Our last half term holiday was scheduled in October when the weather was decidedly wintry. While I went off to school each day John researched all the warm places we could go for a week and settled on Majorca. Our only knowledge of this Spanish Island was that Christopher Skase had departed Australia owing huge amounts of money and lived a millionaire lifestyle in Majorca until his death in 2001.
Flying over Majorca in our Monarch two engine airbus we saw a long, mountainous, green island. The sun was setting but the air was deliciously warm after the cold chill of England.
John’s choice of accommodation was in Cala d’Or on the south east coast of the island. Our apartment consisted of twin beds pushed together, a kitchen, dining/lounge and a balcony looking across the road to a car and bicycle hire shop. We didn’t get a pool view but judging from the screams and smoke from the pool area maybe that was just as well.
Feeling hungry after our strange breakfast/dinner on the plane we walked along the street for pizza and garlic prawns with an inexpensive but good dry white.
Next day the weather was perfect (25 to 27 degrees). We quickly donned our swimming costumes and took the short walk down to the beach. Although small it was clean and sandy, resembling a large swimming pool, beach at one end, rock walls on each side and the Mediterranean Sea at the other end. We swam out to a small buoy and chatted to other English tourists in the water.
At 12.00 midday we had a meeting with our Cosmos representative, Andy (we never saw him again). He explained the various tour options but we decided against them all, at least for the time being. We were given a glass of sangria and met another couple who had flown from Birmingham just as we had. From what we could gather we were the only Australians in Majorca or at least on Cala D’Or.
Our daughter rang to tell us she had lost her PA job with Unilever. While she was holidaying in Greece her temporary replacement had been given her job. As Carina was returning to Australia in March 2005 the company preferred someone who could stay permanently. So she was busy registering with various employment agencies to see what was available.
Meanwhile we decided to take the little road train to Cala d’Or. It meandered along streets of newish whitewashed villas and apartments until reaching the town which consisted of row upon row of open-air restaurants. A larger beach than ours, the Cala Gran looked spectacular with its clear blue water and yellow sand. Catching the train back we opted for a prawn lunch on our balcony and a swim in the hotel pool. That evening we wandered down to the marina to admire the boats and choose a restaurant for dinner. After a busy six weeks with my new class it was paradise to just relax.
John’s maxim is to get to know the area you are in before heading off to explore new territory so next day we bought ingredients for a picnic lunch and walked to the fort on the headland where we had a fine view of the marina and Cala d”Or Beach. We continued along a road lined with grand houses. The cliffs in front of the houses had holes for removable ladders so the residents could lower themselves into the water, and more importantly, get out again.
Walking in the opposite direction along the beaches we discovered Cala Esmeralda and spent a long time people watching. We became concerned when a child of about five, wearing just a towel, seemed to be alone. She tagged onto one family, only to leave them after they climbed a hill. Eventually she found her own family but they showed no concern over her disappearance for about twenty minutes.
I was to regret the fact that we did not swim again at these wonderful, calm beaches. Little did we know that the weather would deteriorate and become cool and windy.
We slept in until nearly nine oclock after being woken at 2.00 am by a group of singers at the roundabout outside. John jumped up to check and said there were about eight women and two men. They sang “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” and were quite harmonious. At least I had that impression as I woke from a heavy sleep. John had vaguely mentioned cycling to Porto Petro but when I enquired in the morning I heard “hire car” before he rolled back over to sleep.
John booked a car at the desk and in fifteen minutes we were picked up by a mini van and taken to Autos Roig Renta-Car on the outskirts of Cala d’Or. In our little Fiat Pinto we headed north to Porto Cristo, resisting the urge to drive in to the many little beaches along the way. You can’t keep John away from a marina so we sat contemplating the boats while we drank a cappuccino. No food is required as the usual froth is replaced by whipped cream. Delicious but evil.
Driving inland we came to the town of Petra which was very different to the resort towns. The narrow streets were lined with stone and cement rendered buildings, two storeys high, with shuttered windows and stout wooden doors. A very old church was under restoration.
Heading back to the coast we saw a sign to Son Serra de Marina and entered a long drive towards the sea. It was a fairly new development with a marina at the end but had a run-down neglected air about it. At Ca’n Jauire we asked for tapas but the waitress didn’t understand so we ordered stuffed mussels, deep fried shrimp and calamari, tomato salad, bread, beer and aqua mineral.
Somewhere just before Port de Alcudia we found a beach vastly different to our Cala d’Or. The approaches were reminiscent of the Gold Coast and the beach was long, covered in deck chairs and little umbrellas looking a little the worse for wear.
Heading back inland towards the centre of the island to the town of Sineu we found it full of interesting architecture. The first thing we noticed approaching the town was the parish church of Mother Mary. This large ancient church has an impressive bell tower with seven levels. There is also a graveyard full of mausoleums and a former palace which is now a nunnery. Sineu was once one of the most important towns on the island and many buildings from past golden eras remain. Nine roads radiate from the centre of the town and we were on one heading to Sant Joan. Although it was a large town, the shuttered houses in the narrow streets looked as though many might be empty.
After returning the car we were back at our hotel La Mirada. Walking from the foyer to our room, past the pool, we ran the gauntlet of smokers. We would hold our breath until we reached the stairs and then run up the two floors as the lift invariably never worked.
We had not been over impressed with our food in Majorca, feeling that the English tourist influence had had a detrimental effect and tonight was no different. Our pasta meals were only just edible although the English woman at the door tried hard to convince passers by it was a genuinely good restaurant.
Tomorrow we would explore a very different and spectacular part of Majorca.