Saturday, 19 September 2009
Friday was our last full day in Mallorca. We decided that we wanted a very quiet day, so we didn't adventure out much. After a very late morning, Peter went out into the garden and read, and read, and read! He finished his books so he started to read the book I had brought (and not read) and when they were all finished he moved onto audio books on his MP3 player. While he was doing that I was indoors out of the sun mostly downloading photos from camera and updating my blog. Even though I was indoors, I still had an amazing view of the mountains and enjoyed seeing it in with the sunshine, without the chance of getting burned. Later in the afternoon Peter even managed another swim, but it was still way to cold for me to go in. I also wasn't too happy about the mouse (or possible baby rat) that was found in the bottom of the pool. YUCK! In the early evening, once Peter had dried off from his swim, we went for another short walk of the local area. We took a different route from the one earlier in the week to check out the local "caves" from which the area is named after "Ses Coves". They are very small compared to what we saw earlier in the week and also chained off so you cant get too close. They were used at various times as pirate hideaways and wine cellars. One of them still contains an ancient wine-press. Also on the walk we saw lost more trees including pomegranate, fig, lemon and olive. We walked pass the old town well up to the top of the road. From there were some wonderful views of the valley and also some more examples of terraces along the hillside. At this point we were at the edge of the forest area. We were told by our host that it is hunting season, and we shouldn't go into the forest. At this point we turned around and headed back to pack, have a light dinner followed by fresh plum pie with cream and an early night.
We woke up early on Saturday to have our last ensaimada and coffee as we enjoyed the last view of the mountains. Then it was into the car for our last drive into Palma and to the airport. It was a quiet ride as Peter and I tried to take in all of the view for the last time. We watched the mountains, orchards, palm trees and windmills all roll by. The old windmills are a big part of the island's history. Some dating back to the 17th century used by farmers for grinding grain and water pumps. The ones by the airport are mostly used as water pumps. The area just outside Palma is below sea level and the windmills there were mainly used to pump water into reservoir. Most of the windmills are in disarray, but due to the historical significance of them the government has started a restoration project. Then the short car journey was over. Our hosts dropped us off at the airport and after a quick adios, we were on the plane home! We want to say a big thank you to our friends who were great hosts. We certainly had an amazing holiday and hope you all enjoyed sharing it with us.
Friday, 18 September 2009
After a very late night on Wednesday, Thursday morning was a very relaxed time. We had an early lunch of wonderfully cooked pork belly with crackling served with gravy, roasted red peppers and roasted potatoes. After lunch we had to take our host son back to the airport, so while in Palma we were given a quick running through tour. We started off at the Palma Cathedral also called La Seu and is of french Gothic style. The story behind the construction of the Cathedral is that in 1229 Jaime I was returning to Mallorca with his troops in order to recapture the island. On the way they ran into a terrible storm, fearing for the lives of himself and his troops Jaime I vowed to build a church in honour of the Virgin Mary if they survived. He never saw the final edifice. Although he laid the foundation stone in 1229, construction continued until 1601, with further alterations continuing until 1904. It is made of golden sandstone is 121m long and 51m high. In the museum there are two large 18th Century Baroque silver candelabras, weighing 250 kg each, by the artist Juan Matons. Over the Capilla Real is the 14th Century Rose Window, which is one of the worlds largest Gothic Church windows, at over 2.55m. It is filled with very impressive stain glass windows all along the cathedral.
After the Cathedral we walked along some of the old back streets of the city to the City Hall in the Plaça de Cort. Just inside the City Hall are "The Gegants i Capgrossos" ("The Giants"), which are figures that come out when there is a celebration in the town and are dressed in typical Mallorquin folk dress. Just across the street from the City Hall in the Plaça de Cort is a wonderful old olive tree. The age of the tree is uncertain but it several hundreds of years old and still producing olives. We then traveled through the pedestrian old street with all the shops to the main square of the city the Placa de Marques de Palmer. Then back down to the sea front and back to the car. We then we a car tour along the harbour and up into the residential part of the city. Then up into the hills to Castell de Bellver which was built in the 14th century and is unique as a Spanish castle because it is round. "Bellver" means lovely view, and there certainly was one from there of the Bay of Palma.
That evening was another quiet one with a light dinner of cold cuts, salad and unsalted brown bread.
Wednesday, was our anniversary and we were left to our own devices by our hosts. We left early in the morning by bus to the local train station in Santa Maria and took the train to a little town called Sineu. On Wednesdays they have a market the oldest of the island. There has always been a market here since 1306. Most of the stalls are African selling leather handbags, pashminas, knock off watches and jeans. The more interesting local stalls were selling local fruit, meats, cheese, candied almonds, beautiful peppers strung together, olive wood carved kitchen ware, local honey and figs. We meandered through the lanes of stalls criss-crossing our way up the hill of the town. About half way up the top of the town, we started to see all sorts of birds and animals in cages that were also on sale. They even had puppies on sale all mixed in with the sheep, rams, donkeys and cows. We took a break at this point and had crepes from one of the stalls. We sat on the stairs and enjoyed the view while having a restby. At the top of the hill in the main square of the town, called Sa Placa, is the church of Santa Maria de Sineu dating from 1549. In the square in front of the church is a winged lion statue in honour of St Mark. Unfortunate it's very hard to get a good view from all the stall around it. For 1 euro each we went into the church. The timing was just about right, as it was starting to rain outside. We had a quick look around the quaint little church before heading back down the hill to catch our train back.
In the evening our host had their first choir practice of the season to prepare for Christmas, which was in Palma. Peter decide he would like to go, but I wasn't as keen. So our host son and I were dropped of at the bay of Palma while they went to there practice. We went to a place that had a wonderful view of the Cathedral. We sat outside and had drinks while watching the amazing view. It was so beautiful to see the view as it changed from day to night. All the lights of the Cathedral light up the bay and a gentle breeze blew in off the sea. Definitely one of the highlights of the trip and I'm sorry that Peter missed it. We then made our way into Palma to meet Peter and our hosts in a little Argentinian restaurant that they knew very well. We had an amazing meal together with very personal service, as they knew all the staff there. We started with traditional no salt Mallorca bread served with aoli, chili vinaigrette and tomato dip. Then we were brought a small aperitif of brisket topped with cheese and kobe carpaccio beef for our host son who can't eat cheese. Then for starters Peter and I shared a baked provolone cheese topped with tomatoes and salad. For mains we both had steak served with sweet potato. Peter had the rib eye medium cooked and I had a hanger cut well cooked. It was the cut recommended by the waitress for a well done steak. I was not disappointed! It was beautiful cooked, not a bit of pink in sight, yet still moist and tender. Think it was the best steak I've ever had. For dessert I had the chocolate cake and Peter had a cheesecake with honey and walnuts all washed down with a coffee. Peter and I had our desserts served with a candle in them and wished a Happy Anniversary. With our bellies full and our hearts content we had a short walk through Palma, headed back to the car and back to our host casa. The end of another wonderful day here in Mallorca and the mark of another great year ahead for Peter and I.
Thursday, 17 September 2009
This is the card that I made for Peter for our anniversary. I couldn't post it before, as I didn't want him to see it. The card was made using a Nellie's C. Smookie stamp that was coloured in with Promarkers. Off cuts of papers were used for the background that were inked with Tim Holtz distress inks. The text is a fabric tag. The card was finished off with ribbon and sticky gems. I gave the card to Peter yesterday morning and it went down very well. I have yet to receive any card from him as yet!
Getting a bit behind on my holiday blog because we are being kept very busy by our host. Which means we are seeing and enjoying a lot that this island has to offer. On Tuesday morning we taken to the east side of the island to the Coves d'Arta, which are 150m above sea level. It started as slightly over cast in the morning, but the sun was trying to come through by the time we reached our destination. We bought our tickets, but had just missed a tour so we had to sit outside for about 20 - 1/2 hour for the next tour. We took this time to write out some postcards, read the free guide book and just soak up the atmosphere. The the bell rang and the tour was about to begin. We were taken into the entrance of the caves and introduced to our guide. He asked what language people spoke of which there was Spanish, German, French and of course English. So he introduced himself and the caves in 4 different languages. The rest of the tour was also always translated into the 4 languages. Each time seeming to get a shorter and shorter translation by the time it came to the English. We were told that the caves are limestone and then had the difference about stalactite (forming from the ceiling down) and stalagmite (forming from the ground up). Some of the highlights from the caves is the "Queen of Columns" which is 22m tall and doesn't quiet yet reach the roof. The remaining few centimeter to the ceiling may take another thousand year to complete. The was another area where they played music and did a light show on the rock with red and green coloured lights. Another impressive sight was the "Room of Flags" where there are two very large, flat crystallization hanging from the wall. Also in the "room" are "The Bells". The Bells are a group of columns that when struck make very different yet harmonious resenting sounds. When you leave the caves you are greeted by a wonderful view of the bay area and the blue sky against the turquoise sea.
After our tour we headed over to the Bay of Alcudia to a place called "Colonia de Saint Pere" for lunch. It was a quiet idyllic little village with an amazing view of the bay. We nibbled on olives, bread, aioli, another tomato based dip. Then we shard a tomato and goat cheese salad. For our main course I had chicken in cream sauce and Peter had loin of pork with pepper sauce. When we first sat down we could just about make out the Alcudia across the bay, but as time went by the town was slowly engulfed in grey clouds. Then just as we finished our main course it started to rain. We retreated inside for coffee and to watch the torrents of rain come down. After a mad dash back to the car, it was back to base for the rest of the day. The afternoon was spent read, relaxing and sleeping. While the evening was spent talking, laughing and enjoying our host company. Then it was early to bed to be fresh for our big day on Wednesday.
Wednesday, 16 September 2009
Tuesday, 15 September 2009
Monday morning started off with a stroll around the area where our host's live. The route is about 4km long and loops around the surrounding fields and orchards. Since it had rained over night, it was slightly cooler and a nice temperature for a walk. We started up the incline into the area of a few houses, and then continued along the dirt path passed the forested area and into the fields. We saw some lovely houses and in some cases only some lovely gates in the area as well as lots of different orchards growing olives, almonds, figs, carob and of course vineyards. We also saw a few animals, mostly guard dogs, but we did also see some chicken and cockerels. Even though it's late in the year, some of the plants have started to bloom again and there were some amazing flowers along the roadside. Once we were about half way around the weather started to turn. As it was about the same distance to go back as it was to go forward, we carried on. I had my umbrella with me and it was only a light drizzle. By this time we had come to the point where the road had now been paved but still not the main road. At this point there were a lot more vineyards around rather than the orchards. At the end of this road was the main road towards town which we followed. Although it is a nice newly paved road, there were still lots of things to see including more orchards and an interesting old stone cistern. By this time the rain had stopped and we made our way back to our host's casa.
Port d' Andraix and Back
After lunch we had to drop our host son off in Palma for a couple of hours, so we went along for another car trip. This time we headed toward the west of the island. After leaving Palma we drove again though the back roads and through the lower end of the mountains towards the town of Andraix. The journey took us through a couple of quiet valleys where there was not many house but just windy roads up and down through the hills. We tried to get a couple of photo through the car window, but not much really turned out. We did stop at the narrow side of the road for one photo opportunity of a pomegranate tree. They weren't quiet ripe yet though. We continued on till you could see the town of Andraix between the mountains and drove pass and down to the coast. There at Port d'Andraix we parked the car and went in search of "Cappuccino" and cafe bar down by the port. As we walked along the port, the fishing trawlers were coming in with the days catch and unloading the fish. The smell of fish mixed with boat diesel and old nets on the docks is not a pleasant one. We finally found the cafe we were looking for and sat outside and enjoyed a very expensive cup of coffee and the wonderful "free" views. After coffee it was back in the car and heading back to Palma, but not before we were shown what "most" Brits experience of Mallorca in the resorts of Magaluf. Not impressed to say the least, but we did like the look of Palma Nova which is just further around the bay. Then after a quick pick up of a passenger in Palma, and it was back to our host casa for another amazing meal of beef stroganoff with rice all washed down with mojitos and local wine.
Monday, 14 September 2009
After not much sleep Friday night, as we had to leave for the airport at 4:30am, we decided to have a relaxing day on Sunday. After a late breakfast of fruit (one of which was a flat or donut peach), pastries and coffee we headed out to the pool. We enjoyed the garden (especially the passionflowers pictured below) and read by the pool as the day warmed up, but it was still cooler than the day before. Peter did go in for a swim, but I only managed to get in up to my waist, as the water was just too cold for me. A friend of our hosts was coming over for lunch, so we had a lovely meal set out for us. We had slow roasted Mallora lamb served with mashed potato crushed with olive oil (no butter) nutmeg, mace and black pepper and green beans cooked in olive oil with onion and tomato. At this point the weather changed and grey clouds rolled in and not soon after we sat down to eat a thunderstorm started (see video below). Then after lunch the men chatted, while I retired for a "siesta" and the our host dozed in front of the telly. A very relaxing day in deed!
Sunday, 13 September 2009
As the last post stated, we are now safely in Mallorca. The weather when we landed was hot and clear skies. So after a belated brunch of fruit and "ensaimadas" we all piled into the car and headed on the road. We were took the scenic route over the "Serra de Tramuntata" (mountains) and enjoyed wonderful views along the way. We stopped off on the way to view the terraces built up on the mountain side. These terraces are to help keep the soil for the trees from washing way when it rains. We continued up the mountain to Coll de Sa Bataia 579m in height. We stopped at the little restaurant there for some tapas of local grown olives (both green and black) tortilla , and an offal dish which I did try a little of but didn't like. All served with a lovely local unsalted brown bread and aioli. We were also introduced to a flat orange drink called Trinaranjus, which means "three oranges". It was very refreshing on a hot day. After a leisurely time spent in the shade we headed back into the car. We took a quick diversion by Santuari de Lluc which is a monastery. One of the things this monastery is famous for is it's boy's choir which has performed all over the world. We headed down the other side of the mountain towards Pollenca where we saw amazing views of Inca in the distance between the peaks and occasionally a sea view as we got closer to the bottom. Once on the north coast we stopped off at a little resort called Cala San Vicenc (where the photo at the top was taken). The sea was an amazing turquoise colour and although it was not much wind there was a small amount of waves crashing against the shoreline. Our next stop was up a very long, narrow and winding Peninsula Road at Cap de Formentor to the Talaia d'Albercutx, an 18th century watch tower above Cap Formentor in northern Mallorca. It is approximately 376m above sea level, and was donated in 1984 by the Capllonch Family to the people of Pollensa. There was great views of the coastline, sea and mountains. Very awe inspiring, if not a little scary at times. From there we could see the hotel Formentor, a historic 5 star hotel that has been the faviourite of many celbraties. It also was the setting for the 1981 version of Agatha Christie's murder mystery Evil Under the Sun starring Peter Ustinov, Maggie Smith and Diana Rigg. With its own private beach and spectacular gardens, the hotel is a classic Mediterranean hideaway. After a quick "pitstop" in Puerto Pollenca, we headed back to our host's place, this time by the motorway, were we enjoyed a wonderfully cooked minute steak and salad with some locally produced wine. ¡salud!