Archive for Spain

08 May 2014

Are You Speaking English?

6 Comments Spain

Back in Spain again!!! Yes, that old chestnut. So rather than bore you with all the details, I will simply say it has been very nice. Malaga for a few days of cheap eats and silliness. We even did a cultural walking tour through the old town, Alejandro and Pedro will be pleased to know. We learned lots, including that Larios, the guy who funded the beautification of one of Malaga’s main boulevards conveniently forgot to pay his workers, hence the coppery green statue of him got its colour. The workers revolted, removed his statue and dumped it in the Mediterranean where it remained for eight years. Good old Franco saw to it that the statue was recovered. Below it now, a less greenish statue stands: a tribute to the workers who really built the street.

More deserving than a photo of Larios's statue. You dirty rat. Building in Malaga.

El Molinar revisited. The capital of Palma de Mallorca in the background.

El Molinar seafront houses

Sunset walks

And now we are in Mallorca where the sun oft shines, the days are long, the beaches are flat and the second language is German. We are staying in lovely sleepy El Molinar, but for three days (out of curiosity) we moved to El Arenal — the German quarter. It is the equivalent of Magaluf, the English resort area to the west of Palma. The beach is wonderful, however the town like Magaluf is ugly and cheap and was established for one purpose: to drink. Grown men stand on the sides of the road drinking via metre long straws from plastic buckets of spirits. Let's simply say they were three long days. Our plight was partly saved by a group of Irish and Scottish lasses who also found themselves in El Arenal by mistake and invited us up to the rooftop bar of their hotel to lounge around and chat.

Hou’s aw wi ye? a Scottish girl asked.

Yer a wee thing. Another handed me a drink: Get it up ye, she said as we toasted with our paper cups.

And I also discovered: Ye kin make hael sentences wae jist sweer wurds, and Irish girls shouldn't spend too much time in the sun.

It was bliss, there in the German part of Spain, a crowd of us native English speakers gathered, and between us we understood not a word!


El Arenal, view from the rooftop bar in the heat of the day

Lang may yer lum reek (May you live long and stay well)


11 Nov 2013

Caving 101 —The Basics

2 Comments Spain

The Orient walkers (l-r) - Ignatio, Louisa, Patricia, Marian and Rich


After our disastrous attempt a few weeks back, setting out, getting lost and then finding the waves were too rough and prohibiting entry the cave, we thought we would give it another go. A different place, a different cave, a different group of people, no underwater entry. How hard could it be?

We parked the vehicle and set off on foot. The path between the old villages of Santa Maria and Orient was pretty. It was mainly shaded from the sun by a canopy of trees and the trail was an autumnal carpet of leaves. There were giant boulders to clamber over and somewhere en route there was a magnificent cave. The problem was we couldn't find it. Still we had a nice walk, a picnic lunch and stopped for a coffee in Orient. Not a bad day in all.




Then on Wednesday we were in a bar and a new and random group of friends invited us walking.

Hola little Alpaca wanna walk with us?


Bring the big guy too.

So on Saturday morning at 8:00am we set off, the five of us on an almost four hour trail between Soller and Tuent, except that it wasn't a four hour trail, it was four hours there and four hours back. It caught everyone by surprise — if you want to organise an event and have it all go swimmingly, can I suggest you don't choose a Spanish organiser. But that's half the fun. Fortunately there was no talk of caving. I doubt we would have found it anyway!

By the time we arrived back we were exhausted and depleted of water, but in true Spanish style everyone immediately perked up at the mention of food and alcohol. And we carried on until after 1:00am before finally calling it a night.

Some of us had to be up at 5:00am for the early morning flight to Madrid. Our last few days in Spain and then we head back to Perth to rest our weary bodies. Yeah!


The Sóller walkers (l-r) - Kiko, Barbara and Suzanna


Sunset over Sóller




02 Nov 2013

Bleak ‘Ol Night In Mallorca

1 Comment Spain

The bar counters were covered in cobwebs. All the picture frames too. A large black spider crawled along the wall. In the toilet, a skeleton in the closet. The establishment had a bleakness about it. Something ghoulish. All over Palma similar preparations were underway — it's Halloween in Mallorca.

In the massive multi-level costume and party supplies store, there was a long queue — all the last-minute purchasers. We scoured the aisles trying to make a decision from the myriad of choices: grim reapers, priests, vampires, blood-spattered medics, witches, devils, demon babies, before Paul finally settled on Freddy.

In the evening after two hours of preparations — making glue and with it a paper mâché face, slashing it, adding some suppurating sores, painting in the oozing blood, ringing eyes red and black — we were ready.

The festivities began at midnight (of course). First we took Coco out for a walk. He needed to pee — he always needs to pee. He looked the part in his horny ears and his devilish red tail. The five of us (Linda, Helena, Paul, Coco Loco and I) walked through the quiet streets where we live, turning the corner onto unsuspecting strangers out for their midnight stroll, and frightening them half to death. That was fun. Then with Coco in bed we headed off to the festivities.

The Mallorquinos have taken to Halloween like a certain Aussie to cava (Spanish bubbly). The streets of Palma were filled with ghosts and goblins and headless Nicks. Slashed-up schoolgirls must have been on sale this year. There were parties everywhere. In the street we asked a man with his head on a plate where to go but he seemed a little disconnected.

In a strange bar, ghoulish and green, there was a public dance-off voting competition and the Aussie Freddy won. And then in another bar, another party, and it's Hola Freddy, Heya Freddie, Fred mate. By the end of the night his face was falling off, bits of it were lying in the gutter. He looked almost human again. He made me sick.

Sob. I went as an earthworm and nobody noticed. Sob sob.



28 Oct 2013

The Beach II

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Packed and ready to go - Coco Loco included

It was a weekend reminiscent of Alex Garland's novel The Beach.
Preparations were made; we (Linda, John, Lotta, Paul and I) hired wetsuits, bought head-torches, packed tents, dog, food and alcohol. We planned to trek to a remote beach and make our way, swimming through calm waters, to a concealed underwater entrance to our very own pirates cave.
Okay, first I should point out that Paul and I are back in Mallorca again. If nudity offends you perhaps you should look elsewhere, but you should know it is perfectly legal to walk down the street in the nude in many parts of Spain (though probably not recommended) and all the beaches in Spain are nudist beaches to varying degrees.
We trekked for twenty minutes with all our gear, laid our towels down on the beach and went off into the forest to search of somewhere to camp. While nudity is permitted, camping is not. A little way in we stumbled across a makeshift campsite with hammocks strung between trees, in treetops, and in bushes, the occasional tent and the strong but not unpleasant waft of ganja thick in the air. Most of the inhabitants had been there for weeks or in some cases months. They welcomed us to their digs with open arms — food, cups of tea and magic puff. A Colombian Rastafarian, a Polish girl who had cycled solo all the way from Montenegro to Spain and had an aversion to clothes. Some Germans who were living the dream and a dozen or so others. All of them sweet, pleasantly stoned and would be all the more lovelier after a hot soapy bath.
In the evening we were handed drums, castanets, assorted other wooden instruments and joined in the merriment. You can hear us here.
We prepared a Spanish barbecue — cooked on those tiny tinfoil self-contained instant barbecues bought in the supermarket — and after an extraordinarily long time we ate almost cooked chicken kebabs with a strong paraffin aftertaste. At least the salads were good.
Sleeping in a rocky hilly campsite with not a single flat surface, in a wafer-thin tent — without even a camp mattress — with a sharp rock protruding and threatening to tear me apart, will not go down in history as one of my most comfortable nights, but it will go down as one of the more memorable. We drifted off to the sounds of rasta-man singing ode to marijuana for the twenty seventh time.
And in the morning we woke to the sounds of rasta-man singing ode to marijuana. It became an earworm, stuck in my head and wouldn't bloody leave.
We went down to the beach where an early morning naked tantric sex ring-a-rosie was being performed in the water. Elsewhere a yogi was meditating in the nude much to the irritation of a girl who was dancing wildly in front of him — she was in a world of her own, as was he — trying unsuccessfully to distract him. We swam and ate some more. A few of the dudes had set up a slack-line and were taking turns at performing an impressive array of aerial acrobatics. A couple of men appeared hauling large cool boxes and resurrected their illegal bar on the rocks — under a canvas sail — selling mojitos, beer and chilled vino to all and sundry. We swam some more. As the morning progressed the beach began to fill with bodies emerging from the bushes, day trippers tripping in and even the odd catamaran cruising by.
When this got too much we grabbed our wetsuits, helmets and head torches and set off in search of our cave. On the way we got lost, couldn't find the path and ended up on a rough bush track. In the process we scratched ourselves to threads on all the spiny bushes. By the time we made it to the cliff top, our cave forty metres below was being smashed by strong waves. At this point, tired, sun-whipped and sober, we unanimously agreed it was probably not a sound idea to begin with and commenced the long trek back.

Lying down on the job


Best practised on soft sand


An experienced yogi is not easily distracted


Aromatic Spanish barbecue


Campsite on a hill


Ode to Marijuana - Take 45


Early morning naked tantric sex ring-a-rosie love circle with makeshift bar in the background


Nice catamaran


The end of the road - our pirate cave below


Even Coco Loco has had enough



08 Oct 2013

The World According To Dog

3 Comments Spain

Puppy hasn't changed much since my last visit. He was his usual splendiferous self. Exuding youthfulness despite his prismatic patchwork-quilt exterior. I don't know how he does it, year in, year out. It must be something in the water.

And the Guggenheim never fails to impress, as much (actually more) for the Gehry architecture as for the art within.




We are in Barcelona (sans Gillian). This time we are determined we will avoid all cultural monuments, museums, pickpockets on Las Ramblas, and simply swing a camera over our shoulders and roam the streets, enjoying the good weather, the smiley faces and the multitude of cheap places to eat.

Barcelona is like Madrid; it never sleeps. Last night, Monday night, we went to a rather strange language exchange meeting in a bar with about 10 native English speakers and 70 Spaniards keen on learning English as fast as they can — que me explique la differencia between this, these and those — in the hope of securing a job abroad. It was a fun night and strange to be so popular, not so much for my affable puppetness, but for my flawless English, albeit with the quirky Aussie accent. After the bar closed it was a pleasant two kilometre walk home along Gran Via with its central wide promenade purely for cyclists, joggers and walkers. The number of people out jogging at 1:30am was astounding but it was the number of late night dog walkers that I found truly staggering.

Here puppy, puppy, no sleeping now, you have all day to do that!