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  • Mountain Driving to Orient & Alaro Mallorca

    Mallorca, Spain

    Thursday was another sunny, hot day in Mallorca. I have only an evening practice today so I took a drive to a couple of mountain villages.

    From Bunyola to Orient is only about six miles, but it’s an intense one, starting with leaving Bunyola. Most of the roads were about as wide as a freeway lane..some were narrower…but all had 2-way traffic. And the entire drive was full of pinwheel curves. Fortunately, there was hardly anyone on the roads as I chose to leave around noon. And it was in the high 90s.

    The road to Orient is very pretty, with lots of trees and very steep mountains in the background. I passed more bikers than cars, and there were frequent signs admonishing bikers to ride single file, not parallel (though not all groups of bikers obeyed those signs). There were also more small orchards, with trees set far apart, almonds, apples, olives. Later on I saw a few grapes too. I have no idea how people build houses up there, the roads are so narrow, but I saw a very large building under construction behind Orient.

    The town of Orient is tiny, not much longer than a city block, but nonetheless had a 3 star hotel and a couple of restaurants. I walked up and down the street, then left for Alaro.

    The road to Alaro was straighter and mostly a bit wider. I saw a lot of terraced hillsides, with the levels delineated by rocks. Mallorca must be full of rocks, all the fences have a lot of rocks as the base and most houses are some combination of plaster & rocks with barrel tiled roofs.

    I passed the sign to the Castell d’Alaro on the way in and contemplated taking it. But it was a 45 minute walk up to the castle in 100 degree heat, so I passed. Plus it was a bit hazy with all the heat of midday.

    Alaro is a pretty typical Mallorcan village. It has a big square by the church (and conveniently, the police station), and rows of plaster & rock houses, mostly with green shutters, a grocery store and a pharmacy. I walked around the town, which at 2pm was basically dead other than a few cafes, hit the Bipa grocery store (which had two full freezer compartments of frozen fish, from mussels to calamari to shrimp), and drove back. Tennis training is later in the evening.

    Training tomorrow and then on the weekend, more exploring of Mallorca awaits.


  • Tren de Soller; Soller and the Port de Soller

    Bunyola, Mallorca, Spain

    Since my tennis was scheduled for the evening yesterday, I decided to take the antique train (Ferrocarril de Sóller) to the little town of Sóller, north of here, and then the antique tram to the Port de Sóller . The decision was made easy by the fact that I’m staying about 30 seconds from the train station.

    The train goes from Palma to Bunyola to Sóller and back about half a dozen times a day. It’s an old wooden train with wooden seats. We went past a lot of desiccated-looking olive, almond and citrus orchards. I saw goats in a couple of olive orchards, munching away (I kid you not.). The young ones ran from the train while the older ones paid it no mind. We went through several tunnels and past some nice scenery of valleys and mountains.

    Sóller is a small town with a pretty church, a nice shopping street and hoards of tourists. I heard French, British English, German, only a bit of Spanish, Italian and some other languages being spoken, with German and English being most prevalent. There were ice cream shops everywhere, I think that’s one of the main attractions in Sóller. I had mint which was refreshing on such a hot day (mid-high 90’s).

    I took the tram down to the Port of Sóller, which features a nearly circular port full of boats and lined with a small, packed beach (it was hot). I climbed up a bit to see the Port better and also saw the Mediterranean on the other side of the Port. It was a cloudless day with the blue sky and blue water looking so beautiful.

    You can take a boat ride from the Port but after taking some photos and walking around a bit, I took the tram back to Sóller and walked around there for an hour, seeing the church, shopping street and watching the groups of tourists.

    I took the 2pm train back to my lodging and then trained at 7:30 pm and again today at 9:30am. It’s interesting watching the kids training, they have some different drills. Mainly of course, they are always moving and are hitting with each other, not with the pros. They were doing 2 on 1 drills today for a while and even in warm up, when one of the kids on the side with 2 hit a ball, the other shadowed the stroke. They were using only one ball per court so any misses meant the kid who missed into the net had to run to pick it up. The next drill involved cross courts and one of the kids on the side with two then running from one end to the other after so many hits. Then I left, it was 95 by noon.

    Hola Mallorca…Hace Caliente!

    Tennis on the Spanish Clay & Seafood is Popular in Mallorca


  • Tennis on the Spanish Clay & Seafood is Popular in Mallorca

    Bunyola, Mallorca, Spain

    Today I trained twice and in between went to three grocery stores (they were adjacent to each other). In other words, it was a fun day!

    I trained an hour and a half in the morning and also in the late afternoon. It was very hot at 4:30pm but pretty dry so not unbearable. I hit a ton of balls and picked up a few tips…and all day long heard the instructors saying “feet, feet, move”. Spanish tennis is constructed from the ground up. I was of course the oldest person around by decades and that included the parents of the students who were observing. There seemed to be a fair number of British kids. Very few instructors or kids were wearing hats or sunglasses…hmmm. The clay here is much thicker and slower than Bordeaux. The balls are heavy. I like it.

    After my 9:30 hit, I stretched then went to find Aldi. The navigation system in my car is good, so it was a smooth ride on the narrow Mallorcan streets. Aldi was next to Lidl (both are discount grocery stores) and across the street was a normal grocery store. I started with Lidl, which was the most popular of the three. Lidl had great bread, nice apples and tons of seafood. Since it was my first stop and I had no cooler, I didn’t buy any, but maybe next time. There was tons of fish, and shellfish…mussels, clams, squid seems popular and octopus (pulpo) too. Lidl had nice lambs lettuce (mache in French, Felt Salat in German), which is so good and hard to find at home.

    In Europe, all the grocery carts have a system where one puts in a 1 or 2 euro coin, releases the cart…then upon returning, reattaches the cart and gets the coin back. It works pretty well. Aldi does this in the USA but it’s only a quarter (since that’s pretty much the biggest coin in common circulation).

    I went to Aldi next which was similar, though the bread didn’t look quite as good, nor did the apples. But I got the basics there and Aldi also had tons of shellfish and fresh fish.

    Last stop was the regular store, for curry mango sauce for sandwiches and jam. Heinz makes the curry mango sauce but apparently doesn’t sell it in the USA. I was looking for peanut butter and found some in Lidl but no natural. I’m hoping in Lisbon we have a blender and I can just make some!

    I had a good sandwich for lunch and at 4:30-6 trained again. After that I was beat.

    Tomorrow I only train once, in the evening so am going to see where this wooden train is going every day.

    Hola Mallorca…Hace Caliente!


  • Hola Mallorca…Hace Caliente!

    Bunyola, Mallorca, Spain

    Today was another travel day. I flew from Bordeaux (did you know that in Europe, some airlines…looking at you Vueling…charge for bags by the leg, not by the trip?).

    My bags and I made it from Bordeaux to Barcelona to Mallorca. The flight from Barcelona to Mallorca takes about 30 minutes but we sat on the runway for a long time so arrived just a bit late. Vueling runs planes back and forth about every hour, so by the end of the day the planes are usually late. Flying early in the day paid off.

    I picked up a rental car, successfully changed the language from German to English and found both my airbnb and the tennis facility, which are only about 10 minutes apart.

    It was Sunday afternoon when I arrived so naturally most stores were closed, though I got water and sandwich makings at a gas station. And a very fresh baguette, something one doesn’t see in a gas station convenience store at home.

    Mallorca is a pretty island…lots of coastline of course but also lots of hills. From the “outskirts” of Bunyola (it’s a one street town) I could see the sea, and the mountains were back up against the town on the other side.

    It was really warm when I arrived, in the upper 90s at 2pm, but cooled off to the 80s by 8pm. I walked down the street and there were a lot of people at outdoor restaurants and cafes (not eating yet…too early), and quite a few bicyclists, motorbikes, and a few pedestrians.

    Bunyola has a small train station and I saw a wooden train stop. Hopefully I’ll have time to take a ride on it into the mountains later in the week.

    Tomorrow I’m off to train, getting ready for the worlds in Portugal which start in two weeks.