I don’t know about you, but I really needed spring break this year. Really. What’s that? You don’t get a spring break? How sad.
Like I mentioned, I spent “Semana Santa” (holy week) in Palma de Mallorca on the Balearic islands. I was looking forward to beaches, sunshine, new sights, and new faces. I was not disappointed in any regard.
I didn’t realize how much I needed to be out of Madrid until I got out of Madrid. As soon as I got out of my routine and my familiar surroundings, I felt lighter and more relaxed. I went to Palma with my friend Stefanie from my program and her friend Aga whom I had never met, but heard good things about.
Here they are:
That’s Stefanie in front and Aga behind her. And behind Aga is the beach. Not bad, right?
The beaches definitely were gorgeous and the water was bright and blue.
Honestly, I was only trying to catch the water in this photo and not that man with a hairy back in a speedo. Sorry, man.
When we arrived in Palma it was really warm so we ate food and then headed straight to the beach. My body refuses to tan but I had a great time listening to podcasts and napping in the sun. I also achieved one of my Spain goals of going topless on the beach. Very liberating.
In between beach days and drinking nights, we found time to see some sights. The city of Palma was absolutely beautiful. Our hostel was approximately one flight of stairs away from the marina:
In the background of that picture you can see the Cathedral. We’ll get to that in a second.
We were also a short walk from the “old town” of Palma.
Which I found to be just darling. And also the cathedral. I took one million photos of the cathedral because I thought it was absolutely gorgeous. In fact, it reminded me a lot of the cathedral in Granada, only with more color because of the stained glass, and with one very special corner.
They started building this cathedral in 1300, but it wasn’t finished until 1601. Then it was restored by Gaudi in 1902, in classic Modernista fashion. We all wondered if he designed this corner of it:
Pictures don’t do it justice, obviously, but it was designed to look like you were under water (parting of the Red Sea, I assumed). Here is some of the detailing:
It’s just not something you normally see in cathedrals in Spain. Normally there are lots of saints and Jesus. Something more like this:
I mean, it’s pretty and all, and an impressive use of gold…just kind of low on the originality scale.
The three of us also took a day trip across the island to the east to a place called Porto Cristo. We took an hour and a half bus ride to see “Las Cuevas del Drach” a.k.a. dragon caves. They are caves with tons of stalagmites and stalactites reflected in crystal clear saltwater pools. At the end of the tour, you get to Lake Martel, one of the world’s largest underwater lakes, where musicians on lighted boats play a live classical music concert (Stefanie believes it was not live…too dark to tell). Here is a photo I stole from the website since we weren’t allowed to take photos in the cave:
Pretty cool. And then we got to hang out, shop, and have lunch in Porto Cristo.
We spent three nights in Palma and then three nights in a smaller beach town called Arenal. This beach town was almost like Frankfurt on the Mediterranean because it was full of German tourists, restaurants, bars, and people! It was really confusing because in Mallorca some people speak Mallorqui (close to Catalan, the language they speak in Barcelona) and then when you threw the German in there, I never knew whether to speak Spanish, English, Mallorqui, or German. Well, I can’t speak Mallorqui or German so I guess I just didn’t know whether to use elaborate hand gestures to convey meaning. At any rate, we got by.
Instead of a hostel, in this small German town during the off-season, we were able to afford an actual hotel. Complete with a balcony AND a pool.
We dined on schnitzel and large German breakfasts of eggs, hot dogs, and beans. We went to beer gardens and drank Paulaner. It was just like we were in Germany.
One day while Stefanie and Aga were sleeping off their German beer hangovers, I decided to take a day trip to the northern part of Mallorca to a city called Soller. To get to Soller, there was an old-fashioned train that went through many-a-tunnel in the mountains.
The scenery while on the train was beautiful. It was good for my soul to be out in the country, even if I still only saw it from my train window. Maybe I really am a country girl at heart.
The town was small and quaint. It had mountains,
a small little center,
and lots of orange trees.
I spent the afternoon exploring little shops, visiting the modern art museum, sampling local pastries, and basically just letting the introvert in me have some breathing room. I find I need to do that more and more as I get older.
It was a pleasant, albeit quiet, day. And I was looking forward to returning to my travel companions, and our small piece of Germany.
We spent our last day by the pool and our last afternoon at a small café eating German strawberry shortcake and doing shots of the local herb liquor.
I returned yesterday to a deserted Madrid and an empty apartment. It’s nice to be back, but it was really nice to be away for a while.
Tomorrow is Easter Sunday. My family will get together and eat ham and my mom’s famous cheesy potatoes that she only makes on Easter; I haven’t had them since 2006. I’ll be here, eating my favorite cereal and writing my thesis.
It’s crunch time! Thesis is due in less than two months. Now you’re not so jealous, are you?