An inauspicious start.

I spent a two week holiday in Mallorca earlier this month with Jane, my partner. It was my fourth visit to this fantastic island and one that I had long-wanted to make. But it had seemed impossible without taking the plane (or going via Barcelona), so my decision to stop flying for environmental reasons seemed to have put paid to any further visits. Then I discovered you could take a ferry from Toulon, in the south of France. We were booked to go in April 2020.

Needless to say, the pandemic put paid to this, although the cash we had spent on tickets remained on credit with Eurostar and Corsican Ferries. With the melting away of most travel restrictions this spring it looked like we could have a second attempt at the trip.

Paris is a major rail interchange for many parts of western Europe these days and I’ve used it a number of times. It’s very straightforward transferring from Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon for all stations to the south of France using the Metro, although on a previous trip I had my phone stolen. This time there were no such problems and we safely arrived in Toulon about 11 that night. There was then almost a whole day to kick our heels in the city before the ferry left, and after an overnight crossing we arrived at Puerto Alcudia at six o’clock in the morning.

It was an inauspicious start to a very dismal day. It was dark, cold and windy and nothing was open. We didn’t know how to get to our first pre-booked apartment although we did know it was several miles away. After some time I found an open cafe and we had the first of many Mallorcan coffees. We then began walking but a careful study of a map told me we were going in the wrong direction. Returning to the town I eventually found a bus stop and we jumped aboard. There was still time to kill before we could get our keys, and it was at the next cafe that we discovered we had left the Spanish phrasebook at the previous one…….. At eight o’clock we were able to collect our keys, only to discover that we had actually paid and been booked in for the previous night when we were still on the ferry. Groan…….

After several hours settling in and recovery time we decided to visit S’Albufera, Mallorca’s main wetland. It’s a few miles away from Alcudia by bus and should have taken about twenty minutes. But the roads were heavily congested, vast numbers of passengers were getting on and off and the bus’s ticket machine was faulty, causing constant delays. The sprawl of Puerto Alcudia along the coast road seemed endless. I decided it was time to get off without knowing where we were. It turned out to be another hour’s walk past countless hotels, gift shops, bike outlets and other tourist tat before we reached the reserve entrance. We arrived at five only to be told by a uniformed member of staff sitting in a pick-up that the reserve closed at six. I couldn’t believe my ears. On a previous visit with my mother we quite openly arrived post-evening meal to watch night herons leaving their roosting trees and heading for their feeding pools. So there was just about time to walk up the entrance track to the visitor centre (which was closed) and back before we had to leave. I don’t think Jane was very impressed.

Fortunately things DID improve……….

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