Posts Tagged With: Spain

Seven Sweet Days in Mallorca

The cure for anything is salt water – sweat, tears or the sea.

– Isak Dinesen

Another year, another holiday. And this year, it actually happened, unlike last year’s trip to Vienna that had to be cancelled for health reasons. Although this year came dangerously close to the same when my mom came down with another one of her dramatically mysterious fits of bad health. Her doctor meant to write her off sick again but then things took a turn for the better and we flew anyway. Which was only a semi-good idea – but I’m getting ahead of myself.

This trip took us to Mallorca, again – and to that sweet little hotel in Portocolom, again.

We were facing a ridiculously early 6:30 flight and as usual, I vowed to go to bed early, sleep a few hours, then get up in the middle of the night. Well, that didn’t work out so well and I had to make do with a meagre three hours of sleep before I had to drive us to the airport. Luckily, good things like holidays make it easy to be excited and bubbly anyway. It puzzled me to find that everything was open at five in the morning because for our flight to London in January, we’d found the whole airport asleep and that had been an hour later. So, I could have splurged with proper breakfast but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to eat before getting on a plane, and so I stuck to a bottle of water as usual.

The thing with Mallorca is, the island I’ve come to see and love has nothing to do with its reputation. That reputation comes from exactly two locations, El Arenal and Magaluf. I’ve never been to either but when you’re flying there, you’re bound to share the plane with a bunch of people who are going there for a few days of party and drinking. And when we were flying, it was two days before Father’s Day, a time which a lot of people use for a short trip to Mallorca and engage in heavy partying. So when it was time for boarding, we stood behind a group of young men, each equipped with a sixpack (and not the good kind) and weird attire suggesting what exactly was in store for them. While we waited, the already opened the first cans and I made sure to leave a huge gap between us and them to avoid an early morning beer shower. Behind us was a family with two crying toddlers and yep, instant holiday feeling!

After a rough flight, we finally touched down in Palma de Mallorca and from there, things went a lot more smoothly. This time, the transfer to our hotel took a lot longer and while we were getting a bit impatient, it was also nice because the route the coach took was one we hadn’t explored before, along the south coast which has so many gorgeous little bays and beaches.

Once we’d arrived at the hotel, we found that we’d been assigned a room on the fifth floor again, with a balcony facing the same side as last time but further down the floor and closer to the water, so our view was even better than last time. The first time I stepped out onto the balcony and saw my beloved lighthouse again, I almost cried.

(There’s actually a petition going on to save the lighthouse from being handed over to a private owner and turned into a hotel. The petition is in Spanish but if you’d still like to help by signing it, you can do so here.)

After we’d unpacked, we went down to the pool bar to enjoy our first cappucino and a Spanish omelette. I’d meant to wait until we could go to the restaurant for dinner but since I hadn’t eaten anything yet, it was just too tempting. After a few blissful hours spent enjoying the view from our balcony, we raided the buffet for dinner – and then my mom came down with yet more bad health escapades. She was sick pretty much all night and neither of us got any sleep, so the next day started with both of us tired and grumpy.

We’re the most stubborn people I know, though, and after a fantastic breakfast including eggs and yoghurt and fresh fruit (for me) and dry toast and herbal tea (for my mom), we picked up our rental car and headed out to Palma for some shopping. Since I’d had quite a lot on my list I wanted to look for and potentially buy, I’d asked if we could do that first. I’m really not good with keeping ahead of my budget, so it’s best to make bigger purchases right away. But let’s just say that shopping in Palma isn’t something you should do when you’re lacking sleep and dealing with a pounding headache.

First of all, just because your rental has great GPS navigation, you know where you’re going and you’re definitely in the right lane for a U-turn does not mean the Mallorquin drivers won’t honk at you anyway. Loudly. And a lot. And all of them at once. I invented a bunch of new swear words that I’m really quite proud of. Then there’s the fact that in a town that’s really old and has a lot of narrow streets and little space for all the tourists and locals to park their cars, underground parking sounds like a brilliant idea. But when your rental runs on Diesel and reacts completely differently than your own car and you have to drive it up a steep slope, stop and start again half way up and meet traffic lights on top that only know red and ‘I’m blinking because I want you to know that you may or may not be hit by traffic and die a painful death, good luck, muahahaha!’…well, that’s just the kind of adventure I can do without!

And all of that turned out to be for nothing. Beforehand, I had been told to check out the bigger, better, all over magnificent and heavenly Sephora on Avenida de Alexandre Roselló. After that kind of description, I was looking for a huge place, possibly one that I could see sparkling in the sunshine from afar. First I couldn’t find the street and had to ask a very amused taxi driver for help who asked if I really wanted him to drive us 150m ahead where I’d find it. Facepalm! Then we walked back and forth, even asked people, but no one knew what we were talking about. Finally, I decided that it was better to abort our mission and change our plans for the day before we killed each other or innocent people. So we went back to our car and drove back to Portocolom where we spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the view across the bay from a bar by the marina. They also served the best vanilla ice cream I ever had – and also the best smoothies. So the day was taking a turn for the better. Still, we barely even made it to dinner later before we crashed, finally catching up on sleep, a lot of it. With hindsight, I’m mad I let my mom’s poor health ruin things for us so much. I could have just told her that we should change our plans according to it. If we had knowingly made it a rest day, I wouldn’t even minded. I like just sitting in the sun, reading and enjoying the view. I think what made it so bad was that it wasn’t originally meant to be a rest day but if we’d been more spontaneous about it, we could have enjoyed it more anyway.

My mom asked if I wanted to go to Palma again the next day but I definitely wanted to do some sightseeing and definitely wasn’t in the mood for the busy life in Palma again. So we went to Valldemossa instead. It still is one of my favourite places on the island, although I absolutely dread the drive up there. The views are amazing but I can do without the fear of dying halfway up the mountain. But Valldemossa is so worth it all! Since it had taken us over an hour to get up there, our first stop was a little bar where we enjoyed a cold drink and a much needed restroom. It isn’t the most beautiful place since it’s right by the street but I still love it because when you sit there, you can enjoy the positive atmosphere of the place. Valldemossa attracts tourists who are interested in the monastery but also people looking for unique clothes, art or gifts and groups of cyclists. If you want to see pure happiness, look at the face of someone who cycled all the way up to Valldemossa – even if it’s just the pure happiness of having survived the hardest torture of their life!

Then we walked around the town a little bit, ventured in and out of shops and admired the beautiful old houses. Even if you’re not really looking to buy anything, the shops in Valldemossa are a must. Near the main street, there are a lot of tourist shops that you can but don’t really have to visit but when you walk further towards the monastery, there are a lot of small art and second hand shops, places that sell unique things. It’s such a change of pace from what we’re usually used to, all the chain stores and international brands.

This time we didn’t buy tickets for the monastery because we had already seen it last time. It’s interesting but once you’ve seen it, there isn’t really much to discover (for us). But we stopped for lunch in one of the little tapas bars in the square outside the entrance. My mom had proper food but I just had some bread with aioli and then a slice of caramel pudding with cream. Caramel-anything is a huge thing on Mallorca and I’d wanted to try the pudding for ages. It was…well, good. What they mean by ‘caramel’ is a lot more bitter than I’m used to and cream is often a tasteless, semi-liquid affair. But it was alright. I wasn’t really hungry anyway, just curious.

After lunch, we walked down the Carrer de Jovellanos, at the end of which you get a spectacular view of the mountains and the valley below. There were also more cafés and bars around but we were still full and not up for another stop. Still, I popped into a little art shop which sold gorgeous paintings. I would have loved to buy one but was afraid I wouldn’t get it home safely, so I opted for buying a bunch of postcards of similar designs. Always good to stock up on cards for my Postcrossing adventures. The artist was really sweet and even let me take one for free as a gift. On our way back to the car, I fell in love with it, the most beautiful bag I’d ever laid eyes on. It was in a small boutique selling unique designer pieces and I was disheartened when I saw the price of ‘my’ bag. After much debating with myself, I decided that no, I just couldn’t justify paying so much for a bag. But oh, it was so beautiful. The main part has a world map design, the front pocket is shaped and designed like an airmail envelope and the whole bag has little travel and snail mail details like an airplane charm. Sigh. Reluctantly, I walked away with a tear in my eye.

When we made it back to the car, we pondered what we should do with the rest of the day. It was already well into the afternoon but we would have had time for another stop. Since it was nearby and sounded like a nice place in our tourist guide, we decided to take the short drive to Deià. It’s supposed to be another small town, similar to Valldemossa but even more attractive for artists. But when we got there, parking seemed impossible. There are several smaller parking lots along the main road but the rest of the town stretches up and down the mountain, either with no chance to turn away from the main road at all or so steep that I didn’t dare drive there. It did seem really beautiful, though, even just the small glimpse we got at it, and we vowed to come back another time, earlier in the day. I’m not sure I’d ever want to stay in a hotel in the Serra Tramuntana because my little heart just loves the ocean too much. I want to see it from the window or at least the breakfast room or somewhere else in the hotel every morning. But the little mountain towns and villages are so charming and beautiful, I can’t help coming back there anyway.

Since we couldn’t get out of the car in Deià and it was getting too late for another stop, we drove back to Portocolom but stopped in the bar by the marina again, this time only for a cold drink and a view over the beloved marina. In fact, we stopped by that bar almost every day, not because our hotel isn’t nice but you just can’t beat the view from the marina.

For our third day, we decided to give Palma another shot. After having more rest and in a much better mood, braving the busy streets there was a lot less stressful. After having asked Auntie Google about that wondrous Sephora again, I also knew that we had indeed been in the correct street but it wasn’t a store but inside El Corte Inglés, a department store. We had planned to park elsewhere but the Gods meant for us to park in the underground parking of doom again and I really wasn’t up for looking for another space for hours. The good news was that it was just a few steps from El Corte Inglés – and that’s where I learned that Spanish retail people are either sinister or insane or both. The store had a special discount week going on where you got a discount card on which you’d get a credit of 20% of your last purchase to spend on your next purchase. So you wander from counter to counter and tell yourself you really shouldn’t buy anything but oh, you still have that XX Euros from your last purchase, so it really won’t be so bad! You can do this ad nauseum, all day everyday until either they cut and burn your credit card or someone comes to take you to the madhouse.

What follows would probably be described as a ‘shopping haul’ by all the beauty and fashion bloggers out there. I prefer to refer to it as my ‘Vacation Shopping Walk of Shame 2015’

The first thing I bought was a lipstick from MAC in the shade Violetta. After I had bought a violet lipstick from Kiko a while ago, just to test how the violet – purple theme works with me and loving it, I had meant to buy a brighter, more pigmented one. I didn’t even know MAC had a shade like that and what’s even more amazing is that my mom found it. She’s the brown eyeshadow, brown lashes type. And yet, she instantly picked it up and told me to buy it since I’d been looking for one. So I did! It’s a gorgeous shade and I like it on myself a lot but I don’t think I’m in a place where I can wear extra-ordinary shades like that everyday, so it’s a ‘special occasion’ thing for me.

Next, I traipsed over to the Sephora counter – and my heart was crushed because, what’s special about it? I’ll never know. Contrary to the actual Sephora store, they did have Urban Decay, yeah, but only the Naked 2 and 3 and the Basic Nakeds. Otherwise, they had a lot of Benefit and store brand products and a couple palettes from Too Faced. I was disappointed but I wouldn’t be me if I hadn’t bought a lot anyway. My loot was a Matte Eye palette from Too Face (who can resist a palette that has an eyeshadow called Chinchilla?), two store brand nail polishes, a store brand eyeliner and a bunch of my beloved shower puffs. I’m really chuffed with the palette so far. The little tutorial sheet gives you ideas for smokey eye looks for different occasions but you can just as well mix the highly pigmented colours with other shades. The nail polish is great as usual, I love the brushes and they work really well for me. The eyeliner is okay, nothing amazing but I needed a new one and this works as well as most others. And the shower puffs are just my Holy Grail of showering. You get them anywhere, from any brand, in any price range, but Sephora’s are my favourite by far.

All over, I spent abour 65 Euros with Sephora and after that I wanted to get the hell out. But on my way to the door, I saw IT. Agent Provocateur! If you know me, you know that I lost my heart to Maitresse, their amazing perfume, and that I had my heart broken, ripped from my chest and stamped on when I couldn’t find it anywhere after using the last drops of it. At the store, they only had their new fragrances, Fatale and Fatale Pink. When I stopped at the counter, though, an elderly retail woman caught me looking and what followed was a funny conversation based on the fact that she spoke neither German nor English and I don’t speak Spanish / Mallorquin: “You like?” “Oh yes, it smells great. Do you have other fragrances by AP?” “Yes, yes.” “I was looking for Maitresse.” “Oh, yes.” “Do you have it?” “Yes, yes.” “Oh, where?” “In England!” I think she meant that they import the brand from England. But they didn’t have it (I think). Either way, Fatale Pink smells very similar and I kept sniffing it. And of course, I now had so much credit on my discount card that I basically had 50% off the price of the small bottle. So yeah, what can I say? I’m weak, so home with me it went.

But I swear, after the woman had handed me my discount card back with the remark that I now had 8 Euros from that purchase on the card again, I all but ran from that treacherous place!

Now feeling blissfully content and happily carrying my bags around, I dragged my mom further into the city center. We walking along the narrow shopping streets and tried to filter out cheap tourist stores to discover the many gems to be found among them, small places selling unique things. Surprisingly, I didn’t buy anything more but my mom purchased a new bag. Halfway along the way to the cathedreal, we stopped at the Placa Mayor, a grand square with many bars and restaurants for a snack and a cool drink. We made the mistake to stop at the first tapas bar we saw which happened to be between the large columns at one end of the square, and completely in the shade. It was quite windy, too, so our tapas (mini omelettes and cheese with olive oil) were enjoyed in a hurry because we wanted to get back into the warm sunshine. We could have done worse, though, because there are also many fast food places in the square, including a Burger King and a place selling “ham cones”, a very Mallorquin / Spanish thing I’ve never seen anywhere else before. Basically, they’re cardboard cones like the ones you can buy Dutch fries in, but they’re filled with little pieces of Serrano ham. Even though I find the ham quite tasty, eating it like fries or popcorn seems strange to me and I rather didn’t try it.

Then we walked on, looking at more shops here and there, slowly making our way towards the cathedral. We didn’t go there all the way, though, because we had no plans to go inside. The cathedral isn’t all that stunning when you’re coming from inside the city and I had learned beforehand that the square in front of it, which also faces the harbour, isn’t accessible due to maintanence works anyway. So we only walked to the Carrer de Palau Reial and then walked back, picking up some ice cream from Iceberg on the way. I had my doubts before trying it but goat’s cheese and honey was one of the best ice cream flavours I’ve ever tried.

On our way back, we took a slightly different route, checking out more of the cute little streets of Palma until we reached Palca d’Espanya and picked up our car from the Underground Parking of Doom again. Result of that day: Spent a lot of money but not nearly as much as I thought I would and had allowed myself to? Check! Fell in love again with Palma? Check! Got stuffed on a lot of yummy food? Check! Success!

The next day took us to Sollèr. We’d also been there before but out first visit had been cut shot, as we’d wanted to catch the tram to Port de Sollèr. This time we meant to spend more time there. When we arrived, there was a farmer’s market going on and the streets and the town square were packed with people. Some of the market stands were lame, selling cheap electronics and fake merchandise. But there were also nice and interesting ones that sold traditional clothing and food. We didn’t buy anything but it was interesting to see and the atmosphere was so nice, with all the locals standing around in groups and catching up with each other. What wasn’t so nice were the constant heart attacks when the tram that crosses the town square threatened to run someone over who just wouldn’t get that leaving the tracks would be a good idea, like right now!

Sadly we couldn’t enter Sant Bartomeu once more, so instead we crossed the square and walked down Carrer de sa Lluna. Again there were shops selling local specialties but we didn’t buy anything, save for some art postcards. The street was just as crowded as the market but it was good to be among locals for a change as opposed to the many tourists we’d encountered so far. Even though I’d lacked the lust for shopping all day, when we walked back to the car, I batted my eyelashes at my mom and asked if she’d mind going back to Valldemossa for a moment. And of course, she instantly guessed my plan: Pick up what I will forever refer to as the most wonderful bag I ever owned.

On our way back to Portocolom, I kept glancing at the paper bag containing my lovely purchase in the backseat. You know your money was well spent when it fills you with that much satisfaction.

For our last day with a car we had planned to drive along the south coast and then up the east coast and stop along the way wherever something caught our interest. First we drove to Colònia de Sant Jordi where we enjoyed the view and walked along the port for a little bit. The sea is so beautiful there! But the town itself didn’t seem all that fun. Next we’d meant to stop in Campos but the place seemed dead and dull, so we drove on and quickly made it to Portocristo. Now, that’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen on Mallorca. The bay makes for a stunning view and the water is so blue there, it’s hard to believe it wasn’t photoshopped even when you’re looking at it with your own eyes. We found a little bar that was set into the hill and from where we had an amazing view while we enjoyed a cold drink. Some stairs led down to the beach from there and I so wanted to descend them. But I wasn’t wearing the right shoes to walk in the sand and had no towel or anything else to get rid of the sand if I had gone barefoot, so I refrained. I definitely want to go back there and spend a day at the beach next time, though.

When we left Portocristo, I could already see that my mom wasn’t feeling well once again. So with a heavy heart, I suggested we go back to the hotel. When we reached Portocolom, though, we decided to make the short trip to the other side of the bay to pay a visit to the lighthouse. My oh my, the area is amazing! So many really pretty homes along that part of Portocolom – and so quiet and nice. We even found the only small strip of beach around there, but it didn’t seem very inviting. Seems like it’s mostly used by locals to have little family barbecues. When we reached the lighthouse we were disappointed to find we couldn’t go near it because the gate to it was locked. Not knowing what else to do, we just took some pictures and then turned around and drove back to the hotel.

The next day was a pool day and also our last day there. I’m proud to announce I did nothing but sleep, read and enjoy the last hours in Portocolom. Sadly, it was too cool to spend the whole day by the pool, so half of it was spent on the balcony and in the room to warm up a bit.

I’m really sad that the time to say our goodbyes came so soon again. This time I could have done with another week there at least. But given my mom’s condition – which had improved enough for the flight home to be smooth – I was also glad to get back home. And what do you know, one day after we got home, she was all peachy and fine.

…and now for some visual pleasures:

Categories: Wanderlust | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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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Kathy Goes to Mallorca Pt. I: Yay for free wifi!

So, it’s that time of the year. It’s vacation time. (Notice how I’m saying this as if I actually went on holiday once a month!)

After an early rise at six in the morning and arriving at the airport at 9:30, we learned that we couldn’t actually check in before eleven so the first hour of our vacation was spent sipping stale diet coke and – due to a nervous stomach – visiting the surprisingly Mediterranean airport bathroom about a dozen times while telling my body that no, it wasn’t getting any food it would be able to use as a weapon against me. Can you tell I don’t deal well with traveling by plane?

After checking in, we immediately sat in a café in what I swear is the tiniest departure waiting area in the world. People were sitting in each other’s laps (well, almost) until it was time to walk to the plane. Yes, I said walk. No nifty gates or shuffles. Walk. By foot.

I’ll spare you the details of how I clawed at the armrest of my seat, temporarily turned Christian so I could confess my sins and hope for the best and generally drove everyone insane with my cries of “Oh my god, we’re gonna die!!” So fast forward two hours and…

Tadaaaa! We’re in Mallorca!

Everything seemed to go so fast from there. John Lennon welcomed us to the island while we were being driven to our hotel. When we looked at the clock once we’d arrived at our hotel, over two hours had passed since we’d touched ground in Palma. But it had seemed like no time at all. We’d been so worried about a million little things since we’d booked online and through an independent travel agency. But everything went so smoothly.

And the hotel! Oh my! It’s a cute little place, none of these huge modern resorts but recently remodeled. The room is small but so gorgeous and we have the most stunning view of the sea and the lighthouse from our balcony.

When we arrived, it was close to dinner time and since we were absolutely famished, we only walked down to the port to look at the sea and then went back to have dinner. Which was also really good. Some reviews had said that the buffet didn’t offer much variety. Which I can already say is crap. It’s only our first night and we were already overwhelmed with food. And actual fresh food, too. Not the usual offerings of fries, noodles and some weird meat. Instead there were six or seven different kinds of salad, homemade pasta, fish and at least five different veggie dishes. And please don’t get me started on the desserts! I didn’t want to stop eating but after not eating all day, I didn’t want to overwhelm my body.

And I’m sorry to say, this was our first day here. I would have loved to go on a nice walk after dinner but the tiny bit of energy I had left only allowed for a nice cold drink from the hotel bar and an early night in to type this on my phone and letting the background noise of crappy television lull me to sleep.

So…I’ll leave you with a few impressions of Rodney and me and the sea and the moon.

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Seven Days in the Sun

If, around 7pm CET tonight, you heard a high-pitched screeching noise, that was me. Probably.

Because around that time I hit the “Book Now” button and secured my first proper holiday in years. Pushing all California, AFI tour and other plans aside, I figured I bloody deserve sun, a nice hotel room and the ocean. I haven’t been anywhere, safe for a couple weekend trips, in four years. That’s harsh because I used to go on a proper holiday once a year. Nothing major, just spend a couple days in the sun.

Soon!

Soon!

So, in September, I shall get on a plane and fly south to Mallorca. Strangely, I’ve never been there. It’s a very popular destination for Europeans and maybe that was what kept me from going so far?! It wasn’t really on my radar this time either, until we hit a travel agency office on Monday and started planning back and forth. We were talking about Turkey, Malta and several other places and then I just threw Mallorca in. My mom instantly got excited and everyone started pitching in and telling stories about what they’d seen and done when they were there and it just seemed perfect. Suddenly I wanted to go there and nowhere else. But the offers we were made there all seemed to have their flaws, so we left with the intention to sleep on it.

But of course, I can’t rest when I’m that excited, so I started searching the Internet. I live and breathe the Internet. I buy pretty much everything online. I’ve dated online. But somehow, booking a holiday through a website was something I’d always felt a little apprehensive about. When I saw the online prices, though, I decided that I would have to give it a try. And yes, I was smart enough to Google everything. The hotel, the travel agency, the location… There was some criticism to be found in several places but most things that were mentioned could either happen to you no matter who or where you’re booking with (i.e. local employees messing up your flight reservation) or simply don’t matter to me (no local travel guide). And what I used to be afraid about – checking and doing everything myself – suddenly seemed like a good thing to me. I could check all the details and decide step by step what I wanted to book where and could see what exactly I’ll be paying for. It was far less overwhelming than having a stranger do the booking and telling you all about it, then sending you home with some printed pages that you will later stare at and think “What the heck was that for again?” So fingers crossed that it’ll be fine.

What I know will be fine is the hotel. We chose it so carefully and it’s beautiful and in a really quiet spot (Porto Colom). Apparently, it’s an “adult hotel” which means minors cannot be booked into the hotel. Yes, people, you may hate me now but I’m looking forward to a holiday without screaming kids. And dammit, I deserve it! There are two large families in my neighborhood which means sitting on my balcony often feels like sitting in a kindergarten. And I’ve never complained once. So I deserve to sit in the sun for a blissful week and not listen to other people’s offspring. Right? Right.

So excited!!!!

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