About the Author
Phil Lee has worked as a freelance author for Rough Guides for over ten years. Previous titles he has worked on include, Norway, the Pacific Northwest, Belgium, Canada and Toronto.
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CATALAN AND CASTILIAN
Since the death of Franco and the subsequent federalization of Spain, the Balearics have formed their own autonomous region and asserted the primacy of their language, Catalan (Català). On Menorca its spoken with a slight local variation as the dialect Menorquín. The most obvious sign of this linguistic assertiveness is the recent replacement of Castilian (Spanish) street names by their Catalan equivalents. In speech, though, the islanders are almost all bilingual, speaking Castilian and Catalan with equal fluency, and youll find no shortage of people with perfect English or French either. In this book weve given the Catalan for everything to do with the islands from town, street and beach names through to topographical features and food as this is mostly what the visitor encounters.
Access to Menorca is easy from Britain and northern Europe, with plenty of charter flights and complete package deals, some of which drop to absurd prices out of season or through last-minute booking. From mainland Spain, both ferries and flights are frequent and comparatively inexpensive. The island has one airport (on the outskirts of Maó) and two ferry ports Maó, with connections to the mainland and Mallorca, and Ciutadella with links just to Mallorca. From these points of arrival, the rest of the island is within easy striking distance by car it only takes an hour or so to drive across Menorca and to a large extent by bus.
The main constraint for independent travellers is accommodation. From mid-June to mid-September, sometimes later, rooms are in very short supply. If you go at this time and especially in August youre well advised to make a reservation several weeks in advance or to book a package. Out of season, things ease up and you can idle around, staying pretty much where you want, though many places close down from November to April. The best bases are Maó, Fornells and Ciutadella, each of which has a small cache of all-year hotels and hostals. In two weeks, youll have more than enough time to explore the island three and youll be able to investigate its every nook and cranny.
Spring and autumn are the ideal times for a visit, when the weather is comfortably warm, with none of the oven-like
temperatures which bake the island in July and August. Its well worth considering a winter break, too even in January, temperatures are usually high enough during the day to sit out at a café in shirtsleeves. The island sees occasional rain in winter, but nothing too serious and anyway this is when the rain renders the fields bright green with none of the bare, brown, sunburnt appearance of summer. The main winter irritant is the wind, which often blows fiercely from the north.