|To celebrate our first year of dating, Jason and I took a week vacation to the Spanish Island of Mallorca as a present to each other.
On Saturday we took the hour and a half flight from Madrid to the Palma airport (the largest city on the island). As always with every flight they ask you to turn off your cell phones and all electronic devices. My phone was packed away and being such an early flight (we woke up at 4am to get ready for the flight), I was too tired to reach the phone and thought, "Who is going to call this phone?…I think I’m safe."
At this moment, I will stop and describe the sound my cell phone makes when the alarm clock goes off. There are two sounds, really. The first is the sound of a rooster’s “cock-a-doodle-doo” call in the morning. The second is the tune of the calvary coming during wartime. I describe these sounds because right as our plane landed and we were waiting to deplane the plane, the alarm on my cell phone went off. It was 9am on the dot…the time my alarm had been set for (as we had used Jason’s alarm that morning). Even though the phone was a bit muffled, the rooster was loud enough for people to hear it and turn to see where the sound was coming from. Jason (standing behind me) told me to just look ahead and act like I wasn’t with him. ☺
Once the humiliation on the plane ended, we were excited to start our trip…or though we thought. We went to the Hertz counter to “quickly” pick up our car and hit the open road. But plans changed once we found the hour plus line of people waiting to pick up their rental cars too (Mallorca is a popular vacation destination!).
After a short delay we were off! Our first stop was in the middle of the island in a small town called, “Petra.” Jason learned that this was the hometown of Father Junipero Serra. For those who live in California, you will know this is the priest that established the many missions that we grew up studying. It was wild for the two of us, who have each toured several California missions, to now visit the hometown of the man who traveled thousands of miles to our hometowns. ☺ And to our surprise, this cute, Spanish town now has much German influence! Mallorca is apparently a favorite cycling destination and especially for German cyclists! We found cyclists all over the Mallorcan roads and especially so in Petra. When we sat at a café in the town’s main square for lunch, we were surrounded by cyclists mostly all speaking German. Even the restaurant signs displaying the menu of the day were part Mallorquin (the official language of the island…which seems to be a dialect of Castillian Spanish), and part German. We laughed and joked, “What would Father Serra think that while he was out west building missions, his hometown was being taken over by the Germans!”
When lunch was done, we hit the road toward our hotel. For the first half of the trip we had decided to stay in the northeastern part of the island, in a small beach-town called, “Port de Pollensa.” We planned for the first half of the vacation to be full of day trips where we would drive to different places on the island and then return to the hotel to relax by the water in the late afternoons. The second half was to be about rest and relaxation where we would turn in the rental car and just enjoy a little downtime.
In Port de Pollensa, we stayed at the Illa d’Or hotel. It turned out nicer than we had expected. It is an older resort, built in 1929, that offers a beachfront bar and restaurant and patio for tanning and relaxing as well as two other pools and nice restaurant. Once we settled in, we didn’t really want to leave!
Day 2 consisted of visiting the market in the town of Pollensa (about a 20 minute drive away from the Port) and exploring the Cape Formentor area in the far northeastern tip of the island. Every Sunday the town of Pollensa is taken over by the Farmer’s market. Each little street and alleyway seems to have a vendor booth selling jewelry, linens, clothing…you name it. By the time we arrived we had about an hour and a half left of shopping and picture taking so we quickly made our way through each of the vendors surveying the goods before making some purchases. I ended up with a new basket (thank you, Jason!) and necklace and Jason bought a bag of fruit! ☺ Afterward, we enjoyed a delicious Italian lunch, toured the rest of the scenic town and then jumped in the car toward Cape Formentor. The guide book said that the Formentor can be compared to the fjords in Norway. We haven’t been there yet, but the dramatic cliffs and mountains that fall right into the sea are absolutely gorgeous! Throughout the drive there are little spots to get out, get another glimpse of the beautiful sights, snap a photo and continue on the with the trip. We did this for the next couple of hours, along the narrow roads and hairpin turns toward the lighthouse at the very edge of Cape Formentor. Even though the drive was a bit nail-biting at times, it was definitely worth it to see the incredible views.
Day 3 was a little bit of a bust. Our guidebook highly suggested two towns in the middle of the island; Inca and Lloseta. Inca is known for being the leather capital of the island and is a must for anyone interested in leather goods. Lloseta was praised for being one of the most beautiful towns on the island and a must see! So we started out on our trek, first toward Inca to get some leather items. Once we arrived, we were highly disappointed. Inca turned out to be a very large, commercial town; not the cute little village town we were anticipating. And unfortunately, it was hard to find any leather shops. We drove around a couple of times and then decided to just give up and head toward Lloseta, which also didn’t live up to our expectations. The town was quite small and didn’t have much of a city center. We also drove around a few times, trying to find the main plaza to park and sight-see, but there didn’t seem to be a central part. It seemed like a small town that you just drive through, so we decided to head back to our hotel to enjoy the rest of the day by the water. We took in some rays on the lounge chairs of the patio in the late afternoon and then enjoyed “High Tea” at around 6:30pm in the evening (everything seems to run late in Spain!).
Day 4 was “Pearls and Cave Day!” Jason really likes caves and there happened to be two on the island for us to go see. We first headed to the town of Manacor to visit the Majorica pearl factory. The island of Mallorca is known for its Majorican pearls and this factory is where they are made. It was quite interesting to see how the pearls are created and processed. We had no idea all that is involved, but very cool to learn. Next it was time for the caves! We started at Cuevas del Drach (Caves of the Dragon) where we were promised a concert inside the cave. After winding through the narrow paths in the darkly-lit cave, you are led to this large seating area near the underground lake. Once everyone is seated they turn out the lights and three rowboats with little white lights along the outside of the boats start coming toward you. The boat in front contained musicians that played songs for us using an organ, violin and cello (we think!). It was beautiful to witness. When the very short concert finished, we were told we could either continue walking on the pathway toward the exit of the cave, or take a boat! Jason and I voted for the boat and were excited to have a ride on the water. That excitement didn’t last too long as we realized that the boat only took us about 30 feet, where we departed the boat and continued walking on the same pathway that the people who opted to walk were already using to exit the cave. Oh well! It was fun anyway.
Once we left that cave, we drove to the Cuevas de Arta, the second cave on the island. We arrived just in the nick of time, as they were just about to start the last tour of the day. This was cave was a bit more fun as you could take pictures, which is something that is not normally allowed in other caves. This cave, however, was a bit more dark and blackened inside as we were told that was from the smoke of torches that were used during the queen’s time long ago. Still it was quite impressive to see and Jason was a happy guy to see two caves in one day!
On Day 5 it was time to leave Port de Pollensa and head toward our next hotel in the southwestern part of the island; just southwest of Palma. To get there we decided to drive along the northwestern perimeter of the island so that we could visit many little towns before returning our rental car and settling into our new hotel.
Our first stop was supposed to be Sa Calabra. This is a little seaport town that in order to get there requires a long drive down the most steep, narrow and curviest road that we had ever been on. And not only do you have to worry about dodging the cyclists that are trying to conquer the road, but you have to avoid the tour buses that are surprisingly able to get around the hair-pin turns. And on our day, we were lucky to have such thick fog you could barely see the cars in front of you. It made for a dicey situation, but that made the adventure so much more fun! And to our surprise, half-way down the road, we came across a film crew that was making a car commercial (it was the perfect road for it!). So we had to stop part way through the trip to wait for all the cars and cyclists to get out of the way before their red sports car took off tackling the turns with the film crew trying to keep up behind them in a truck. It was fun to see, but really not worth the wait! And sadly, once we were able to drive again, we got to the end of the road and discovered that we couldn’t actually get to the beach area of Sa Calabra, unless you parked your car and hiked in to the town. Since we had many more towns to visit and were already behind in schedule, we opted not to hike in to town, made a U-turn and climbed up the curvy road, once again dodging cars, cyclists and buses along the way!
Our next stop was Deia. This, the guidebook promised, was an artist’s paradise. A very scenic town where many artists spend much time painting or writing. This time, the book was right! It was very beautiful!! We stopped for a nice lunch here.
Afterward, we went to Banalbufar, that was even more breathtaking than Deia. In fact, we saw a house that was for sale and to this day, Jason still wants to go back and buy it just so we can stay and relax in Banalbufar!
Our last stop of the day, before going to our new hotel, was Port D’ Andratx. This is a natural fishing port. It was a nice place to roam about, visiting the daily markets to see the catch of the day and peeking in the stores.
Finally, we made it to our hotel; our home away from home for the next four nights. We stayed at the Hospes Maricel, which is a bit extravagant, but we thought it was okay to splurge on our anniversary trip! For the next three days we indulged in total relaxation as we enjoyed resting on the patios that hang over the Mediterranean Sea. It was paradise! We highly recommend this place to everyone!!
Jason & Gina