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Trip Report Back to Spain…..To the Birthplace of Mayonnaise!

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A Bit of General Info

I have to admit that I’ve been selfish over the years – I love reading other’s trip reports and the community forums, but I have never contributed anything in return. Before leaving on our most recent trip to Mallorca (Majorca to the folks in the UK), Spain, I needed some good airplane reading material. I printed out the entire trip report that “ellenem” wrote on her recent travels to Venice and Florence. Thoroughly enjoying her report (so detailed!), I was inspired to post my first trip report when I returned to the States.

Our trip to Mallorca was booked far in advance (1 year) due to fact that we wanted to coordinate using our Delta Skymiles for award tickets and trading our timeshare for a resort for our weekly accommodations in Spain. This saves us a ton of money and has worked for us multiple times in the past. Since we are lone travelers (don’t use tours) we do all of own preparation and planning for our trips. After booking the plane tix and resort week, I started scouring the web for resources. To my surprise (and dismay) there was much general information about Mallorca, but very little personal (trip reports, etc) information. This is another reason I decided to put my report out there.

Some quick facts: Trip dates: May 27-June 4, 2011. We flew Delta (CHS to ATL to MAD). Delta did not have any airline partners to get us to Mallorca, so we booked separate tix on Iberia Airlines (via Travelocity) for the final leg from MAD to PMI. Rental car booked with Hasso Rent-A-Car through their website.

My wife, Melissa, and I (both mid 30’s) very much enjoy travelling – seeing and experiencing new and different cultures. We also enjoy eating and trying local specialties (like Mallorcan mayonnaise, for instance) in our travels. We are both amateur photographers – have a simple, but nice, small Canon digital camera. It’s got pretty good zoom, but is small enough to easily fit in my pocket. On previous trips we’d taken a separate video camera, but on this trip we decided to leave it home and use the video capabilities of the point and shoot camera mentioned above.

We are kid-less except for our two sweet, little furry ones (kitties). We are blessed to have very competent and loving sitters. We each enjoy keeping journals while travelling. This trip report is simply a posting of my journal. Bear with the fact that I flip between past, present, and future tenses throughout. Keeping a journal means catching up at times and looking ahead at other times – just keeping it real.

Now, on to the trip!

Friday, May 27th

Well, the day we have planned for (for over a year) has finally arrived. We’re off to Spain today!

Or so we thought….

Jessica (my sister) was supposed to pick us up at our house at 9:00am, but she got ill, so mom picked us up instead and was at our house right on time, early actually! As we were gathering our bags/luggage and heading out the front door Mel’s phone rang. It was Delta Airlines informing us that our Charleston (CHS) to Atlanta (ATL) flight had been cancelled due to airplane maintenance (but we think due to inclement weather around ATL). How disappointing. Staying positive and hopeful, we went to the airport anyway to see if we could find another way or work-around to get us to ATL. Mom dropped us off at the airport and headed on to her doctor’s appointment.

A very kind Delta representative named Robert tried his hardest for 45 minutes to find a way to get us out. Unfortunately, when Delta cancelled the CHS to ATL flight, they (assuming that we couldn’t/wouldn’t make it to ATL) also cancelled our reservation/seats on the ATL to Madrid (MAD) flight and gave them to someone else. So even if we had found a way to Atlanta, the flight to MAD was now booked solid.

We resigned the fact that we were not to leave for our long-planned vacation today. Dad picked us up from the airport and drove us home (it’s good to have lots of family in town). Once back at the homestead, we relaxed and I emailed the Club Cala Pi resort and Hasso rental car company to let them know of our delay and that we’d be checking-in a day late. We both napped and then grabbed an early dinner at Osaka, our favorite local sushi restaurant. Afterwards, we rented the movie “Gulliver’s Travels” starring Jack Black from the Redbox kiosk to watch that evening. Early to bed.

Tomorrow we’re off to Spain…..Hopefully!


Saturday, May 28th

We woke up at 6:00am, got ready, and had some good kitty-time. Our friend, Giovanni, picked us up and gave us a ride to the airport. We checked-in at the Delta desk and quickly made it through security – no pat-downs needed! We boarded the Delta MD88 airplane at 10:15am. The 50-minute flight from CHS to ATL was uneventful, except for a few loud kids a couple of rows behind us. It was nice to be on an airplane again, as it had been a while since I’d flown.

We have a 5-hour layover in Atlanta, which is fine. We’d rather have extra time between flights than be sprinting to the next terminal to catch our next flight. We ate lunch in the ATL airport at Intermezzo Café, a place that Mel was familiar with and has enjoyed due to her recent business travels. I ate a mango, avocado, and chicken wrap with fries. Mel had an avocado and almond salad with a side of broccoli salad. We killed some time looking around the airport shops for some Gas-X for Mel. It was a long flight coming up….enough said. It was more difficult to find than you would think, but we finally hit the jackpot in Concourse E!

Our next leg, CHS to MAD, leaves around 4:45pm. Looking forward to getting back on European soil!

We boarded the plane to Madrid – lots of folks on the plane – supposedly a full flight. Once on the plane, we (along with many other people) were in quick negotiations with our plane-mates to try and jockey around our seat assignments so that we could sit next to one another on the long, international flight. When Delta had re-booked the flight for the folks they had cancelled flights for the previous day, they (Delta) had thrown people in seats all over the plane like scattering seeds in a field! It was a bit chaotic. We quickly found two separate nice people who were willing to switch seats. Mel and I would be flying to Madrid sitting next to one another. Relief and joy.

The flight took 8 1/2 hours, but seemed much longer. Impossible to sleep. At least the plane was equipped with a nice entertainment system. Everyone had their own personal screen (on the seatback in front of them) with music (tons of variety and choices), movies, TV, and games. There was a young Spanish-speaking girl/child sitting behind me – she seemed to never stop jabbering the entire flight. What is it with me sitting near loud kids on planes so far???


Sunday, May 29th

We were excited to be in Madrid! It has been a few years since we’ve travelled to Europe and it was nice to be back. After claiming the luggage we asked a nice police officer at the airport where to go to check-in with Iberia Airlines for our final flight to the island of Mallorca. He told us to get on the green and blue shuttle bus outside of the terminal and head to Terminal 4 (T4). We easily found the shuttle he spoke of and after a winding drive around the outskirts of the airport we eventually made it to T4.

The last flight was with a small airline named Vueling that contracts with Iberia. We found the Vueling desk in T4 and they informed us that we needed to go to the main Iberia desk. Once at the Iberia desk, they gave us the bad news that when our flights were adjusted (cancelled) in the US by Delta, the Vueling flight did NOT get adjusted. As Delta did not have a partner airline that flew directly into Mallorca, we had booked the MAD to Mallorca flight separately through Travelocity on Iberia/Vueling Airlines. The representative that we were “working” with at the Iberia desk to explain what had happened had a pretty harsh attitude and seemed as though she could have cared less. When it was clear that the representative would not bend, we handed over the credit card to purchase two new one-way tickets to Mallorca. We really had no choice, so it was a quick decision on our part. That was an unexpected expense, but we know that life happens and you just have to roll with sometimes. We could’ve gotten all bent out of shape and angry and shown our nasty sides to the Iberia agent, but where would that have gotten us? No where. Life is too short to let a small wrinkle such as this ruin our long-planned vacation / anniversary. Lesson learned – book directly through the airline next time and not through Travelocity or another such site. I believe that Iberia would have been much more conducive to helping us if we’d booked directly through their company.

The short flight from MAD to PMI (Palma airport in Mallorca) was nicely uneventful and took less than an hour. More screaming, seat-kicking kids behind us on the plane. We were so tired by that point that we barely heard/felt it.

Arriving at the Palma Airport around 12:30pm, we grabbed our luggage and headed outside to bright, blue-skied Mallorca. We felt instantly rejuvenated as we soaked up the sun. Thanks to the great directions from their website, we easily found the Hasso Rental Car shuttle bus. The young female driver could not find us on her list arriving clients, but as we started to explain that we were a day later than we should have been, she said “no problem – jump in.” We took the short ride, listening to loud techno-music on the radio, to the Hasso Rental Car office in town not too far from the airport. Because they do not have an office based right at the airport, they are able to offer lower/better rates than many competitors. While researching rental car companies I came across Hasso and searched for reviews online from forums such as Fodors. All seemed positive so we went with Hasso.

The nice ladies at the Hasso office made quick work of the paperwork and handed over our keys to a nice, new(er) black Citroen C4. It was sporty looking. Much nicer than the Ford Fiesta I assumed we’d be driving. I only stalled the car one time (it was a manual transmission and I drive an automatic at home) while trying to pull the car out of the tight parking space in the very tight lot. It was like riding a bike - my brain and feet remembered the routine of using a clutch (after several years) and off we went!

Quickly out of the city of Palma and on the highway headed to our resort in Cala Pi in the southeastern area of the island. Cala Pi is in a very remote and rural part of the island – set away from any businesses or busyness for that matter – nice! After 30 minutes of driving we arrived at the resort. Parking at the resort was a real pain as there is a popular beach/cliff right there where many go to soak up the sun while enjoying the breath-taking views. I finally found a spot after much driving around making loop after loop of the resort area looking for a parking space. This could be a problem if it’s like this everyday.

Easy check-in at the resort reception – very nice folks. We were given Apartment/Condo #210 for our week-long stay. It is a nice 2-bedroom place with wonderful views of the Mediterranean and of the aqua-blue water cove that the resort sits above. The décor is stuck in the 70’s, but that’s no biggie. The windows were immediately opened - the breezes quite nice and refreshing. It has a pretty, tiled balcony with a table and chairs for dining alfresco that overlooks the cove. And being that it’s on the top floor of the building it has an extra amenity – a great rooftop terrace with another table and chairs, sink, and large, built-in grill. The views from up there were even more amazing! What a wonderful place to have as our home-base for the week.

We both showered after many, many hours of travelling. That really gave us our second wind! With clean bodies/clothing and excited minds, we headed out the door to a local café to get a bite to eat. Sitting outside under an umbrella-ed table, we enjoyed some “fizzy” water (carbonated), some local white wine, a plate of calamari, and a tomato/mozzarella salad.

We had passed a grocery store on the ride in – maybe 10 minutes away – so we went to check it out. We planned to eat our breakfasts in the condo each day – both for simplicity and to keep meal costs down. Plus, as Mel tries to eat gluten-free as much as possible (eating wheat makes her very tired), it’d be easier for her to buy what she wanted from the grocery store. As it was Sunday, the store was closed. We browsed a few restaurants in a nearby shopping center just down from the grocery store. Nothing looked too exciting but our options were limited. Deciding on one, we ordered a couple of burgers – Mel’s without the bread. After ordering, Mel remembered that some people mix bread into their burgers when making the patties. She asked the server if this was the case, the server checked with the chef, and unfortunately this was the case. She asked the server for other options and all she could come up with was a salad with extra cheese and ham. Mel opted for the salad. Picking at the salad, Mel got really worried (sad) that she’d be eating salads for every meal on our Spanish vacation. I tried comforting her and prayed to God that he would open up the gluten-free options where ever we chose to eat in the coming week.

After driving back to the resort, we stopped a small convenience-type store next to the reception area. We bought some bottled water (fizzy, of course), a bottle of white wine (for later), and a bottle of local red wine (for tonight). An enjoyable evening – enjoyed the wine and walked down the long, steep steps to the beach at the cove. Such a beautiful area!

Finally made it to bed – hopefully for a good night’s sleep.

Tomorrow we check out Palma, the large capital city of the island!

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    Glad my trip report provided a diversion while you were dealing with the seat-kickers. I visited Mallorca way too long ago and look forward to reading more of your report.

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    I am so enjoying your style of writing, chucktown, and as someone who has issues with eating more than one type of food I so understand and congratulate your wife in asking about the ingredients in the hamburger. May I say you two also sound like laid back travellers, some people would have a fit and a half if their original flight had been cancelled. I look forward to the rest of your trip report.

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    I appreciate the comments:

    Ellenem, I feel honored that you've replied to my thread. Thanks for providing me the confidence and inspiration to post my journal.

    LoveItaly, we (Mel mostly) were so pleasantly surprised with all of the gluten-free options she had throughout the trip. We are still talking about all the wonderful food we ate while in Mallorca!

    TDudette, Melissa has been in correspondence with Travelocity. Lots of documents to gather and provide, but things are looking positive in regards to getting SOMETHING back. I'll keep you informed...

    Thanks again, all, for the replies. I should be able to post more on Monday.

    Robbie

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    Sounds like a good start to a hopefully great vacation.

    By the way.. don't believe for one second that Iberia would have been more "permissive" if you had booked a probably non-refundable, non-changeable ticket directly thru their website.
    It's a dilemma when you can't get all legs of one trip on "one" ticket.
    Otherwise those passengers who paid dearly for flexibility and peace of mind would be royally pi**ed if a little smiling and begging was all it took to save €200 ;-)

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    Monday, May 30th

    After a much-needed good night’s rest we arose and readied ourselves for the day – Palma, here we come!

    Since the grocery store was closed yesterday and we were not able to get breakfast items for the condo, we stopped by the resort reception desk on our way back in last night. The resort offers a pretty extensive buffet breakfast in one of it’s restaurants, so we bought two breakfast vouchers. The buffet had lots of options – we fueled our bellies for the early part of the day with eggs, fruit, sliced meat, cheese, pastries, yogurt, coffee, and orange juice. Satisfied and full we drove the Citroen into Palma. The trip to Palma is an easy drive of 30 minutes (20 minutes on the rural 2-lane roads until you hit the major highway into the city for the last 10 minutes).

    Once in Palma, I missed the turn-off for the underground parking garage we wanted to use, but no worries, did a quick U-turn and viola, we were parking the car in the garage! The car park was located at the Parc de la Mar (Park of the Sea), right below the beautiful, huge Cathedral. Just out of the garage, I found a park bench and changed out of my driving shoes (flip-flops!) and into my comfortable, leather Bostonian walking shoes. Mel already had the camera out – shooting away!

    We walked around the park lake and made our way up the hill to the imposing Cathedral. Stepped into a small gift shop just outside of the entrance – bought our first gifts and souvies (souvenirs) of the trip: 2 small, clay nativities and a Mallorca picture book containing wonderful photos of the island. Entrance fee to the Cathedral was 4 euros each. The Cathedral, as most large European cathedrals are, was beautiful! Lots of stained glass, interesting side chapels, and a neat Gaudi alter. We spent time walking around the church exploring and photographing it. As the sun shown through the stained glass windows, a rainbow of colors were splashed around the interior – most prominently on the large cream-colored, stone columns near the front of the church. Exiting the church, we went through a few rooms containing various items (old alter pieces, portraits, relics, etc.). The most interesting/intriguing to us: a display containing (supposedly) 3 original thorns from the thorny crown placed upon Jesus’ head before his crucifixion.

    Out of the Cathedral we walked around Palma, window-shopping and shopping (Mel bought some jewelry, a scarf, and a purse – all inexpensive), and just enjoying the vibe of the city. Busy, but not too much so. We decided to stop for a couple of cappuccinos at a sidewalk café (and to catch up on some journaling). Continued exploring and decided we were ready for lunch. In my trip preparations I had read about a neat-sounding, out-of-way place in the city named “Basic Bar Restaurante”. Their general prices were a tad high for us, but their Menu del Dia (menu of the day – very common in Europe) seemed very affordable. Using my printed directions, we easily found the place. Delicious food, neat presentation, nice staff, and plenty of gluten-free options for Mel (thank you, Lord!). Placing our order with the Spanish-speaking (only) server was fun as we speak little Spanish (me some Spanish, Mel some Italian) and were just warming up our limited vocabularies. No worries – all went well.

    More walking and window shopping.

    Enjoying food and drinks on our travels, our next mission was to find a well-known bar in town named “Abaco.” It’s one of those places with crazy-high prices, but you’ve got to experience just once. As we wound our way through the Palma streets, it began to drizzle a bit – it was actually quite refreshing! Arriving at Abaco, we found it closed for the day – oh well, no pricy drinks this go round.

    We had passed some neat-looking restaurant/bars on our walk so we went back to look at a couple of those. Seeing that one of the places served tapas, we walked in (down, actually, as if we were ducking into a cave). The place was aptly named “La Cueva” (The Cave). Checking out the various tapas options we looked at one-another with huge smiles – they had fresh sardines/anchovies marinated in olive oil and lemon juice. Mel was in heaven! On our first trip to Spain (Andalucia) a few years back she had tried these and had instantly fallen in gastronomic love. Reminiscing of them often since. We shared a nice plate of the little, silver fish and had a couple glasses of delightful sangria. What a nice find – we’ll have to remember the La Cueva for our next venture into Palma later in the week!

    Walking back to the car park we came upon a neat garden with lots of fountains and pretty flowers. The park sat below the walls of the presidential palace, located near the Cathedral. Enjoyed the scene – took some nice water-in-action photos.

    Made it back to the car – still drizzling a bit. Headed to Castell de Bellver, a 14th C. fortification that sits on a hill overlooking the city. Drove up to the castle, but decided to check it out on a sunnier/clearer day as there were sweeping views of Palma and it’s large bay from that high vantage point. Decided to head back to Cala Pi and our resort. On the way in we stopped at the grocery store (Supermercado) and had a good shopping trip – picked up lots of groceries for the week and some souvies, too!

    Back at the resort, we put up the groceries and caught up on our journaling. We’ve gotten really behind on our journals in trips past and were not going to let that happen this time. We may head to Cala Figuera for dinner tonight. This was in a part of the island we had cut out of our agenda due to our (one-day) late arrival in Mallorca.

    In the evening light we made our way to Cala Figuera along the rural roads in the southeastern part of the island. When I booked the rental car I meant to request a GPS unit, but forgot. Figuring they’d have plenty of them at the rental place when we arrived I didn’t worry about it. I was wrong, so we didn’t have a GPS unit for this trip. We had a couple of small maps and that’s all we needed since Mel is a master of maps and has awesome navigational skills! Once in CF we easily found the restaurant we were looking for – Mistral. Not much parking, so I ended up parking (illegally, I think) down the hill near the small marina. The proprietor of Mistral, a nice German gentleman, was very helpful with the menu and a bit humorous. The place was very cozy and overlooked the cove and it’s small marina. Mel tried the local gin (from Menorca?) with tonic while I had a nice, crisp local white wine. We started with shrimp and garlic that arrived at the table sizzling in a small clay baking dish – the aroma was heavenly! For our main courses Mel had a nice sea-bass dish and I had a deliciously light sea-pike – both were delightful.

    With satisfied appetites, it was now time to find our way back to Cala Pi and our resort – a task made much more challenging by the pitch-black countryside and curvy roads. We took our time and went slow, going round and round on the round-a-bouts looking for signs pointing to the direction we wanted/needed to go. It was really dark out there – we only got side-tracked a couple of times.

    Making it back safely to the resort, we quickly wound down for the night – in bed at midnight. Going to be an early morning – hoping to catch the 8:00am train to Soller (leaving from Palma). Alarm is set for 5:30am!

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    mmm, my sort of holiday.

    big breakfast, followed by lunch, THEN tapas, then dinner.

    we took our kids to Mallorca [we spell it that way too] about 15 years ago and stayed at the north of the island; we had a lovely time, but never made it to Palma.

    do you think that there is enough there for a long weekend? i occasionally see cheap flights and wonder if it would be worthwhile going for 3 nights or so.

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    Hey, annhig.

    Yes, lots and lots of delicious food! As you can tell, we enjoying eating on our trips. So much fun food to experience!

    I think that you would really enjoy Palma. Plenty to do for a long weekend - very walkable, beautiful architecture, sites to visit, lots of places to eat! If you get tired of the city, hop on the antique train to Soller and explore it for a few hours! We would have liked to explore the marina and waterfront area more and also more parts of the city, but just didn't have time. Definitely worth a visit.

    Robbie

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    Tuesday, May 31st

    Early wake up – showered and readied ourselves for the day. Ate breakfast at the condo on the balcony overlooking the cove – coffee, fruit, and pastries. We drove to Palma to find the train station – where the antique locomotive takes you to Soller. We got mixed up in the city (maybe we did need that GPS….naaaah) and missed the 8:00am train. The next departure wasn’t until 10:00am. We parked in the underground garage and decided to look into taking a bus to Soller instead (another one of Mel’s many good ideas). We bought bus tickets – we’ll get there much quicker than waiting for the next train as it’s an express bus with few stops along the way. After a short wait at the bus stop we were quickly heading into the mountainous, northwestern region of Mallorca.

    Off the bus in Soller and strolled the tree-lined streets to the café-ringed main square of the town. It was a nice, welcoming and lively scene. We window-shopped for a few hours, just enjoying the town, and stopped at a few cafes for coffee and treats (gelato, fresh-squeezed orange juice, a scrumptious orange flan). Seeing what Soller was all about, and knowing that we had a busy day ahead of us, we had our minds set on getting to our next destination, Deia.

    I had read that it was better to catch the bus to Deia from Port de Soller where the bus originates, as it tends to fill quickly with each stop. Getting from Soller to Port de Soller was fun as we took the antique tram to get there. The tram filled quickly, too, but we swiftly secured a couple of window seats for the short ride to the port. As Port de Soller seemed pretty touristy, we didn’t hang around long and found the bus stop where we’d catch the bus to Deia. We had a little time before the next bus arrived so I decided to catch up on some journaling. Not having the best penmanship to start with, I prefer to have something to lean against to do my writing. With few options, I chose to sit on a small rock wall, using a doggie-poop disposal box/trash can as my writing desk! It was clean (enough) on top for my purposes, but Mel got a big kick out of it – I’m thinking my faux pas may make it into the trip photo album.

    The quick bus ride to Deia was along a very winding road up into the mountains, but had gorgeous panoramic views down to the sea. Got off in Deia and hiked up the steep-hilled streets to the church and cemetery. Figuring that we were off the beaten path a bit, and knowing that we both needed a WC soon, we didn’t tarry long up there and headed back down the hill toward the main street of the tiny town. Saw a restaurant that looked good and stopped - for a drink, but more importantly a restroom!

    Feeling lighter, we bellied up to the modern-looking bar. I ordered a beer on tap – Estrella Damm, Mel a glass of the famous orange liqueur from Soller, Angel Oro, on the rocks. Both very refreshing! As it was close to 3:00pm, we thought that we’d eat some lunch. Glancing at the menu while we sipped our drinks, we thought that this placed looked pretty good. We moved ourselves from the bar to a table on the outside covered patio – right on main street – good people watching spot. I ordered a mixed salad and a bowl of gazpacho, Mel a salad with tuna and olives. And of course we ordered the obligatory agua con gas (fizzy water). Why this (simple carbonated water) hasn’t caught on more in the States, we can’t figure out – so much more refreshing than tap or “still” water. The salads were especially good – a wonderful balsamic dressing really set it apart. The gazpacho was good but could not compete with the gallons (it seemed) of the yummy stuff I ate on our southern Spain adventure a few years ago.

    After lunch we strolled main street and enjoyed photographing the terraced hillsides planted with lemon trees – all loaded with the huge, yellow fruit. The pretty houses that seemed to tumble down the rolling mountains were nice to gaze at, too. Before catching the bus to Valldemossa, we ducked into a small grocery-type store and bought one of our most favorite European treats – crème Limoncello! Oh, what a delight it is to pull that out of our fridge on a hot summer’s night back home – pour a couple of small glasses of the sweet nectar – and we’re magically transported back to Italy or Spain – at least for a few brief moments.

    Once again on the bus, we were on to Valldemossa. Another quick (10 minutes) ride through the winding mountains and we were stepping off into another enchanting village. Valldemossa was real nice – pretty and had a good feel to it. There were tourists there, but it didn’t feel touristy. We walked the shady lanes, stopping for a couple of coffees and some pastries. I tried the regional specialty – Cocas de Patata (not impressed, basically a simple potato roll with powdered sugar on top). Mel asked about gluten-free options and the young girl behind the counter pointed to chocolaty pie and said that it was GF. Once we’d sat down and dug into our goodies, Mel knew right off hand that it wasn’t GF. She ate a bit of it and I helped her finish it (don't want to be the wasteful Americans!). We had the flower-filled back courtyard to ourselves and enjoyed watching little “hoppy” birds bounce around the ground hoping for dropped crumbs and then flittering back up into the citrus trees.

    On the main drag there was a very touristy “catch-all” shop – they had all kinds of trinkets and crap in there! What caught our eyes were the large spigoted glass jugs filled with many varieties of liqueurs lined up along the wall of the shop. For 1 euro each we were given small glasses to taste the different flavors - as much as we pleased. We gave most of them a try (some multiple tries), but overwhelmingly chose the almond-flavored liqueur as our favorite. We bought a small bottle for ourselves and a bottle for Robert and Susan (Mel’s parents). After their trip to Portugal a few years back they couldn’t stop talking about the almond drink they enjoyed over there. Among the trinkets in the store, Mel found some castanets, the wooden hand-clapper instruments that flamenco ladies play. She had regretted not buying some in Andalucia after our trip there, enjoying a fun flamenco show. They were inexpensive and she’ll have fun with them!

    We walked throughout the little town – I think this is Mel’s favorite area/town so far on the trip. We bought some postcards for friends and family back home and a small watercolor print for our humble abode back home.

    Had a little time to journal while waiting for the bus that would take us back to Palma. The bus ride back to Palma was nice as the scenery was so relaxing – fields upon fields of olive trees (a few with grazing sheep) – mesmerizing and calming. Traffic was heavy when we got near Palma, so it took a while for the bus to make its way to the underground garage.

    Grabbing the car from the car park, we considered a quick dinner (as it was close to 8:00pm) of either tapas or McDonald’s - very different options, strange. Deciding we’d rather go ahead and get “home”, we headed to Cala Pi. We had enough at the condo for a good make-shift dinner in tonight.

    A delightful dinner of sliced honeydew melon, sliced Iberian meat, sliced Sobrassada sausage, and to wash it all down a bottle of Lambrusco Rose’ sparkling vino! How relaxing to sit on our balcony eating dinner with the shimmering blue-water cove below as the sun slowly slipped behind the forest of evergreen trees in the distance. This is why we travel!

    Soon to bed as we have another fun, full day tomorrow – making an early morning drive to Sineu for the large weekly market, then on to Arta and its 365 Calvary Steps, and finally ending up in the walled city of Alcudia where we’ll spend the night (a vacation within a vacation!) to better explore the northern region of this fascinating island. Fun, Fun, Fun!

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    Thanks for the continued support, everyone!

    Pegontheroad: Thanks for the shot in the arm! I'm glad that you're enjoying the report/journal. I can't imagine what Mallorca was like in the 60's - I'd like to hear a few of your memories of those visits.

    annhig: I figured that you might've gone to Soller (still a fun day trip, though). Still plenty to keep you occupied for a long weekend. We enjoyed visiting some of the wineries in the mid-section of the island (coming up soon in my report)- they're not too far out of the city. Supposedly the wines of Mallorca are starting to make waves in the "wine world."

    TDudette: I love visiting new places (vicariously, at least) by reading others' reports, too. So much to see....

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    Wednesday, June 1st

    Up at 5:45am to start the day! Showered, readied ourselves, and enjoyed a nice breakfast of melon, scrambled eggs, currant juice, and chocolate-filled pastries (I just can’t resist those yummy treats!).

    Off to find Sineu and the most popular weekly market on Mallorca. Mel, the navigator, was awesome as always. Our route wound us through a couple of really small town centers (Agaida being one of them) with very narrow, tight streets. A good chance to hone my European driving skills, I guess. Glad I was driving the sporty little Citroen instead of my big Chevy Silverado! Passing many more picturesque fields of olive trees (and sheep), we continued on our journey.

    Finally arriving in Sineu we easily found parking on the outskirts of the small town (great signage). The drive from Cala Pi only took an hour or so and that included the extra time needed to drive through the couple of “tight towns.” As it was a bit chilly and windy, Mel did a quick-change in the car out of her capris and into some warmer jeans. Lots of vendors were beginning to set up their wares – a real (upscale?) flee-market feel, the smell of roasting nuts wafting through the air.

    Sineu was a pretty town with a church and campanile (tower) topping the stone-colored hill town. As we were a bit early, we decided to have a couple of coffees at a café amongst the tents and vendors. Not only did we get to enjoy some good Spanish coffee, but we also had a nice clean WC to use as a bonus!

    Mel couldn’t wait to see, pet, and talk to all of the animals/livestock that we read would be at the weekly market. She is a HUGE animal lover!

    I had a good chance to practice my Spanish as I asked the server where the livestock/animals would be located in the market. He actually understood my question and I actually understood his answer. I’m amazed at the stuff that my brain can pull out of the dusty cellar sometimes – I guess I did actually learn something in those high school and college Spanish courses after all!

    With warm bellies and empty bladders we headed straight for the livestock section of the market! There were lots of different kinds of birds (chickens, pheasants, small cage birds), sheep, ponies, goats, roosters, lambs, etc., etc. Mel got her hands on as many of them as she could get close to. As these were mostly not tame animals, but wild animals that were at the market being traded/sold between farmers, they were pretty shy and skittish. LOTS of photos taken with and of the animals!

    From there we wound in and out between lots and lots of stalls selling various wares – from leather goods to clothing to toys to art and everything in between. In a different area of the town, we happened upon the fruit and vegetable part of the market. The bright, multi-colored fruits and veggies made for some outstanding photos! Stopping at a café, I finally ordered one of the famous Ensaimadas, the plate-sized spiral-shaped soft sweet pastries topped with powdered sugar. Heavenly! Mel bought some fresh cherries from a vendor and had some coffee, too (don’t think she ate/drank that combo together, though).

    As the morning matured and people continued to flood into the small town, it became very crowded very quickly. We had experienced and enjoyed what we had come to Sineu for and easily made the decision to continue on with our journey north (northeast, actually) to Arta’.

    Quickly out of town, Arta was not hard to find as it was on a major road. I believe that the drive took approximately 30-45 minutes – a bit drizzly on the way. The clouds (literally) cleared as Arta came into sight. The town was very pretty on approach as two churches sat high on a hill, serving as the pinnacle of the town. The nice brown building spilled down from there. We parked a little farther out than we should/could have, so we had a small walk to get to the main areas Arta. I’ve pressed my luck before trying to get closer parking and ended up in tight, precarious streets. I’m a bit cautious now, I guess. Pulling out the small compass we brought on the trip, we got our bearings and headed into the town toward the churches, making sure to mark on our little town map the location of our car.

    It didn’t take us long to reach the first, and larger of the two, church. Nice panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Arta is know for its “365 Steps of Calvary.” The rock-paved steps began near the lower church where we were and headed steeply up the hill to the other church/chapel. We began our ascent to the top. The steps were low (shallow?) but there were lots of them! Halfway up we stopped and took some photos, both individual and couple shots using the mini-tripod Mel had gotten me as a gift on a recent occasion in preparation of our trip. I had some fun photographing Mel, asking her to pose for three consecutive pictures holding up 3 fingers, then 6 fingers, and finally 5 fingers (365 steps!). Saw some kitties along the way and took their pictures, too.

    Reaching the top of the steps, we came upon the smaller of the churches – it was more modern than the other – at least on the exterior. The views of the surrounding landscape and out to the sea were even better from this higher vantage point. It was windy up there and some of the pics of Mel I took reminded us of the windy days we experienced on our last adventure in Malta (talk about some wind!). Walked around inside the small church. Behind the alter was a portrait of Mary holding baby/infant Jesus on her lap. The way it was painted, it appeared that Jesus was holding up two of his little fingers saying “peace out!”. We got some good laughs, hopefully not inappropriately, out of that!

    Not much more to see up there, we headed back down the long stairway (stepway?) to find the main street in town to grab some lunch. We decided on Parisian Café (I think we had coffee at place called Café Parisian in Soller? No relation, though) as it was highly recommended by the Lonely Planet guidebook. A cute little restaurant on the main pedestrian drag. There was an open sidewalk table so we grabbed it. We ordered a couple of glasses of the house red wine and a bottle of water as we mulled over the menu. When the server brought the wine and water to us, she also put a small dish of olives, some sliced crusty bread, and a small dish of (homemade) mayonnaise on the table. Mel loves olives (I’m not a big fan) so she enjoyed the tasty black beads. Knowing that the Balearic Islands (Menorca) is where mayonnaise originated (a fun fact from my trip prep work), I was looking forward to trying some. It felt strange to me dip my bread into mayonnaise (I’ve never done this at home), but what the heck? It was the best mayo I’ve ever eaten. I told Mel that even though the crusty bread was definitely not gluten-free, she had to bend the rules and try some of the mayo with bread. She was glad that she did and greatly enjoyed it. Who knew that mayo could be a highlight of a dining experience?


    The server didn’t seem too busy, but it took a while for our starter courses to arrive. We were in no hurry, so it was no biggie. I had ordered a dish off of my “food to try while in Mallorca” list – Tumbet. When it arrived it smelled delicious! The simple dish of layered eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes, along with olive oil and few spices was delightful. I have a feeling we’ll be ordering Tumbet again before leaving Mallorca. Mel ordered a nice salad as her starter. Soon after our main courses arrived – we both ordered spicy chicken curry. It was good, but nothing special – kind of messy, too, as the chicken was still on the bones and you had to pull it off to eat it. A good overall meal.

    Knowing that there was not much more (that we wanted) to see in Arta, we decided to make our way back to the car. We wanted to have time to explore Alcudia, our final stop of the day, in the daylight so we headed on up the highway.

    No problem at all finding Alcudia – a pretty straight shot along major roads. As we drove it began to drizzle (maybe a little more than a drizzle, but not a full-out rain). We’ve been quite blessed so far on the trip as it has mostly drizzled while we’re driving between towns, but seems to clear up just as we get into a town we’re stopping in. We’re not superstitious folk, so the only explanation is divine intervention! Thank you, Lord, for keeping the Citroen C4 looking shiny and clean!

    On the way to Alcudia we passed through a couple of small, beachy-feeling (very touristy) towns including Can Pic Fort and Port de Alcudia. Once in Alcudia, we easily found parking just outside the old fortified city walls. We grabbed the small carry-on sized piece of luggage (one night’s worth of clothing/toiletries) out of the trunk and the rain immediately disappeared. Amazing. No problems finding Hotel Can Tem within the walled portion of the small city.

    Standing in front of the beautiful, huge wooden (and locked) doors of the small hotel (more like a B&B), we didn’t know what else to do but ring the door bell, so that’s what we did! A lady, the proprietor of the hotel, popped her head out a doorway up the quaint narrow lane and yelled, “Un momento, por favor!” Within minutes, Magdalena was unlocking the wooden doors from inside. We stepped into the cool, nicely-appointed entrance way to the simple reception desk (literally a simple wooden desk). I had made the reservations a good while back but had recently been corresponding with Magdalena’s spouse, Tony, via email about our expected arrival time. They were expecting us and Magdalena welcomed us calling us by our first names as if we’d been long time acquaintances. You rarely see that kind of service these days! Magdalena spoke little English, but we easily made due during the quick check-in process. The lobby was nicely decorated. We felt very comfortable there already and had just arrived. This truly was a make-yourself-at-home kind of place. We were lead into the large kitchen and shown around. She said to use it as we pleased – if we wanted coffee and none was made, feel free to make some – if we were hungry and wanted to dig around the fridge or cupboards, go for it. Essentially we were guests in her “house” and treated that way. We later learned that it truly WAS the house that she grew up in! She and Tony had inherited it from her parents and converted it into a small inn (maybe 8-10 guest rooms, if that many) a few years ago.

    She handed us a key ring with two keys hanging on it – a key to the front (large wooden) doors so we could let ourselves in an out, and a neat skeleton key that unlocked our room. Leading us up the nice stone stairway to the second floor, she showed us our room (no room #s on the doors) and said “enjoy your stay with us.” What a nice welcome. Now I know why this small place had received such nice reviews. Our room was simple and cozy – had pretty terracotta tiled floors throughout. There was a huge, modern well-appointed bathroom with a large tub, separate shower, toilet, bidet, and a nice sink/vanity area. The room consisted of a nice large bed with a beautifully carved wooden headboard, nice large TV (don’t think we even turned it on), built-in bookshelves along one wall with a library of books on them, sitting chairs, table, etc. There was a skylight that filled the room with natural light and a small window that looked out over the flowered patio below. Very nice – wish we were staying longer than one night! We freshened up a bit and headed out into the late-afternoon sun to explore the walled city. Alcudia was nice and quaint – there were one or two main streets with shops and restaurants, but otherwise it was mostly residential. Pretty, old architecture abounded as we strolled along, stopping in a few shops here and there. We came upon a section of the old city walls that you could walk along the top of, so we climbed the steps up. Nice views of not only the city within the walls, but also the surrounding areas out to the sea and mountains. The sky was cobalt blue – we couldn’t have asked for anything more. Took some real nice pictures and generally had a very nice afternoon, walking hand-in-hand, enjoying each other and Alcudia.

    We filled-up our first camera memory card (8Gig), so we wandered back to Hotel Can Tem to grab another. Re-loaded with 8 new gigs, off we went again – now to find some dinner. On the way, stopped in a few more shops – bought Lauren Anne (niece) some gifts, and Mel found a pretty ring made from a seashell that reminded her of an olive tree in a field of wheat (just as we’d been driving past this entire trip).

    For dinner, Mel wanted to make sure that the chosen restaurant had nice, fresh sangria (no bottled junk), Tumbet, and boquerones (Mel’s favorite tapas ever – fresh anchovies marinated in olive oil and lemon juice). We ended up at a nice restaurant on the main drag and were able to hit two of the three bogies she was after (no boquerones here). Sitting at an outside table, sangria and bottled water were ordered. For our meal, we split a large pan of delicious seafood paella. So pretty when it was presented at our table, but a bit messy to eat due to having to pick at the shrimp, mussels, crab legs, crayfish?, etc. Mel ordered another sangria, I had a Cruz Campo beer. We had a nice conversation with our server, a friendly lady originally from Bulgaria. She told us she hoped to visit Canada one day.

    Back to the hotel for sleep. Met Tony when we entered the hotel and had a good conversation (he spoke English very well) with him. Then turned in for the night, hoping for a good night’s sleep and good weather tomorrow (the forecast doesn’t look good)!

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    hi again, chuck,

    Alcudia was the nearest big town to where we stayed all those years ago - thanks for reminding me about it. you're really bringing back some great memories - keep it coming.

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    Thursday, June 2nd

    Slept in a bit this morning as Tony and Magdalena convinced us not to leave too early – plenty of time to get where you’re going, they said – please stay and enjoy breakfast in the courtyard. They did not have to twist our arms very much. As they promised, the breakfast was very nice – good dark coffee, pastries from a local bakery, yogurt, fresh-squeezed OJ, and fruit. The sky (weather) looked promising as the sun was peaking out behind a few clouds. Finished, we grabbed our luggage out of our room, left our “house-keys” on the front reception desk, and walked to the car , which was parked just a few blocks away.

    Made our way out of town towards our first destination of the day – Cap de Formentor, passing the Bay of Pollenca along the way. Passed through a touch of rain, but were quickly beyond it. Soon we began to climb the steepening road up into the mountains. As we progressed higher, further into the mountains, and towards the rugged coastline, the road became increasingly narrower with lots and lots of switch-backs. I had read that this road to the lighthouse on the cape was not for the weary (one wrong turn and you’re off the side of a cliff – no guardrails). I’m a pretty confident driver, so thought nothing of it beforehand. I have to admit that I was gripping the steering wheel pretty tightly at times while not trying to think about my sweaty palms. Mel was just enjoying the ride, not noticing my white-knuckles. On and on we drove towards the end of the road and the lighthouse, not knowing exactly how much further it was to get there. I was thinking the whole time that there’s only one road in and one road out, so I get to drive this obstacle course of a road coming back, too. The views along the coastline were quite outstanding, though.

    As we had gotten a fairly early start on the day, we pretty much had the curvy road out to the lighthouse to ourselves, which was nice as there was very little on-coming traffic. We did pass a couple of macho (phycho?) cyclists making the steep ascent up the hilly roads.

    Rounding a curve, the lighthouse finally came in to view – whew! Soon we were pulling up to the white, simple lighthouse. Parking was no problem in the small lot as we were one of the first few visitors to arrive today. The weather had cleared nicely, but as we were out on the tip of a rugged, mountainous coastline, it was very windy and chilly.

    We walked around the lighthouse compound – the views were breathtaking, with the gorgeous blue water crashing on the rocky shore so far down below the cliffs! Mel, the animal lover, spotted some goats in the rocky, harsh landscape. It was a family of goats (still had nursing young ones) of about 10 or so. Lots of pics taken of the goat family. Also found a couple of cats looking for love, so Mel obliged. They were very photogenic. As it was chilly and windy, we stepped inside of the small café/restaurant at the base of the lighthouse and had a couple of coffees – enjoying the views from the warmth of the cozy place. As you could not climb the working lighthouse, we’d seen what there was to see. It was definitely worth the drive out! Can’t wait to see the pics on a larger screen than the one on the camera.

    Hitting the WC on our way out of the café, we were on our way back to the crazy road from whence we had come. Although there were more cars on the road now (heading out to the lighthouse), it was much easier driving as I was now “familiar” with the road (plus I had the non-cliffside inside lane this time!

    Made it down the mountain and hit the round-a-bout towards our next stop, Pollenca. It didn’t take too long to get where we were going and soon we were pulling into the narrow streets of the tight town. Found a place to park on one of the narrow streets, hoping that other drivers would not side-swipe the Citroen as they maneuvered the tight lanes themselves. Got our bearings and headed toward the main area of town.

    Pollenca is (also) know for its 365 Steps of Calvary (starting to see a theme here....), which led up to a small chapel at the top. Before beginning our trek, we stopped at small café at the bottom of the Steps for a couple drinks – me: OJ, Mel: hot tea. We made our way up the many stairs to the pinnacle, passing a nice older man playing festive, traditional Spanish music on his guitar. Stopped and got some good video of him playing and a couple of pics with him and Melissa. Simple little chapel at the top – pretty, but not too much to see. Instead of taking the steps back down to the city center, we decided to take the path/road that eventually led down to the Pont Roma, the old Roman-built bridge. The bridge straddled a dry, rocky riverbed. Mel kept up her tradition of collecting some (small) rocks from the various vacation destinations we’ve visited over the years – she’s done this since she was a young girl, as her family traveled throughout the USA a decent amount.

    Rocks in her shoulder bag, we headed back into town to find a specialty-foods store, called Ensenat, I’d read about. Found it without too much trouble – lots of neat food stuff and wines there. Tasted various cured sausages that the butcher was slicing up. Saw some of the famous Pollenca honey – may have to pick up a jar before heading out of town.

    Found a restaurant for lunch, Eu Centro. I had Frit Mallorqui (lamb) as a starter, Mel a nice mixed salad with walnuts, Roquefort cheese, and olives. Two glasses of the house white wine and a bottle of Pellegrino. We both ordered Tumbet as our main course. All was delicious, but I took a couple of Tums afterward as a preventative measure against the oily meal. Decided not to go back and purchase the honey (my tradition is to bring home honey from trips instead of rocks!) – maybe I’ll just sample some somewhere – can’t seem to find a small jar anywhere and the extra weight for the trip home (to the US) is just not worth it.

    Saw all we wanted to in Pollenca – now we’re off to the heart of the island to visit a few wineries! Easy, short ride on a nice major highway to Santa Maria del Cami, the first of our two winery stops. As there wasn’t much to the town, we located the winery of Macia Batle very quickly. Nice, modern-looking main buildings – very welcoming, as lush, green vineyards surrounded the complex. We headed inside to check it out - right into the tasting room/show room. No cost to taste any of the wines, as much or as little as you pleased. A very nice and attentive lady described the many wines on offer to us and was really helpful. We tasted a few reds and a few whites – ended up purchasing one of each. The nice sales lady packed our bottles in a good, sturdy cardboard wine box and threw in a few goodies as a thank you – two different cans of pork pate’. Although we’re not pate’ fans ourselves, someone at home will get to enjoy them. As we hadn’t had a chance to look around the winery yet, we stashed our purchase behind the counter near the register, and headed off to start the self-tour. It was very interesting to see the various steps and processes that go into making the wines – the huge metal vats, the bottle-labeling and corking machines, the under-ground aging/resting rooms with row upon row of oak barrels do their thing to the grape juice inside, etc. It was all neat to see, especially since this was the first winery we’d ever visited (haven’t made it to the west coast US wineries yet, but it’s on the list!). The décor and design of the Macia Batle winery was artsy and fun – a real light atmosphere.

    The next winery we visited was in the next town over, Binissalem, where we found without a problem the Jose’ Ferrer winery. The experience here was much lower-key than the last. You had to pay for the wine tour here, so we opted out and just stayed in the tasting room to try a few of their vinos. The gentleman serving us was very knowledgeable and helpful, it helped that he spoke English, also. Tried a few of their wines – ended up purchasing a bottle of the sweet, Muscat wine – Dulce’ something or other. He also gave us one of the nice, sturdy wine boxes!

    Headed back towards and through Palma and then on to our neck of the woods – Cala Pi. Stopped at the supermarket on the way in to grab groceries, goodies, dinner-stuff, souvies, and gifts. As we’ve had a very difficult time finding pet stores so far on the island, and knew we had to bring the kitties something back from the trip, we bought some toys (kitty-friendly) out of a large gumball-type machine outside the grocery. It took us three tries to get something that we thought the kitties may enjoy – the other toys will be small gifts for Joe (nephew).

    Continued on to Club Cala Pi. While it was still light outside we walked out to the old lookout tower and cliffs above the Cala Pi cove – just down the street from the resort. Took some nice photos as the sky was nice and blue and made a good contrast against the rocky cliffs of the cove and the cream-colored stone of the tower. There were four large sailboats moored in the cove (that would be a fun trip – sailing around the island, parking in gorgeous coves in the evenings!). Also taking pics along the cliff-side was a professional photographer shooting a pretty, young bride in her bright white dress with her soon-to-be husband, all tuxedo-ed up.

    Back at the condo, we prepared a nice simple and delicious dinner of sliced fresh tomatoes, arugula, sliced fresh mozzarella (yum!), white wine, and for dessert a tasty chocolaty ice cream bar. We sat out on our wonderful balcony and watched the sun slowly disappear as we finished our meal. Afterward, a quick trip down to the reception area to check emails and the weather forecast for tomorrow.

    No major traveling around tomorrow (our last full day in Mallorca) – may sleep in and then head into Palma to check out the city some more, maybe do a little shopping, and to swing by Castell Bellver to see what the interior of that imposing fortress has to offer!

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    Thanks, everyone, for the kind and encouraging replies. I'm getting to the end of this trip - I promise! It will be a few days before I'll be able to post the last couple of entries of the journal (going on a business trip to Charlotte, NC). Please feel free to enjoy some of our pics on PicasaWeb from the Mallorcan Adventure in the mean time: just follow the link (no signing in or anything).....

    You may have to copy and paste the link address.

    https://picasaweb.google.com/kiawah627/Mallorca2011?authkey=Gv1sRgCPz8uePy8aCZSQ&feat=directlink

    Enjoy! We did!

    Robbie

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    TDudette: Thanks for taking a look at the trip pics - we had a lot of fun!

    Toucan2: I appreciate the encouragement and your patience. I finally typed up the last of my journal and will be posting it in just a moment.

    Thanks again,

    Robbie

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    Friday, June 3rd

    Slept in for a while this morning – nice to just enjoy the early hours of the day while lying in bed next to my lovely wife. Another sunny and beautiful morning in Cala Pi.

    While Mel showered I walked down to the reception area to check the weather forecast. On the way back to the condo, I swung through the outdoor swimming pools area (2 pools + hot tub) and dipped my toe in to see what the temperature was like – Chilly! Near the pool area was a ping-pong table that looked like it got lots of use. Also nearby was an archery target set up – a bit strange as I would not want folks participating in archery as I swam/lounged in the pool a few yards away.

    Back to the room to shower and eat some breakfast. Breakfast on the balcony again (boy, have we enjoyed that balcony and its breezes and views) – sliced sobrassada sausage, sliced Iberian ham, kiwi, pastry with chocolate filling, and some nice strong coffee. All quite filling – trying to empty the fridge so we’re not throwing much away when we leave tomorrow morning.

    Out the door and headed to Palma for the day. The drive to Palma has been getting quicker with each passing day as I’m getting more and more used to the roads that take us there! First stop was Castell Bellver – one of the very few circular-built forts in Spain. It has a simple circular courtyard in the interior with great arches all around the first and second levels. There were neat artifacts and things to see in the museum as well. As the fortress sits on a hill just outside of Palma, there are great views of the large city and its pretty marina and waterfront area. Nice photo ops all around. Second set of camera batteries are dying – Mel’s worried that the second 8 gig memory card is filling up, too!

    After enjoying the castle for a little over an hour, we were off to explore more of the city of Palma. The parking garage that we were familiar with, and had hoped to park in, was full as it had begun to drizzle a little. We drove around the marina and up into town and found another garage fairly quickly. Parked – loaded up – and headed out. The garage where we parked was close to a main shopping thoroughfare. Soon we came to the huge department store – El Corte d’ Ingles. We decided to stop in to see if they had some of the items we’d been searching for – Spanish made men’s ties, a Spanish futbol (soccer) jersey (I’d seen one other earlier, but it was 75 euros!), kitty toys, and camera batteries/memory card.

    Bought a knock-off jersey for 15 euros (works for me!). The ties on offer were all name brand and very expensive – nothing unique, so I passed on that. Mel found a toy for the kitties – a small stuffed sheep in a Spanish soccer jersey. Bought some batteries and a 4 gig card for the camera. Mel hit the WC while I browsed the book section (understanding very few of the titles), and we were off again. Made our way towards the big market square, Placa Major, to see what was on offer. Mostly jewelry, which Mel enjoyed checking out while I shot some video of the nice plaza and a group of roaming musicians playing for the cafe dwellers. Mel considered a purchase of a pearl ring, but decided against it – she’d find one she liked better elsewhere.

    As it was getting close to lunch and we were starting to get hungry, we set our direction towards La Cueva (The Cave) and headed that way! We were looking forward to a full meal at The Cave instead of just tapas like last time. Making our way towards the restaurant, we stopped at a few stores and made some purchases. Mel found a nice, simple pearl necklace she liked so we bought it. At another shop she bought some brightly colored earrings and a matching bracelet – they were made from some sort of dyed large seeds/nuts – pretty.

    Made it to La Cueva , stepped down the few stairs into the cozy restaurant/bar and found a table in the main dining area where all of the action (bar/cooking/ham carving, etc.) was! We were hungry and put in our order right away – a pitcher of sangria, bottle of water, plate of Pimentos de Padron (fried green peppers), plate of Boquerones (marinated anchovies), and two large mixed salads. Everything was delivered at once and our table looked as if we were expecting six more people to join us for lunch! It was quite comical, and I knew that I had to capture the scene on film (digital film, that is), so before digging in I took a “before” picture of Mel and our full table of goodies. We both dug right into the lightly-salted fried green peppers – they had a great flavor, but were a little too greasy/oily for me. I ate maybe 10 or 12 of them and left the rest for Mel. The mixed salad was huge so I started working on it, eating some Boquerones along the way – all the while enjoying the sangria. It didn’t take long before I was beginning to fill up, but Mel was an eating machine – finishing her salad, my salad, and cleaning both the pepper and marinated fish plates! What a lady! Before allowing the server to remove any of our empty plates, I took a great “after” picture of Mel and the decimated meal that had been placed before us not long ago.

    The pitcher of sangria seemed endless as we continuously poured ourselves glass after glass of the sweet (and intoxicating) drink. We had to finish it – that was a fact! We struck up a conversation with a nice Scottish couple sitting at the bar a few feet away – seemed like real nice folks. Feeling happy and full, we finally polished off the sangria – Mel telling me that my rosy cheeks reminded her of Santa Claus. Paid the bill and carefully made our way out of the delightful den of goodness. Passing a large table of diners and feeling very outgoing, I insisted (without their prompting) that I needed to take the group’s photo using their cameras! Made them squeeze tightly together to get them all in the frame, and took lots of pics. Hopefully they’ll appreciate it later on???

    Just yards down the narrow street from The Cave we spotted a Gelateria (ice cream shop) and had to have some. The owner was patient as we sampled many of the flavors – finally deciding on a combo of caramel/pine nut and orange/mint – so tasty! How could we still eat after stuffing ourselves at the restaurant??? Who knows, but we did! With our sangria smiles and yummy gelato, we strolled down the street to the nice park that sits below the presidential palace. We were mesmerized by these guys making huge soapy bubbles in the paved area of the park. Our cup of gelato was finished in an instant – we need more, we thought – so we backtracked to the same gelateria and ordered another cupful. This is why I love traveling! Back to watch the bubble-makers at the park and eat some more frozen treat. Enjoyed playing around (not in) the beautiful fountains in the park – took some fun pics and videos. Made our way back into the city and, as gluttonous as it sounds, stopped for a pastry and some waters at the famous Cappuccino cafe. Lounged a while as we ate and enjoyed the people-watching.

    Deciding that we were clear-headed again, we made our way back towards the underground car park to grab the Citroen and mosey on. Walking along one of the city streets we heard the sound of a street musician playing – a nice sounding acoustic guitar and singing. As we neared the music, Mel picked up the tune – it was a Jason Mraz song – being sung in English! Mel loves his music and was really excited. The guy playing and singing was a nice-looking fellow about our same age. Mel (maybe not as clear-headed as me yet) sat down on the curb next to the guy and starting singing along with him. It was a two-person street show now! Wanting to hold onto this memory, I took out the camera, flipped it to video function, and started filming the music video – swaying to the tunes, getting some good close-ups of the “musicians”, and making the music video as MTVish as possible, filming the scene at all kinds of crazy angles. I’m positive people were thinking “Look at the crazy Americans!” as Mel and the guitarist belted out their song while her nutty husband (thinking that he’s some kind of cool videographer) weaved in and out of the people on the crowded street shooting the scene. We were having a ball! When the song ended I grabbed a seat on the curb next to them and we started chatting with the guy. Christopher was from California (the only other American we had met so far our entire time in Mallorca!). He was very friendly – said he moved to the island to stay with his uncle, who’d secured him a couple of web-design contracts. That (money) lasted for a while, but now it was gone – so he said why not enjoy the city and play a little music (he had a cup full of euros!). Said he enjoyed the pretty Spanish senoritas, too. We chatted for a good while and then let him get back to his “work”.

    Back at the car, I jumped in the driver’s seat and Mel jumped in the back seat. I think she was asleep before we got out of the garage! Quick trip to Cala Pi. As this was our last trip out before we drove to the airport and dropped the car off, I knew that I needed to stop and fill up the gas tank. All of our travels around the island all week only used half a tank of gas! There was a gas station on the way to the resort so I stopped there and topped off the tank. When I went inside to pay, I ended up having a nice Spanish-only conversation with the attendant. I was really proud of myself (and my memory) and having lots of fun.

    Back at the condo, I roused Mel from the back seat long enough to get inside. She hit the sack for a 1-hour power nap before getting up so we could start packing our luggage for our departure tomorrow. I passed on the nap and caught up on journaling.

    It didn’t take us long to get packed up – all of our wine, liqueurs, and souvies secured well for the upcoming three flights.

    We scrounged in the kitchen for dinner – finishing off the couple of open bottles of wine (and random food items) on the rooftop terrace - toasting each other on our last evening in Spain. We were blessed with another beautiful sunset over the gorgeous cove! What a fun vacation!

    We must “sleep fast” tonight as we have an early morning flight out (6:25am), which means waking up at 2:30am! to prepare/ready ourselves, eat breakfast, leave the resort, drive to Palma where the airport is located, drop off the rental car in the airport garage, and check-in for our outbound flight with plenty of time get through security, etc.

    Good Night!



    Saturday, June 4th

    The 2:30am wake up call from the travel alarm clock came way too early! We were both good and got right up and out of bed. Mel jumped in the shower – I took the largest piece of luggage down to the car. I got my shower, shaved, and ate a small breakfast of currant juice, choco-pastries, and yogurt. Mel had juice, yogurt, and kiwis.

    Dropped the condo key at the reception desk as we walked by it heading to the car and we were on our way! Drove the dark, rural road to Palma – the lights of the city sparkling in the bay.

    Per the instructions from Hasso Rent-a-Car, we parked the car on the 4th level of the airport garage. Dropped the key in the envelope they’d given us, and then dropped the envelope into the parked Hasso (bright blue) car nearby with a slot cut into the side. Took one last video of the Citroen to prove (if ever needed) that the car wasn’t damaged in our possession.

    Checked-in with Iberia to obtain our boarding passes for the Vueling flight to Madrid. Made it to our departure gate with plenty of time to spare.

    Quick and uneventful flight to Madrid in less than an hour. Thankfully no screaming, kicking kids behind us this time! I passed the time on the flight resting my eyes and thinking about all of the fun memories of the last six days. Wrote a few postcards: to mom & dad and James & Heather (a co-worker).

    In Madrid we waited in a LONG line at the Delta check-in area after taking the shuttle bus from Terminal 4 to Terminal 1. There were lots of American college students in line cutting up and joking with one another as they waited. Got through the check-in procedure fine – the weight of both checked bags was under the limit – yahoo! No extra fees! They seemed really heavy with all of the stuff we were bringing home, but the scales don’t lie!

    We grabbed a couple of sandwiches/drinks at a place close to our terminal and ate them as we waited for the boarding of our flight. Had some euro coins left in my pocket so we strolled through a small convenience-type store in the terminal to see what we could spend it on. Mel found another small stuffed animal (a little black bull we named “Toro”) for the kitties.

    We boarded the Delta flight to Atlanta at 10:30am for the long trip across the ocean back to the States. Will I sleep??? Who knows…..

    Flight from MAD to ATL was long as expected, but nicely uneventful and smooth. We were in a two-seat row, Mel at the window, me on the aisle. We both took a few short naps at the beginning of the flight. Watched the movies “The Tourist” and “Little Fockers.” Mel also watched “Eat, Pray, Love.” We’d seen them all before, but what else are you going to do stuck in a metal tube barreling across the sky? No individual media centers on this plane, just had the community (theater) screens instead. I read the Food & Wine magazine I’d picked up before leaving for the trip a week ago. Also read some trip-reports I’d printed off of Fodors website to pass the time.

    Made it to Atlanta and quickly went through customs – they have such an efficient system there it seems! Luggage pick-up was quick and easy, too.

    Sadly had to give up the four sobrassada sausages we’d brought back as gifts. Had to part with the small kitty sausage-type treats, too. We weren’t sure of the US rules on bringing meats back into the country and knew there was a possibility of this happening. Hoping that the shrink-wrapped meats would have a chance. At least now we know that there is a no-tolerance policy of bringing meats back in. Nothing expensive, but still disappointing to see the customs agent throw our delightful, tasty meats right into the trash can with a thud. The agent was nice enough, though, and had a good southern (Georgia) accent. He thanked us multiple times for our honesty in reporting the meat on our customs forms.

    As we had a decent layover before the next flight, we checked with Delta to see if there were seats available on an earlier flight to CHS. Some were available, but they wanted to charge us $50 each to change the tickets. No thanks, we’ll hang around the busy airport for a few hours. Decided to eat some dinner and quickly agreed on Chili’s restaurant. We were back in the States and ready for a big, juicy burger with fries!

    Nice and full, we walked to the Delta terminal we’d depart from and waited. I called Giovanni and gave him an update as he and Priscilla would be picking us up from the CHS airport when we arrived back home. As we sat and waited, Mel became more excited by the minute about seeing Rutledge and Siena (kitties) soon.

    The flight to CHS was nice and quick. There was a group of middle-aged ladies sitting behind us who apparently been at a church conference somewhere. They were so joyful – cutting up and laughing and having a good old time! It was nice to see/hear people enjoying their lives and their friends with such fervor. I wish more people were that happy…

    The small two-person flight attendant crew must have been rookies. You could tell that they hadn’t read the safety stuff on the intercom many times and when we were on final approach to Charleston, the “head” attendant announced to the plane “Welcome to Newport News!” There were some strange looks on some of the passengers’ faces and a few muffled chuckles.

    Back on lowcountry soil! Even though the heat and humidity hit us like a brick wall, it felt good to be home. At the baggage carousel we ran into some friends who were returning from a two-week mission trip to Kenya, Africa. They looked exhausted – I’m sure that we didn’t look any better, though. Priscilla and Giovanni were at the curb waiting for us so that they could shuttle us home. Enjoying traveling themselves, they were full of questions on the ride. They knew that we were tired so they didn’t probe too hard. They’re great friends and we look forward to sharing our adventures with them over many glasses of wine and G’s wonderful, Italian cooking.

    Back home, we smothered the kids (kitties) with lots of love – we were so happy to see them and they were excited to see us, also – a fun reunion! Rutledge wanted to mark the occasion with a meal (that boy loves to eat!) and Siena was overly vocal as she welcomed us home. What a family!

    Another fun, successful traveling adventure comes to a close, but the memories we’ve made will last us a lifetime!

    Well, that’s my journal! I hope that it was enjoyable and maybe a bit helpful, too. I had fun posting it and re-living the good times we had in Mallorca. Thanks for joining me on the ride!

    Next up, if all goes as planned……Burundi, Africa in 2012…..and the Puglia region of Italy in 2013 for our 15th wedding anniversary!

    Adios!

    Robbie

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    Robbie - thanks for the stellar report. Mallorca [or at least its beaches] are vey familiar to us brits, but i suspect that it is less familiar to your US compatriots.

    thanks for widening all our horizons.

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