Kathy Goes to Mallorca Pt. II: Oh, the Good Life!

First Morning

First Morning

The first morning in Mallorca was stunning. I’ve never been a person to comment on beautiful sunrises or sunsets but perhaps that is because I’ve never seen any truly beautiful ones. When you step out onto the balcony at eight in the morning and face an ocean bathed in blinding sunlight, you can’t help but gasp in an almost dramatic way. I’ve never felt so little need to use a filter on any picture before. Not like I have really do any editing to my pictures unless I upload them to Instagram, of course.

After I managed to drag myself off the balcony and into the bathroom, I even found the energy to make myself up in an almost human way. In fact, I am happy to report I actually did the entire face scrub – moisturizer – make up thing every single morning in Mallorca. Usually, even when I’m on holiday, I slack after a while. My skin has never been so happy with me before! But I digress…

The Hotel From Across the Bay

The Hotel From Across the Bay

After a breakfast that even topped the dinner buffet (four different kinds of homemade yoghurt!!!) and another hour spent on the balcony, we took a walk along the bay, towards the town center of Portocolom. Which would be said too much because the town center is just the port / marina with a few restaurants, cafés and bars and the very odd jewelry shop among them. The biggest business in town seemed to be a very strange art gallery which, among other things, had a statue of a very pregnant looking Afro lady on display. I’ve never been in a place so quiet before. On the one hand, the few businesses in town seemed fancy and like they were there to attract people with money on their hands. But on the other hand, the place seemed so sleepy and forgotten that I’m not sure anyone really bothers to go there for anything. Yet, it didn’t seem like a bad place to live. It had its shabby corners, old abandoned hotels and buildings which we weren’t sure were still under construction or abandoned. But for the most part, it’s just an idyllic little town in a quiet bay area. I suppose if you spend a week or more there without ever leaving the place, it can be a little boring but that first day was perfect in its own way.

For a while, we just walked and stopped here and there to watch people fix their little boats or walk their dogs. Then we sat in a café by marina and had a coffee. At that time, it was hard to imagine that I actually had another life somewhere back home in Germany in which I was stressed by my job and had several dozen other things to worry about.

Äffchen's Little Sibling

Äffchen’s Little Sibling

The first (positive) reminder of that life came in the shape of a little kitten that we met on our way to a local supermarket. It looked like it could be Äffchen’s sister or brother and I just wanted to take it home. Obviously, it didn’t like to be touched so it stayed just out of reach but otherwise kept meowing at us and when we continued walking, it followed us all the way to the supermarket. When we came out again, it was still there and walked with us back to the crossing where we had met it. I felt like we were just taking a walk with a new friend. Sadly, they didn’t have any treats for cats at the supermarket. Otherwise, I’m not entirely sure I would have still only had two cats by the time we got home…

The rest of the day was spent reading and eating, so let’s skip that part.

The next morning, we could pick up our cute little rental car. I won’t lie to you, that car was my one true love during the week we spent in Mallorca. It was some kind of Peugeot, I forgot the model. I’ve never had a car that was so much fun to drive. Of course, it had a ton of features that I would never be able to afford in my own car but even without the awesome sound system, a/c and whatnot, it would have been fun to drive. And it certainly made things easier when we got lost on the narrow streets all over the island. And boy, did we get lost! Basically, when you’re trying to get away from Portocolom, the best thing to do is go to Manacor and take the highway towards Palma and pretty much anywhere else from there. But on our first day of driving on Mallorca, we didn’t grasp that easy concept. For our first day, we had planned to go to Sollér which is pretty much straight

Cute little rental car

Cute Little Rental Car

on the opposite side of the island. So we thought we were clever by trying to find a direct connection there rather than going via Palma. Oh, what fools we were! It is impossible to just jump from town to town because somewhere on the way, you will lose track of where you are and where you need to go. And it’s only downhill from there. Once you realise you’re lost and become, let’s say, desperate, you start taking more and more wrong turns and then the streets become more and more narrow and before you know it, you almost get stuck between a truck and a stone wall somewhere in the middle of nowhere. On a positive note, if we hadn’t been so busy bitching and yelling at each other and the other drivers, we would have enjoyed the gorgeous countryside of Mallorca a lot. All the tiny fincas and olive trees were beautiful, though I wouldn’t want to live there. I’d never find my way back. To be fair, though, you’ll find signs leading to Palma just about anywhere and if we hadn’t been too stubborn to change our plans, we could have just gone there and then moved up towards Sollér. But alas, we rather spent three hours getting more and more acquainted with the Mallorquin countryside.

Saint Bartholomew

Saint Bartholomew

At first, Sollér seemed a little disappointing to me. We crossed the town and followed signs to underground parking which ended up being in an area that seemed pretty modern to me. It almost seemed like some kind of a youth hostel. But after we’d walked for maybe ten minutes, we had made it to the absolutely gorgeous town center. There’s a square in the center which isn’t big – just like the whole town isn’t big – but is surrounded by dozens of little cafés and old buildings, the most impressive being a large church. And, most importantly, there was a little ice cream parlor which my mom had seen on television about a German couple who had moved to Mallorca to open said little business. I was itching to explore Sollér some more but we’d said we’d have ice cream there and so we did. Luckily. Because it was the best ice cream I’d ever had till then.

Afterwards we went over to the church but unfortunately the doors were locked and there was no sign stating any opening hours. But it was okay because by then, something else had caught our attention. Right through the already narrow and cramped streets and across the square goes a tram line. It’s an old style tram with open windows through which you can admire the landscape as it takes you on the slow and short journey down to Port de Sollér. There’s also a train starting from Sollér which goes straight to Palma. By the time we were done with our ice cream and had walked around a little, it was quite late but we decided to take the tram to Port de Sollér anyway.

Sollér Tram

Sollér Tram

This decision turned out to be great, though it put us through some unnecessary stress later.

Port de Sollér is another beautiful small place, though it’s a little more focused on tourism. There’s a small beach, so there are some more hotels and bars along the shore and up the hills. Most of the businesses there were selling cheap and tacky souvenirs and the bars were typical tourist traps but the view across the beach and the bay with its little boats made up for it. In a way, the bay is similar to the one in Portocolom but it is surrounded by higher and greener hills, so the scenery was much different. Because we had had not enough coins for the ticket machine in the underground parking – Mallorca must be the only place where you pay before parking! – we only had about two hours to spend there. So we walked along the beach and the small town square and I completed my mission of buying new flip flops in one of the souvenir shops. Then we had some cold drinks in one of the bars and enjoyed the view of the bay. The bar was…strange, to say the least. At one point I had to use the bathroom and on my way back, there was a couple changing their baby’s diapers.

Beautiful Port de Sollér

Beautiful Port de Sollér

Right inside the main room of the bar. Peculiar. But it’s only further proof that somehow, things on the island are all a little more relaxed and less focused on the details.

All too soon we had to hurry back to Sollér to get our car out of the car park in time. This, however, proved rather difficult and I think I may have been the cause of that. I insisted we take a cab back instead of going by tram again but cabs turned out to be a rare thing. The general rule of waving one over doesn’t apply there, even if you see one. No, there’s a central taxi spot in the town center where you sit and wait and then a taxi comes by and picks up the first person in line and the driver asks how many other cabs are needed and sends out a notice to other drivers over the airwaves. Only this procedure isn’t explained anywhere and it took us a while to figure it out, so we only barely made it in time. But at least the prices for trips to several places all over the island are declared right there at the waiting spot and the drivers stick to them.

On the first night in our hotel, we had met two nice women who we had a little chitchat with over dinner and they had told us about the apparently gorgeous beach in Alcudia, so for our next trip, we had decided to go there first. We drove up to the northern coast of Mallorca but as soon as we got near the bigger towns up there, we knew that this would be much different to the Mallorca we had seen so far. And when we reached Alcudia, I was thoroughly disappointed. It’s nothing more than a tourist place. The town stretches along a long road that takes you in and out of town within ten minutes. Left and right, there was nothing but big, impersonal hotels, chain stores and grimy restaurants. We kept saying we’d turn right at the next chance, park the car and walk the few steps to the beach. But then we just never did it. We reached the end of the road and then got the hell out of Alcudia without even getting out of the car. I’m sorry I didn’t get to see the beach but I really just wasn’t feeling the place at all and I feared it would ruin my impression of the island.

Not Quite the Cap de Formentor But Stunning Anyway

Not Quite the Cap de Formentor But Stunning Anyway

So, instead of checking out this place, we moved on towards Cap de Formentor, the northern most spot on Mallorca. Out travel guide said that a trip to the cape was recommended for “bicycle riders who don’t mind a little challenge”. As a driver, I gotta say even I felt challenged. Even though we saw a lot of cyclists, I have no idea if any of them actually made it up those winding, narrow roads alive. It was hot, there wasn’t the tiniest hint of a breeze and when you turned a corner and looked straight at a large bus or truck, you thought “So this is how it ends!” But somehow, we made it up to a spot where a lot of busses and cars clogged up an entirely too small car park. There were a bunch of cars behind us and there didn’t seem to be a single free spot so, feeling disappointed, we drove on. But then, a little further down the road there was a little bay by the side of the road where a couple other cars were parked. I’m sure it wasn’t meant to be used by tourists to park their rentals but we still seized our chance and stood by the side of the road to take in the stunning view. True, the view from the cape must have been even greater but at least we had the spot to ourselves – no idea where the other tourists were – and we were just as overwhelmed.

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