The real-life island that inspired the world’s oldest travel story

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The sky above Mahón, a town in Menorca, was a bright winter blue. The buildings were painted in vibrant shades of citrus and lemon, creating a colorful scene. Palm trees swayed in the wind, and the road led down to the port where white yachts awaited summer. Along the shopping avenue, orange trees were full of fruit, and sparrows chattered loudly in the branches at dusk.

After spending time in icy Croatia, Menorca felt tropical in comparison. The air was warmer, and there was a sense of optimism in the sunny streets. At Café Nou, I enjoyed a tostada con tomate while reading about Mauricio Obregón, a historian who believed the island of the Cyclops could be in the Balearic Islands.

According to legend, Poseidon had a child who became the strongest of the Cyclopes and lived on an island. Odysseus, after facing challenges in other lands, set out to find the Cyclops. He and his men encountered the Cyclops in his cave, and Odysseus used cunning to escape after blinding the monster.

Exploring Menorca on my bicycle, I found rocky coves to swim in and encountered many birds. I became fascinated by their movements and behaviors. Javier, a local ornithologist, became my guide, teaching me about the different bird species on the island.

Happiness for me was found in simple pleasures: cycling down country lanes, swimming in the turquoise sea, and observing nature. I marveled at the sights and sounds of the island, from black redstarts to speckled wood butterflies.

In Menorca, I felt a deep connection to nature, becoming more attuned to the rhythms of the island. Cycling to the sea, encountering donkeys in fields, and watching birds, I felt myself becoming more like the creatures around me.

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