T for Taking a Tour

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter T

The next day we were taking a tour, “The Best of the West”.  Setting alarms on two mobile phones and ordering a wakeup call we were determined not to miss our bus.  We needn’t have worried.  An argument in the next room and uncanny light flashes in the window had us awake for much of the night.  At 7.00 am it was pitch black but it was light by 8.00 am when we left for  Bus Stop 12.  Unaccountably there was no Bus Stop 12, only 11.  A number of people gathered on the opposite side of the road, some going to Inca markets, some to Marineland but none where we were going.  A Trans tours bus arrived so I went over to ask the guide.  Both he and the passenger getting on spoke German, so I thought – not our bus.  A few minutes later Juan (the guide) came over to get us.  It was the right bus – he just spoke Spanish, French, German and English.  In fact all commentaries were in Three languages and we were sure the French and Germans got more information than we did.

Although we travelled over some of the roads we had traversed yesterday the guide drew our attention to some interesting facts.  On the plains mainly almond trees grow, while in the mountains the olive trees flourished.  Some of the evergreen trees were carob but we were unsure whether the leaves or the carob beans were used to feed the cattle.  The carob bean itself was used to counterbalance gold and so was the origin of the word carat.  I also learned that a missionary born in Petra (Saint Junipero Serra) left for California to convert the heathen in 1749.  We observed people collecting something in the fields and were told they were looking for snails coming out after a shower of rain.

The Inca Markets are famous but we only saw them from a distance.  Our first and only stop was a leather factory outlet where we bought a wallet for Cameron and a key ring for Carina.

The most exciting part of the day was about to commence.  The clouds looked ominous as we climbed into the Serra de Tramuntana.  Almond trees gave way to olive trees, planted in incredibly labour intensive rock terraces up the hillsides.  Below us in a valley we saw Monastir de Lluc where anyone can go for a quiet Mallorcan holiday.  The monastery was founded in the 13th Century although the current buildings were mainly built in the 18th Century.

Sa Calobra (The Snake) is a 13 km road of hairpin bends reminiscent of Macquarie Pass on steroids.  One loop is so exaggerated that the road passes under itself in a knot.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/160866001@N07/50184715731/in/photostream/

We were to catch a boat to Port Saller at Cala de Sa Calobra.  There are about five restaurants and bars serving identical self-serve food pictured outside the establishments.  Delights such as spaghetti (canned!), fish and chips, sad looking salads and meatballs simmering in large metal trays all looked decidedly unappetising.  John opted for fish and chips but after the two cream topped cappuccinos and deep fried seafood yesterday I was looking for something healthier.  I unwisely chose some cheese, prosciutto and a bread roll, most of which I wrapped up and took home as ingredients for a Spanish omelette that night.

The main objective before departure was the Torrent de Pareis (River of the Twins).  The coastal path becomes two tunnels through the rock walls, emerging on the pebbly river bed.  As the pebbles approach the sea they become smaller.  I collected a small cream coloured pebble as a souvenir.

The boat trip to Port Soller began in heavy rain.  We followed the coastline and had an enjoyable albeit bouncy trip, seated in the covered, open air stern section.  A woman near us hung over the side of the boat the whole trip but most people survived  with lunch intact and shouted cheerfully at each big wave.

After following a shoreline of steep rocky cliffs we arrived at the cream and brown town of Port de Soller.  Then it was a matter of being herded along with hundreds of other tourists for ten minutes to the 17th Century Railway station (obviously not originally built for trains).  Things were looking up when we bought a pretzel shaped cake from one of the renowned bakeries and had a really good coffee minus the cream.

By Mikael F Flickr A Beautiful Journey

Our coach number was 637 and we clambered on board, looking forward to the next stage of the trip.  As we climbed the hills out of Soller we passed orchards of oranges, lemons, almond and olive.  After the first tunnel Soller was below us on our right and the next tunnel put it on our left.  The narrow gauge railway was built in 1912.  A total of 13 tunnels took us through the mountains and down to Palma.  In one very long tunnel we felt as if we were racing downhill, almost out of control.  It was with great relief that we saw daylight and the train slowed down, before plunging into another tunnel.  We didn’t actually go into Palma but left the train on the outskirts where all the coaches lined up to take the tourists home.

The trip back was across the dry interior and we pulled up at Cala d’Or as the sun was setting in a blue sky.  As I had some ingredients all we needed was some eggs, tomatoes and an onion to cook a Spanish Omelette and drink some red wine.

Our last day was quiet.  We could have hired a car and driven to Palma for the day but instead opted for coffee, newspapers, some souvenir shopping and a walk to find a new beach, Cala Egor.  It would have been a beautiful beach except for the two ugly high rise hotels flanking the inlet.  One had already closed for the season leaving an untidy mess of beermats and empty sugar packets labelled Marina Hotels as well as the inevitable cigarette butts.

Walking across the front of the hotel we found cement paths and steps marked PRIVATE.  It didn’t stop teenage boys from jumping off rocks into the water.

The food had been ordinary so far so we planned to have a special meal on the last night.  Reading through my Berlitz Pocket Guide I discovered a glowing reference to Can Trompe in Avd Belgica.  The young man in reception seconded that opinion.

Although tapas wasn’t on the menu we were advised that a selection of starters would give us the same result.  They were served two at a time and complemented each other perfectly.  First came green olives, hot bread rolls and aeoli.  Shortly after the whitebait and sauteed pimentos arrived.  This was followed by mussels mariniere and grilled or sauteed vegetables (eggplant, tomato, mushrooms and zucchini).  Finally we had chicken croquettes and spinach gratin.  That constitutes a perfect meal to my mind.

4 thoughts on “T for Taking a Tour

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