Saturday 25 August 2012

Mallorca: Saturday


[This post written weeell after, indeed on 22nd September, so it will be mostly pictures and some fill-in wurble.]

Up early again to watch the sunrise, this time bringing E, but D is resolutely still in bed. Like yesterday, a low bank of cloud out to see means we don't actually see the sunrise, but its still lovely. E and I go for a wade, then I swim all the way out (and just beyond) the marking buoys.

The days main activity is to Lluc monastery, which is here.

Oh yes, but before anything else we had to pack up. When M booked this hol, she left the Saturday night free - we'd originally thought it might be fun to stop somewhere else the last night. But now it comes to it, we're fairly happy here. But we need to move to a new appt, and so we do. At least it means we're fairly packed for the morrow.


Ah, and now I remember (thank heaven for photographs) first we went to Alcudia which had been sort-of-on-the-way to several places (and I'd run through it) but we hadn't stopped. It doesn't have anything terribly to-see (some roman stuff we didn't go and look at) but is a fairly pleasant place for cafes and to wander around.

That one gives you some idea of the white heat. Compare to a more balanced view of the same scene (or another. Yes, I did rather like the image of the chap sitting quietly outside his house in the street). The old stone windows were good, but there weren't many of them.


Street corner with flowers, found when I went for a little walk.


We played a lot of Knock-out Whist (running scores on the right; in the end, I won (was lowest, since we gave points according to which round you were knocked out in) and Risk (some of our amended rules to the left).


Lluc monastery: view from the little hill above and behind the monastery, looking away from it (north). Its hot and its dry, but greener than I'd have guessed.

When we got there we had a coffee in the coffee-shop-in-the-main-square, so to speak. That was OK-to-good, and I had a nice meat pastry, too.


Lluc monastery, view from above.


Lluc monastery, face of the "cathedral", with M and E. Ave Maria indeed.


Lluc monastery, interior. They're pretty keen on Mary, you know.


Lunch in the restaurant inside. Again, good: D and M had some kind of you-need-to-order-for-two spicy rice soup (arros brut). In the old high-ceilinged refectory, nice and cool after the heat of outside. Only problem was some wasps then bees getting in, and freaking E out poor thing. I must have killed at least 5 of them.


There is a "treasury" which we looked around. Its quite big. The place has been around for a while, after all. But after a while I realised that, well, it was mostly just stuff. Here is a picture celebrating some miracle - the saint (Black Madonna?) saving someone from something.


Coming south from Lluc, possibly around here - just coming out of the hills, but still in the hairpins. Again, surprisingly green, but hot-n-piney: view through the trees to the olive terraces opposite. I came to feel that it was, indeed, a lovely island but unfortunate in its visitors.

Friday 24 August 2012

Mallorca: Friday


Got up with M again to watch the sunrise. We intended to wake up E, too, she having asked (D was a definite No) but we forgot to make sure we had one of their cards. So since she wasn't responding to knocks, we left without her (there is always tomorrow). Again the pre-dawn grey light, thought its warm already. This time there was a low cloud bank on the horizon about two sun-diameters high, so we didn't quite see the "true" sunrise - probably we were rather lucky yesterday. Afterwards, M went for a run along the beach, about 4.x km, taking about 1/2 hour. I just sat watching the sunrise and the light, and pondering various things that may have seemed weighty at the time but are now gone.

Breakfast, a splash in the pool, then I think a morning risk game. Lunch was bread cheese and ham from the complex's shop: we're not too hungry, since breakfast is pretty filling, not just because its an all-u-can-eat buffet and so good value that way but also because its good food. Afternoon another risk game, and then watching La Vuelta at M's instigation, but I'm now interested too. Some reading by the pool. Late on, we all go down lead by E and end up having swim-underwater-across-the-pool competition (or rather challenge: I can do 2 widths and a bit; E and then eventually D can just manage one). Also D and E try diving in (and M, after initial amusing hesitation/fear); somewhat surprisingly they're both rubbish. I and M try to explain diving and realise that I don't really know how I do it. Try to analyse what I do but it doesn't quite work.

Go to dinner not-too-late so that I get a bit of rest after and then run along the beach for 12 km in total, getting "to the end", i.e. the end of the sand in Can Picafort. Since I started about 20 mins earlier tonight I had light for the first bit, so could see the hotels disappear for the backed-by-nature-reserve section. But I still finished in darkness. I lose my CSR running top! I left it on the sunloungers left on the beach, and when I got back to the start it was gone. Hopefully I can get another.


This picture is actually from tomorrow, but I don't seem to have any from today so it will do. Near the entrance to the hotel were some trees that, after a bit, we noticed were pomegranates. And some of them were ripe to splitting.

Thursday 23 August 2012

Mallorca: Thursday


[Its too late now to do this properly. Here are some notes before I forget.]
DSC_1537-sunrise-wWe decide to get up for sunrise. Due to a slight watch error (when I examine it, I find my watch froze a few minutes after I set the alarm last night. Odd. It did this once before. I think its a symptom of the somewhat buggy software - it can also freeze when uploading) we're only just in time - I guessed that 6:45 would do, we actually got up about 6:50, and sunrise was probably about 7:10 ish (I can check: the photo of first light says it was taken at 5:16. And the camera is 1:51:00 behind watch-time. So it was taken at 7:17. Ish). But it was gorgeous and still, no breeze, gentle waves lapping at the shore, just a few other people about. Once the sun was clear of the horizon I went for a swim, just a little way out, float around enjoying it, and M for a run. And then took pix of me as I came back in.

The actual sunrise sequence itself was lovely - the horizon was completely clear, so you could see from the very first tip of light, to the sun separating itself from the mirage on.

Breakfast early (notice coffee machine implies that the Spanish root for "wait" is the same as "hope", which surely says something) and off, following our plan, to Cap Formentor, which is the long rocky cape enclosing the Pollenca bay on the north. First stop is the Mirador Colomer (mirador = viewpoint, they helpfully provide these, and amusingly the sign is an old-style bellows camera. I do sometimes wonder if they should also provide a download of photos, so everyone doesn't have to take the same shots).

DSC_1566-little-bay-with-boatsAfter that its a pleasant windy thin road through mountains (and a tunnel) and plains/forest, with occasional views to the sea on each side, and some more stops to look out which the children quickly lose patience with, until we reach the lighthouse at the end.

DSC_1546-mirador-colomer-m-eThe scenery is great (views back along the cape, down into the blue ripply sea with teensy tinesy boats), but its hot by now - about 11:30. So we get some drinks from the cafe and settle down to hands of cards. Somehow this is far more fun up here with a wonderful view that we spend most of our time ignoring than it would be at home. After a while the sun moves round and we need to move the table into shade, then edge it further, eventually running out of room to retreat. Its more crowded now, so after a last look round we leave. There is a near traffic impasse on way out - the road is narrow, people are parked in it, there are hairpin turns. But a few cars squeak past and we're out. The road would be good to cycle, and some are. There is also a network of walking paths, if you get up early or come at a different time of year.

Then, Port de Pollenca. We don't really know where we're going - we just want some beach and a cafe. The side nearest the cape is a thin block of stuff, with parking behind, and then the sea. So we park, go down a little alley, find the sea, and then the hotel Bahia which is as good as a cafe and does us a light lunch and we swim in various combinations, but mostly E. D is quiet and doesn't swim that I recall. We deliberately didn't book a room for Saturday night at the Viva, in case we wanted to move. But we've done nothing about finding another place, and now we're nearly out of time. Inquire at the Bahia re Saturday, but they are full, so decide to ask back at Viva. I've revised my opinion of the place - apart from the noise, and the guests (:-), its fine; and we've learnt how to cope with the noise.

And so, back at 5. Watch the cycling - quite exciting at the end as they "sprint" uphill into Jaca (where we went last year); dinner the buffet. I go for a run along the sea front, having realised that I can. Due to dinner etc I leave it until late, and don't start till 9, when its getting dark, and finish just before 10, when it definitely is. But its lovely, trotting along (I wasn't sprinting) just at or above the wetting-line of the waves. D meanwhile is browsing online, exciting news about his favourite Ace-of-Spades game and a rumour or stronger of buyout by Jagex. Decide that we'll get up to watch the dawn again tomorrow.

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Mallorca: Wednesday


Yesterday was just a bit too exciting, especially the second visit to Pollenca. So today we all agree to have a relaxed day "at home".

E and I get up at 7:30 to go to the gym and the indoor pool. I was hoping to use the running machines, at least as warmup, but don't get on with them at all - they are hard to work, and don't run at the right pace, I think, or I'm not in the mood. Anyway, I give up and use the dumbbells and then the stationary multigym instead. By starting on low weights I get a warm up anyway. This is my second time in the gym (other than erging) in 20 years, so I just do some simple arms stuff: lifting the dumbbells up, 10 reps or 3, 4, 5 kg. And then on the machine, the pushing-the-weights-away-from-you exercise, 10 reps from 5 to 45 kg then 5 at 50 and 55. That was about 30 mins. Meanwhile E has been swimming in the pool, which is no warmer than the outdoor one.

Back for D and M and to breakfast, though due to misc delays its past 9 when we get there. As usual, there is far too much choice and I eat too much. There was a how-do-you-like-our-hotel survey, D+E filled in one and M+I the other. I was surprised to find how much they liked the place, and perhaps even more so how much M did (I would rate this as far below the Parador San Marcos in Leon; because the ambience simply can't begin to compare with the peace of sitting in the cloisters there. But the children have different criteria). But I was pleased that they like it - E in particular raves about how wonderful it is.

But I (and M) do get to relax over coffee and read Hobbes as the children depart early. Hobbes quote, well actually its Aubrey, of Hobbes: "He had read much, if one considers his long life; but his contemplation was much more than his reading. He was wont to say that if he had read as much as other men he should have known no more than other men." I think that applies somewhat to me, and perhaps I should do something about it: read less, think more.

Afterwards, a bit of swimming, a bit of coffee in the pool cafe, lunch in the appt (bread, ham ("casa westfalia"), cheese (still have a bit of the stuff we got in the local fruit-n-stuff store), etc.), the Great Risk Game (todays variant is to have more binding treaties that are actually written down secretly, with rules for breaking them. We have achieved the Risk Event Horizon, and now spend longer writing and arguing rule variations than we do playing). D and M have a "take out W" treaty, it transpires, but since I have N and S America and peace with Miranda across the Arctic I brush them off and we crush them in return.

Tonight's dinner - we go back to the buffet, everyone is happy with it, there is no tedium with ordering or waiting - is seafood, so D is even more happy. I even try a langoustine, to show willing, but if you ask me they are more for display than consumption. they do make a superb display though. Rice pudding with strawberry sauce and strawberry ice cream is more my style.

Then a quiet walk down to the beach and a lovely swim in the sea - get got there about 8:30 as the sun was setting (behind the hotels, no glory of a sunset out to sea; plus the noise of the disco removes any hope of peace) and swam in the warm shallow sea until we got out of our depth. And gently the light faded out of the sky and the arms of the bay came into relief.

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Mallorca: Tuesday


I got up at 6 to go running. 6 turned out to be too early - still dark outside. So I fiddled online for a bit, then by the time I'd finished that, and realised it was time to get my kit on, it was 6:45 and easily light enough. Oops. Motto: getting up at 6:30 is about right for the early light. Still, it wasn't sunrise, and I ran up through the town as before, then to the roundabout and over the isthmus through Alcudia and down to the sea at the far side. None of this was fast - I soon gave up on keeping to 5 min/km, and settled for "whatever I felt like running at", which turned out to be 5:15 ish - but it was going fairly well and I was enjoying it, perhaps especially the long road along towards Port de Pollenca on the far side - nice to run on, as there is a wide cycle path. As I was going down that the sun was coming up over the sea, nice. So I decided to extend the intended 21.1 k to 25 k, which also got me as far as the outskirts of P de P, not that I saw much. Turn round and back again, passing a few other people, getting tired up the hill, and accidentally running down into Port de Alcudia, which meant getting back would take 26 k, but I couldn't face the extra 1 k, so walked it, as I'd decided long before that I intended 25 k. And the track is here. Overall: nice to do the distance, haven't for ages, but need to keep the speed up especially past 21 k.

DSC_1515-m-e-liloWhen I got back - 9:30, including a quick fall into the pool after - the others were in breakfast, so I quickly showered and followed them. Again, breakfast buffet is splendid, and (over)indulge myself.

After this, its a day out, because I want one, and so does M. And there is lots to see around. The only problem is the insane heat (Carruthers) which means that except indoors, or in an a/c car, or under the shade of awning or pinetree, life is impossible. So we drive to Alcudia, with me saying exciting things like "I ran here" and everyone ignoring me. The old city walls interest no-one else, so we don't stop, but try to get to somewhere nice on the cape, which turns out to be the Mirador de la Victoria, after several diversions. Its high up above the sea, and shaded by pines and by awning, so is tolerable in temperature, and we have several games of whist (mostly notable for D doing well and me badly) while I swig limonade (fanta) - very nice, especially for one dehydrated after a morning run. And we look out over the blue sea and across to the dry rocky cape that runs out from Port de Pollenca to Cap Formentor. Hopefully we can "do" that some day. By now its about 12:30, and we decide to go back down to the beach we passed on the way up here, which is just a little pull-off by the side of the road, and a path down to a pebbly beach. Again, lovely, but its v. hot unless you're in the sea or in the shade. Here it is - its the beach by the island, which I swam round. D and E floated on the lilo (OK, I did too, and so did M) and it was good. D complained that the water wasn't clear enough - hmm, maybe not, but this is an embayment in the Med. After 3/4 hour we'd used up our quota of direct noonday sunshine and were in danger of broiling, so retreated off towards Pollenca.

DSC_1518-m-e-d-pollencaVarious people had sung the praises of Pollenca at us. No-one had mentionned the near-impossibility of finding your way into the bastard place. So we drive in, following "Centre" signs, expecting ermm well to find a centre. And totally fail. Really, it was the famous "you are in a maze of twisty passages all alike". Eventually we find something that looks right (but isn't) but at least has a map, and after more confusion we get close enough to find the main square. And have more drinks and more rounds of whist, again with D doing very well and me pulling back just a little. However, I'm still not too impressed by P, which is nice enough, true, but hardly wonderful. Perhaps I'm put off by the heat again, and maybe a little by us having failed to bring out much cash and the resto we're in not wanting to take a card. Also, M and I wander off to look at the Big Church only to discover that entry is by "donation" and that, from outside, it doesn't look too exciting - just yer typical Romanesque. Anyway we left our cash with the kids and don't feel like walking to and fro under the hot hot sun again.

So instead we have an ice cream, and this turns out to be a very good idea, since they are excellent. My limon flavour is very lemon, delightful.

And so, back to the VivaBlue at about 5. When I get there and we unpack the car I have a sudden thought: where exactly is my wallet. Urgh. So when did I last have it? Aie, when I gave it to M so she could get out a few coppers to finish paying the ice cream lady. And then when I walked back to the car I had my book in one hand, and the ice cream in the other, and I was wearing my running/swimming shorts, which have no pockets, and therefore... Sigh. Back M and I go to Pollenca, and yes we get hopelessly lost once again, but yes the nice lady still has my wallet (phew) so we reward her and us by buying more ice creams: I have mango and limon, again. So at about 6:30 we're back, pick up E who has been floating in the pool, and after quick showers all round we're ready to go to dinner.

Last night's buffet was good, and the kids are keen to go back, so do that. This night is Mexican night which means they have a lot of the same basics, but the cooked-bit is centered on Mexican (but again I have nothing cooked). They have some oaxaca cheese which is a new one on me (is more solid and less stringy than that pic) but tastes similar to solid white cheeses. Manage half a hottish fat dark green chilli, but am otherwise content to stuff myself as per yesterday on olives, cheese, melon, papaya, eggs, oh and all sorts of stuff. Oh, and the "melon soup" which M decided was mostly cream was quite new to me and good.

Then the event that the children have been waiting for: today's Risk game. Using yesterday's rules variant, plus a new "retreat rule": if attacked, you can just retreat. It was going well for me (partly due to my secret pact with M) and I'd nearly killed off D, when M broke the truce and in a decide-the-result-by-9:30, E was the winner. Kids then off to bed / their appt, and we mostly talked to our pooters: M catching up on the Tour d'Espana, or whatever its called.

[Updated: added a couple of pix.]

Monday 20 August 2012

Mallorca: Monday


I'm only writing this for completeness. Monday was declared a "stay around the apparthotel complex" day, and that's what we did. Since I'm writing this on sunday the 26th, I really can't recall in any detail what we did. Swam in the pool, played cards, played Risk, I should think.

Oh, and I got up early-ish and went for a 10k run: into Port D'Alcudia along the main road, then realised I could go beachwards after the river/canal and run along the beach; turn around in the centre of the port and come back, turning inland once the back-of-beach paved track ran out, about 2k from us.

But since I therefore have some spare space, here is a picture of Darling Daughter looking happy (taken on Tuesday, note):


Sunday 19 August 2012

Mallorca: Sunday


The alarm goes off at the ungodly (but that's OK, we're atheists :-) hour of 4 am. Or at least, it was supposed to, in fact it seems to be 4:25, oops, we're a bit late. We stumbled through the last of our packing last night and its all in the car apart from a few last-minute things we sweep up, and off we go. I'm sure, once upon a time, when I was 10 (E) or 14 (D) I would have been wildly excited to be flying. But now, even though we don't do it much, it is but routine. Anyway: zoom down to Stanstead, making up some lost time, but then have to stand for ages in the queue to check in our hold suitcase, which is uncomfortably heavy. Also, because we couldn't work out how to online (we booked through lastminute, not easyjet direct, never do that again) we need to pay for the suitcase. But when it goes on the belt... it weights 31 kg, 11 kg over the limit. Oops. I thought it felt heavy as I struggled to get it downstairs. Part of this is, errm, me having brought the bathroom scales :-). Which was why I couldn't weight it :-)). A very rapid trawl through pulls out 2 kg of books into E's sac, but we're running late so take the rest of the £10/kg penalty (!). And so (after a bit more scare, in which D's carry-on luggage proves not to quite fit in the measuring device provided, but never mind, it fits in the lockers) off we go, about the last on the plane and no chance for a coffee. And the flight (prompt at 9 am) is as usual dull and packed, so I read.

And so we arrive, with a bit of faff getting off as they delay the steps, then we need a bus to stop us walking 100m, but then we're through and go along to the car park I remember from 2010, and pick up our Europcar. M had booked us the smallest, but for a mere 3 euro/day we can upgrade to a 4-door, which is useful, and it may have a boot just big enough to take our giant suitcase, so we succumb to their blandishments.

Its now 11:30 ish. We're not really supposed to arrive till 2 ish, and its about 1h off if we go straight, so where to go?

We end up heading south and east, because we didn't really see this bit before. Probably because it seems less interesting than the mountains to the north, but its worth a quick peek on our way. We end up in Campos - Rondo de Jaume II - at a very nice fruit shop, whose like we never saw again, but of course because we just found it once we assumed its like was everywhere. Highlight was raw undried dates, which I've never had before, and which had a not-quite-ripe-hazelnutty flavour. Although that makes them sound less appealing than I found them. Then, via various narrow streets that all looked alike (a foretaste of Pollenca) we got lost but eventually found a nice side cafe for, errm, cafe and a few rounds of Whist.

After than, straightish to the resort. We weren't exactly sure where it was - M had handled all the booking, it was on the coastal strip near Can Picafort / Ses Forges, but to spare you the tension it was here. Looking at that I'm amused to find that the next-door hotel is almost a mirror-image of ours: I'd barely realised it was there. We are (slightly disappointingly, but this turned out not to matter) a block back from the sea. The place is all gleaming marble, air-con reception, nicely turned out staff, palm trees inside, and is basically a set of blocks surrounding a set of swimming pools. We're in block 4, which is the one in the bottom right here (I know, you don't care, this is for my reference only) but be careful, the kids swimming pool with pirate ship, that was directly under our windows, hadn't been built in that pic.

I forget what we did next. Unpacked, flopped in the cool after the heat, looked at the beach, had dinner in the resto (we hadn't learnt to trust the buffet yet). Etc.

Pix: inside block 1 (where we were on Saturday night); dawn view out of the back away from the beach over the nature reserve that I didn't visit but M did; the appt blocks from the back, where we parked our faithful chevvy.

DSC_1680-inside-block-1 DSC_1679-dawn-view-over-nature-reserve DSC_1681-back-of-block-1-2-3