Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Palma de Mallorca Spain

I did it!! Managed to get from Slovenia to Spain in record time! Came in through Italy via Monaco and France into Spain, and navigated my way to Barcelona easily to the ferry port to board with an hour to spare.  As usual, the ferry to Palma de Mallorca is an overnight sailing, and an expensive one at that, so it's deck chair space for me again.  Luckily it's still a bit before crazy season and it's not horribly crowded.

Fifteen years ago, I was on cruise ship that Captain George Apistolas was Master of, and we had spent an entire day together on another island right next door called Menorca. (In case I need to make a reminder, you've seen George in my Athens post and Gokceada, Turkey Post).  Menorca has long been a favorite for me and one of the most beautiful, which is why it's so cool to see him here again on Mallorca (Majorca) in the same part of the world this many years later. Menorca = Minor, Mallorca = Major.  The little island and the big island.  Sounds like we are in Hawaii, not the Mediterranean!

I arrived at 6:30 AM, pouring rain.. and poor George..   He luckily had a hotel organized for me.  A very generous friend, he put me in this 4 star hotel (lovely!) and paid for it as a support for my journey.. good friend!  Being that we arrived the lobby so early, they didn't have a room ready yet. No surprise there. We opted for a wonderful hotel buffet breakfast, it was so full of amazing spanish food!  And enjoyed having a really good chat for several hours catching up.. was really really good to see an old friend, I can tell ya.  I have met many new and amazing friends along the journey, but to spend time with somebody you already know for so long is extra special.

Anyway, the room became ready.. George walked me up and my goodness, he was not happy with it.. wasn't perfect.. bit too small, good but not best view.  He told me to wait, and he would go have a talk with them.. Came back and being the ship captain that he is, with a few orders and demands, he gets what he wants.  And I got a special room with a balcony and well worth his efforts!!

Now... this room is perfectly positioned for full view of his boat at ALL times!  His (not technically his) boat is that little tiny blue one on the end of the dock...

After several hours it was good that he had to go back to his boat to work, allowing me after riding through the rain all day yesterday, on the ferry deck chair space over night with little sleep.. to take a VERY needed shower and to get into regular clothes.  And later out to a very civilized dinner..  Apologies, I've had enough of the broken camera and have now resorted to my iphone for photos..

A lovely long walk along the waterfront and through the old town of Palma at night, proved to be a great decision to come here..

Sunrise view to the boat ;-))

The next day as George worked away on the boat, I worked all day on blogging.. was really nice!  I had a view, a pool, a most comfortable room, I was so happy to STOP for an entire day!  Got a text message from the boat.. "I don't see you" (I was right there at the balcony door at my desk typing away). I poked my head up over the computer screen.. and another text "ah yes, I see you now.."  I'm being spyed on by binoculars.. now I understand the importance of room position.. ha!

At this night another lovely walk to dinner and little fun in the elevator...... ha!  Shame.. I caught you, thinking bad things!!  We were just playing with phone cameras to see who's is better.. (mine of coarse!)  Nahh, not really, have to admit his phone was actually better ;-(

Hmmm, beautiful full moon, was much more good looking than the iphone could provide.. but I still like the photo!

The next day I decide to see how possible to find a decent camera on this island.. Just a little cheap one which could hopefully use the same connections and spare batteries I have been carrying. Nope, not possible.. I ended up with a small Panasonic and I take off from the shop to explore the east side of the island with it.

I had in my head the one thing I have been missing on this trip is a proper day at the beach!  Soo.. for the first time ever, I am riding my motorcycle around in my swimsuit!  Nope.. caught you again, don't even think that!  I did have clothes on for riding over the suit... ;-)

Mallorca is an island chocker block full of fancy retreats and resort wear.. Gives me a chuckle to pull up to a beach on my bike, and go against the resort wear on me!  And even though this is Spain, I hear everyone talking English in a British accent.. never know where I am... really...

Such pretty water.. had the best swim in a looooong time.

It's really nice to ride around on the bike, without all my gear and just enjoy the day..  my new little camera is all right.  Not the best, I was spoiled with my good camera.  But at least I have a bit of visual for my time here.

George is busy during the day preparing the yacht for his special clients arriving shortly, but at night we have time to enjoy.  This night he talks me into a bicycle... bicycle!  For real, George?  But he's been telling me for MONTH's about this ride along the waterfront through the old historic town, skinny ancient streets at night.. He was right. AND, he's been telling me everyday that I must visit the Palma Cathedral!  I've seen so many Cathedrals since I've been in Europe, it's pretty, and impressive, but I don't need to go in..

What a change of pace for me.. It was really nice to ride slow slowly around this historic town.   And even better with a friend who can point out all the good bits.. and dinner of coarse!  Tapas tonight!!

The next photo  of George riding his bike is horrible, I know..or I should say it's very "artistic".. but hoping you can get a sense of how cool the streets of Palma are to ride at night.  Skinny paths never meant for cars and lit by lanterns. A really special old town..

George found the guard house.. what a goof ball!

Next up is an 800 year old Olive tree. A popular stop for tourists.. Speaking of, Palma (Mallorca) is along with Ibiza, a hugely popular tourist destination for all of Europe.  It's like going to Bahamas for Americans, or Bali for Australians.

Lots of young people in the center, and lots of partying.. On the outside, lots of resorts or holiday homes everywhere else.

Sunrise over George's boat....again!   Beautiful... have I ever mentioned, I love my life???

One guy in the marina George really wanted me to meet is Richard and his lovely wooden boat the "Jenny Wren"  

A really old boat built in the 1926 if I remember right..a funny story with this guy.. Richard owned it, restored and sailed it for a few years, then sold it.  He felt ready to advance to a large boat that involved crew.. Quickly learned that a yacht that requires crew was less fun than expected.  You know it's meant to be, his brother noticed the old boat for sale again and Richard was able to buy it back! 

Okay, enough playing around, I like boats, but I'm really craving to get on my bike.. When I'm off the bike for a couple days, it really is calling for me!

I decide to take the west road up to Cap Formentor.  And what a great choice!  I could waffle on about it, but I'll let the photos speak for themselves..

This is the goal destination.. Cap Formentor. 

A strikingly beautiful ride, one of my favorites so far. (I know I say that far too much on this trip.. there are that many "best" roads in the world, they all deserve "favorite" status!)  I really didn't expect much for sightseeing on the island, I just had in my head resorts and yachts, but it is really a great place to ride if you can add it to your list.

George hasn't even done this road to the top.  Sorry for him, he's the Captain and has to stay with the ship. Ha!  I'd rather have my life on the road than that fancy boat life.  He knows this, so I'm not shooting my mouth off, we talked about it.  That blue boat takes 51 crew to accommodate 36 guests.   It's a private yacht, it's highly unlikely to take 36, usually just a few.  I feel that a lot of my experiences out on the road with people have been my "richest" experiences.  Something about that motorcycle that allows me to go to the most amazing places and meet the most hospitable generous people.  I've never traveled on a boat like that, but I would imagine it would be hard to have similar experiences with local people.

Must get back to town now, one more night out with Captain Apistolas, and then I'll pack as I want to get back on the ferry tomorrow.
This carrier passed us on the ferry, it's a big boat carrying heaps of smaller boats.. I've never seen this before!  But George says mostly Americans will ship their private boat and then they fly over for a holiday to meet it.  Hmmm, what a life! ;-)

Adios to George's pretty boat from the ferry.. nice view of the town from here too.. was a pleasure to enjoy this place.

My little Spanish holiday was short but sweet!

I quickly settled in on the ferry and got back to work organizing the next few days in Spain and whatever else needs done.. ;-(

A final note and reminder of a youtube poem George sent over to me.. "Ithaca".  He had asked me several times "What is your Ithaca?"  I didn't know what he meant until I got this video from him in email.. makes all the sense in the world to me.. ;-)

Monday, 25 July 2011

Fast forward through Slovenia and Italy!

Not far from Umag Croatia, I ride through Slovenia.  Heading for a planned stop at Lake Bled, as so many people have recommended it to me.  It's not far, I'm not in a hurry, so I pick the little dirt roads.. well me and Mr. Garmin picked them.

My camera is still very sick if not dying.  It's getting really bad.. I get the odd picture okay, but the majority come out pure white.. Luckily I got a couple photos on my track.

This really pretty road as closed actually.. but I decide to take it anyway!  Not normal for me, but I thought, it looks really pretty and I'm on a motorcycle, hopefully the reason for closure is not a major river crossing!

It wasn't. I was worried that I would find the reason for closure after the "point of no return".  It ended up being closed many miles and miles over the top of the mountain and down the other side. Once I got there, was able to pass the problem via a little dirt walking track.. easy on a motorcycle.. score!!  And as you can imgine, no other traffic, a perfect beautiful day!!

I made it off the dirt roads over the mountains to civilization, I tried to get a photo.. again with adjustments, you can barely make out the mountains and it was such a beautiful view.. darn it.. Mr. camera!!

This one nearly came out all right, riding through a gorgeous little village..

Same village, and all white again.. didn't touch or change a thing, the camera decides when it wants a white one.. with color adjustments, it was able to pull out the image, but not enough for good color.. However, I quite like this one.. looks kinda funky!

Now it takes one WITH color.. huh!

Making me panic a bit , but what can ya do.. middle of nowhere land, and not sure if I should tackle getting the one I have fixed or buying a new one when I get to the next city.  My hesitation to the fixing, as I already knew but confirmed from a camera shop physically and online.. they'd have to send it away.  No time, no way to do this.. not worth it..

So at this point I give up.. I went to Lake Bled, a most gorgeous lake, very well known in History, and didn't take any photos...! But it's in my memory.  To let the pressure off, I decide it's okay if I don't have every single destination on the blog.. right?  Not sure how long that attitude will last, but I'll take it for now.. ;-)

If you click on the Lake Bled link, you'll see some Wikipedia info with photos.. sorry! I hadn't heard about it before this trip, but it has been a top tourist/spa destination in Europe for many centuries!

I was only here for one night (which was enough for me) and I had a message from Captain George Apistolas, whom you've heard of twice now!  He's been asking me to come to visit him in Spain where he works on a yacht ever since we met up in Athens several weeks ago.. He was disappointed at the time that his assignment on that boat was going to keep him in Spain all summer, however he just got word that his clients need him to take the supersize boat out for a ride around Greece and Turkey.  He sails in only one week!

Geez!  So much for slowly making my way there, it then became a mad dash from Slovenia to Barcelona Spain to catch a ferry over to Palma de Mallorca where he stays, over 1500 km (950 miles) away!

Small glitch.. my bike is over due for service and oil change..  I must not neglect it, as I am not a mechanic, so I like to keep all my service and checks on time to avoid any problems.. But this time, I was actually overdue already and I was about to add another 1500 km to that..

Started looking for KTM service shop between Slovenia and Barcelona as well as contacted my good friend (since I was in Italy over winter) Gianpietro who rides KTM 990 Advneture..  He emailed straight away and said he would contact his local service guy and let me know..  Right away they agreed to have me come in the next morning.. what a champion!  So the day is sorted, I just need to ride to Gianpietros home near Cremona in northern Italy.

And to add insult to injury, during this ride from Slovenia, I cross into Austria once again.. enjoy the most amazing mountains, just beyond beautiful to look at from the road!  Why die camera.. why??

And then I end up completely dropping my failing camera on the highway, in a tunnel, between Austria and Italy..  Can you believe it!!?? Actually I can't!  I still have no idea.. no clue how I did this.. such a bummer! I got through the tunnel, no stopping or emergency lane.. and it was far too far to walk through it, even though I tried against traffic.  So I decide to get on the bike, go to the next exit, illegally road backwards down the oncoming ramp, crossed over and got on the highway again going the opposite direction..  eventually found another illegal way to cross over the highway after the tunnel, and turned back.. searching searching searching for smashed pieces of my camera inside.  Quite dark in there, but not too much.. they have better than normal lighting in Austrian tunnels.  Then I see the black camera lens appear.  I put on my turn signal (no hazard lights), and hope to God I am seen and nobody hits me from behind.  Pick up the poor mangeled thing (but still in tact).  Quickly shove it in it's normal little camera bag home and get out of there.  I did not pull it out again until late that night at Gianpietros.. I just didn't want to see it.

Good news is, Gianpietro and his lovely wife and son live on a beautiful farm!  When I met them and they show me around, I must get that camera out and see what we can do..  And have a look, it still takes photos.. horrible ones, but it's not completely dead.. yet!

And how cool is this place.. I wonder how I get so lucky to experience life on a north Italy farm.. ;-)

Gian has retired from working the warm, but he's very keen on these Birmingham rolling pigeons! (That's the award above his head).. I never heard of this breed before, but they are unique!  They fly up and literally "roll" or more specifically, do rapid backwards somersaults while flying.. how odd!

Aww, look at the babies!! ;-)

The next morning, we have an early departure to get to the KTM shop first thing.  Gianpietro is like me, an early riser, and he had BOTH our bikes out of the garage and ready to go.  One last photo from the screwy but operating camera.. colors adjusted as much as possible.

And we're off!  (Wait.. I should mention that Gianpietro's close friend Giorgio came over the night before. I had met him during the winter as they drove all the way to where I was staying south of Florence to take me to lunch one day) Actually I put in a couple photos of that day in February from my Italian village, San Casciano.  (These are the flashback photos from then.)

Cheers to the Italian wine connoisseur ;-)

Back to young Giorgio -- who speaks NO English.. but with my little bits of Spanish we get by..

Giorgio came over with his fancy blue Porsche the night before while I was staying at Gian's family home.  He is quite the ladies man, having 2 or 3 girlfriends.. (depends when you ask him!..ha!)  He talks me into a ride in the car, and I reluctantly got in..  Then down the skinny curvy country lanes at top top tippy top speed, I was screaming so much, the local farmer neighbors must has thought medieval times down these original Roman roads were on the return!

Giorgio got a kick out of this as you might imagine..

Anyway, I thought of this because the photo of Gianpietro on the skinny lane below is the same one seen now in daylight.

We get to our KTM appointment with much relief on my part.. my overdue service was really making me nervous.  And I meet Paolo Canavese and his team at Sissi Racing in Crema.  These guys were a delight to meet and got to work straight away on my bike..

They have a fun website if you want to see or even better if you are in the area and needing the best service guys around!

Paolo himself has lots of racing achievements under his belt, and he really knows the bike.  They organize a complete check and big service AS WELL AS, organizing the local newspaper guys to come over to interview me.. wow!  He also put me onto the phone of the KTM head Marketing Director for Italia.. whom wanted me to stay around a little longer until Monday to meet.  Since I've committed to meet with Capt. George before sailing,  I can't hang around another 3 days. But I loved their interest and enthusiasm for sure!  I'm feeling a wee bit special here.. thanks so much Paolo... ;-)

Then on top of all this,  they take me for a wonderful Italian lunch.. and would not let me pay for any of my service!!!  And it was a big supersize service!  Such great guys and such a professional shop.. I would highly recommend them to anyone. ;-))

Lunch in Italy is quite a cultural daily routine that I never got used to the entire 3 months I lived there.  Everything shut down from 1-4..! It never failed that I got caught out needing to get that one last very important thing done in an office or a shop and I couldn't.. meaning I would have to come back from a country home all the way to the city for one dag gone thing!  Urgh.. Coming from American or Australian culture where we work all day, it was sooo hard to get used to.. and on my part, never did!

But it's a really nice custom if you are in town and know you have time with friends like these guys to eat or do whatever you want for 3 hours every day.  And remember, Italy has THE BEST food! I diverted my story again.. sorry.  I eventually got on the road south.. it's late enough in the day, that there is no way to accomplish my Barcelona ferry goal in one hit. But I'm doing all right. Might as well stop along the way and make it to Barcelona tomorrow.. still enough time to visit my friend there..

Soo... see you next time in Palma!

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