Sometimes I stand in front of the map of Europe on our office wall and ponder where we should go next. This sounds spoiled and enviable. Ok, I am spoiled and to be envied. But consider that you can get just about anywhere in Europe from London in under three hours and for about the same price per person as the cost of a tank of (European) gas and you'd be doing the same thing.
I didn't feel sufficiently baked this past summer so I was seeking more sun for our first school break at the end of October. I had heard of Mallorca, and might have even known it was an island if pressed. But that's about it. I didn't know if it was part of Spain, given its proximity, or if it was one of those tiny independent kingdoms you learn about in Trivial Pursuit. We had toyed with going to Sicily but that was about twice the price and a three hour flight rather than two. So I texted C. "What do you know about Mallorca?" "Biking!" was his reply. And the decision was made.
The capitol Palma can be enjoyed in any weather, but when it's warm and the sun is shining and you have a strong glass of sangria in your hand on the beach, it's magical. After a few hours in our bathing suits I could have gotten back on the plane that same evening and been completely satisfied with my getaway. Instead, we had an apartment in the heart of the old town that had a swing hanging from the rafters. Our Air B&B host was an interior designer and sweeter than gelato and he made sure we knew all the places to explore and eat before handing us the keys.
If you are a cycling enthusiast, Mallorca is where you should plan not just your next holiday but your retirement. It's especially great for road biking with it's undulating, twisty roads, smooth blacktop and mellow drivers. But I wanted to get on a dirt track so I signed up for a level 4 mountain bike ride in the Tramuntana Mountains above our second waypoint in Porto Soller. Other than one of the guides, I was the oldest of the group (and the guide, despite his age, was the fittest of us all). I hadn't been on my mountain bike for over a year, let alone peddled over small boulders and up steep mountain single track. But I was ecstatic about being in the saddle again and managed to negotiate the squirrely downhills without breaking my neck. I was most proud of the moment my front tire got stuck in a rock crack on a downhill and I flew over the front of the bike and landed on my feet.
Chris rented a high performance road bike and spent half a day with a British diplomat he met on the beach. After he'd agreed to cycle 70 miles and 7000 feet at 7a.m. he found out the guy regularly competed in triathalons. But he kept up (I'm proud of you, babe) and could still walk the next day.
Mallorca is also a hiking paradise. There are canyon and beach hikes, terrain dotted with monestaries and olive farms, native goats and vineyards. There are Morrish towns to hike between with labyrinthine streets and lively locals tossing around snail shells and fishing tales in the middle of the afternoon.
Every day we had our toes in the sand and a glass of local wine in our hands. The corner mini-marts baked their own crusty bread and choclate croissants each morning. We learned to drizzle olive oil on our baguette sandwhiches instead of mayonnaise. The only fault we found with Mallorca was the impossibility of a good cup of coffee before nine in the morning. I guess they don't think you should even need coffee before nine in the morning. Go back to bed!
After returning to rainy England we were still so high on Mallorca that C spent a few hours on-line looking into how to retire there as a foreigner. It could be easy if we stayed in England another 5 years and got our UK citizenship, but that might devastate my mother so don't mention it to her. The restrictions to non-European citizens are many, so we've put the idea on the back burner. However, don't be surprised, if you follow us into our next decade, if you find me writing from our three month villa rental in the mountains of Mallorca.
"I don't like to hear the word maybe, I like to hear the word yes. You always always always always say no. It's not a vacation if you don't buy anything" ZFW