Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Spain, Part II: Mallorca

Okay, Spain... where did I leave off?  I think in the air to Mallorca...

Mallorca is the largest island in the Balearic Islands archipelago and sits east of Spain in the Mediterranean Sea.

However, it's still pretty small, and we were able to get from one end of the island to the other fairly easily.  For example, we spent two nights in Palma de Mallorca (in the west), one night in Alcudia (in the northeast), and a day in Deia (north of Palma).

Due the the horrible-ness that is flying Ryanair, I arrived after Lauren instead of before her.  We apparently just missed each other at the airport (I wasn't using my phone, so I didn't know she was there), so I hopped a bus and planned to use a really useless little map, which was missing about 70% of the street names, to get to the place we were staying that night.  [Side note: we used Airbnb for our entire trip and it was really wonderful.  Airbnb matches travelers up with hosts who either have an extra bedroom or who are out of town when the traveler is in town.  We met some really lovely people and definitely got more of the local experience.  And it's cheap!  I highly recommend it.]  I arrived at my bus stop and tried to orient myself with the Airbnb map in hand.  I headed in the direction I thought I needed to go, with all of my stuff, at about 11 pm.  Pretty quickly, I was confused.  While I was using my cell phone light to try and see the map on the back of a bus stop stand, a woman approached me and asked me, in Spanish, if I needed help.  Haha... what gave it away?!  I answered yes, and soon we were speaking English (she was French, but dating an English man and living in Spain- so European!) and she told me I was in a somewhat sketchy neighborhood.  She walked with me for about 10 minutes until I was just a block away from where I was staying.  I was just floored by how nice and helpful she was- it was just so unexpected and appreciated!

I got to the door of the apartment and realized I had no idea what unit I was staying in.  I tried knocking and was debating randomly buzzing someone, but it was pretty late at this point, so I ended up texting Lauren.  What a relief to see her and get inside!  We grabbed a beer and some ham (obviously) and caught up before heading to bed.

The next morning, we had our first (of many) cafe con leche with chocolate scones.  Lauren loved the coffee and I loved the scones, although we were both pretty satisfied with everything.

We decided to do a Hop On, Hop Off bus- one of those giant red touristy things.  It was a relatively cheap way to get around and explore, and since neither of us actually knew what we wanted to see in Mallorca, it seemed like a good idea. We walked around town a bit, and then we took the bus out to a castle and explored there.  It was so cool to look down on the city- it was much bigger than we realized, especially for a small island.  The views were really fantastic.

The next day we beached it for a while...

Lauren's feet
 ...and then caught the bus to Alcudia on the other side of the island.

We met up with our host, Elaine, a wonderful British woman, and we joined her and her dog Buddy for tea and beers at a scenic overlook.

Buddy was great at fetch until he got bored and just left the tennis balls floating in the water.

We rejoiced when we realized our room that night was air conditioned- it was in the 90-100s most of our trip and it was very humid.  We became one with the sweat.

The main reason we headed over to Alcudia was because I, being the hungry hydrologist, was hungry to see the wetlands of Mallorca.  On the east side of the island, a little south of Alcudia, is the Parc Natural de s'Albufera which contains over 4,200 acres of marsh and dunes!  I was very excited.

So that morning, after breakfast...

...we caught a bus down to s'Albufera, and we hopped off into the heat.  We hiked for a bit, and saw some cool birds and weird plants, but honestly, I was a little disappointed.  None of the channels looked natural to me- they were all wide and straight like canals.  I think only part of the park is accessible to visitors, so I hope the rest of the marsh looks more natural and healthy.

We caught a bus back to Palma, and stayed the night with another host in a different part of town.  Alessandro had an adorable puppy who kept trying to snuggle with us on the bed, although he was not allowed up there. We also had a sweet balcony!

The next day we took (yet another) bus to Deia.  It was in my book of 1000 Places to See Before You Die and described as a beautiful area with tons of olive trees.  Deia was, in fact, beautiful.  On the ride in, we saw all of these houses set into a majestic mountainside.  I loved it.

We hiked a ways down to a rocky beach that was, again, beautiful.

It was super hot, so we didn't last long on the beach, but we did admire the views from one of the nearby restaurants as we sipped wine.  I order the melon con jamon, a traditional dish that made me very happy.

We caught the bus back to Palma, where we stayed a second night with Alessandro and the puppy.

Waiting for the bus
The next day we packed our bags once again, and flew to Barcelona.  I will leave off here so you can recover from all of the photos I just dropped on you. :)


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