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A Recap : The Journey Thus Far – Jun 23, Tue
In Barcelona, we have pondered upon the options of 123451, 152341, and 143251. We chose the first option because it was the only option that gave us a coastal drive opportunity from Barcelona to Valencia. On top of that, I suppose as in any holiday trip, people do get tired and yearn for ‘home-sweet-home’ towards the end of the trip. So I thought, maybe ending our holiday in a beach resort so totally different from the rest of our trip is like a holiday from a holiday, a nice breakaway from the days of the museums and monuments, big cities and highways.
The cost of flying from Madrid to Mallorca was 81€ per person, taxes and service fee included. From Mallorca to Barcelona cost less. It was 64€. SpanAir is a decent budget airline. And we booked our tickets through Vueling.com.
A Lazy Morning in Madrid
We got out of our hotel pretty early in the morning. And in the early morning, there was little activity in the street of Madrid. We took a slow walk along the street named Gran Vía, picked one cosy restaurant for our breakfast. By now, we were more localized. Dining outdoor is more expensive than dining indoor is more expensive than dining at the bar. So we took up the seats by the bar and ordered our breakfast.
The barman was a Pakistani and has stayed in Spain for four years. We talked about his job, he told us how little Spanish he knew prior to moving to Spain, and that is inspiring. What brave soul he is to travel afar and start a new life in a foreign county. Cynthia and I too are learning Spanish. And we would be very much delighted if we could hold a decent conversation in Spanish, after 4 years.
As we chatted, I looked ahead and intrigued by the orange juice making machine that is commonly found in Spain. Our barman tossed the oranges into the top of the machine. One by one, the oranges were cut into half, squeezed by two orange color plastic looking rotating balls, and the juice came out from the machine as the left over fell through into the bin. Neat device! I could stare at it for hours. My glass of orange juice tasted so fresh.
Soon, a Spanish lady entered and the barman and her engaged in some Spanish conversation. Amazing. I too want to be soaked into the Spanish culture for four straight years. We tipped him as we left the restaurant. Walked into a shop and I bought tons of T-shirts. I love T-shirts.
Into the Madrid Airport
Initially we thought we would need to take a taxi from our hotel to the airport. But since we were into adventure, we took a train instead. Not a bad choice as it was affordable (2€ per person) and fast (20 minutes). At the SpanAir counter, we were issued with two boarding passes, with the gate number written as “D64?”. What is it with the question marks that we so often see flying in Europe? It didn’t hit me until …
We had our lunch at the airport, jamón (ham) sandwich with sparkling water. Learned from our little episode at the Frankfurt airport, we arrived at the gate early. And in order to kill time, I continued reading the book Arthas (managed to finish it before landing). As the clock ticked, the gate remained empty. Not a good sign! Quickly, I got up and checked the monitor. OK, they had changed the gate number. We sighed and time to dash across the airport, again.
Now you know why there is a question mark behind the gate number, on our boarding passes. No one seems to know where exactly the gate of departure is, until the very last moment.
A 150 km Drive from the Mallorca Airport to Our Hotel
What can I say, what can I say? Life as such. As Cynthia sank lower and lower onto passenger seat, feeling bad that we would need to spend so much time on the road because of a tiny mistake, I gently patted her head and gave her a smile. It was pretty hilarious. Something we would joke about for years to come.
Above is the map of the beach resort island Mallorca. Point A is Palma, where the airport is. Point B is Cala Ratjada, where Hotel Mar Azul is. I can understand why Cynthia thought we had booked our hotel at Mar Azul. It is a highly rated hotel, by the sea, and we wrote to inquire about room availability when we were in Valencia. What she did not remember – and I did not bother to remember – was that the hotel was full, on that particular day. And we have booked Hotel Sol Trinidad (point C) instead.
So we drove 70km from Palma airport to Cala Ratjada, with a rental car. What a beautiful view! We found a parking lot, by the street, not too far away from Hotel Mar Azul. And we were happy. Unloaded our baggage from the car and at the hotel counter, we were told that they had not received our booking from Booking.com. Strange. But the good news was, there was a room available!
Sweet. Now could we borrow an Internet connection to double check on our booking? Not a problem, said the hotel staffs. To my horror, we did not book Hotel Mar Azul! Instead, it was Hotel Sol Trinidad near the airport. Duh! The hotel staffs were very nice and sympathetic. “Next time maybe?” they asked. “Certainly!” we answered.
On that day, I suddenly remembered Paulo Coelho‘s “The Alchemist”. The main character of that book traveled around the world only to find what he was looking for was right where he started – his home. Time to do a U-turn and headed back to the airport.
Hotel Sol Trinidad at Magalluf
Driving in Mallorca was a pleasant and enjoyable experience. Lots of little roundabouts and that reminded me of the island resort Mauritius near Africa (where I have worked for 77 days). The sky was blue, the sea was blue, and day one of Mallorca had turned into some sort of road trip. As we entered into Magalluf, we drove aimlessly trying to find our hotel. An approach consistent with how we locate our hotels in Spain thus far. Random encounter, an element of uncertainty with the mentality of worse come to worse, we would sleep inside the car.
No, we didn’t get to sleep inside the car. Not that dramatic, thank God. We found the hotel; Cynthia got off the car and checked in. When she returned, she showed me a little key and said, “We have the key to the garage!”
Wonderful! OK, where was the hotel car park?
Cynthia vaguely remembered the direction, I followed her vaguely remembered direction, and we circled the entire neighborhood for God knows how many rounds. Combing through block by block looking for that “blue gate”. Eventually, we found it. Ironically, it was right next to the hotel and we needed to drove onto the pedestrian walkway to reach the entrance. How tiny the car park was! Only 9 slots were available.
A Walk by the Beach
Hotel Sol Trinidad is like a youth hostel. So full of youngsters, from Europe, mostly from UK I reckon. Guys and girls in beachwear by day, and in sexy party outfits in the evening. Girls gathered at the hotel entrance. At times, some guys would try to make a conversation with the girls and the girls would give that whatever-look. Some guys at the hotel balcony would randomly shout at the people on the street, by names, making a lot of noise.
Hand in hand, Cynthia and I took a slow walk along the beach, next to our hotel. Along the beach was a long stretch of restaurants and shops. We saw English menu everywhere. In fact, we saw English flag flying high in some restaurants. If we have not been to Mallorca and if we were to be magically put into this beach resort, we would not have thought that Mallorca is a Spanish territory.
We Dined and Planned
When we ordered our meal in Spanish, the owner of the restaurant was delighted. Probably surprised to see two Asians speaking, or attempting to speak Spanish, in a beach resort that almost everyone – local or foreigner – speaks English.
Over dinner, we planned what to do in our next few days of visit. We picked the tourist spots from the guidebook, and from the brochures we have collected at the airport’s tourist information center earlier on. And we marked these must-see locations onto the map. After some detail planning (more like random planning), we have decided to cover the northern and eastern part of Mallorca tomorrow, western and southern the day after next, and the city center on the last day of our trip.
But of course, like every other plan we have, it all changed when we hit the road on the next day. And that is another story for another day.
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PS. Thank your for reading our journal and feel free to drop a comment or two. You may wish to view our photo collection for day 10 too.