ALL THAT GLITTERS
It’s another beautiful day in southwest Mallorca! I write this from the balcony of our hotel room on the cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean in tranquil Cala Fornells, which is a small inlet near Peguera.
It’s hard to believe I am less than 20 minutes from the capital city of Palma and the busy airport! I have just come to realize this vacation has involved a lot of cliff driving with hairpin turns and dizzying heights, a complete opposite of the flatlands back home!
Anyone who has experienced the sheer terror of driving in a car or bus on the Amalfi coast in Italy would find that ride pales to driving in the mountains of Mallorca. At least the Italians have guard rails or stone walls…the Mallorcans have tree branches with bailing wire. Beyond that is a vertical drop of a thousand meters or more. Being a goat has its advantages here.
This island, part of the Balearic chain of the southern coast of the Spanish mainland, is a never ending source of amazement and beauty that comprises 1,405 square miles and boasts over seventy five incredible beaches surrounded by mountainous landscapes that kiss the clouds and then plummet majestically to the water’s edge.
My wife and I have been coming here for over a decade because here time stands still and the stress and anxiety of running three businesses in a crummy economy melts away in a day or two.
We have yet to see all of Mallorca’s seemingly un-ending discoveries and breathtaking vistas. Our traveling companion, Darlene, summed it up in one word…AMAZING!
It’s weird, even on this trip there are still no bus-loads of camera happy Japanese tourists and only twice in ten years have I run into any Americans. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.
It is High Season here in Mallorca and the majority of nationalities who are enjoying Europe’s secret paradise are predominantly Brits and Germans and the occasional Italian and French for flavor.
The Mallorcans are a proud people. They are also friendly and helpful, especially when one is hopelessly lost, dazed and confused, like me for example!
Most Mallorcans speak several languages, so if all you speak is English you won’t have problems communicating here. (It wouldn’t hurt if you knew some basic Spanish! They like that!)
Travel tip #1… Don’t order French wine in a Mallorcan restaurant. It’s an insult to the Spanish or at least the waiter we had, and quite honestly the Spanish wine was very good for a fraction of the cost of French wine.
So why do many Europeans flock here?
#1 is the weather! (In the two weeks here, not a drop of rain and radiant sunshine every day! Sure it’s hot, it’s August! But take another tip from me and wear the light cotton gauze shirts and shorts like the natives do, plus take the occasional dip in the Mediterranean. The water here is crystal clear and refreshingly cool.
#2 the scenery here is the 8th wonder of the world. There are soaring mountains, numerous caves, ancient ruins which are prolific in Mallorca. The Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans, to name a few, cultivated the land in the center of the island for the production of wine and olive oil and utilized its many ports to ship goods all over the Mediterranean.
An old fashioned railway system (early 1900’s) and a new highway system can get you to all points of the island.
And last but not least and most importantly… it’s cheap folks!
Even though the U.S. dollar is taking a beating compared to the euro, everything is half as expensive as anywhere else we’ve been this month. (For example… dinner for three, and I mean soup to nuts that includes two bottles of excellent wine, dessert and complimentary aperitifs for the shocking total of… 60 euros or around $75 U.S. and that includes the tip! Plus a breathtaking ocean view! Try doing that on Marco!
We have already left Düsseldorf, Paris, Bologna, Florence, Naples Rome, Capri and the Amalfi coast in our wake and now intend to stay here in Mallorca for the remainder of our trip before heading home. Any amount of time spent here though is just not enough time.
So, what little time we have is devoted to strictly day tripping, tennis, tan improvement and gastronomical exploration and most of all… relaxation
We first traveled to the northeastern part of the island to explore
Sollier, a charming fishing town which is also famous for its ambiance and charm. It was early afternoon and, yes, siesta is alive and well in Mallorca and practiced by most of the population. It’s nappy, sleepy, snoozy, time. Everything important is closed from two in the afternoon till around six including restaurants, banks and most retail shops! You gotta love it! We Americans could learn something from this practice. The Spanish age well and live longer than we do. I would be out of business in a month trying this at home.
You are probably wondering by now why I am not talking about jewelry. Well, OK, if you insist. Mallorca is also famous for the production of Mallorca pearl jewelry which is in fact a man made imitation pearl created from a secret process involving crushed shells and glass beads.
The result is a remarkable likeness to a genuine pearl at a fraction of the cost, I love the new styles and longer necklace designs. Now, here’s where I become a wet blanket. Several years ago I filled my shops on Marco with Mallorca pearls. I would have had a better chance selling snow cones to the Eskimos. They not only bombed, I couldn’t give them away. Even people who won them at charity affairs tried to return them for something else, and they got them for free! There you have it! I talked about jewelry.
Now back to the task at hand… I’m on vacation and you’ve got me stressing out about fake Spanish pearls. Where was I?
I’m now home as I finish this piece, but I can still close my eyes and go there, join me if you will and imagine a place far away…
It’s a Balearic evening with a full moon and a cool ocean breeze, you’re sitting perched on a cliff side bodega ready to enjoy a rustic candle lit dinner with friends and the one you love.
The combination of sounds from a Spanish guitar and ocean waves lull you into a hypnotic state.
The unique taste of fine Mallorcan wine explodes on your tongue intensifying this indescribable state you’re in.
The combined aromas of seafood Paella and roasting meat overloads your sense of smell…am I dreaming or are those people at that table sporting wings and halos?
Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith with over 40 years of “on the bench experience” and is owner of The Harbor Goldsmith. He welcomes your questions about All That Glitters. 239-394-9275 or [email protected]