Summer in Spain, part 3: Mallorca!

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This is the final chapter in my Spanish posts. It feels odd and nostalgic to be posting this now (definitely says something about my organisational skills…) but this is officially when I stop talking about Spain.

My last week in Spain was spent with three incredible women, all totally different in their beautiful ways who you will undoubtedly see more of in times to come. And! with whom I intend to share my life and adventures with, and go on holiday with every year until the day we die. And possibly for a little while after that. This is something we have discussed, as a gentlewoman’s agreement, it’s gonna happen.

We arrived from four different airports, two different countries. Some tired and foot-sore, some worked to the bone, all ready for a holiday.

We came in the dead of night (well, like 10pm) took a taxi home and went straight to bed, not really knowing where we were, or how we managed to get ourselves to the house..

When we woke up, this is what we saw:

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Rain. Rain and thunder and lightning and cloud. And Rain.

But luckily, we were thankful for the excuse to stay in the house and do nothing, and a game of cards or two later the rain had subsided and we wandered into Sóller for some Sangria.

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Such a beautiful little town! With the tram running in front of the church in the main square, and all the restaurants arranged neatly around it, the smells of calamari and spices and wine mixing in the air…

The next day we headed down to the port to soak up some beach rays. That walk, along with the sunbathing, ice cream from the shop with the orange stripey awning, tapas and sangria became a bit of a theme. As did sitting on these rocks watching the sunset:

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yesWhen not conversing on philosophy, love, money and the like at the tapas restaurant on the beach, our evenings were spent unleashing our culinary genius at home (note the giant cauldron of home-made sangria, inc home-grown oranges).

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The island of Mallorca is truly beautiful. Totally unlike anywhere else I’d visited in Spain. It’s humid and mountainous and foresty. In the rural parts, it felt like there were more cats than there were people. And unlike Vigo where everything is connected with a neatly colour-coded network of buses, if you want to go anywhere, you take one of two buses, the long one or the short one. For a trip into the mountains to Valldemosa, we took the long one. It was not a pleasant journey. Winding roads and a lack of seats do not equal comfortable and nausea-free bus trip. Luckily, we are composed and generally fantastic young women, and recovered in a swift and graceful fashion (ahem..)

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As well as eating, drinking and sunbathing, we women also enjoy excursions to exciting cities such as Palma de Mallorca, especially when getting there is via cool antiquey trains through the mountains..

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yesIn a blissfully empty carriage, hanging heads out of windows in a content manner like dogs, is obligatory.

Palma is a great city. With a million narrow streets that all look the same, meaning we got lost… often.. (my bad). But the amount of ice cream, seriously photogenic buildings, white sand and awe-inspiring bookshops made up for the lack of (my) map-reading abilities.

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We decided to go there again for a sort of birthday celebration. We booked a hostel, went shopping, ate tapas, and drank far too many Chupitos. But it was a goood time. 🙂

Tip: when on holiday on your birthday, be sure to tell all the bartenders what day it is. You will get free things. We were treated to one guy’s own invention of hazelnut liqueur and a lemon slice dipped in cocoa powder. It made for delicious, and thoroughly irresponsible, drinking. And an exciting red thing that took another guy 20 minutes to make.

Tip2: Make sure that the free things don’t include Absinthe.

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^ My birthday presents! Officially the luckiest 22 year old in all of Palma.

yup^ Spying through the gates into someone’s secret courtyard.

I mentioned briefly in this post the little bookshop we visited. If I could remember exactly where it was, I’d tell you. But I can’t. So if you’re ever in Palma and find yourself wandering down the streets by the Cathedral, be sure to keep an eye out for a little over-spilling bookshop with a loud Cockney man telling stories inside, pictures of Ronnie Wood and a trickle of probably quite emotional/inspired people. We stumbled across it on our way home and definitely ended up spending a good few hours in there. Packed shelves from top to bottom in each of its labyrinthine rooms, with books of all kinds from all eras and in many different languages. There was even a map room (sort of). As well as piles of junk (or treasure) like globes and lanterns and picnic chairs and ships wheels and notes left by happy customers. I managed to find a book from the 1700s, which makes it older than Australia! I bought Angus a book of gruesome legends and my sister a collection of old photos of Italy. After speaking to the owner for a while, who’d moved there 40 years ago and seemingly not left his little shop since, slowly building up his collection and meeting people from all over the world, we each came away with a map of Palma to take home.

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The following day, we grudgingly started making our way back to England and our normal lives, one by one.

maybeMallorca is beautiful, my friends are awesome. A trip to make my year, and one hopefully to be repeated many times. A perfect end to my Spanish adventures. Go travelling, if you can, all the time. But take a camera, take friends, make friends and keep going till you can’t go anymore. Spain, we’ll be back…

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My summer part 2: Barcelona

Barcelona

This year has seen something of a turn-around in my life.. The theme? Doing exciting things I never thought I could. Exciting things including wearing hats, red lipstick, graduating university, Instagram selfies, learning guitar, blogging (of course), and… travelling alone… (*gasps!*) The latter of which has probably had the biggest impact on my life (if not instagram and university).

I won’t tell you the whole story, but it happened in one impulsive instant. I had some spare days in August and so instead of accepting homelessness, I accepted the serious dent in my bank balance, and Barcelona.

I had three days to explore the city that has escaped my reach so many times (another story…) So I grabbed Daisy, and my trainers, my camera and a map, and walked for miles, spoke Spanish, drank beer with travelers alike on the sand at 3 am, learned about Picasso and Gaudí and Dalí, chased parakeets, accidentally became part of a bongo procession and fell in love with the most colourful city I’ve seen, in all senses of the word…

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Escriba– a cafe type sweetie shop, they cut candy in the store right in front of your eyes!

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My first stop was to La Boqueria, as a lover of colour, and a lover of markets, it was my heaven….

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My poor little camera however, was not so happy..catedral! nice.

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After wandering round the city a little, I took the metro up towards Parc Guell. This was another place I knew I wanted to visit, and I wasn’t disappointed. It was the highlight of my trip. I was so overwhelmed by its awesome-ness, I genuinely shed a tear… don’t judge. This place had escalators! Outside escalators!!

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What i wouldn't give.....

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And onto another Gaudi masterpiece! The great unfinished, Sagrada Familia…CIMG8434It was super impressive.. despite the queue to get in (I had a chair-mirage 45 mins in and almost sat on a person) it was worth it, so much more interesting than I expected! Again, silly emotional in-awe-of-the-beautiful-world-type tears were shed..
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By the end of the three days my feet were sore, shoulders sunburnt and my liver slightly less healthy, but it was an amazing trip. So off to Mallorca I went…

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El Camino

Growing up, I was always aware of the Pilgrims of El Camino de Santiago. Figures of men with long staffs, funny hats and shells around their necks. Walking the 500 miles through the south of France and the Basque region, across the plains of Castile, to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia where the remains of their saint are buried.

Formerly one of the most important pilgrimages for European Christians, el Camino is still a highly respected and honorable journey of physical hardship, often religious intent, and perseverance. All along the walk are hostels and restaurants with board and food for pilgrims, and scallop shells everywhere you look. The shells being the classic symbol of the pilgrimage.

These days you can walk it, run it, cycle it and do it for whatever reasons you wish, religious or not. For some, like my mother and I, it will be proof of will-power, faith in our own capabilities and physical endurance, knee replacement or no! But for me and my family about a week ago, it was just for fun. We temporary pilgrims grabbed our walking shoes (or converses for those slightly less prepared) and joined the walk at its halfway point, for an hour or two of exercise.IMAG0461

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The route we took was beautiful. Derelict stone-stacked farm buildings on every corner, over fields of wild flowers and across streams linked up to mills. My fellow amateur photographer and I were unstoppable. To the frustration of Dad and brother!

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IMAG0573I instagrammed this picture of some little old cars huddled together in a forgotten barn.

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IMAG0576Some of whom turned out to be not so welcoming after all…

IMAG0577And then onto the home stretch back down the hill to the town built around the old monastery…

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IMAG0616the local petrol station..

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After our exhausting journey, us pilgrims rewarded ourselves with a giant table of food and wine, a very welcome sight…
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It was such a lovely experience, definitely made me want to do the full walk! So watch this space… And would be really interested to hear from anyone who’s actually done El Camino! But sorry about the lengthy post, 400 photos in 2 hours, I had to share some…

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