrendous London”, I was telling to anyone who had ears to listen to me. I have been living now in this city for almost two years.

bansky

If you want to defy Brexit and still move to this metropolis, you might want to know that:

  • Rents are high. Sharing is the norm here. Even people in their 40s have flatmates. If you want to be by yourself, put aside some significant chunk of your monthly paycheck.
  • Public transport is expensive as hell. I pay £131/month to use the tube, trains, buses for zones 1 and 2 only. Last year the monthly pass was £126, I think a sudden £5 pound increase is outrageous.
  • Despite the high prices, public transport is not reliable. When I first moved here, I thought I was living close to work. I had to take the tube one stop and then change at Canada Water station, where I had to hop on a train called the Overground through 3 more stations. Easy peasy. Except that the amazing Overground is slow as a turtle, it always comes fully packed, and it has signal failures every week. My advice: move close to work. When I say close, I really mean it. Not ‘almost close to work’. That means you will still curse your life almost every day.
  • On the other hand, Uber is great! Much cheaper than the black taxis, drivers come wherever you tell them to pick you up, and they give you a ride even for short distances. In Brussels or Amsterdam, you should avoid Uber drivers.

pretty

  • You will find medicines in supermarkets and food and beverages in pharmacies.
  • Try to get a private health insurance. The public system, also called NHS, has some big issues. Great specialists, but it takes an eternity to get an appointment: three, four, five months. Without a private insurance, you will not be able to afford the private services. An endoscopy can cost £1500. A consultation is £250. Another option is to fly back to your own country for medical issues. Or to pray.
  • You can find amazing restaurants in London. Cuisines from all over the world. Artisanal coffee. Street markets are a big thing and you can easily find delicious meals when you visit them. I can recommend the Maltby Street Market and Brixton Market. Borough Market is really colourful and beautiful but too pricey. There are also plenty of excellent brunch places. I can mention here 100 Hoxton and The Pear Tree @Greenland Place. The food in supermarkets is not of high quality. I usually buy it from Waitrose, which has better fruits and vegetables.
  • You can find plenty of desserts as well but they lack finesse. Too much butter, too much sugar, the cake batter is dry, with a dense, chewy texture.
  • Going out is expensive. There is a fee for almost everything. A friend tried once to book tickets for us for a Halloween party. The venue was asking extra money for insurance. Insurance? Insurance for what? For being on this Earth? It’s the venue’s responsibility to provide the insurance in case something bad happens. We felt that someone was trying to rob us so we gave up.

blue

  • It’s difficult to be spontaneous in London. If you want to go to any kind of performance, to go to a spa or even to enjoy a brunch in a nice restaurant, you can’t just show up like that. You can’t even book them two days in advance. It has to be planned a few weeks ahead. It’s the same when meeting friends. Everyone lives in different parts of London so any encounter needs to be carefully planned in advance.
  • Brits love air conditioning. There is air conditioning everywhere, summer, winter, it doesn’t matter. You will feel the cold breeze at the gym, in the taxi, in your favourite brunch place, at the theatre, in the public bathroom. You will not feel it when you most need it: in the tube/trains during summertime.
  • Opening a bank account is literally more demanding than being Elon Musk and sending a Tesla car on Mars. Read more about it in my next post.