Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Days 1 & 2 - [almost] Winter in Mallorca

OK, the fun has begun!  We left home at 9:00 AM Sunday and arrived in Mallorca at 3:00 PM Monday.  Three flights, two layovers, and 12 hours of flying later we finally made it.  We were exhausted, hungry, and very excited.  We’ve decided that cruising to vacation sure beats flying there!

Our hotel is nice and conveniently located on the main street in downtown Palma just a block from the bus and train station.  It’s across the street from Placa Espana – which is an area like Denver’s 16th Street Mall or Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall.  Lots of quaint little cafes, pizzerias, gelato and bakery shops, with stores sprinkled in.

 It’s really hard to resist all the pastries and sweets.  They look sooooo yummy!  I’ll probably have to try one before we leave here.  I don’t know how I’ll choose just one, though!

 We were in bed by 6:30 PM – so tired we could hardly function any more.  We slept until 9:00 AM!!  We had breakfast at – Burger King.  Breakfast doesn’t seem to be a main meal here.  None of the cafes had anything except pastry, and I need protein to get my motor started.  The weather has been great.  Temps in the low 70's with mostly sunny skies and humidity at 60%.  A slight breeze was almost chilly in the shade but felt good in the sun.

We were headed off to Valldemossa (pronounced Vie-duh-MO-suh) by noon – by bus.  It cost  6.60 Euros for the round trip for both of us – super cheap deal.  Its 17 miles driving through beautiful country full of olive and almond orchards, wooded mountain areas with large boulders, and then into the village of 1,300 people.

Valldemossa is where Chopin spent the winter of 1838-39 with his lover, authoress George Sand, and her two children.  They stayed in an abandoned monastery built in 1399 (the bell tower is visible in the photo above).  The site has been well preserved and is a lovely museum filled with their relics and other interesting items of that era.  She wrote "Winter in Majorca" and another novel there.  There are many displays of her writing and his compositions.  The piano Chopin used to compose all of the Etudes, the Polonaise in C minor, Mazurca in E minor, Scherzo in C sharp minor, Ballade in F minor, and the Military Polonaise in A major is the featured attraction.  A huge item on my “bucket list” was to visit there and see this piano.  I was struck by how small the keyboard was.  All 88 keys were there, but they were smaller than the keys on modern pianos.  Everything I had read in my research said you were allowed to touch it.  So I did.  Bruce thought the lady in charge was going to cut off my hand and display it next to the cast of Chopin’s hand.  Ooops!  Too late.  I TOUCHED IT!!  It was amazing.  I could feel the vibes.  I’d do it again.  And I’d say that my hand is almost exactly the same size and shape as Chopin’s.  I was shocked at how small his hand was and how boney his fingers were.  I took a photo of the cast of his hand and his funerary mask. I got severely scolded for that, too.  Wow, I’m on a roll for being the “bad American tourist”.  Luckily they didn’t toss me out of there.

The patios off each "cell" of the monastery were so beautiful.  No wonder they were inspired to write and compose such works of art.  The view from there was breathtaking.  I took over 100 pictures and it’s hard to choose what to show you.

 We toured the entire monastery, listened to a short live concert of his music played in a small auditorium, and soaked up every inch of the place.  Then we walked around the town.  I felt so at home there – like déjà vu experiences.  The architecture, the rich colors and textures, and the quaintness make it one of my favorite places. 

 We got back to Palma in time for dinner.  We’re somewhat confused by Mallorcan food.  They seem to only eat pizza, bocadillos (like sub sandwiches), pastry, and gelato.  Somehow they stay slim on this diet.  I hope I do, too!  On every block there is a pharmacy, a pizzeria, and a bocadillo shop with pastry and gelato.  We had pizza tonight.  Tomorrow we’ll try the bocadillo, although a sandwich with lunch meat and thick bread is not my first choice for food.  But when in Spain, eat as the Spaniards eat, I guess.  It’s worth trying anyway.  

The people are friendly and so laid back.  Almost everyone speaks English.  We noticed that they amble along very slowly and seem to be present in every moment.   That's admirable, except I'm a super fast walker.  I think this might be a reminder that I need to slow down to their pace instead of trying to out-walk them.  Or perhaps they're just enjoying their cigarettes.  Yes, everyone and their brother's dog smokes here.  Smoke and I are completely incompatible and my poor sinuses choke on every whiff of it I get.  That's my only complaint so far.  It's as bad as Fiji was.

Tomorrow’s plans are still undecided.  We’ll probably go to the harbor, and then maybe get a pass for the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus and tour the area.  Or maybe we’ll go back to Valldemossa and see the palace that we missed.  Honestly, I couldn't get enough of that beautiful village.  Stay tuned to find out how we like our bocadillo, too!


  1. Very cool Jan. I've always enjoyed Europe. I'm glad you are too. Maybe one day I'll make it to Spain. I'm hoping for Italy in 2013. Want to come with me?

  2. I'm going to remind you Jan, s l o w d o w n ;-)