On April 13-15, Crystal, Rory, Taylor, Cora, Geminis, Carlos, Karen and I decided to take an exotic vacation to the lovely island of Mallorca. Mallorca is one of the Balearic Islands in the east of Spain, which are hot spots for tourists from all over Europe, especially Germany. My initial thought was that this would be a great weekend to spend on the beach, taking in the sun and relaxing. Unfortunately, the weather conditions were predicted to be terrible for the entire weekend. That, of course, wasn’t going to stop us. We woke up bright and early to catch our flight at 11:35. We flew with Ryanair again, which is the cheapest way to get around Europe. It’s basically a “no-frills” airline, which means that they are immensely strict with baggage and try to sell you everything from travel insurance to clothing to make a little extra money. I have a very limited budget, so Ryanair has been the way to go. I have learned to pack lightly, though. That means one backpack with things stuffed in as tightly as possible, reusing clothing (gross, I know), going without accessories and fitting all my liquids into a small Ziplock bag.
When we got to the airport, our flight was delayed, so we hung out on the floor of the airport, talking about and in Spanish, English, expressions, traveling, and everything else we could possibly think about. Geminis, Carlos, and Karen are from Mexico, and they really want to learn English. I’m from the United States, and I really want to learn Spanish. Thus, a new system was born: I talk to Carlos and Karen in Spanish, only, and they respond in English. We correct each other sometimes (in the nicest way ever), and help each other learn. It’s the perfect system, and I like to call them “mis profesores,” or teachers. They have a ton of patience when I try to talk, and I feel so comfortable talking to them, which is quite a feat seeing as I am intimidated by some of the Spaniards when they speak. I think the key thing I’ve learned is to let myself be dumb. I’m going to make mistakes and I’m likely to sound like a child, but practice is practice and I will never turn that down. Not to mention, my Mexican friends are so nice!
Anyway, the flight was pretty quick and painless. One minute we were asleep, the next we were there. When we touched down, it looked like it was going to pour. The skies were black and ominous, and the air was thick with moisture. We started on our way to get to the hostal, and someone flicked a switch in the heavens. The rain came down in waves. Two buses later and slightly damper than before, we arrived our destination: Hostal Ritzi, a small hole-in-the-wall dormitory with a friendly staff. They had free wi-fi and a cozy waiting area with a bookshelf full of books in varying languages. Our rooms were standard with beds and a sink, though the pillows were flat and the rooms not the cleanest. Overall, though, it wasn’t a terrible bang for our buck, but it wasn’t exactly the Hilton Hotel. I shared a room with Geminis and Crystal; they shared a bunk, and I had a free-standing bed against a window with peeling paint. The rest of our friends stayed upstairs in an old apartment that they turned into rooms, and the space was huge. After recovering for about an hour, we headed out to explore the town. Right around the corner was this huge tree that branched out in many different directions. We named it the “Tree of Life” and started singing The Lion King as our theme song for the weekend. Furthermore, there were ice cream places on every corner, so obviously we indulged a little bit. We stumbled across the “Plaza Mayor” of Palma, Mallorca, saw one of the cathedrals, and paid four euros to go into La Almudaina, the city palace. They had preserved some of the most important artifacts and put them on display, one of which was the “Roman Baths,” which consisted of a series of ceramic jars. I’m so glad we evolved from that. Thank you technology for indoor plumbing. One of the rooms in the palace opened into this huge porch that overlooked the sea. Right after that, we strolled along the sea, taking in the view.
That night, we went out for some drinks and explored a little closer to the hostal. Down the street from us was a park with an upside-down playhouse and some giant bird that we played on. We’re not creepy or anything.
The next day, we had brunch at an outdoor restaurant and gulped down our café while trying to shake out the fatigue. From there, we went to find the train station, where we were going to take a scenic train ride to the town of Soller. The train was built in 1895 and hasn’t changed at all since that time. It was made of fine wood and moved about a staggering 30 miles an hour. The view, however, was lined with mountains and wilderness, and we had the windows cracked slightly to feel the breeze in our hair. The woods were thick and the mountains sprinkled with snow. As we were chugging along, I thought about grandpa and his love affair with trains, his basement full of collectible trains, and the beer that was always in his hand. If you gave the man a beer and sat him on that train, he would have been in his glory. It’s crazy how the smallest things can remind you so much of someone and bring back fond memories, while simultaneously creating new ones with new people.
After about an hour on the train, we arrived in the small town. The first thing we saw was a small cafe and a ticket window. We had to take a tram from the train into the actual city of Soller, but we had a bit of time to waste before it actually left. We walked around and saw a fountain and a market, and stopped off for more ice cream. I was hoping to find joy in that ice cream cone after the tragic loss of my camera, which committed suicide and jumped out of my hands. Now, I am sadly camera-less and have to rely on everyone around me for pictures 😦 My hands don’t quite know what to do when I see something beautiful now! RIP camera, you were good to me for many years.
(INSERT PICTURE OF BROKEN CAMERA HERE….Oh wait……)
Anyway, we spent the rest of the day walking along the beach and looking at the pure blue water. It was too cold to go in, but we sat on the rocks and talked for quite a while. Crystal even managed to save the environment by fishing bottles out from under a dock. Someone should give her an award.
The next day, the weather was awful and my feet got soaked to the bone. I had to wrap bags around them to keep them dry, a trick I picked up from my mom many years again as the adventurous child of a concerned mother. Needless to say, going through customs was fun when I had to take those bags off. Before we actually headed back, though, we took an adventure to Las Cuevas de Genova and ended up getting lost when no one quite knew the exact location, even the bus driver. When we got there, we realized it was a behind a restaurant and our tour guide was a cranky old man. That didn’t stop us from enjoying ourselves, however, and the caves were still cool to see.
By the time we finished with everything and flew home, it was late at night and we were all exhausted. As always, it was worth it to tackle another part of the world. As of right now, I have plans to go to Sevilla, Barcelona, and Paris, which will conclude my trips over here, because time is running out so quickly and so are my funds! I feel like just yesterday we were arriving here, and now, we have just over a month left. My other friend who is studying here has even less than that, and with this realization, I’m trying to fit everything in that I can. Next weekend, we are going to a soccer game and a bullfight and today I went inside the Palacio Real, which was incredible in every way. I was impressed by the dome ceiling which were adorned with different scenes. Gold lions lined the corners of many rooms, and everything was appealing to the eyes. Let’s see how many more experiences like that I can fit into my time here 🙂