Long Trip 3, Mallorca
After spending Semana
Santa or Easter in Nerja among thousands of tourists, we finally got ourselves
on the road again. This time the plan was to visit Mallorca, an island
were Bente worked for almost a year nine years ago. We crossed the mountains
into Alhama de Granada, turned back because of a lapse of memory, drove
through Sierra Grazalema to Valencia and spent a week on Mallorca. The
trip lasted 14 days.
Brains of Teflon
We left on Wednesday the 15 of april with three days to
get ourselves across southern Spain to Valencia and the ferry. The distance
is no more than 650 km and hence we had the opportunity to make a longer
vuelta into different sierras along the way. The aim for day one was the
town of Cazorla, headquarters of the Parque natural Sierra Cazorla north
east of Jaen.
First stop was Alhama de Granada, 80km into the mountainous
region of southern Andalusia. The weather was cold and windy, as it had
been for a few days(northern Spain was covered in snow), but being norwegians
and all we headed straight for the mountains. Sixty clicks into the sierra,
Bente suddenly shouted 'Oh shit - where are the ferry tickets!!'. 'Eerr,
say what!? I hit the brakes, we looked at each other. None spoke! All
you really need for a trip like this is passports, a credit card, registration
documents and of course any tickets you have purchased. The rest can be
bought along the way. It's not too much to remember, but enough to forget
some of it when the brains are made of teflon, the kind of material that
rejects anything you try to stick to it. Anyway, after a couple of telephone
calls from Alhama with the depressing result that nothing could be done
other than return and pick up the damned papers, we turned around and
headed back home. We were singing along with the bike, probably from a
need to forget the stupid mistake. At three o'clock on the first day we
ate lunch three kilometers from the house after 153km of driving. What
It was too late to go back up to Alhama, neither did we
want to drive the same roads for the third time on the same day, so we
drove to Motril and straight up to Granada. We did not really believe
in reaching Cazorla before nightfall, because of the weather, and decided
to drive as far as we could before freezing dead cold. The beautiful road
from Motril to Granada was extremely windy and after no more than 50-60km
I was getting tired in my arms and neck from fighting mother nature. I
must shoot in that the Tiger was modified for this trip with stiffer rear
suspension and lower front end and was like riding a new bike. This made
the drive a lot easier.
Sierra Cazorla and the cold
We passed Granada after a quick coffee brake, headed north
still along N323 towards Jaen. The area is higher in altitude and temperatures
decreased slowly as day changed to night. After a while we took off the
main road towards and through Guadalhortuna and further to Jodar. By this
time of night we were freezing but saw no reason to spend the night in
this dull town. A short discussion later we were on the road again and
drove straight to Cazorla. We made it after 430km of cold driving which
was, so far, the longest distance we had covered in one day.
Cazorla is situated in the mountain side of Sierra Cazorla
and is a beautiful town with steep and narrow streets and at least four
plazas despite its size. Temperatures were no more than 5-6 degrees Celsius
and we were not dressed for it, again traveling with minimum luggage,
i.e. only the top box. This was the night of the semifinal in Champions
League between Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, and we went to find
a bar that showed the match, not too difficult a task in a country were
soccer is everything and television sets are always on in any bar. So
we spent the night in a local bar were the mood was high after R. Madrid
played a draw and therefore went to the final on a total victory of 2-0.
We hurried back to hotel Guadalquivir, were we had a nice double in a
totally renovated hotel. Above all, for the first time during the stay
in Spain, we had central heating. What a great feeling. The room was warm
- WARM. It may sound like exaggerating, but in Spain the houses are generally
very cold during the winter and for us, being used to norwegian houses
with temperatures never below 20 degrees Celsius, this was heaven.
A strange White Powder on the ground
The next day started slowly due to the fact that we knew
pretty well that temperatures would be very low in the morning, and why
leave a paradise before you have to. At twelve o'clock we mounted the
bike and set off for Sierra Cazorla. This is Spain's largest protected
area and supposed to be excellent for watching wildlife and for driving
a motorbike through dozens of mountain roads. When I say supposed, I mean
we never really got to know. On altitudes above 1300m the ground was covered
by some white stuff that we believed we had left back in Norway. So we
climbed up to the 1200m pass, freezing like hell once again and declined
into the valley that separate the main mountain chains in the sierra.
On the valley floor we met the outspring of river Guadalquivir, Spain's
longest river. The climate was slightly
better down here, but still wet
and cold. If it had been better we would have stopped for two days and
explored the whole park, but this time we had to say hasta-luego, another
time. We drove along the valley floor to the village of Hornos, situated
on a cliff that sticks out of the mountain side, built for defense back
in the days when it was needed. Another coffee brake and warming next
to a stove, and we were on the road again.
Due to the cold weather we decided to head straight for
Valencia and spend two days in town instead of freezing our butts off
in the wild. The road lead us out on N322, the main road that goes from
Jaen to Albacete,. We had very strong winds, but finally it came straight
from behind and was fairly stable. This was a new sensation, we drove
easily in speeds around 160km/h with no wind pressure. The bike was stable
as a rock, and on a long stretch of road with no crossroads and no cars
I twisted the accelerator and reached 180 with no problems, not too bad
with two people on and 43 liters of top box loaded to the limit. The bike
even wanted more, but I faked out. We passed Albacete in an area so flat
that you don't see the end of the stretch of road ahead of you. After
Albacete we went east on highway N430 and followed this road all the way
to Valencia. Close to nightfall we finally declined from the higher plains
into the coastal region of Valencia, with the temperatures rising again.
What a nice feeling. A quick stop in Moixent gave us the cheapest glass
of wine so far in Spain, 50 pesetas each, or close to 20 pence(UK). We
finalized the day and ended up in Valencia at 7.30pm after 450km, another
record in one day.
Valencia and a great Irish
We found hostel Rincon in the old part of town after getting
lost a few times, as we always do in big cities. The hostel claims to
be more than 500 years old, which makes it by far the oldest hotel we
have ever visited. The standard is simple, but the price was good and
there was a indoor parking for the bike. We were pretty tired after a
long day and walked the neighborhood for a few hours before we retired.
After a good night sleep we went to explore the town center
during daylight. The town center is nice, but we did not find the same
intimate atmosphere as Granada, a town we have come to favour in Spain.
I had started to feel a pain in
my stomach which should come back to me later, enforced and mean.
In the evening we brought the bike out and took a trip out
of the city to a village called El Palmar, situated near a lake in the
region were Paella supposedly comes from. We had not had this famous Spanish
dish yet, and this was as good an opportunity as any. The restaurant that
caught our attention is called Restaurante Valero and served us an excellent
dish with excellent service.
When we returned we relaxed for a while in the hotel room
and dressed up for a night out. Again 'dressing up' meant nothing more
than trying to get rid of the worst stains on the only pair of trousers
we had and pick a clean T-shirt while we still had some. But Valencia
is famous for the nightlife and we looked forward to exploring it.
We headed for a bar called Johnny Maracas, a place mentioned
in Lonely Planet as a good salsa bar. We entered, saw a clientele far
beyond our age, and sat a little while amused by the sight of the bar
girls, who tried with minimal dresses and movement to cheer up a dull
audience. The efforts wasn't to impressive, but finally they came over
and we ordered a single Glenmorangie whisky for sharing between us. We
started to get the feeling that this would cost us when all the girls
joined around a list to calculate the price. One girl asked of the age
of the whisky, and hence managed to produce a price, 1200 pesetas, almost
six pounds, or about the same as in a norwegian bar. We drank it up very
slowly, even chewed the ice and left the place never to return. I must
add that the music was far from what we expected either, they played disco
music with salsa rhythms, not exactly our cup of tea.
Next stop was a bar around the corner called Sherlock Holmes.
The prices were quite different and so was the atmosphere. I ordered another
whisky and Bente found this a good time to order her favourite, an Irish
Coffee. We had been watching the bar staff here as well, and I commented
on the bartender, a woman in the thirties, that she had a very stiff attitude
and wondered how she could manage to keep such a straight face a whole
night, never a smile breaking. The Irish came and Bente exclaimed that
it was excellent, so I tasted it and it was the best we had had ever,
really. This had the natural result that I had my share and then some,
and also, and more interesting, when we told the lady how much we liked
it the missing smile broke and was kept for the rest of the night. We
had to have another one, and so we did and went happy and smiling back
to bed at about four o'clock. The lady behind the bar was still smiling
when we left. We did not exactly explore the clubs and discotheques but
were satisfied and tired and a little drunk too.
On Saturday we checked out of the hostel at twelve and spent
the rest of the day waiting for the ferry. We found a park outside town
and cooled off last night, drinking water and reading.
Mallorca and the german invasion
On the ferry terminal we met an Italian on a Suzuki off
road 650cc who had driven from the Canary Islands, hitched with a carrier
from Tenerife to Cadiz and crossed Spain along the coast in two days.
He was going to join his brother on Mallorca and then cross the Atlantic
in a peculiar manner. They worked together running a 32 meter wooden two
mast sail ship for some rich fellow, and had been doing this for the last
3-4 years. The owner wanted to carry the ship to Bahamas where he had
bought a lot of land for the purpose of starting a marina and a holiday
resort for the rich. The last captain on the vessel claimed the ship was
in no condition to cross the Atlantic, so the owner decided to send it
across on a carrier. The carrier is a huge floating dry dock, and is lowered
in the water so the sixteen ships can be sailed straight into the dock.
Several divers are ready to fit the keels into prebuilt cradles for each
ship. Then the carrier is raised up in the water again and the crossing
can start. This is not the cheapest method of crossing the ocean with
costs of around 50-60000 UK pounds. Months ahead of the crossing, hull
drawings are sent to the company so they are able to build an exact craddle
for each ship. The Italian looked forward to crossing the Atlantic, with
his ship onboard the carrier and his bike onboard his ship. He also looked
forward to a few years in the Bahamas on this beautiful wooden boat, with
a owner who visited a couple of weeks each year and a bike to explore
the islands. We understood his expectations and got, you might say, a
The trip over to Mallorca was eight hours of dull waiting
so we tried to get some sleep. When we could see the island we went on
deck to enjoy the sunrise and the beautiful colors this created on the
rugged west coast. Finally we rounded the lighthouse on the south-west
point and could see Palma and the thousands of masts in the marina. The
Italian was on deck trying to spot his ship among the rest. He missed
it even though it was docked on the far end of the pier and no boats were
in front of her. The reason was an enormous big yacht of more than 120
meters that was docked on the other side of the pier. This vessel made
the 32m wooden boat look like a small rowingboat with sails in comparison.
The boat was really small compared to most ships in the marina, and we
looked in awe at this collection of multi-millionaire toys.
Cala D'or and getting lost
At about nine o'clock in the morning we said good-bye
to the Italian and set off heading east for Calad'or, a small holiday
resort on the east coast were Bente worked those nine years ago. An hour
later we entered the town, and Bente did not recognize anything at first.
A lot has happened in nine years in a place were the safest job you can
have is in constructions, as new edifices has popped up regularly and
everywhere. We found a hostel called Hostel Bienvenidos and settled in
for one night. A new feeling crept slowly into us and should grow stronger
over the next few days; The island had been invaded slowly and steadily
by Germans. The Germans have bought holiday homes all over the island
and for a couple of days we heard more German tongue than Spanish or Mallorquin,
which is the local language. We also heard that the German population
wanted to raise their own political party. Everywhere signs were in German
and people on the street said 'Guten Tag' and 'Sprechen Sie Deutsch'.
What a shock!
We searched Calad'or for places Bente could remember after
all these years, and managed to find the hotels were she had worked. They
were run by Scandinavians nine years ago, but was now overtaken by ..,
exactly, needless to say. After driving the streets for a long time we
also found what Bente believed was were she used to live, but it was difficult
to say, since the houses were long gone and replaced by new and modern
homes. Bente had her favorite beach along the stretch of coast, and the
beaches are beautiful here, located in hidden places between rocks and
stretches of fjords that leads into them. We searched and found it, now
there was a road leading down to it and a small restaurant where they
served..., yes, German food.
Please get us a room
The next day we left Calad'or and headed for Palma with
some deviations, among them the famous Cuevas del Drach. This huge cave
contains a lake where a small concert is held for visitors. We joined
a few hundred more tourists and entered. It's beautiful, but unfortunately
partly destroyed by all the visitors over the years. The little we know
about caves is the sensitivity of stalactites and stalagmites to human
touching and perspiration. Many of the best looking constructions where
discolored or chopped off. This besides, it's still a very impressive
natural construction. When finally the whole bunch of people had settled
in the auditorium the concert could start. The acoustics were brilliant
and the musicians played violin and piano in a small rowing boat, performing
classical music which we unfortunately don't remember the names of. It
was extraordinary, and only partly destroyed by people TALKING and SINGING
along. In a closed cave the acoustics carries any whisper and small talk
very well and the musicians played without any electrical amplification.
How can so many be so ignorant. All in all we managed, at least partly,
along with most of the audience, to ignore the few talkers and enjoy the
When we came into Palma that evening things started to go
wrong for us. We did not find any hotel, even though we had raised the
budget to be able to live anywhere. A funny episode happened though. We
stopped at Plaza España by the tourist office to find the address of the
headquarters of Bentes former employer. We got the address but could not
find it on the map. A police car had stopped ahead of us and I went over
and asked them for directions. The response was beyond my imagination;
'You drive the Tiger, right. Why don't you follow us, we'll lead you to
it!'. Hence we got police escort across Palma and straight to the address
we wanted. We thanked them thoroughly and said good-bye.
The visit at the headquarters did not result in anything
so we decided to skip Palma for now and left the city heading west past
Palma Nova and out into more German settlements. Now it was late in the
night and we started to panic a little, fearing we might have to sleep
outdoor. A series of telephone calls resulted in a reservation on a small
hostel in Port Andraitx. They had cheap rooms and promised that we could
park the bike in the garden behind the building. When we got there they
claimed this was a misunderstanding and that the bike had to be parked
in front instead, despite their having a huge private parking. It was
not that I was very worried about robbing, but I hate when people do this.
It was a trick just to get us there, and claiming misunderstanding is
pure b..shit. We said so and left. The only other hotel in town cost 10000
pts, but at this stage, at 10pm, I did not care and we took the room.
In town that night we hardly heard any other language than German, a language
we now had started to call new-Mallorquin.
Deia and some stomach pain
We were unsatisfied with the
ending of the last day, and we started the next day by driving straight
up to Deia, the most famous village on the island. The village is famous
for the beautiful settings with old Mallorquin building style, brown stone
houses with green doors and windows, for the green and lush gardens and
for all the famous artists that have settled here over the years. Nowadays
the most famous celebrity in the village is actor Michael Douglas, who
has a house and spends a lot of time here. We got a room in hostel Villa
Verde, a newly renovated old and charming hostel with great views of the
hills. In a bar that night we heard that the hostel, until the year before,
had outdoor toilet and the softest beds in the history of hostels. All
in all, it was a very nice and cosy place, a place with atmosphere. The
town of Deia was at it's best at night time, after all the hords of tourist
had returned to the main holiday resorts. At nine in the evening, the
town were quiet and nice.
I had by this time started to feel the stomach pain for
real, and the first night in the hostel was spent freezing my butt off
in fever. The next day was gray but still we wanted to explore the mountain
region. We dressed lightly, believing the weather would improve. Luckily,
a few raindrops in the morning made us bring the rain suits, just in case.
I still had stomach pains, but felt in control and we set off. After we
had crossed the mountain pass on the road between Soller and Inca, the
rain had started for real and when we came to Inca, I was freezing my
butt off again. I had over estimated my condition and we decided to return
by another road. It was a pity, because of the beautiful scenery on this
very diverted island. We drove the 70km back to Deia in one go, not too
far maybe, by I was so cold that it was a real nightmare. Half an hour
under the shower and two hours under all the sheets and blankets we could
find, dressed up in warm underwear, brought some heat back in my body.
By now the stomach pain brought me to my knees from time to time, and
that night it made me visit the toilet on numerous occasions. This stage
was to last a few days, and here ends the tale of it!
We also paid a visit to Cala Deia, a small rocky beach close
to the village. It's set beautiful between huge rocks and we spend an
hour sunbathing and swimming. Quite a few people were on the beach, and
at about 3pm several boats came to pick people up. We were told that in
the summer season up to 50-60 boats come in in one day, bringing up to
one thousand people or more. The thing is to visit the beach early in
the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowd.
Palma and great music
We finally got a room in Palma, at hostel Apuntador, run
by English and Swedes, and drove in from Deia early in the day. We parked
the bike in a parking house for the night and walked the town a little
in the evening.
Due to the stomach story, the first night ended early, and
we woke rested and ready for Palma the next day. But first we wanted to
take the bike and drive to the beach of EsTrenc, south east of Palma.
This long stretch of beach was unfortunately attacked by strong winds
on the day of our visit. We laid sheltered by sun beds for an hour, reading
an relaxing. The closest villages was full of deserted summer houses in
perfect condition. This is what have happened to a large part of the coastal
region. Germans have bought houses, set them in perfect condition, and
left for the larger part of the year, leaving the villages as ghost towns.
We returned to Palma for a short siesta and went shopping
in the afternoon. At this stage, after nine days on tour, we were sick
and tired of the one set of pants we brought that got dirtier every day.
So we bought a new set of Levis each, new T-shirts and new set of socks.
We had not yet encountered a laundry, and desperation for clean clothes
were high. We enjoyed a few hours of walking in the maze of narrow streets
north of the Cathedral before returning to the room. A shower and dressing
up in clean clothes later we went to eat dinner. Bente remembered a small
restaurant that we miraculously found, with a swedish owner that served
excellent food nine years ago. It's called Petit Rebost and still does.
The swedish lady that runs the place had the same background as Bente
and some time went by exchanging information about the 'old' days of tourism
on the island. Both agreed that things had deteriorated
Lonely Planet recommended a small jazz club called Bar Barcelona
close to our hotel, and we went there, hoping for some live music. We
did not leave disappointed. Ten minutes after we entered the bar, a quintet
consisting of two drummers, one piano player, one saxophone/flute player
and a gitarist/singer, started to play. Great it was and the atmosphere
rose even higher as three more joined in for a long jam session. The music
was great, spirits were high, and we left happy and a little drunk a couple
of hours later. We also wanted to visit the famous mega-luxurious/mega-expensive
bar Abaco before calling it a night. The bar is set in an old style courtyard,
with ten meter below the roof, fresh fruit floating down from fountains,
flowers floating everywhere and classical music filling our ears. An Irish
Whisky cost us 2000 pts, so we kept drinking to the minimum, that was
one each, and just sat there for a while, enjoying the outrageous, decadent
style. It's worth it if you can afford it.
Alcudia - meeting friends and misunderstandings
On Saturday we left Palma and drove up to Alcudia, one
of the big tourist machines on the island. This is the place were all
the hotels in the world gather, covering several square kilometers of
land. The settings are perfect for this, with a stretch of beach of several
kilometers in a big bay. We got a room for three nights in Hostel Puerto,
in the old part of Port Alcudia, with good prices and good standards.
Now we set off to find the hotel our visiting friends from
Norway was to stay in. This was not too difficult. They had told us the
name of the hotel and the travel agency they came down with, easy to remember
since Bente had worked in the same hotel. Now, that was what we believed,
but actually it was a different hotel and a different agency. We were
about to get a little pissed off with our friends who did not show up,
and did not call us to say why. A phone call to Norway gave us the correct
names and we found them. Did I mention teflon-brains earlier?
On sunday we met with Snorre, Monica and their two kids,
We spent an hour with them by the hotel pool before setting off to find
a claimed deserted beach on the north-east point of the island. We found
it, after half an hour driving on dirt roads. The now very accustomed
winds were with us again and the beach did not meet our expectations.
We ate the brought-along bocadillos and headed back to Alcudia for a night
with our friends. This was something we had missed, being social of nature
and used to having good friends close by back home in Norway. We found
a restaurant that served kebab and even though the place was mega-touristic,
with a playback solo artist and all, we decided for it. Not exactly the
smartest decision. The food was excellent, but it took almost two hours
to get it, mainly because the waiter forgot to pass on the order. They
fixed the impression a little by serving us a free mug of sangria, but
since this was on our request we decided not to tip anything. This aside,
the night passed with a few bottles of wine in a good atmosphere.
The next day was our last on the island, and our last
chance to visit Sa Calobra. This famous little place is enclosed by very
steep mountains with a small beach and a sort of hidden garden behind,
excellent for sunbathing. It has the roughest access road of any beach
on the island which leads you down from the main road in a never ending
series of curves and twisties. On the way down we met all, or most, of
the tourist buses that were returning from that day's excursion. They
must probably arrange this in such a way that buses don't go down while
others go up. This was the first time I had to back the bike in order
them pass. When we came down after 10 km of twisties
most people were gone and it was nice and tranquil to walk around. A path
is built along the mountain side that leads you through the rock in tunnels
and along the rough and turquoise waters, hitting the rocks somewhere
under us, sometimes in caves so we could hear the sound from the inside.
The final tunnel lead us into an open area, where the river meets the
sea. This was a huge place, excellent for picnics and sort of hidden,
at least once upon a time.
We drove back for a new and last night with our friends
and Mallorca. We went early to bed to be prepared for a very long day.
The trip back home and more rain
On the ferry we met a bunch of other motorcyclists, all
of them heading for Jerez de la Frontera, where a huge road racing and
mc-concentration was to happen the coming weekend. We'd love to go there
as well, but visits the same weekend stopped it, it had to be another
year. The boat was also filled up with Mallorca soccer fans, going to
Valencia to watch the final in the national cup, called Copa del Rey,
against Barcelona the following night.
The ferry ride was during daytime this time, and after eighth
hours plus the regular delay, we docked in Valencia at nine in the evening.
We had decided to push on as much as possible to get home early and headed
for the inland route towards Jumilla on N430/N433. But first we took the
wrong road after excellent directions from a guy who stopped his car and
came over to us after seeing us standing confused at a crossroad. What
level of service you can expect in this country, and it wasn't his fault
that I misunderstood and denied Bente her right to give me directions.
We lost half an hour on my navigational error, but finally
hit the correct road and moved fast westward towards home again. One thing
that puzzled us a little was that we saw none of the bikes from the ferry.
Now, Spain is mostly high plains, ranging from 6-700 to 12-1300 meters
and weather forecast was bad. Why consider this when you can head straight
on, do not listen to the locals who rather drive the longer route along
the coast and therefore get away with temperatures around 20 degrees.
We hit bad weather on the second day, having about 450km left to drive.
It started to rain and got colder and colder, until it was steady around
4-5 degrees Celsius with heavy showers and strong winds. We put on all
the clothes we had, which wasn't much and froze for hour after hour. The
spring had not been this cold in Spain for as long as could be remembered
and we're here to see and feel it, lucky us! We pushed on and after Granada
the road declined towards the coast with temperatures increasing. The
last part of the trip was done in nice weather once again and we came
home tired but happy in the afternoon.
Back in Base Camp
The Tiger had covered 8000 km by the time we got home,
and no problems have occurred except an annoying sound from the left side
that developed during the last part of the trip. This turned out to be
a loose screw close to the generator and will be fixed as a guarantee
Mallorca was somewhat disappointing in that the island is
totally invaded by Germans who has bought most of the island. There's
nothing wrong with Germans in general, but when hordes of people invade
a small island, the island looses it's soul. This is what might happen
to Mallorca in the future.
The island is still beautiful and still has, at least partly,
a good atmosphere. If you travel inland away from the tourist spots you'll
find villages fairly untouched by foreigners.
We made 2500 kilometers in two weeks, not too far but enough
considering that we spent ten days on a small island. All in all another