Mallorca May Be My New Favorite Spanish City

Trip Start May 04, 2011
Trip End Oct 08, 2012

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Where I stayed
Pablo and Sergio's House

Flag of Spain  , Balearic Islands,
Thursday, June 2, 2011

Of course the day that I am departing Colonia and heading to Palma, the sun is out. With no time to even take a photo, I grabbed the 9:35AM bus to Palma in the nick of time where I was scheduled to meet up with a new friend Juan who I met on a bus from Essaouira, Morocco to Fes. Juan is a proud Mallorquino in his mid-60s and has been a tour guide his whole life. Fortunately for me he had free time on Thursday to expose me to his homeland. The one thing I hadn't secured was a place to stay until my phone rang at that very moment, as Juan and I were exploring options in the pouring rain. I answered the phone thrilled to receive a call from Pablo a Couchsurfer responding to my request. He actually called to tell me that because of a party in his place the night before which left his house in a bit of a mess, he wouldn’t be able to host me but could meet up later for drinks. With the elements as they were and with limited time to see Mallorca, I convinced him to let me drop my bags off at his place and potentially spend the night, since I would be leaving early the next morning.

In the meantime, we killed two birds with one stone: Juan went for his car so he could drive me up to Valledemossa and the car would give us a place to store the luggage until we had a solution. In the pouring rain, we ascended up the mountain to this 10th century city, currently most known for the fact that Michael Douglas owns a home there. After visiting the well preserved Cartuj Monastery that doubles as the Chopin museum, I can certainly understand why Michael Douglas would chose here to buy a home. The real reason is credited to the fact that his wife’s family lives here.

The quaint town and its history are also the perfect setting for road cyclists. It is probably the same base for Trek's tours in this region. I saw several crazy cyclists managing with their maps through the rain, all the while grateful that I made the decision I did, to not join the riding camp.

I guess the fact that I couldn’t stop obsessing over how great the riding must be here is what inspired Juan to gift me a laminated map of all the cycling routs in Mallorca. So all you cyclists let’s plan a trip down the road and screw paying a company to organize it for us.

Juan and I spoke of the adventures of traveling alone and the life of a backpacker as we descended back into the city center to meet up with Sergio. I dropped off my suitcase at Sergio and Pablo’s in Plaza Patines, just 200 meters from Plaza Espanya where the airport bus lets off. It was now 3:00PM and time for lunch. Sergio and I ordered a couple of menus del dia of rotisserie chicken, stuffed squash, couscous and custard for dessert. Sergio is another native Mallorquino and at 23yrs. is quite mature for his age. He speaks perfect English because he attended a private English school growing up and he is a bit of a music connoisseur.

After lunch I explored the city wishing I had spent a few days prior here. It is a substantial size city with charming little streets lined with the classic balconies and cute shops and cafes. I spent a little time admiring the cathedral from outside with the port in front of me and desiring a photo of the two together from across the port. This mission had me on a bus heading to the actual port where the cruise ships dock. Following all of the cruise ship patrons rushing back from the mall in fear of missing the boat, I subconsciously got off the bus prematurely. A half hour wasted I finally found a public walk up Dic del Oeste to a military base where I was able to climb up on a fence and get a small window of a view of the sea and cathedral in the distance. Not quite worth the trek but humorous none the less.

It was so nice to be to be back in a metropolitan city with people crowding the streets as the weekend was upon us. Around 8:00PM I finally met Pablo, the host. He is a super nice guy, from Cordoba, Argentina, living 10 years or so in Palma. He is the type of guy that loves to entertain and host others. It was too bad I wasn’t there the night before for their little soiree. Tonight’s plan was to grab tapas and see a Reggae band. Here was one of those ideal moments reminding me why I am taking this trip. Present was Pablo, Sergio, Neus and myself having a philosophical conversation, when two other Couchsurfers arrived to retrieve their bags. These two brunette 19 year-old girls from Santander were attempting the move I just made. They had left their bags there earlier in the day as well, thinking if they flash their sad eyes at Pablo he would succumb to letting them stay the night. These airheads made for good entertainment. Their age was obviously the factor, especially when they admitted to not knowing Bob Marley. Neus and I were in hysterics as the guys did their best to be cordial, but nobody could stand their childishness. With dibs on the one couch, there wasn’t room for all three of us. We bid them good riddance as they stormed out with their pink suitcases.

Around 10:30PM we motivated over to Vamp to catch the mediocre Reggae band housed in an old Molina. Another American friend of Pablo and Sergio, Caroline Kelly, joined us for a bite. The band played and Pablo and I danced until I hit my wall around 1:00AM. Pablo actually plays the Saxophone Alto and is really good. The base player of the Reggae band and owner of the bar invited him to come up on stage and jam with them, unfortunately Pablo didn’t bring his horn.

I was up early the next morning to catch the 11:00AM flight to Barcelona with a 3:20PM flight from there to Cairo. Unfortunately, the 11:00AM flight on SpanAir was cancelled causing me to miss my flight with Egypt Air. Since the two flights were not connected, it cost me $260 bucks to rebook the flight for the next day. Let’s just say that I spent a good three hours in the airport trying to figure out a plan. Do I go on a 5:30PM flight to Barcelona, deal with the hassle of commuting within Barcelona and intrude on Elspeth again or call Pablo and Sergio and enjoy the night in Mallorca. I was welcomed with open arms back to Plaza Patines after dealing with some logistics and a siesta; Caroline and I went skirt shopping. Caroline has been in Palma for 2.5 years on a teaching scholarship and now goes back to Kentucky for grand school at Boston University, so she had nothing she had to do. We were on a mission to find me a hippie style long skirt sufficient for Egypt and below $15. It was not an easy task to say the least. She escorted me to H&M and then a few others; the equivalents of Gap, Old Navy and one that reminded us of Abercrombie & Fitch. Ironically we had just been discussing how terrible the A&F marketing is since they started pumping their suffocating cologne through the ventilation system and playing heart beating music. Honestly, I have to avoid even walking by their stores because of the power of that offensive scent. Caroline had our system in place; we became pros on the scout when we finally found a suitable option of a short dress with an elastic top, if pulled down to my waist, and would have to suffice.

We even managed to squeeze in the market for me to pick up lunch and snacks for my full day in the airport tomorrow, before getting back to the house to accompany Pablo to his band practice. Once again due to logistics of travel planning, I got stuck on hold with the agency for a half hour which meant skipping the jam session. So Caroline, Sergio and I took advantage of the evening to wander a little more of the city, simultaneously discussing photography and learning how to work my camera.

We landed at Tapas Boya, one of their favorite spots for some yummy tapas and vino. Around 10:30PM Pablo and his friend Marta from Madrid joined us. And before long we were all in tow to a little get together with some other musicians. It was such a treat to hang out with everyone and get to observe the Spanish culture that I love so much. I mostly admired Elena preparing an assortment of dishes to serve with such calm as she mingled and managed everyone. Marta brought David and a bottle of Vodka and was sure that everyone was good with a drink. Juan, Luis and Bernardo strummed the guitars while Pablo made use of the flute. We talked about different indie music festivals like their version of Coachella called Primavera Sound and Caroline and reminisced about Lollapalooza and SXSW.

I was surprisingly still wide awake even though tomorrow was going to be a 6:00AM wake up call. Seizing every experience, which is part of what this trip is about, I was convinced into joining David and Pablo on a ride to a practice studio so the two could jam together. It was fun to see Pablo play the sax but we needed a few other musicians to make the amplifier worth turning on. By 2:30AM we were back in the car and home.

I slept about two hours before the 6:00AM alarm sounded and Pablo made sure that I was awake. The doll that he is, only getting three hours sleep himself and working all week, he offered to take me to the airport. His positive attitude that everything will work itself out in Egypt and beyond endorsing Couchsurfing the entire time, was exactly what I needed to find peace in yesterday’s situation.
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