This is my original blog for all our non-caravanning trips since 2009 and more recently posts about coming to terms with being single again having been widowed in 2018. And anything else too really!

My caravanning blog is (Get Your) Legs Down and all our trips in the caravan are there. My grog blog is The Ale Archive where I list every beer I’ve ever tried.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Mallorca - Day 1-4

Day 1
 
Ouch! The lower left hand area of the back was telling me this holiday was well overdue. Either that or the kidney was complaining about the weekends excesses. Whatever, the parcels took slightly longer to deliver this morning, but thanks to a couple of paracetamol and the thought of all the sun, sea and sand to come we were soon finished.
 
We debated the dubious delights of airport food and settled for a pint and a toastie at the Rottingdean Club on the way.
 
The journey to the airport was so uneventful that it doesn't warrant a mention and it wasn't long before, with bags 'fast dropped' we were through security and in amongst all the shops, bars and other establishments vying to separate you from your money whilst awaiting your flight.
 
However, a new pair of sunnies were needed so we headed in the general direction of Next knowing that if nothing else, I wouldn't need a mortgage to buy a pair from them. Trying on all those sunnies had worked up quite a thirst so it wasn't long before we in the bar enjoying a pint of Ruddles (and more paracetamol) – purely medicinal of course.
 
Soon our flight was called and it was onto the plane. We were flying with BA this time mainly because when we booked the flight, sleazyjet weren't offering fares. It was nice not having to worry about rushing to get a decent seat but with BA, to be honest, thats about were the advantages end.
 
The meal 'service' consisted of well, a sandwich and er, thats it. Half was a sheet of yellow plastic pretending to be cheese, the other, a diced pencil rubber masquerading as chicken. Also in the meal pack was a 'waste bag' with specific instructions printed on the side telling you to fill the bag with your waste and hand to the flight attendant at the end of the meal 'service'. Thankfully nobody took the instructions literally, but honestly they'll have us cleaning out the bloody loos next. Seriously though, BA have got to do better than this if they consider themselves to be “The Worlds' Favourite Airline”. My mood was improved considerably though by the arrival of the (complimentary) drinks trolley.
 
The rest of the flight was spent complaining about screaming kids on planes, and slagging off Ryanair – always good fun.
 
Our first four nights were in Palma and we had pre-booked a hire car on the 'net so with baggage claimed we headed for the car hire counter, done the paperwork, pick up the keys made our way to the compound. Needless to say we booked the cheapest grade but were pleasantly surprised by the sight of a gleaming black little Kia Picanto in the designated parking bay.
 
The journey to the hotel was fairly smooth requiring only two u-turns and a fair bit of luck considering it was now dark. About half an hour after leaving the airport we arrived at the hotel.
 
Average is probably the best description for the hotel, which proudly displayed it's one star status through a plaque on the wall in reception. It appeared clean and tidy though with a nice courtyard bar downstairs. The room had a balcony overlooking this which was nice. The bathroom had a number of odours emanating from it which wasn't.
 
It was getting quite late now and the hunger pangs had started so we headed out to find some grub – which was not that easy as many of the cafes and restaurants were now closing up. Found one though that was still serving and ordered a couple of peppered steaks and beers. Thankfully the steak tasted a lot better than it looked, so with appetites sated we headed back to the hotel.
 
For convenience, when we had first arrived at the hotel we had deposited the car in the underground car park opposite. Aware that the meter was ticking and the car parks' charges were accumulating by the hour we had been on the look out for some available (and free) street parking. As luck would have it, a space had become vacant right by the hotel, so, I planted my backside in the middle of said space whilst Trev went to rescue the car.
 
Whilst awaiting the appearance of the little black Kia, a couple of drivers idled slowly past glaring at me. It's probably worth pointing out at this point that this area is in the supposed 'gay' part of town. Anyway, I'm not sure whether these guys were just looking for something as innocent as a parking space or maybe something else, but either way they didn't like what they saw and drove off!
 
Anyway, feeling pleased with ourselves for saving a few quid we headed to the courtyard bar for a couple of beers before turning in. The first – San Miguel – has a similar texture to what I'd imagine drinking rusty razor blades would be like. The second – Estrella – was much more pleasant.
 
It was getting seriously late now, and we were both knackered so decided it was time for bed.
 
Our date with the duvet was delayed slightly however as the sound of serious mattress jogging could be heard from the next door room. Put it this way, the paintwork behind the headboard will need touching up tomorrow....
 
Day 2
 
Not a great nights kip last night but woke to a fantastic warm sunny morning – the partial view of the bay from the balcony was fantastic.
 
No 'complimentary tray' in the room so after a quick shower it was downstairs to the bar for some much needed caffeine and breakfast. The usual continental offerings of cheese, ham and breads were all present, along with some reasonable coffee and very nice orange juice.
 
We decided to stay local today and – not wishing to relinquish our valuable parking space – have a walk around the town, so it was back to the room in the lift to collect the camera, sunnies etc.
 
At this point it's worth mentioning the lift. I swear I'm going leave this hotel a few inches shorter. This lift doesn't travel smoothly between floors but lurches violently from one level to another painfully compressing your spine as it comes to a jarring halt at approximately the right level. Much more of this and some serious surgery will soon be needed.
 
We headed out of the hotel, through and down a pleasant little park to the seafront. This end of the harbour/marina accommodates not only cruise ships and island hopping ferries, but a very large number of the biggest gin palaces I have ever seen. You can smell the money here – anything less than the seriously wealthy can forget it.
 
We continued our walk along the main promenade east towards the centre of town. The marina continued but the boats were getting gradually smaller.
 
I wouldn't be British without mentioning the weather, which was perfect for today's activities – warm and sunny but with a gentle breeze and occasional thin cloud to cool things a little.
 
Nothing had been planned route or activity wise but we always seem to end up near an 'El Cortes Ingles' – Spain's main department store. A good stop for a reasonably priced coffee if nothing else takes your fancy – which it didn't.
 
Caffeine levels restored we headed back out onto the street and in the general direction of the hotel, grabbing a burger on the way.
 
Back at the hotel it was time to catch up with (well, start really) the holiday diary. I had been tapping away, two fingerdly, alternatively swearing at, then blessing, the spell checker for half an hour or so when the USS Bataan eased its way into the harbour carrying a lArge number of helicopters on deck (and no doubt more below).
 
All that tapping had made me thirsty – and the back was playing up again, so we headed downstairs to the courtyard bar for some medication, then it was back to the room for a much needed siesta.
 
Tonight was Champions League Final night – contested this year by Manchester United and Barcelona. We fancied watching the match so after getting washed and changed headed out to find some food and a bar with a decent TV. Mallorca, like Barcelona is mainly Catalonian so there was a lot of interest and a lot of support for the boys from the Nou camp. The only Britsh bar within walking distant was packed to the rafters with no chance of a seat, or more importantly, a drink for the foreseeable future. Thinking that we could easily live without Andy Grays dulcet tones on Sky Sports we went round the corner and found a little cafe with a big screen and cold beer.
 
Beers ordered, we plonked our backsides down just as Barcelona's first goal went in. Despite my obvious adeptness at “Dos Cerveza por favor” the rest of the occupants of the cafe still seemed to know we were British and cheered just that little bit louder. It was all good natured though. Half time beers ordered we settled down for the second half which was interesting enough until Barcelona scored again and it was effectively all over.
 
Two memories will stay with us from that match. The Spanish match commentator who I swear did not take a breath for the whole of each 45 minutes – honestly he sounded like he was conducting an auction. The other was the sight of the Italian Premier – Silvio Berlusconi - occupying one of the prime seats in the VIP area at the stadium, who kept nodding off al the way through the match. Obviously his (alledged) extra curricular activities (shagging, embezzling and swindling) are taking their toll on the old boy.
 
Anyway, soon the match was over, hands were shook and we headed back to the hotel bar for a couple of quiet ales before bed.
 
Day 3
 
Started the day off, as yesterday with another delightful(?) continental breakfast in the bar courtyard downstairs. Clearly the recession is biting as the ham has now been replaced with some greasy looking spam. Yesterdays left-over bread rolls seem to have made a reappearance too.
 
Anyway, moaning over (yeah right!) it was off to fetch the Kia for a drive up the coast in the general direction of the caves of Drach. I say general, because the stingy car rental company didn't even put the most basic of maps in the car. Even so we managed to find the caves without too much drama.
 
Only thing was, they weren't the same caves! Still they were impressive enough, looking fantastic under clever lighting and accompanying music. Sadly some people still didn't understand the meaning of 'No Flash Photography' even when it's repeated in at least three different languages!
 
Then we called in at Porto Cristo, a pleasant little seaside town with a fantastic beach and harbour. The boats here are a little more affordable than those in the marina at Palma but still a long way out of reach!
 
Next stop was Cala Millor - which first became a popular holiday destination in the late sixties and visited by Trev over thirty years ago. It was well past food o'clock so we found a nice little quaint 'Traditional British Bar' and took advantage of their 'Two meals for a Tenner' offer. There is a recession on you know!
 
The back was playing up again but resisted the lure of a few liquid painkillers (at a very reasonable €2 a pint it must be said) settling instead for more ibuprofen.
 
Bellies filled, it was back in the Kia for a further drive up the coast, stopping briefly at Cala Bona – another pleasant if forgettable beach resort before heading up into the hills on the small peninsula. There were some really grand houses up here all hiding before very foreboding (and very locked) gates. Again, the smell of serious money was in evident.
 
Having now 'done' this corner of Mallorca, albeit briefly we drove back through Palma to the towns of Palma Nova and Magaluf. The brief was 'Afternoon Tea' so located another 'Traditional Britsh Bar' and enjoyed a fantastic cuppa – it even turned up in china cups! Decided to order same scones as well to complete the experience.
 
Tannins absorbed we headed west again around Magaluf and soon found ourselves on a dirt track. Not ideal for a little car at the best of times but when you've got a dodgy back it's bloody murder. However our patience (and my pain) was soon rewarded when we come to the end of the track and found an idyllic little bay with a fantastic distance view of Palma. I took advantage of the peace and tranquility to complete the previous days diary every so often looking and taking in the wondrous view below.
 
With time marching on we decided to grab an evening meal in Palma Nova. We nabbed the first parking space we found agreeing to try whatever eatery was nearest – however we didn't expect to stumble on Steptoe & Son! The old fella took the order and informed us that Trev's choice of dish (Shepherds Pie) was his own creation and as a result had been selling really well. I ordered the curry and when it was delivered to the table, this time by the son, I was informed that he had created the curry, this being it's third incarnation - the other two being either too weak or too spicy. This one was definitely the best without any shadow of doubt whatsoever – according to him anyway! We had a couple of tarts for desert (insert own jokes here) whilst enjoying a second pint of very reasonably priced anesthetic, sorry, San Miguel. Overall, the meal was ok, no more, the best part being the price and the father and son double act!
 
Bellies once again full (you can see a pattern developing here!) we headed back to the hotel and the inevitable trawl around for a parking space.
 
The USS Bataan was still in dock, but had been joined be three cruise ships – The Thomson Desitny, The Costa Splendida and a brand new MSC ship: the Fantasaia and a couple of ferries too.
 
A bit of a drama emailing the diary this evening. It seems that the mail server I use – GMX – have decided that sending some notes on a holiday to a dozen or so friends constitutes spam. Hence the reason some of you have received the diary via tesconet. Will try and find a way round it tomorrow.
 
A couple of beers in the bar, as per usual, and then bed.
 
Day 4
 
Oh! Yes! Ah! Yes! Oh God! Yes!
 
We woke to the sounds of the rabbits next door who were doing yet more damage to the headboard. However, the tone of the final Yes! Suggested that it might go quiet for a while!
 
It was another beautiful morning – our last full day in Palma and we planned to do one of those hop-on, hop off bus tours. Culture and history aside it will be nice way to see the city and the open top deck should be perfect for a few photos.
 
The bus was packed when it arrived but there was a couple of seats downstairs. The next stop on the route was Palma's impressive Cathedral and guessing that the bus would empty out there, we sat tight.
 
Now, this bus, like other modern buses all over the world has been designed to cater for the elderly and infirm by providing wide, low opening doors allowing easy access to the lower deck of the bus without having to worry about stairs. So you would expect the lower deck of the bus to be occupied by the elderly and less mobile holiday makers wouldn't you? No.
 
So, when the bus stopped we waited patiently while the top deck emptied. I kid you not, no-one under sixty came down the stairs. It was a long, tiresome and clearly painful effort for some – Christ only knows how they got up there in the first place!
 
Anyway, a short while later, we were on the top deck, in the sun and enjoying some great views of the city.
 
A glance out to the harbour told us that the USS Bataan was still in dock, so we could resume our pastime that we will call (affectionately) 'Yank Watch'! Let me explain, firstly this applies to men only, for reasons obvious, and secondly only to those serving on said ship. Knowing what to look for is key, so here goes:
 
They always walk in threes, something from years ago to do with not wishing to look like a gay couple apparently.
Chinos or baggy jeans. It appears that young American men have not yet adopted the current European trend for nice fitted jeans
Baggy or loose shirts of whatever style. No nice figure hugging tops here either.
Obligatory short smart haircuts. (understandable)
Snow white perfect teeth . (Ok, I'm just envious here!)
 
So there you have it, look out for the above and you wont go wrong, honest!
 
Anyway, where were we? Ah yes, the bus tour. We done a complete circuit covering all corners of the city in about an hour and a half, before getting off at the Cathedral for our first sightseeing stop of the day.
 
The cathedral itself was wonderful,the stain glass windows delightful and the carvings and statues absolutely stunning. What preceded our entering the cathedral though was just as memorable. As we approached the entrance we could hear the tune of 'Cavatina' – theme tune of the film 'Deer Hunter'. We turned the corner and found the source of the music. There was this chap, sat hunched over his guitar intently playing one of the most captivating pieces of guitar music you are ever likely to here. He played it really well too. We listened while he played several more tunes, which whilst instantly recognised, I admit I cannot name.
 
Entranced and becalmed we left the gathering crowd to go into the cathedral.
 
It was that time of day again so we took what turned out to be a long short cut round the back of the cathedral to Palma's other 'El Corte Ingles' and headed straight for the top floor and to the restaurant. You could be forgiven for thinking you had walked into a five star restaurant instead of a department store eatery as dinner jacketed waiters hover from table to table and the restaurant manager constantly prowls the floor keeping a keen eye on his staff.
 
Food devoured and bill paid, we were soon back on the bus and en route to our next stop of choice; Bellver Castle.
 
The castle sits up in the hills somewhere above our hotel and provides stunning views of the harbour and city. Spent a really pleasant hour or so up here taking lots of pics and enjoying the peace and tranquillity. The only thing missing was a cafe – a cup of tea or a cold drink would have gone down a treat
 
The next stop was less cultural and more material – namely a shopping centre. We weren't far away from the hotel so it was a good chance to get a few bits and bobs and grab a bite to eat as well before heading back.
 
We had eaten well lunchtime so decided a burger or similar would be sufficient and promptly stumbled across a Mcdonalds. The food was cheap and instantly forgettable but we did have a chat with some Americans from the ship (who where obviously as adventurous as us when it came to food) and yes you've guessed it, there were three of them, all in chinos, big shirts and with Simon Cowell teeth. The chatty one - who was with the infantry - informed us that he was on his way to Afghanistan. We wished him all the best.
 
Back it the hotel it was beer than diary time. The bloody email server was still being over-zealous but hopefully everyone got the email eventually.
 
So, we are off up north to Port de Pollenca tomorrow. Have enjoyed Palma, the hotel was fine given what we paid, the positives being the great courtyard bar and good views from the balcony. If we were to come back to Mallorca (and there is nothing that has made us discount it so far) we would probably stay out at Palma Nova and bus into the city when we want. There is simply more choice and better value food wise out there.
 
Looking forward to the new place tomorrow – hopefully where the relaxing part of the holiday begins. Anything more strenuous than turning the pages of a book or lifting a glass will be frowned upon so there will not be a daily diary! Will send a update towards the end of the week though if there is anything of note to report.
Hope you've enjoyed it.
 
Cheers & Beers
Rich
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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