Here’s what we got up to in Mallorca.
To answer the rental roulette questions:
duurtlang - Manly Mint 500C. 69HP
Schaefft - Fittingly in the most barge like 220i 184HP
gmporschenut - A 4 door Mini complaining in German. 134HP
Fritz - The dark grey 500c. 69HP
Klaus Schmoll - A light cream 500C with a weird german accent. 69hp
Me - The 500s practical cousin, the Panda with the maybe broken gearbox.69hp
My Mallorca experience commenced with a very early start, with the alarm set to 03:45, then leaving the house by 5.00 AM. I’d allowed plenty of time to get to the airport and deal with the offsite parking I’d booked, and assuming some time to get through security. After making good progress down to Brizzle, I got to the parking place, which had a Jet Provost guarding the gate. That’s the second time I’ve been surprised by a Provost on a Europpomeet trip. Jumped straight on to the waiting shuttle bus, and arrive at the airport in less than five minutes.
Now I’ve been to Bristol Airport plenty of times to collect and drop off, but never flown from there. I’d expected a bit of a wait for security, but was through in a couple of minutes. This left some time for an overpriced breakfast whilst waiting an eternity for the gate to be announced. This happened about 10 minutes before it was due to close, which meant a brisk walk to the far reaches of the airport where my 737 from everyone’s favourite budget airline was waiting. Boarding was speedy, with only 43 passengers. A row each! Probably the most pleasant Ryanair experience I’ve had. Not the emptiest flight I’ve ever been on though, that’s still the 18 passenger BA A320 from Gothenburg.
After a swift two hour flight of spotting future meet locations (Hello Pyrenees!) we plonk down in the usual Ryanair firm fashion at what appears to be a completely abandoned Palma Airport. Now, of course this being a budget flight we park somewhere in Barcelona and catch a long bus ride to the terminal, going in through what appears to be a back entrance. A deserted major airport is quite a strange experience. The only other person I saw at the passport gates were the border officers.
After the rigmarole of collecting the car I headed over to the Supermarket Car Park that gmporschenut had found. Another thing that’s featured in many previous meets. We headed down to the seafront for a wander and see if anyone else was arriving. Not spotting anywhere promising for food it was time to head to a larger supermarket and stock up on the essentials of Beer and Bacon. By this time schaefft had landed and collected his 220i, but being full of the plague he went straight to the Airbnb. We took a more scenic route back, and experienced what would prove to be quite typical examples of the roads found over the next several days. Narrow, deep ditches either side and plenty of cyclists and oblivious tourists to contend with.
We arrived back in a somewhat leisurely fashion to the Airbnb to find Schaeftt and duurtlang watching Wargames , dubbed in Spanish, with no subtitles. Not even German!
Three of us headed off to the Monastery at Lluc, which promised an interesting walk to a big cross on top of a hill. This, as we found out with many things on this trip, was closed. It looked like it might have been due to a rockfall instead of just being out of season. Still €5 for the 15 minutes parking...
On return to the Villa, and with the arrival of Klaus Schmoll with soap and more beer we made the short walk into the town of Campanet. As the group was without the chief (closed) resturant finder of the trip, we picked something quite average by wandering about. When we got back, the mysterious Fritz had arrived, with yet another 500C. Outside was looking like a Fiat dealer. We put the world to rights over some drinks (our common evening pastime!)
All the routes for this trip were ably planned out by duurtlang & his Reiseführer , typically featuring a Google estimated 4 hours of driving per day. This sounds easily achievable, but with our sightseeing, slow traffic, long lunches and leisurely departure we weren’t exactly racing around it!
The first leg of the day took us over the Coll Dels Reis, towards the coast at Sa Calobra. What I found out on this section is that the Panda was, despite on paper sharing a lot with the 500s, significantly slower. It couldn’t keep up through the twisty bits, possibly down to the skinny tyres and wobbly suspension.
This route featured several tourist coaches, which were going faster than most of the other rented cars we got stuck behind! Crash barriers are merely a suggestion, as was common across the mountainous region. Don’t look down!
On arrival at Sa Calobra we found a nice bay that’s been turned into an almost quite literal tourist trap. Park in the expensive parking, and walk down to the bay surrounded by overpriced, low quality restaurants. I wouldn’t recommend it, even if you aren’t an idiot and loose the ticket for the parking. We left and went to the bay around the corner, the much more agreeable Tuent.
Much cheaper to park, and really very little else, but a much nicer beach. The water wasn’t that cold, but none of us were braving it. Some people had been out diving. We did find a sign giving translation amusement in multiple languages!
As it was now late afternoon, lunch was calling, so left for the town of Sóller. We found a very small car pack (later the scene of some Fiat on BMW lovin’), and grabbed lunch in the main square. One of the main attractions in Sóller is the very old electric train that runs between Palma and the town. The linked tram runs through the centre of the town, along the streets to the coast.
There’s two options to get back to Palma from Sóller. Either take the nice straight road that goes through a nice big tunnel, or take the old road, with it’s many hairpins. The choice was obvious!
Thanks to 505 - morphine not found for the tip! We stocked up with supplies on the way home, including enough charcoal to roast an entire pig. An evening of grilling and beer followed. As did every other evening. Make sure you take keen cooks on your Oppomeets people.
The day started by covering some routes we had previously used to get to Palma, the largest city on the Island. This included the MA-11A again, but in reverse this time.
Our first stop in Palma was the Castell de Bellver, a 14th century castle overlooking the city. We were debating if we could get in as a school party as there were two teachers in the group and the rest of us were clearly a bunch of children. As it turned out, it was a national holiday so entry was free for all before 2pm. Result.
Displays covered the history of the castle, as well as more generally the history and growth of the city. The castle was the first circular one to be built in Europe, and in it’s later years was used as a prison. Not wanting to be locked in as it was being closed early we made our way in to the city, parking in the docks. Some poking of the parking machine revealed that because of the holiday the parking was free. No chance of that in the UK.
This part of Palma is where the large cruise ships disgorge their passengers, and the main streets leading away are full of the usual tourist tat shops and dodgy looking restaurants. Plus a giant Panda. After an unsuccessful hunt for ‘a really stupid souvenir’ we consulted Schaefft and Mr Google for a place to eat. Google’s listings for hours are really inaccurate out of season, leading to a lot of promising looking places that were very much closed. We found a Tapas bar owned by a Swede with background music from classic America.
Schaefft stayed nursing several green teas while we went on a walking tour of the old town. The Reiseführer guided us to the (shut) Cathedral, the (shut) Museum and the Arab Baths which didn’t seem worth paying to get in to. The perils of the public holiday. Nevertheless it was a good couple of hours just exploring the back streets.
On return to the Villa, someone tried the pool
The unheated pool.
This was the last day for Klaus Schmoll and Fritz, so we were determined to make the best of it. We headed out to the lighthouse at Cap de Formentor. The road to this has some stunning views, but is chocked with traffic even at the very end of the season.
I bet it’s a riot in the dead of winter, less so when it’s the high season. Parking our six little cars caused some issues at the lighthouse.
The only way out is the same as the way in, but there is a limit to the enjoyment when you’re stuck behind a Zafira.
Heading along the coast we found ourselves in the town of Alcúdia, which promised Roman ruins to take a look at. After a lunch watching televised Ice skating we explored the old town and the old fortified walls.
Then we set off for the roman ruins, completely missing the ones next to the car park we had used, favouring what promised to be a theatre a short walk away. Well we never found it, appearing as a common theme of this trip, to be closed. A car park provided some interesting sights, including an abandoned Polish van & a nice E30
The last stop of the day was the Santuari de Sant Salvador in Artà. A medieval fortress offering fantastic views across the town and surrounding countryside.
And then there were four. With the departure of Fritz and Klaus Schmoll (not without some Android Auto fun!) our remaining group ventured towards the mountain roads around Puigpunyent en route to the coast at Sant Elm. Around Es Capdellà we lost gmporschenut, and in true top gear fashion, left him behind. This was also the time that the storm came in, which was mildly terrifying. The roads turned to ice rinks, with some sweet four wheel drifting in the Panda and breaking traction in second gear. Several near misses were witnessed, with the highlight being a Kangoo van catastrophically understeering across a tight corner into the opposite lane.
After arrival in Sant Elm and selection of a place for lunch, gmporschenut arrived, thankfully having not ended up at the bottom on a steep valley after sliding his mini off the road. The storm had blown through after lunch so we went on a tour of the local area, walking up to the cliffs at Punta Blanca. This appeared to be part of development from the early 2000s that stopped after the base of the main road was laid and drainage put it.
We wrapped up the afternoon with following the coastal MA-10 road. On the way we got stuck behind a VW Transporter going annoyingly slowly, so pulled over at a picturesque spot to put a gap between us and them. There was another car parked there. Nothing unusual there, but after pulling up next to it to park neatly the couple occupying the car were enjoying each other’s company. We left them to enjoy the view.
Our last stop of the trip was the town of Valldemossa, where we had a quick explore of the town, looking at some not all that inspiring art for sale, before heading back to base for the last time.
After fetching some local pizza, I headed to bed early with the prospect of having to be up and 3:45 AM not feeling like such a good idea in hindsight.
Alarm at 3:45, out the Villa by 4:15 and motoring towards the airport as fast as a 69hp could take me. After a frantic search for a last minute top up (the petrol station at PMI is well hidden!) I dropped the Panda back at the rental place dead on 5:00. One disadvantage of an early flight was that nowhere was open for a decent breakfast.
In contrast to the flight out, the return was packed. I found myself next to a wonderful couple who decided that the lack of in flight entertainment could be made up for by playing their tunes through the speaker on their phone. Wonderful.
Back at my desk by 11AM, wishing I’d taken the extra day off.