Archive for November, 2012

30 Nov 2012

The Jewel of Mallorca

7 Comments Spain

Well, we have gone from Indiana Jones, Jason Bourne and Bruce Willis to Jack T. Colton (Romancing the Stone — believe me there is a thread here, somewhere, a thin thread microfibre!). Where was I? Oh yeah, Indy Jones; Jack Colton aka Michael Douglas, buried treasure — Valldemossa. I am a touch woolly these days. It must be all these Spanish lessons I have been taking — darn it!

Valldemossa is a charming village of exquisite stone buildings set against a backdrop of mountains, flanked with terraces of old olive groves, fruit orchards and falling autumn leaves. It is less than an hour from Palma and it is incredibly picturesque.


Michael Douglas spends a portion of each year here. He has a big house nearby and has become a self-proclaimed patron for the town, even opening his own cultural centre and restaurant in Valldemossa. On the day we visited MD is nowhere to be found and the whole of Valldemossa appears to be in a deep slumber except for a ginger cat which eyed me suspeciously. It's as if there was a giant DO NOT DISTURB sign hanging over the entire town. By comparison it made Sòller look like Rio during Carnivàle — even the train in retrospect seemed fast.

Among others Chopin lived here, apparently coming for the good weather (not to mention his lovers' tryst with George Sand — he who was actually a she, scandalous!) to help him get over his bout of tuberculosis, but found it actually made his condition worse. If it was anything like the day we visited, with the temperature plummeting and the sky turning a uniform shade of dark grey, his demise later in Paris was entirely understandable.

Despite its sleepiness, I enjoyed Valldemossa. My memories will linger long, much like Chopin's preludes, which will probably remain for millennia, well after I have gone to rag.


I'll give you a clue. It's not Michael Douglas


26 Nov 2012

Dreaming of the blue turtles

4 Comments Spain

I have been having the most amazing dreams ever since I arrived in Mallorca. Sleeping soundly in the private garden cottage, Buddha smiling down on me, Paul's rhythmic snoring … probably helps.

I thought at first my dreams might have been caused by too much sun — from spending my days lazing in tranquil turquoise bays — or from the abundance of fresh seafood, or from one too many crispy dry whites.

Last night I dreamt someone was watching me and no it wasn't Buddha. Then I woke up yesterday, stepping outside for an early morning yoga stetch and there crawling out from under a fallen palm frond in the garden were papa and mama turtle giving me the eye. They had been watching me all along.

Hey what's up, haven't you ever seen an alpaca … doing yoga?”

They continued to watch me guardedly and I couldn't work out why. And then from out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse, a movement in the bushes and I realised instantly why they had been watching me. There she was rising from her soft earth bed — sweet baby turtle! Her head poked out fleetingly, tiny sleepy eyes. Was she flirting with me? I don't know. She's a shy one. Again out comes her head. Yes, she is flirting with me. I knew it and boy is she cute — she's the perfect size too 3.6-2.4-3.6 cm (don't ask me what that is in inches). She has curves in all the right places and the prettiest of faces. I am going to call her EGG because she looks like an egg when she curls up in her shell — which brings me rather nicely to Nicola. Congratulations Kate and Chris and welcome to the world Nicola. It is a big and amazing place. Trust me I know!

PS: Alice I think you had better write real soon!

Sweet baby turtle

23 Nov 2012

Shake, rattle and roll

5 Comments Spain

When he sets out on an adventure, nothing holds him back. Thrillseeker extraordinaire. Think Indiana Jones, Jason Bourne — seat of your pants sort of thing.

With that in mind he booked tickets on the fast train to Sóller. There is only one train to Sóller and it is anything but fast. But it is reliable. It has been running a daily service from Palma to Sóller since 1912 — 100 years.




The train rolled along the narrow gauge track and clattered noisily and very slowly … yawn … with almost as much lateral movement as forward motion. It passed through several mountain tunnels emerging from each to a view more and more spectacular as the journey progressed. The rolling stock was immaculate and probably looked as good as it did the day it was first commissioned. The old carriages are meticulously maintained with vast expanses of lovingly polished wood, shiny brass light fittings and wrought iron observation platforms.

With the two of us on board, Bruce Willis wannabee and I, amongst the herd (because they resembled sheep — baa) of mainly German tourists, we brought the average age down a notch or two, to somewhere just over 60.



When we arrived in Sóller there was an almost as old and even slower (1913) tram waiting to take us to Port. The port has a beautiful natural harbour protected from the elements. I half expected people to be getting about on horse and cart, but alas no, there they were buzzing around on their scooters, sending text messages … shattering completely any illusions of bygone grandeur I may have had.

Not to be deterred we trudged on because it was a sunny day and autumn leaves were falling all around. Why waste it? Perfect weather for sitting on an elevated terrace, taking in the view, having some lunch, a glass of Rueda, and contemplating the LONG SLOW journey back to Palma in the dark of night.



21 Nov 2012

The extended head-under-body-looped-back-through-neck pose

4 Comments Spain

The extended head-under-body-looped-back-through-neck pose requires balance and extreme flexibility. This asana increases your sense of balance and it is excellent for those with plenty of time on their hands. Every part of your body will receive a deep stretch. Hold the pose for several minutes and take care coming out of the pose for it is possible to become discombobulated or in extreme cases physically disconnected.

Do not attempt this pose without fully warming the body first.


19 Nov 2012

Autumn walks in Mallorca

6 Comments Spain

Have you ever seen a finger puppet doing yoga? I can practically tie myself in knots, I am that flexible. Which begs the question. Why are we staying in a little lovely little cottage studio with a private garden attached to a yoga studio in the heart of Palma de Mallorca?

And then Paul starts, “C'mon Al. It'll do us good to get back into shape after all that debauchery (of the food and wine kind) with Pedro and Alejandro. Look at you Al, you look like Michelin man. No more chorizo for you fat boy.”

There are no yoga classes on the weekend so we have taken to walking instead. We have explored the old town of Palma, found the remains of the beautiful Arabic baths dating back to the 10th century, the Royal Palace … and even managed to find the Cathedral, though it is impossible not to find. It is the first thing you see when you arrive in Palma — besides the super-yachts. It is a giant gothic structure and even when we walk the wide promenade all the way to Portixol, a charming little fishing village about five kilometres away, and turn back, the Cathedral is visible. It is probably even visible from outer-space.

The walk to Portixol started off beautifully. Everyone was in t-shirts, shorts even. The sun was shining. There were thick storm clouds above the mountains in the distance, but directly above Palma and Portixol, deep blue skies. It was the perfect distance to walk before lunch. We found a nice restaurant, sat down to enjoy the view and ordered the menu of the day. As soon as desert arrived there was a loud thunder crack — an omen perhaps. Don't eat that or you will finally burst — and the clouds raced in menacing and thick, enveloping Portixol. A downpour seemed imminent. Everything became very dark. The temperature dropped suddenly. Jackets were donned.

I looked up at the waiter, because we were dining out on an uncovered terrace. “Is it going to rain?” I asked, preparing to run inside.

He looked at me as if I were daft, shook his head and said, “Rain, I don't think so,” and walked off.

No one else seemed all that bothered either.

We walked back to Palma in the amazing stormy light. We watched the sunset peeking between the clouds on its final descent. It was only when we reached home that we realised we could see the stars … and it was a perfectly clear cloudless night again.