Mallorca – Part 1: New Family, Alcudia, Pollensa

Sunday September 29th, 2013

By 5 p.m. our bags that are now ripping at the seams (exactly why I’m not a fan of REIs new return policy) and our recouped selves arrived at the Palma airport.

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The sweet warm air kissed our faces and the ten C increase was automatically enjoyed by me.

After a few brief minutes of strutting the ‘I’m lost, claim me’ look, Rhea snagged us and we met the cutest kids we will ever know, Aiden (5) and Aimee (7). We made the 30 minute drive north to the center of the island, and the place we would be calling home, Santa Eugenia.

We were welcomed into the home of Rhea, Michael, Jerri, Aimee, and Aiden. Oh, and two white cats that for a week I thought were the same one, Marshmallow, Munchies and a few dogs protecting the orchard out back.

The house was stunning. The original plan was that we would be painting for work and then staying in Michaels office (which is a lovely large house) five minutes walk down the road. But due to unfortunate circumtances, that plan changed. Instead we would be staying in the house, and Aimee was nice enough to let us have her bed.

We were ensuite to Aiden’s room. The issue with this is that Aiden has a smile you can’t refuse, that he is the most unbelievably loving, infectiously happy, magnetic person I’ve met. You will inevitably be distracted by this little man. He is also the energizer bunny. And sharing a room with him meant we were staying up past our own bedtime and getting up at the insane time that kids do.

But hey, we could have bigger problems.

Monday & Tuesday, September 30 – October 1, 2013

We spent the first two days bumming around, moving and packing the office and playing with the kids and cats.

Santa Eugenia is an adorable little village. It’s the quaint, incredibly clean, ‘is-this-even-real?’ village that reminds me of a tucked away surprise you would stumble upon in Cinque Terre or Sorrento.

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Lining the streets are houses, tiny corner marts, alluring miniature bars oozing onto the streets, and the smiling decoupage tan, orange facades of homes tucked away by what looks like an always fresh coat of forest green paint.

The streets blush every evening as the sun retires behind the impressive shutter-matched mountains that serve as the postcard backdrop to this magical place.

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I loved Santa Eugenia.

It didn’t hurt that the family we were staying with was absolutely lovely. They were a refreshing reminder that there are normal, kind, good-humored people on this planet.

Wednesday October 2, 2013

Since Rhea is the coolest chick alive and opposite from some of the looney hosts we have had in the past, she let us head to the beach today.

We walked about 15 steps from the front door and were picked up by the small bus at 12:45 p.m. that took us to the Santa Maria train station. Since public transportation is better in Mallorca than any of the other 26 something countries I have visited, the bus and train have coordinated schedules, making your life far too easy.

The trains are impressively clean, organized, straightforward, quiet and on time. We were onboard for maybe a half an hour before we exited for Inca. Because we decided to take a potty break, we missed the bus (which was perfectly timed for you to walk from the train station to the bus station) because of course it departed on time.

So we walked around Inca. Inca is an industrial town, and what it might be most popular for is its Thursday market. Well, it wasn’t Thursday, it was Wednesday, and it was during siesta time so there wasn’t much going on. We cruised around for an hour and a half and then caught the next bus to the largest bay on Mallorca, Badia d’ Alcudia.

We didn’t know where to get off, so we basically guessed and ended up finding a sweet spot on Alcudia Beach.

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There are thousands of Dr. Seuss who-hat umbrellas dotting the clean tanned sand. I have to disagree with Lonely Planets review of Alcudia. The beach is clean, the water is tinted turquoise and even if it were peak season, the beach is still incredible. Clear and rockless sand bars stretch out for so long that if you are actually trying to mimic Michael Phelps, then yeah, you might have a reason to complain. But seriously? This place is gorgeous and many times James and I commented how it reminds us of our favorite and I’m positive unbeatable (well Maldives have yet to be visited) exotic Zanzibar. We scoped the beach and decided we were missing the essentials, so we ended up heading to the little minimart sitting a few meters from the beach.

After buying two diet cokes and a football (mini rugby ball, whatever), we had officially drained half of the content of our joint bank account.

Well, really what else do you need?

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So we headed back to the beach and had the most incredible day ever. We swam in the buoyant salty water and played catch for hours before it was nearing the time when the last bus would offer us the opportunity to get our sandy buts back home.

It was 7p.m. and we were far from ready to leave the beach. We wanted desperately to join the holiday folks that we are showering and gearing up for seaside tapas and cocktails.

But life dependent on public transportation has its limitations, so we packed it up and made the trek to our cozy home in Santa Eugenia.

Thursday October 3, 2013

Rhea kept getting cooler, and today didn’t have anything for us to do so said we could be beach bums again if we pleased.

Of course we pleased.

James did some work while I made plans for the day. By 12:45 p.m. the bus took us to the train station. The train arrived within minutes, Truman show style, and took us again to Inca. We jumped on a bus that took us to Port de Pollenca.

I told James there was a little hike that treated visitors with sweet views, and that we could stop at Pollenca for a few hours before continuing on to the Port de Pollenca and possibly further into the Badia d’ Alcudia if the evening allowed.

We jumped off the bus and the Serra de Tramuntana mountains loomed before us. James looked over to me, raised an eyebrow, and said ‘Oh god, Tarynne.’ I laughed, thinking about the time we climbed Lake Orta in a mad sprint, okay okay, or Mt. Kilimanjaro in two nights, both my brilliant ideas that nearly killed us.

Whatever, its just a little hike.

We thought it would be a smart idea to stock up on fuel and water. So while purchasing red bulls, chocolate, almonds and liters of water, I asked in Spanish which direction to Calvari. In Spanish she responded that it was up a street and we’d run right into it, opposite direction of the massive intimidating mountains that greeted our craning necks when we hopped off the bus.

Hm, either my Spanish is really horrible or perhaps we weren’t hiking those big mountains?

We followed the nice lady’s directions and ended up walking right into Calvari.

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This is where I decided Lonely Planet must be written by the laziest human on planet earth that despises an increase in heart rate. Its 365 simple stone steps that lead up from the beautiful town of Pollenca to a hill-top chapel and lend to incredible panoramic views of the mountains that transform into lush hills that roll right into the bays.

All pumped up on red bulls and chocolate, we Rocky-styled it (okay, it was probably inapporopriate) up the steps and then enjoyed the church and views.

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(The mountains in the background below are the ones we thought we were hiking)

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I begged to stroll around the gorgeous village for as long as I could before James laid the smackdown and made us catch the bus.

If you go to Mallorca, go to Pollenca.

We didn’t know where was best to get off along the Port de Pollenca route, so we ended up taking the bus to a random stop that we determined was the wrong one as it had a rocky rough beach that didn’t allow footballs to be thrown. So we hung out on the side of the road and then jumped on another bus that took us to our familiar spot on Alcudia beach.

Alcudia again was not living up to its rep as an overcrowded, chaotic, and dirty beach, which perhaps in the high season (July-August) it could be, but during the month of October, it’s amazing. There are hundreds of open chairs/umbrellas and fun and reasonably priced tapas joints around. If you go on a shoulder-season vacation, do it in Mallorca. We spent a few hours at the beach, again playing catch, before we caught the last possible bus back home.

Friday October 4, 2013

Pretty boring ‘office’ day today for us both.

Well, that’s a lie. James realized he lost his wallet and there was a moment of panic, that after no recovered wallet, escalated and consumed the entire day.

We decided to play catchup on all of the things we have been neglecting the past few weeks (ah hem, months) and had our noses in computers for 16 hours straight.

Believe what you want, but we haven’t just cut all responsibility at home off. There are still emails, bills, insurance renewals, credentialing maintenance and continuing education that all happens behind the traveling scene. Oh, and that little thing called planning a 18 month strict budget trip.

We finished off the evening walking a few steps up to the cute Ca’n Topa bar, buying €1.3 wine and beer and enjoying sitting outside in tanks and shorts.

Saturday October 5, 2013

Since we realized that Mallorca is in incredible place that deserves more than a rushed afternoon to explore, we decided we would have to leave Rhea and her sweet kids so we could spend five nights exploring various parts of the island, staying out as long as the night would allow and doing what we tend to do and cram too much into a small time period. It was sad because we liked Rhea and her family, a lot. More than any other work exchange place, person, experience since we started this trip. There is something about that family. If they were a television show you’d be entertained, but also would be sad when the season came to an end, because there is something comforting about them. Rhea is exactly the person, the ‘Mom’ that we needed to temporarily adopt us for a week. She’s an absolute sweetheart, has a witty sense of humor, is genuine, strong-willed, determined, and just real. If her and my mom went out for happy hour, it would be hilariously dangerous and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

So Saturday Rhea had asked for our help in making a video for So Country Radio. We spent an hour or so shooting and then editing and putting together a video. James continued editing while I chiseled away at making our travel plans. By 4 a.m. I was still up sending emails and trying to get plans in place for November, as we currently have no home starting November 19.

While I have gotten exponentially better at seeing where the wind takes us, I still think that if we want this trip to go the direction that we want, it takes a serious amount of work and planning to put ourselves in the right place. Through positive and incredibly ridiculous situations, we are learning what we want out of this trip, what works beautifully for us and what we aren’t willing to put up with. So that’s where we are at. At the wee hours of the morning I walked away from the computer with dozens of work proposals in outer space, a changed itinerary, and a groggy but I think more realistic idea of what the eight or nine months will look like.

Sunday October 6th, 2013

We were sad to say goodbye to this sweet family today. Thank you all for creating such an amazing temporary place to call home!

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About Tarynne Mingione

Registered Dietitian (RD, CD), Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT 200)
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