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Destination Menorca - May 2006
Italian
sw33tf00l
Edited from rough notes made whilst on holiday this year.

Arrived Monday 8th at the Hotel Esmaralda after flying from Luton & leaving my brothers car in the airport car park.
Hotel Esmaralda is a 3 star hotel in Cuitadella, some distance away from.
Hotel Esmaralda
The link on the page gives you a fairly accurate description of the hotel.
We primarily we were booked in to a room with lovely view of the dusty children's playground & tennis court. After settling in on the first day, we asked to be changed to a room with a sea view.. (Be nice to the hotel staff, they're just doing their job,. mess em up the first day.. you might not have a nice holiday)
The sea view room cost a few extra Euro's (the Euro IS the currency there) cashing is my US dollars travelers check's caused some time to be processed, as they don't get a lot (had these from when I was planning to go to the states) however it was not a problem.
The new view (oh it rhymes!) was well worth it, at the second floor, (high enough from the stage/disco) for noise not to be a problem. The fantastic view is that of the harbour, palm trees & directly ahead, St Michael's Tower. All this without leaving the hotel. It being the harbour, large cruise ships & ferries go back & forth regularly & it's fun to watch the small/pilot boat, driven by the harbour master/mistress to get the all clear for the big boats & for the green lights to come on.
Cuitadella itself was the capital of Minorca, until the 18th, century. This is illuminated at night, for a few Euro's you can climb the stone spiral stairs of the the tower (don't look down), & look our over the sea & the harbour.. You also get to watch a fairly well done tourist video projected, from 3 angles onto the walls of the ground floor of the tower.
The tower is a MUST view & visit, of Menorca. The landscape view of the harbour, the different types of palm-trees, the hotel itself illuminated at the evening.
Within the hotel area itself, you will see very large seagulls, small lizards (usually basking on stone) long tailed sparrows, & a swift's nest on a neighboring property.
Both the sparrows & some dove's were nesting in the palm trees.
Going to the highest point of the island, is, if you like a landscape, a must do. A hikers dream (maybe) or a bus drivers nightmare, the easiest way to get to El Toro is by car. A fairly steep, drive up curved roads. To the church & convent at the top of the Hill. This is still in use. Even this high point caters for the visitor with a cafeteria & gift shop. I got a few shot glasses, a few bookmarks, & keyring pirate's dagger for my nephew.
We ate out in a semi sunny area with good breeze. There is a fantastic view of the rest of the island. You know its a high point as the air thins are you go up, & the cars look like matchboxes. It is certainly on my list of visits IF I ever go there again.
Right,.. Now dear readers, I'm going to talk about the
Food, The Hotel, & the entertainment.
The Food
Breakfast, has the usual English breakfast. Beans, bacon, sausage, eggs,. Cereals, such as muesli, cornflakes, suger puffs.
On a more european flavour, plenty of bread is provided, brown & bread rolls, & french stick slices. The french bread was very nice when fresh (eg at breakfast) also croissants & ham & cheese slices. I found the bread & beans acceptable, also the sausages. All of these are non renal diet foods, but I had to eat.. I ate a large amount of bread, ham & a little cheese mostly. Fresh fruit is available at every meal. (apples, oranges (nice) some pears)
Lunch usually provides a hot dish, with salads & ice cream & desserts..
Soup.. The soups were reasonable, I think the most amusing must have been, "cream of bird soup" but tomato, fish, and attempted cream of asparagus.
Supper, 1 or 2 cooked dish at least 1 being fish of some sorts,.. Fish in batter, quite nice. Barbequed pork on a skewer was nice, as was roast chicken.
There is plenty of desserts, cakes, always ice cream. Everyone has put on weight.
A large jug of iced water is available at lunch & supper. Transplantees dream, dialysis patients nightmare. Fruit squash concentrate & tea & cofee are available from dispensing machines at all times, tho its wise to dilute the fruit.
As we had all inclusive drinks from the bar are unlimited, tho my main drink, apart from water was 'Kas limon' a cold lemon flavoured drink is best served with ice.. It's not at all like 7-up & I miss is already. I also drank Pepsi Cola.

The swimming pool, is salt water, & unheated, apart from the sun with a childrens area & an adult area. Be warned.. what appears to be steps. the last step is a steep slope.. & you will be in the pool.. It is COLD.. but fine once you get in..I enjoyed swimming several times, Tho not as often as I might have. I really don't swim well/opften enough. Great for someone who lives 5 mins from a pool. (Note.. Never, I say NEVER, & don't say I didn't warn you, go & buy a blue towel with dolphins on, then use it immediately. I nearly turned blue. (I am SO glad no one had a camera.))
The bedrooms are fine, with a balcony a shower & bath. (our first room had a dribble for a shower, & I was glad we moved rooms.) My brother complained that the bed was too hard. Possibly one of the blankets provided would have been good.
Ramp access for prams & wheelchair users is good.
Burgers, hot dogs , sandwiches and drinks are available at the pool bar.
The hotel itself, was being redecorated at the front. Paint being scraped off & replaced instantly by the decorators. This was entertainment on its own. Highlights of it. Watching a bucket of paint get tipped over just in front of reception. Watching the decorators, swing from ropes & a harness as they painted the upper levels.
The seagulls, or one particular seagull,
Catering for those that like afternoon tea.. Tea & biscuits are served at around 4 ish, with the option to sit in, or outside. On one occasion mum decided to sit outside.
I didn't see this personally, but there was a sudden heavy THUD.. on the table & 2 of the 3 biscuits were grabbed from the table.. with the serviette. The seagull allegedly had tomato ketchup on its beak.. It then proceeded to return for the 3rd biscuit.
THe seagulls are not your small town seagulls, but LARGE features with a great wingspan, which allows then to hang like a glider in the wind.
The hotel provides plenty of activities itself for children & adults. Most of the staff speak English
Bingo, Diso, mini disco, etc are all provided. There were a variety of activities. Things I did do were playing french bouls (on rough glass) & archery.. Wanted to do shooting & bowling but it fell on a dialysis morning!. Table tennis, snooker are available for a returnable deposit as are mountain bikes (for 2 hours.) & cycling up & down the promenade was good fun. My body DID remember how to ride a bike, despite memory loss! One thing it DOES do is give you a bit of muscle. I'm tempted to get a mountain bike, despite my brother having his stolen once many years ago.
Moving on to the
Haemodialysis unit, It is a small unit & both the doctors (2) speak reasonable english. The nurse Jorge (George) speak much but it's easy enough to communicate with the unit is small 7 stations with 4 in use (7 would be far too crowded) B Braun machines are used. I usually dialyse 3 & a half hours thrice weekly but on one session the staff were happy to dialyse me for 4 hours on request.
I dialysed in the morning (I didn't discover the times until I got to the hotel!!!) at, first 8 am, then 7pm! I am not sure if there were local patients in the afternoon, or others on Mon Wed Fri, but I didn't ask. doing that time of day does mean getting a taxi (or a VERY brisk 20 minute walk) We primarily got a taxi(just under 5 Euro's) the when we had a car hired my brother drove.
The unit is next to the cafeteria & the the hospital square. Food is not included at the unit, but a tea or coffee costs less that a Euro, & a Boccadillo jamon y queso (a long bread roll) with ham & cheese was quite nice.The prices are exceptionally reasonable. I have to say I drank far too much coffee, not even thinking about the dietary consequences. Marie is there during the week at the cafe, & is v friendly & her mother covers for the weekends. Unusually its the staff that get the food & drinks for the cafe. But it next door so this is OK.
The hospital also has an A&E department. The cafe is closed early in the morning. so you have to go through, yes through, a lift to get to the unit, as usually you would go through the square & the cafe.

We visited one of the many coves or caves that the island seems to have it is worth climbing up the steps opposite to the coves to get a good view of them we didn't climb above the coves as the heat was a little too much at midday. Boots or sandals with a good grip are essential if you wish to avoid twisted ankles. A smooth sole is not.
We also went to Cala Galdana, which in my opinion is a place where people with more money than sense hang out. Such big and expensive yacht I have never seen. We're talking James Bond private boats here. Great, I suppose, if you can afford that lifestyle. Here we had a very nice ice cream, from an Italian ice cream parlour, which sold nothing but ice cream & drinks. I seem to remember having pistachio nut & lemon sorbet.. It was, a confectionary highlight of the holiday to die for.!
If you like boats.. Expensive boats. This is the place to come. It is also one of the places where you can go on an hour & a half glass bottomed boat trip round the island. This is recommended tho on the last day, we missed the last boat. Mao(Mahon) is the largest harbor of the island, & I believe the largest or second largest in the world. Great if you like harbors & boats.
Wildlife, plants & birds are predominant. If your a nature lover, you'll love Menorca, Seagulls, lizards, sparrows, ducks, geese, cactus. The whole island has been listed as a 'Biosphere' that is, a nature reserve. A book on the island.
A guide to Menorca Biosphere Reserve - English edition (also available in spanish/german/italian) ISBN number, 84-8478- 061-9. You're also likely to find books on menorca in your library.
Summary,
We booked through Freedom Travel for 2 from the 8th of May & flew with Monarch Airlines. There was more difficulty in getting paperwork done in the UK than in Menorca. My advice is to plan WELL in advance & ensure that the paperwork is done BEFORE the last minute. I dialysed on the Saturday before departure, & on the Tuesday upon return. I'd recommend a holiday break on dialysis to anyone. Its probably easier to move units to abroad than to change in the UK. I would possibly travel to Menorca again. I would say to anyone on haemodialysis. YOU do need & deserve a break.
You are eligible for up to 1200 pounds worth of reciprocal (free) treatment in the EU & member countries (AUS). Charities such as the BKPA may be able to fund some of the cost. Total cost per person for us was £400 all inclusive at the Hotel Esmaralda Cuitadella.

A note on Cats & dogs, well mainly dogs.. Terriers seem to be the dog of the promanade walked by their owners in the evening tho I did see some other dogs including a wolf like animal which made me say "I want one" OK previously I wanted a small brown dachshund, but now I'm not so sure.. The smaller dog eats less tho!

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