Green gills and a body bag . . .

Mercioles, 7 Septiembre 2016

Early start, at least we didn’t have to be at the coach until 08:55. Stuffing our guts with a full Spanish fry up and gulping down cafe con leche’s followed by a copious amount of zumo de naranja didn’t seem to help, even after four days after flying, our digestive systems still hadn’t completely decompressed.

As we walked out of the breakfast room on the Mezzanine carrying our man bags we bumped into two guys heading upstairs conveying large tins of paint and decorating items and just by a close co-incidence, three guys trying to manoeuvre a very large black canvas bag down the stairs, the way they were bumping down one step at a time one couldn’t have thought the content being of much worth. They all looked rather surprised to see us, had we interrupted something?

 Suddenly, realising now that we had to race to get to the pickup point to be first on the coach, for the “full island tour” we hastened it, me dragging my right leg, as last night it was starting to give me the proverbial jip, bloody flip-flops no doubt!

The No Frills Tourista transporter arrives, “bugger” I said aloud, ‘mucho personas’ already seated, that’s all of our homework completely fucked up. The plan was to ensure we sat on the right hand side of the coach at the front, (facing travel) sadly it was not to be. Disgruntled and pouty like a sulking Brit I board the modern-day twelve wheeled charabanc and there ahead, like a beacon, I was drawn to wards it like a tractor beam, I could see it, a ‘royal box’ , an unclaimed pair of seats with no obstruction in front, although situated at the back of the coach above the rear stair well, we end up with an almost 180degree view . . . bonus!

Getting our boney posteriors comfortable for departure we noticed a black van with the word Funerary drive past us, we commented … “oh, dear, that’s not good, ‘La Muebles de la Muete’” (The Furnitures of Death)!

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The whole Island Trip was obviously fully booked as we picked up other revellers along the way and our tourista guide, Dina,  was wonderful, speaking English with almost perfection, and apologising that all last week was spent with the Germans, so, her attitude may come across as a little “now We do this . . NOW” but engaged with us all, and those like us, wishing to speak Catalan or Spanish attempted to help us along. This was going to be the perfect day for sure.

Wending our way along the mountain route which took us from Pollença town, and up the Serra de Tramuntanas and toward onto Lluc and the Monastery, pronounced YUUK, emphasising this, we all had to have a go at YUUK’ing with great hilarity. Puig Major, the tallest mountain was a bit more difficult, but PUTCH MAGOR was chanted, that would do too.

We were all in a party mood. Steadily we continued to climb and climb until we could climb no more, we passed the fresh water bottling factory at the top of the summit, squeezing past the Blue Gorge, and the Son Nebot rocks, and the ‘Cals des Reis’ the Houses of the kings, (which was hard to see) effigies, so-called by the locals, which with thousands of thousands of years erosion, had carved these limestone monoliths. Of course, if you squinted your eyes hard enough you might just be able to make out a few figments and visions of your own imagination, pfft!

Just below the highest road point at 640 metres is what is named the ‘nudo de la corbata’ translated as the ‘knot of the tie’, a crossover of carriageways atop and under the pass. We disembarked for a nature break, and after queuing up as good Brits do we were rewarded with and thirst’d our quenches with freshly squeezed naranja.

tie-knot

On top of that, we then had other opportunities, courtesy of our new extendable selfie stick, to take inclusive shots of us and the surrounding vistas. Out of character, (not) Mr Grumpypants got way ahead of his station and left the group, and climbed high up onto a rock face, “look at me” he cried, hilariously he got stuck and whined pathetically as he couldn’t get down, what a wuss!

lady-edmund

“Come on Lady Edmund … the coach is going! With OR without you”.

He didn’t stop moaning until he actually saw just how high up we were.

mountain

It’s literally all down hill now toward Sa Calobra from here, a tiny village at sea level, our vehicle steadily and carefully proceeds down what can only be described as a racing circuit for cyclists, of course, it wasn’t built for that designated purpose. Somehow it has become internationally renown, apparently Sir Wiggybrads (with inhaler?) has completed the route, base to peak in 22minutes 33seconds (show off) … it bears the name of Coll des Reig, 9.5km of hairpins, tunnels and death drops at either sides of the road down into the precarious Torrent De Pareis on a consistent 7%. (enough of the info? please stop!)

coach-road

Holding on tight, we scrawl our pointed cross fingers N,S E & W on our chests. Thankfully we made it down to the drop-off point safely, albeit very slowly, the coach driver Juan was sweating like an actual pig going to slaughter as the coach wheels hung on precariously to the steaming tarmac, it was over 40C out there, thank heavens the Air – Con was operating inside the coach.

Everyone alighted and herded off quite quickly like a speeded up toilet break as seen on “Carry on at your Convenience”

Assembling on the edge of the coach park we were each issued an Orange ‘credit styled’ card and given strict instructions* “give, take, show, give”. That is, give* the card to the boatman, take* the card off of her (our guide) on arrival at Port de Sóller, show* the tram conductor and give* to the conductor once on board the Orange Express to Palma. How difficult is that to understand???

Main instruction was to be back at the Blue Barco in 45 minutes time, bearing in mind if we wished to walk to the famous Sa Calobra beach which was featured in Jurassic Park we had to remember that it would take 30 minutes there and back, we decided to take that time instead to empty our own fuel tanks and refill as necessary. It amazed us just how stupid some people can be, many appear not give a toss or listen to important information where their own safety and others’ welfare are concerned. Goodness knows how many times Dina was asked the same question over and over, her repeated reply was .. GIVE, TAKE, SHOW, GIVE! . . . GIVE, TAKE, SHOW, GIVE!

Sa Calobra was also featured in BBC’s The Night Manager with an evening scene at the water’s edge restaurant, hence, we came to the conclusion that the hiked up prices simply reflected that. Just because Tom Hiddleston’s once parked his backside at a table here, doesn’t mean I have to pay for that privilege. So we slummed it, in fact we had a good deal, further up the hill over-looking the small beach area and not even quite so price wise jaw droopingly so either. As soon as we cleared our plates we headed down toward the beach and boardwalk and recognised two of the Lycra clad jack boot wearing cyclists sighted at the plaça yesterday.  Of course, I had to take some close up discreet photographs, as you do . . . see?, see what i mean!

pertbutt

fat-butt

The gorgeous nicely built one with the delightful pert butt and the lascivious slug with him, Chris and I looked at each other and said, “there is no way ‘he’ will get back up that hill, unless they are coming with us on our boat”.

But seriously, were the two of them out on a scouting trip?  Were they supposed to be as discreet as security are meant to be? Were they watching someone of importance, maybe someone possibly within our own ‘travelling family’?, as Dina kept saying, “family look after family, SI?!

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The “blue boaty boat face” barco starts to embark passengers, again, we had a plan, top deck-top priority, and we piled in, just like desperate customers who had waited out all night for sales entry, it was a free for all, we scrambled up the precipitous steps like mountain goats,  . . . of course, I was quite gentlemanly like and fucked off a few fellow passengers to get where I had intended, no charm here, this was war. Being twenty-foot above the plimsoll line, with open sides to the boat and not a life-jacket in sight, Chris was getting a bit uneasy, water is not his thing, and that includes swimming pools and baths. Perhaps at some point I might even tell you about the day we took a trip down the Thames on a high-speed RIB!

Bow lines were cast, three blasts of the horn and we powered astern and veered starboard, dodgy entrepreneurial type characters were partying aboard floating gin palaces. sueryacht-1

Along with superyachts that you would expect Bobby Axelrod to appear from below deck with a towel wrapped around his midriff were moored close to the tiny harbour causing chaos. Not this time,  oh no, El Capitán manoeuvred around the floating obstacles as if they were toys in a bath tub, he had experienced this mayhem before and set course straight ahead, just as if he was barging through a crowded market he was determined to get his passengers directly to where he intended, and that was ‘the best waypoint on his electronic chart for the view of the famed beach’ . . .

vertiginous

I was hoping to see a dinosaur materialise between the vertiginous edges of the gorge and bite a few heads off the obscenely clad beach revellers, instead . . . sadly, I just had to imagine it. Climbing backwards down the near sheer steps to the lower deck and toward the onboard bar I realised that our intrepid sailor Thor Heyerdahl would feel more at ease here. I took a guess and spoke to the bar man in Catalan,  “Abierto Señor?” Si … you like? “Agua y pequeña per favor”? muy bueno dias uh? “Oh si Señor, muy bueno”.

With a cheeky grin and placing his hand out he politely said “tres euros gracias”! Managing to get back up to the mizzen mast with both hands full, I passed over his bottle of agua frío, I could see a tinge of the greens around Chris’ gills. Dina our guide did the rounds and obliged all her clients as each, our own personal paparazzi.papraz-barco

The Cala Tuent’s engines powered up as we steamed further out into the deeper open water. Sat almost behind the bridge and presented with all the navigation equipment I was in fact, myself, in Popeye heaven, … imagines ..  “rolling up my sleeve arms, revealing my tattoos and puffing on a pipe, squeezing open a can of spinach and pouring it down my neck and yelling “ack ack ack ack ack” as I set a course to another land”.  

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coastal-waters

The second mate checked and aligned himself with his masters waypoints and in keeping with a close line off the coast afforded us with the most spectacular views, Chris was slightly uneasy but happier at the moment as he was in sight of land and to be honest there was a fantastic atmosphere aboard which took away the stigma of being “all at sea”

Moving out of the intense heat and down to near the boats low centre of gravity, Chris became far more comfortable and much cooler and strangely enough, placed us nearer the bow for getting off first.

stern-barco-1

Although if you look close, you can see him holding on tight to the upright pole near the stern for our cruising shot, which of course, in my opinion is probably one of the best photos of the holiday. The bar man looked at us, winked and said “Como es mi amigo”? (is your friend ok) ‘Si señor, nosotros estamos muy bien, gracias’ . . . danada!   (replying that we were . . .)

Passengers were having selfie sword stick fights and pro-photographers with small penises displayed their telephoto apparatus at each other, all competing for infinite compositions at the click of a shutter, as to who’s was the biggest, one will never know. Out of nowhere, the northern man from our hotel could be readily heard complaining to his misses and all those around him, saying he had been ripped off for his water and beer, EIGHT bloody euros he charged me!!  Looking at Chris, we both had to smile, hey ho, . . . again, when in Rome . . .

Mr northern man was, and probably still is telling the tale and wondering why they get treated so differently to others. Can you wonder why!

The coast was breathtaking, millions of pine trees holding on to the cliff edges, desolate paths trod by weary shepherds and foresters, small cabins clinging on tight to large rocky outcrops and an amazing boathouse built into the rocks, so isolated and stunningly hypnotic, but obvious someone lives there, no sign of a road or any other access, only by water. How amazing is that?villa

sister-barco

Passing a sister boat to ours we *both* waved at *each* other, eventually the lighthouse at Port de Sóller came into sight, suddenly out of the sheer isolation and beauty of the deep waters came civilisation, outstanding properties worth obscene amounts of Euro clung to the cliff tops, slowly they had been constructed and stitched together brick by brick as they got nearer and nearer to the water’s edge.

Port de Sóller . . .

After hard mooring alongside a sister ship, we all disembarked and assembled, we each received our Orange cards, remember “Keep, Show, Give”, meet me at the tram point in one hour and thirty minutes . . . THATS ONE HOUR THIRTY MINUTES.

train-station

Having visited here before, we knew the first few front line restaurants on the water’s edge were ridiculously expensive, the service was terrible as was the cuisine. Moving slightly to the right of the designated tram meeting point, we eventually settle at the Hotel Miramar Residencia Terrazzo and picked a table, next to four freelance yachtsmen sharing their lunch and telling tales of the high seas and their individual adventures, there was such a terrible invisible smell, must have been all the bull they were talking. Scouring the menu a large selection of seafood tapas and drink were ordered, in Catalan and with great respect from the cambrer and cambrera. Others waited and grew impatient for attention, but we had quick service and delved in, we ate like the proverbial del Reys. The view of the busy port and beach was astounding.

We were, today, indeed, each a Mallorquin.

I had my eyes peeled as I was expecting to see the writer, Ms Nicholas. I had been conversing with her recently on Twitter. Hoping perhaps that she would be somewhere within this very cosmopolitan urbane. Would she be dining with her publisher or her girlfriends who belonged to the famous Mallorquin Wives Club.

Keeping one eye on as to who was going to have the last piece of sepia, and with one hand holding on tightly to my obscenely measured vodka y limón, I scan the elegant surroundings with my remaining eyeball.vodka-limon

Totally vigilant and hoping to seek sight of the crazy english cat lady, I busily feed my face with the remains of the pan y aioli. I have to admit fact that I was slightly disappointed that I never got to see or meet her, I was expecting far too much. However there was always a chance she might be in Sóller itself a little later. 

Puerto Pollença 14:00 hrs, The smell of paint and cleansing fluid are now permeating throughout the hotel, the manager is worried it will affect evening dinner and concerned the tragedy if known will upset the guests. Fortunately, everything has been kept very low-key, the body had now been removed from the scene and awaits its post-mortem by the coroner at Palma. All items once owned by the deceased have now been removed and Suite 507 and the corridor can now be purged and void of any unpleasantries thoroughly in preparation for future occupation. He was such a nice gentleman, rather quiet, no friends or family, almost three years as a resident. 

The electric tram ride from the harbour to the town centre was and is always beautiful, if not somewhat uncomfortable and cramped. The tracks run parallel to homes and back yards, garages and beautifully tended gardens, all with individual charm, some with hot tubs, others with either plunge or swimming pools no bigger than postage stamps on tiny envelope spaces.

A solitary horse roams around a paddock, endless covered areas of Bougainvillea and grapevine, donkeys, countless terracotta pots with architectural greenery, olive, lemon and orange trees, palms, ferns, yucca’s, dancing fountains, hens and cockerels, sheep, vegetable patches, irrigation systems, cats both tame and feral, numerous washing lines displaying brilliant whites, a dog running the length of its garden barking at, and chasing the tram.  At one particular yard we shouted PIGS and pointed like we had never before seen them. 

This is real Mallorquin life, just as it happens, two gentlemen sat in the shade playing dominoes together silently, an elderly woman is next to them wearing a headscarf, peeling vegetables, obviously muttering the gossip acquired at the market earlier this morning.

It doesn’t get much more native than this, and all under the heat of the intense sun, searing way above 40C. Strangely, those who are not taking the afternoon siesta have other reasons, just a part of their natural daily lifestyle. Nothing seems to have a time constraint, apart from the bell tolling on the hour from the Neo-Gothic tower in the centre of the plaça.

It is as if time has almost stood still, it is neither digital or analogous, yet moves so at its own predetermined pace. Perhaps that’s why it is so beautiful. Today, we each could quite possibly be time travellers due to the hour difference, or even star trekkers in our own little universe or studio. With that extra added chance of bumping into ‘Miles O’Brien’ who also resides here. Often found sipping vi negre outside the ‘Cafe de Paris’ as if he had been here all of his life. Surely that would be an encounter of the first kind, perhaps, we are quite possibly already the next generation. Thinking on, as we pass the said area, I see quite clearly old memories, myself, Chris, his mother and her friend Brenda, all sat here, taking in the atmosphere eating ice cream some fourteen years ago, my first introduction to this beautiful town.image-1

I notice the tall trees, these are the famous ‘London Plane’ although named as, there are thousands of them lining the streets of our metropolis, London, they are not indigenous of the United Kingdom and were brought from the Northern America’s centuries ago, it prefers, and thrives in drought areas and sometimes often such as other busy cities, its bark absorbs pollution and then sheds it as if by magic by returning fresh clean air during its daily cycle. Hence why they line the sides of the original steam train station, towering almost thirty metres high. Even more beauty. Even more familiarity. 

15:00hrs, We are now awaiting departure of the Orange Express, to arrive from Palma, but certainly not before having the famous Sóller speciality, bring on the helados y naranja tambien crema! Mucho Bueno!image-1

By the way Chris, did you see the cyclists on the boat?

…. to be continued …

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