Today we went looking for a good 7 hills walk. Haven’t perfected it yet but there is some good potential. We’re in a pretty hilly part of Mallorca and so it is easy to find places to go up and down and it is all pretty scenic. We have finally tired though of walking out for 20 minutes in any direction to get anywhere, to buy milk, to do anything, so earlier in the week we broke down and rented a car. It is a wee little thing, a Fiat Panda, that Robert has nicknamed the Fiat Puta, which means fiat whore. We’re all having lots of fun mastering spanish swearing. The “puta” has made a nice difference.
October 2: So today we DROVE into Andraxjt, or some such place. Its a really rizty yachting port with all kinds of snotty restaurants, probably not a place we’ll bother to go back to. The setting is stunning but nothing in the town really worth seeing. Forgot to take a camera though. The only picture that we missed that I regret is when we came back and turned our last corner, the wild rooster that lives in the woods down the street was walking merrily down the sidewalk. We do need to get a picture of the guy who wakes us up every morning.
We’re really enjoying getting to know Kim and her daughter Pacha. The fellow who lives upstairs is this slightly older, rather cultured gent, James Reiley. He’s a published author, ex CEO, entrepreneur type who seems to do a zillion different things, perhaps a true renaissance man I think. He has a great sense of humour and so we’re enjoying only just starting to get to know him a tad. Tonight, Kim and James joined us for a drink on the deck. It was a lovely evening after yet another lovely sunny day here. Last night we walked into our bedroom only to find that the whole floor was covered in water. There had been a dripping noise outside the window most of the time we’ve been here which we assumed was run off from the torrential rain storms that happen quickly and frequently here. Turns out it was broken pipe, now leaking for days or weeks. It has soaked through the wall which is at least if not more than a foot thick. So today the water is turned off while Kim and a neighbour are fixing the pipe. Luckily we had some warning and so we’ve been able to fill containers of drinking/coffee water and water for flushing the toilet. Kim, James and Robert fixed it all this morning so the drink tonight was in honour of the plumbing success.
October 3: Went off to the Santa Maria market today but forgot our camera. When we got home it was perfect swimming weather.
October 4: Didn’t do much of anything today. In fact other than swimming around the point until I almost swam into a small pink jellyfish, I haven’t even left the property.
October 5: Drove into Calvia today to try to get padronada papers or some such thing. Learned a bit about what we need to bring but will have to come back another day to make it happen. That often seems to be the way here. We timed it right as it was the Calvia market which was fun. We didn’t buy much but enjoyed the banter in spanish with the vendors. A group of them had fun with Hannah.
October 6: Not much going on today. Robert and I did a great powerwalk, a new version of the 7 hills with just 6 hills. Then we had a lovely swim to the island across the way. In the evening we dropped Hannah off at soccer practice and drove into Santa Ponca for pizza. We found a lovely restaurant right on the water called Sherezade. The waiters were really nice to me because I tried to speak Spanish. It was a really beautiful setting plus when I ordered a sidre, they brought me a huge bottle.
October 7: Calvia town hall. We got our papers! Another great swim to the island. I almost couldn’t keep up with Robert today. I think he’s been holding out on me all these years as far as swimming goes. The high today is 32.
October 8: Drove into Palma this morning to try to enrol in the Escuela Oficial Idiomas. Classes are full until October 2010 so came home and phoned Rosita in Calvia. We have a first private lesson spanish conversation lesson set up with her for Monday morning. We’ll meet in a bar in Calvia. Had another great swim. Kim and Pacha saw an octopus. I need to learn how to spot them.
Hannah hurt her toe badly last night kicking a soccer ball in the driveway. Today she has realized that she really needs to either make friends or continue to travel.
October 9: Kudos to Barak Obama for the Nobel Peace Prize. It was fun waking up to that here nine hours ahead of Vancouver waking up and finding out. Kudos also to our friend Jan who is the nurse clinician behind the breakthrough on mapping out the chromosomes involved in breast cancer. (Why do just the doctors get all the credit?)
We’re having a pretty lovely time here but just today we’ve started looking for things to do. Robert seems to be missing work a bit as he’s starting to wonder if/how he could be involved in working with people and families. And last night I decided that it is time to get involved with some kind of volunteer work. That could turn out to be more help in learning spanish if I do it right.
Tonight Hannah and I went with Kim into Palma for tapas night. Apparently it is restaurant competition that carries over about 5 or 6 days. Several restaurants get involved and so serve up inexpensive tapas with drinks that you buy, also for less than normal. I don’t know how the competition part of it works, but I don’t believe that part actually involves the drinking public. We just provide the consuming of the drinks and tapas. The food was incredible but the best part was the chance to meet up with other people and socialize.
October 10: We had a great day today hiking from Calvia up to Galilea which is the highest or one of the highest towns here on Mallorca. The hike was hot, steep in places but very pleasant. Galilea is spectacular; a little town nested up on the side of a mountain. We were tired enough when we got there that we didn’t actually explore the whole place and in fact, need to drive back to find out whether or not they have real ice-cream anywhere in town. But the experience was great. When we arrived we were lucky enough to get a table in a little bar which overlooked the valley we had just walked across.
October 11: Started the day with Hannah’s first soccer game of the season…. not a great game all in all. Great energy on the part of the very new team, but not much success as they were teenagers playing a clearly very experienced team on which many of the players were adult women. It is curious how soccer is organized (not organized here?). There doesn’t seem to be any divisions or leveling. Who knew that we needed to be asking for an “equipo de mujer” rather than an “equipo de chicas” (would that be an equipa then?). Needless to say, Hannah had a great workout.
The picture of the day here is for James as both times that we’ve walked this stretch here in Palma Nova we’ve thought about how much we’d enjoy having you here with us. It is so BRITISH that is just seems out of place here in Spain. I think we’ll come here after particularly “language challenging” days when we are feeling discouraged and need to think we’re able to transport out of Spain.
October 12: Tried to meet up with a spanish teacher in Calvia this morning but alas, yet another miscommunication, probably poor understanding on my part, meant that it just didn’t happen. So here we are feeling a little caught with the struggle of what this year is all about. If we’re holidaying then site seeing, market chasing and relaxing by the water are all ok. If we’re getting on with life, then that gets tiring and we want to be getting connected to community.
October 13: Intended to get out to visit a school this morning but so far haven’t left the property other than for a swim to the far end of the island, this time with Kim as well as Robert. That was a bit scarier for me though as it is more across the “open water”. When we came back, we sat in the sun and talked about food until we were all good and hungry. Kim made a lovely lunch, followed by great coffee, Pacha went off to class, Kim to work and Robert and I stretched out on the lounge on Kim’s deck. It is hard to get motivated to do much in such a beautiful place.
October 14: Just a stay at home day today. The weather is much cooler and it feels like fall is arriving so we’re wondering if this is where we want to be for the winter. Robert and I still ventured out for a swim but then felt chilled pretty much the rest of the day. Robert made the first fire in our fireplace and it helped a bit. Eventually we took Cobo and walked into town trying to warm up.
October 15: Today we decided to go into Palma and drop by Marta’s shop, a beautiful little store called Natura right in one of the cities main plaças, Plaça de la Reina. Unfortunately Marta wasn’t in, so after circling around the store twice and lots of practicing in my head, I worked up the nerve to ask the sales person to tell Marta we’d been there. I think I got most of it right and did indeed get the message across, although I still have a hard time having people answer me back in Spanish. After that rather stressful adventure we needed a coffee and Hannah finally found a bar that served chocoate caliente, the really good thick hot chocolate that they make here. From there we wandered off and browsed the streets. Robert found a great hamburger stand, then I found a crepe stand. I bought a cozy pair of Mallorcan slippers and and we were leaving we stumbled across this great looking restaurant/bar that made us think of Terry. We didn’t eat at it, but it looked perfect.
October 16: Our mission of the day was to find Hannah new soccer cleats as her old “lucky” cleats have completely split on one side. It took three stores, lots of driving and venturing into new territory, but we found some at a reasonable cost that will do for now. Afterwards we wandered the narrow alleyways of Palma. I’m actually starting to be able to find my way around a little bit.
When we came home Robert and I went for a swim to the island. Hannah stayed behind to work on school work and managed to take this picture of us swimming. The next one will be better though because she’s learned that she can take pictures through the binoculars.
October 17: Today we drove back up to Soller to catch the market there. Then we retraced our route through Deiá but this time stopped to hike. We parked on the roadside and took the 30 minute path, down and around then back up into town, all in sandals I might add (not necessarily a smart thing to do on this island as the paths are pretty rocky and rough.) The route was beautiful though and Deiá even more stunning then on our first drive through. It really is important to walk through all of these towns. Afterwards we decided to walk back to our car on the road which is dangerously narrow and not at all meant for pedestrians, but luckily our car via the highway was actually only 5 minutes from town, despite the 30 minute hike on the trail.
From there we drove on to Valdemossa to find ice cream and treats. The ice cream wasn’t great but we managed to lose ourselves in the alleyways that are the town. We had fun getting lost and found some other poor couple trying to follow us out. We all laughed when they realized as we led them back out of someone’s backyard chicken coop that we were even more lost than they were. On the way back to civilization we stumbled across a chocolatier and then a lovely bakery. We’ll definitely head back to Valdemossa again soon.
October 18: Had intended to head out to hike this morning but we woke up to winter trying to settle in so we stayed home for the morning and then headed out to Marta’s for lunch knowing it would be warm at least in her house. In the end the day cleared up and we were able to sit outside in the sun for an absolutely delicious lunch at Marta’s. She does this cheese bread bowl appetizer with a mix of different cheeses and four kinds of mustard melted into a bowl of bread. Following that we had meatballs and salad. I had a horrific spanish day and felt that everything I tried to say came out slow and backwards but I am loving getting to know Marta, and we do that best by continuing to forge ahead even in our bad spanish. The benefit of keeping her in the conversation keeps me trying.
October 19: Swam to the island with Kim but the jelly fish were out. Kim got stung three times, and this after having been “attacked” by a rather unusually friendly octopus just three or four days ago. Hannah needed to get science work caught up and had her first online class tonight. During her soccer practice Robert and I walked and found an old tomb site from 850 BC, a Talayotic burial chambers called a Talayot right in Son Ferrar. The history here all around us is great. This particular site was a lot between two houses, just a part of the neighbourhood.
October 20: Today we decided to just go driving and exploring the island which took us to Puigpunyent, a scenic village where we stopped for coffee and treats and ended up talking with Toby Taylor, a musician turned language teacher, on his first day of the opening of his new language school in town. We so enjoyed meeting him and his wife Paola and hearing a little about of life in rural Mallorca. On his advice we ventured from there on to an incredibly exciting drive to Esporles, up over a little known mountain pass with incredible unmarked switchbacks such as probably don’t exist in many other places. I was grateful to have Robert doing the driving. I wish though that we had a picture of the very fit, composed cyclist that we met at the summit who was neither breathing hard, nor sweating at all. In fact, I think he was less stressed having cycled up than we were driving up. I couldn’t help but think that this must be training ground for Tour de France cyclists; I wish I’d been able to hear this guy’s story. We took a zillion pictures in the town and again on the road. The olive trees, the curving, winding roads, the splendid stone sculpture like walls, the estates, the vines, the terraced hills, the clay tiles, the shuttered windows, the iron gates, the potted plants, the flowers and the mountain and ocean vistas all make great photographic fodder. Clearly though Hannah needs a real camera.
At Banyalbufar we stopped and “hiked” down the village street, straight down not far from rock climbing style, to the public beach about a kilometer and a half below the town. Then we scrambled back up as our exercise for the day. Again, more amazing vistas, eye-catching terraced hills, charming shuttered houses, doorways. It goes on and on with lovely hotels and cafes. Every direction that you turn are more tantalyzing images. I thought we’d seen enough as we piled back in the car to head towards Andratx, the coast road to the south which Toby had recommended we avoid, only to find yet more to stop and look at, a turret like the one on our island, that we could climb up in, a little further on, wild goats on the road, more amazing ocean views and even the view as we drove into Andratx. By the time we got home though we’d all had too much time in the car and so Robert and I split up the driving to and from Hannah’s soccer practice.
October 21: The real excitment from today is that Rafa has arrived. Rafa is Kim’s husband and Pacha’s dad. It was so fun to meet him after coming to know Pacha and Kim so well over these last weeks. We’re looking forward to getting to know him better before we leave.
The other thing of note is that today we started off the morning with our first official spanish lesson with Pacha as our teacher. We managed to last the whole hour and didn’t ever have to ask Pacha to repeat things anymore than three or four times; of course usually one of those retellings was in english rather than spanish but we’re getting there.
Towards the end of the day, as it was one of the first that Robert hasn’t been swimming at all, he and I went walking up through the woods to an old abandoned fort about 10 minutes away. Neither of us had a camera and so there are no pictures of it as yet but we’ll definitely be returning before we leave as it has become a true gallery of graffiti art. I’m dying to learn the history of the fort itself as the layout is intriguing and creepy all at the same time. Hopefully more on it another day.
October 22: Today it is stormy and rainy, despite the weather forecast for sunshine. There are real waves crashing up on the beach below. But it is Thursday and so we drove in the wind and squalling rain to Inca to catch the Inca Market which we’ve been meaning to do for several weeks now. It is one of the markets written up as being worth visiting and clearly it was bigger than some. We went expecting some good leather products though as we understood Inca to be one of the leather manufacturing centers here on the island. The market disappointed us in that sense although Hannah did manage to find a beautiful leather jacket for just 30 euros which was quite the find considering that we were puddle jumping, dodging umbrellas, dancing around flash floods of water pouring off tent awnings and ducking under cover as each new squall of rain screamed through. The rain is warm it so it wasn’t unpleasant and the chatter, smells, crush of people and amazing sights just all so worth absorbing.
From there we rushed into Palma to catch our newest friend Marian before she went for lunch at 3. Marian is the travel agent whose patience with us incredible. We admire so much the sense of importance that she gives to us whenever we sit down to work with her. Like the market vendors for whom you wait your turn, with Marian when she turns her attention to us we feel as though we are all that matters to her. If we learn nothing else about spanish culture from our time here, to take away this sense of how to make friends, colleagues, and aquaintances feel so valued and important, would be well worth our time spent here.
October 23: Today we went hiking from Alaro. No single picture does justice to the day which included a drive up the scariest, narrow winding gravel road to a lovely old restaurant from time gone by. (I’m still working on a little slide show of some of the fabulous pictures that Hannah took with Rafa’s good camera. I’ll post it on best of the trip when it’s done.) From there the hike is up an old road to an old stone fort perched strategically across the top of the mountain. This was built to provide views up the two valleys up the island, for protection. The place pulses with history, no signs or written details but clear evidence from the amazing location, the stone steps, the tower window, the slots in the gate entrance for bows, the old well, the chapel…. on and on. One wishes the stones and old trees sheep could talk. We paused in the bar at the very top for a drink and then hiked back down to the restaurant for a delicious and leisurely lunch before driving back down to home.
October 24: We had a great day today cycling in Palma. We’ve been talking about doing this ever since we arrived an only realized as we got going that for Hannah it was all about doing a photoshoot now that she has the right leather jacket and cool looking sunglasses. (To view the photoshoot photos see Hannah’s Photoshoot in Best of the trip Photos. My apologies for not having added music to the slides. If you have it, turn on Queen’s version of bicycle race while you view.) And what better place to do it than in the beautiful, winding, narrow streets of Palma. We had fun searching out perfect locations, doing the various shoots and then cycling for miles off along the water all the way almost to Arenal way out past the airport.
We arrived back at the end of the day to dinner downstairs with the Argentinian contingent. Sergio, who is not from Argentina, made a huge platter of pallea and told wonderful tales of life at sea. He was also a great joke teller, both in Spanish and English. We also met Lucho, his son Mariano and daughter Maru. Robert played guitar and with Kim’s help got most of us singing bits of songs that we sort of knew the words to. It was a really great evening.
October 25: Soccer game in Arenal and what a surprise to find that the whole country had changed off of daylight saving without our knowing about it. Ah, to not understand the language.
October 26: Ventured into Magaluf to get rates from the postoffice for shipping things home. All in all another slow day spent mostly at home.
October 27: A day of rest. Actually we packed a box of stuff to ship home and that took us most of the day. Had a great swim, finally made it to the hotel down the way without a single jelly fish spotting.
October 28: Andratx market and Sant Elm, all after a second swim down to the hotel. The cliffs along the shore are fabulous to swim along.
October 29: Robert and I decided to leave Hannah at home today so that she could work on school work while he and I went into Palma. We had two “missions”: Robert needed a new pair of clip on sunglasses and we wanted to catch up with Marian as we’re working out details for an upcoming trip to Madrid. We parked a ways from the center of town where the parking is free and so had a long walk in. It was a good day for walking, not too hot but pleasant. We found an optician’s shop pretty quickly and they agreed to make lenses on the spot for his old, good quality clipons, if we went to their other location. So we detoured around Plaça Major and then spent about 45 minutes hanging around some lovely lively shops while they were being made. I had a lot of fun because I’m finally getting a good sense of where everything is in town. I love being able to wind my way through all the various alleyways and know where I’m at when I get to the other end. After the lenses were done, we made our way back to Marian’s but she was busy so we wandered on back to the car. I was worried that Hannah would be worried about us as we’d been away probably twice as long as expected, but when we got home, Hannah had accomplished a lot of schoolwork and was quite content just being on her own. All in all, it was really a nice day.
October 30: Robert and I had our longest swim yet. The water was perfectly calm and quite clear and so we decided to try swimming over the little beach where we started off swimming from when we first arrived. We’d done the part to the hotel several times before but the part beyond that was a little longer than we expected. It felt exhilarating to swim the distance though. Later in the day I drove Hannah over to the fancy school in town so she could meet up with friends. I’m excited for her that she gets a night out. Robert and I spent the evening walking into Sant Augusti to try out an East Indian restaurant there.
October 31: Today was a fantastic day. We hiked up Puig de Galatzó (elevation 1025 m) and had tea along with a lovely hot lunch which Neil cooked for us at the summit.
It was an invigorating climb which took us the better part of the day. We loved meeting Emma and Neil, two amazing people who run a very different type of tour business called “Based on a True Story“. If we ever win a lottery we’re definitely hiring them to plan our celebration trip.
The hike took us to the peak, which was rocky and barren very high up.
The peak has the potential for amazing views; apparently you can see 360 degrees including Palma and then all the way over to the west coast of the island. It would be spectacular on a cloudless day. Interestingly we were well above the clouds which made it hot and just a wee bit spooky. It was all well worth the effort.
In the end we had to push a little to get down in time to pick up Hannah from Marta’s and then get her to her soccer game. After soccer there was a little bit of Hallowe’en happening, a few fireworks and such, but nothing like the scale at home. Hannah was on Facebook with her friends as they were getting ready for Hallowe’en but seemed to survive missing yet another Canadian holiday.