Continued from Post #2506

I walked back to the Marriott resort center first thing in the morning, but the rental company had no cars for delivery that day, and suggested I grab a cab to their offices in Palma. The driver took me to the wrong location, so I had to walk the extra blocks in search of the right place where the rental agreements were signed. I had no access to GPS, internet, or Spanish language skills and spent the rest of the morning wandering aimlessly in my BMW SUV. After many wrong turns and fruitless conversations with non-English speakers, I stopped at a CEPSA gas station and got directions. Somehow, I made it back to our Villa. 

Our friends, fortunately, had GPS service and directed us back into Palma to visit the   Catedral-Basílica de Santa María de Mallorca and the Royal Palace of La Almudaina. Parking was a nightmare as I tried to familiarize myself with the BMW and navigate the narrow underground spaces in the crowded garage. After this experience, the men decided to sit in a café drinking cappuccinos at Palau while the women did the tours. We all then walked across the plaza to a sidewalk table at Dalili for pizza, caprese, and gelato. The drive back to the resort was less stressful, but only three of us ate the chicken dinner my “younger” wife prepared while us three septuagenarians napped. 

Our travel companions were under the weather the next morning when we planned to drive to the North coast of the island. My wife and I traveled alone to Cap de Formentor where we battled thousands of cyclists, hundreds of tight curves, narrow roads, and steep drops to get to the top. They apparently come in droves to train for the Tour de France. For me, it was white knuckles from top to bottom, so the spectacular views were not worth it, so I was glad to stop for lunch in Port de Pollenca at the Hotel Miramar. I was relieved to get a break from the stress of the mountainous rollercoaster, while gelato on the beach overlooking the surrounding marina offered a picturesque change of pace. It was then an hour back to the villa and a quick change for dinner. 

Unless it is to warn a driver or avert an accident, horn use is illegal, according to Spain’s highway code. It makes city driving very peaceful unlike the horn-crazy U.S. drivers. The government also offers free public transportation to residents in an effort to reduce traffic congestion. Plus, they love to ding us tourists with parking violations and make it difficult to pay the fines, a boost to the economy. My advice: don’t park in the Blue zones without a permit. It cost us a 45 Euro fine to go to dinner at Quina Brassa in Llucmajor on Placa Espanya. This open plaza is where we met our British friends for dinner, conversation about our Egypt trip together last year, and Herbes de Mallorca, an anise liquor nightcap produced on the island. 

With our friends feeling better in the morning, we once again took the rental car into a relatively less-congested Palma for a Hop- On-Hop-Off tour of the city, with no hopping off. Lunch at Tapas Palma and shoe shopping followed. I watched the giant, dancing Panda strip out of his costume for a smoke. The street venders rolled up their blankets and scattered as the police made an appearance, but quickly set up shop again in once the all-clear was signaled. We retreated back to the villa to pay my parking fine and dine for the final time. A last load of laundry, our two remaining bottles of Mallorca wine, and packing for departure led to a short night’s sleep. 

I was up at three, our final day in Mallorca, preparing for two trips to the airport. Our BMW rental would not handle four adults, six bags, and carry-ons. My wife was my first drop-off with luggage before I headed back for the other two passengers. They helped me find a gas station before their exit at the terminal. I returned the rental car to SIXT after a solo ordeal on the poorly marked, dark, roundabouts, another challenge without language skills. Finally, the four of us were back together for check-in, security, and takeoff on our hour-long Yueling Airlines flight back to Barcelona.

A taxi at the Barcelona airport shuttled us to the Renaissance Fira for our last look at the city. First, however, we needed nourishment, so we turned to the Boldú Bakery and their unique glazed donuts in the shape of a plump little men, choosing caramel, chocolate, and raspberry fillings. Upon arrival at the hotel, we were told that our rooms would not be ready until late afternoon, so we cabbed to the Hop-On-Hop-Off for several hours of cruising the sights. Lunch for me was an authentic Spanish seafood paella, while happy hour took place on the roof of our hotel, 27 floors up, with panoramic views of the city and palm trees. It was then a sad moment of goodbyes to our travel companions as we went our separate ways home in the early morning.

A unique high-tech room at the Renaissance, all white with a curtain surrounding the king and a single on the other side. The nightstand tops were under-lit and bedside switches controlled the window shades. The large tub drained from the center. We entered from an open hallway with a 25-story drop through a heavy glass door. It did not appeal to my fear of heights. 

It only took an hour to get to the airport, through security, and past immigration, so we had two hours to wait for our United flight to Newark. Pans & Company was the only option for breakfast, as if I needed to add more fat to my frame. In total, we’ve been away from home for a full four weeks, and I’ve probably gained ten pounds. It will be good to get back into the home routine, although we have three neighborhood parties to attend and an anniversary to celebrate at the Pink Elephant. 

Barcelona to Newark was the first leg. Watched five movies: The Iron Claw, The League, Last Goal Wins, Anyone but You, and the 38 at the Garden documentary about Jeremy Lin. Security was a mess in Newark, a long wait even in TSA-Pre, following the AirTrain and shuttle bus to finally get to our Terminal then gate. It was a good thing we had plenty of time between flights, especially after a 45-minute mechanical delay once we had already boarded in Barcelona. 

During the final leg to Tampa, I watched the movie, “Priscilla.” A poem of our overall adventure is in the works. My neighbor friend was waiting at the airport and got us home by 10pm to sort through mail and get organized for bed. The Party’s Over!