The author and new friend, Cala Major
Palma, Mallorca – 8.30am: The alarm goes off. It feels like my head hit the pillow just seconds ago. I reluctantly get up and get ready for a day’s sightseeing in our hire car.
9.19am: Ben and I stop for a much needed coffee at Cala Major, the next beach over from Palma. While we wait for Ben’s friends Jeremy and Claudia to meet us we’re accosted by a middle aged woman who at first glance I assume is a lady of the night. She joins us or coffee and we learn her name is Charlotte, she is from England and she is still awake from partying the night before. Which explains the high heels and dress she is wearing under her coat. She tells me “you remind me of my 21 year old son”. Given that I’m 29 but presently feel about 49, I wonder just how rough looking her son is. We escape once we get enough caffeine into us.
9.45am: We roar up the motorway away from Palma, heading to the north coast of the island. I had assumed Mallorca would be a quaint, sparsely populated island in the off season. But there’s little at first to distinguish it from the Spanish mainland: heavy traffic, miles of motorways and industrial parks.
10.02am: Away from Palma the landscape turns to dusty farms, olive groves and classic Mallorcan multi-spoke windmills.
10.48am: Our first stop is on the way out to Cap Formentor, the most northerly point of Mallorca. We peer over the edge of dramatic cliffs to the sea hundreds of metres below. Jeez I’m tired. I need a coffee.
Ben, Claudia and Jeremy strolling through Pollença
11.28am: We follow an impossibly narrow and winding road along the cliff edge to the lighthouse at Cap Formentor. Jeremy remembers there being a cafe on site. It turns out to be closed. No coffee.
12.13pm: We pull into Piedra beach which has a self service cafeteria. I rush to the coffee machine at the back and try to figure out how to use it. As I’m reading the Spanish instructions a staff member walks up and affixes a sign to its front: “not in service”. I think I might have let out a scream.
12.14pm: Turns out there is actually a barista on site. I pay €11.20 for four coffees for the gang. Feeling a little better.
1.01pm: We stop at Pollença for lunch. This is the sort of place to inspire Van Gough. Under a bright sun and a blue sky is this picturesque town, its buildings washed in yellow and pink and terracotta hues. We break for lunch at a sun drenched table outside a smoky taverna. There’s only so much that coffee can do for me so I follow my new friends’ lead and order a clara, a beer and fanta shandy.
3:26pm: We bomb through the twisting mountains of the west coast on our way back to Palma. A thick blanket of smoke hangs over the valley. A bushfire? No, we drive past a park and half of Mallorca has turned out for family barbecues.
Bloody Marys at Porto Xol
4:52pm: We stop at Portittxol, a pleasant little fishing town just east of Palma’s sprawl. It’s decided a round of Bloody Mary’s is the best way to watch the sunset.
5:50pm: We drop Jeremy and Claudia back at their Cala Major apartment. It’s decided another round of Bloody Marys is the best way to toast the twilight. Who am I to argue?
6:52pm: Bloody Marys back at Ben’s apartment. We run out of things toast. It doesn’t seem to matter.
7:30pm: For something different Ben and I go to the Corner Bar for a couple of beers before dinner. It’s like walking into the set of Cheers or something. Everyone turns to say hello to Ben when he enters. I suspect some of the customers may not have left their bar stools for some time. Days perhaps.
9.15pm: With the bar sporting a very favourable ratio of more girls than boys, Ben seems to have lost interest in plans for dinner. I split with Jeremy and Claudia for a traditional English Sunday roast. It’s their last meal before heading to Thailand for three months the next day. I’m totally jealous.
11.23pm: I’m done. The meal felt more like it was a drinking session accompanied by a roast than a dinner in itself. I wave the white flag and stumble back to Ben’s apartment. The last I see of Ben is as he pushes his way into Agua, a bar so smoky that even the regular smokers complain about the air quality.