What I ❤ about Mallorca

Yes, I have written about Mallorca before, but I just love it, and I am blessed that I get to spend a few days there every Summer.

My family has been going on and off to Mallorca since the late seventies. We always go to the same small beach, and lately to the same hotel.

For me there are three key things that I love about Mallorca:

There is nothing particularly special about the beach, it is a small beach. But it does have a peculiarity: there is an island in the middle of the bay, the cala, which is reachable by a small wooden bridge. The island is mostly taken up by an excellent restaurant. There are a few rocks which you can jump off from. You can also swim to the island, climb the rocks, and jump off. This is my favorite moment of the year; the moment my feet leave the rock and the seconds it takes to reach the water. Bliss.

Mallorca is endowed with plenty of Mediterranean pines. I love going for a run in the forest breathing the wonderful scent. There is an observation tower (many were built during the 15th and 16th centuries to spot and warn of the many pirates that roamed those waters) on a hill next to the beach, and that is my objective, run to the tower and back. The views, the smell, the air, the deafening sound of the cicadas all make for a memorable run.

The third item is a food which you can only really taste in Mallorca (you can buy them elsewhere, but the taste is not the same). The Enseimada.

What are the things that make your special place special? Leave a comment below!

The best gym in the world?

While I have been to many gyms, I am not, in any way, a gym explorer, a gym connoisseur. In the fifteen years I have been going to gyms I might have gone to about a dozen or so gyms, not counting hotel gyms, since they are all mostly horrible –with a few exceptions like the Steigenberger Golf & Spa Resort Camp de Mar.

At any rate, the other day I drove over to Naples to celebrate my old student’s Lukas, birthday, and he treated me to workout at the gym where he works a couple of nights a week: Fountain X.

This might be the best gym in the world, what an experience. It has all top-of-the-line equipment, every person gets a power lifting rack, the whole floor is rubberized, many of the weight machines work with compressed air which hits your muscles different and avoids the metallic clanking you hear in gyms, it just feels amazing!

When you finish your workout there is a fridge with cool, peppermint infused towels to refresh yourself with, they were so invigorating and soothing at the same time. There is also a water and fizzy water fountain. Then there are individual infra-red saunas! There are post workout compression recovery “boots”, there is a body composition scanner, in short, all the bells and whistles.

I loved the workout, the “Zen” feeling, the peppermint infused towels, the personal sauna, but I think my favorite was the Molton Brown soap in the shower and body cream after the workout, yes, I am an old man, and the post workout is just as important as the workout itself. The haters will say that I have gone soft, that a smelly, moldy gym with rusty weights and posters of my cousin Arnold is more motivational, whatever, haters gonna hate.

A few (blissful) days in Mallorca

Although last year we anchored overnight in the wild and gorgeous Es Trenc bay, I missed Mallorca; the intense smell of pine trees, the deafening song of thousands of cicadas, the mesmerizing Mediterranean, the unexplainable beauty of the light, the deliciousness of the food, and the quiet night sky.

This year I managed to join my family for a few days in the same cala -small bay- we have been going to since I was a child. It is very comforting to know the area, the folks at the restaurants, and the hotel staff.

The beach is small, but it has silk soft white sand and crystal-clear water. The defining characteristic of this spot is an island in the middle of the tiny bay which hosts a great little restaurant which specializes, obviously, in fish. This island has a rock jutting into the sea where you can jump from. Every day we swim over to the rock and jump, it is possibly the best moment of the year for me. The feeling of absolute freedom for the second that I am in the air.

Otherwise, it is a quiet time. We enjoy an amazing breakfast spread, we hang out at the beach all morning with a quick mid-morning break for a cortado* at the beach bar, we have a jump in the hotel pool before a pool-side lunch, a little siesta, a workout at the gym or a run in the hills, and hanging out at the pool for the rest of the afternoon until we mobilize for a nice dinner at a local restaurant (this year we spotted Chelsea forward Timo Werner and retired German mid-fielder Bastian Schweinsteiger at our favorite Italian joint!). We have travelled the island many times before, so we do not feel an urging need to explore, just to chill and hang out. I cannot wait for next year!

* Cortado, which means “cut” is an espresso with a dollop of milk to “cut” the acidity of the coffee.

Wait for it…

Mallorca

My family used to go on holidays to Galicia, the Northwest coast of Spain. Atlantic water temperature and Atlantic waves. When my little sister Rocky was born we decided to switch our holidays to Mallorca island on the Mediterranean, where we found a little “cala”, inlet on the south shore of the island. Warm, beautiful, tranquil, crystal clear water.  We have been coming to the same place for the last forty odd years, Camp de Mar. First we stayed at the “Gran Hotel”, old world style and panache, real furniture, “sit down dinner”, even a springboard on the beautiful pool! Unfortunately, after falling into disrepair it was razed and turned into a gaudy monstrosity.  So we rotated through a series of rental homes until in the early 00s we found the Dorint. A resort built on what used to be an old farm where we used to go on nice summer evening walks eating the carobs off the ground. Some of my fondest memories are of excursions around the island, walking the old streets of the capital, Palma de Mallorca, with it’s beautiful squares and Gothic cathedral. I loved coming to the island when I had my own business and customers to visit. For many years when I had the money I rented a rag top Jeep to drive around the island and to go to the village to pick up freshly made ensaimadas, the local pastries, enjoying the sun and wind in my face and hair (I had hair then).

For the last few years my parents have been bringing their grandkids on holidays here. The rest of us come and go as time and money allow! I have been able to come for the last three years and I love it.

There is something magical about these islands. The light, the sea, the warm, dry days and nights, the intoxicating sweet smell of night. Not surprisingly it is, and has been home to Phoenicians, Romans and Moors, Chopin and George Sand, Agatha Christie, Rubén Dario, Joan Miró, and more recently Michael  Douglas, Claudia Schiffer, and of course Rafa Nadal.

Our life here is very quiet. Wonderful breakfasts with local pastries, quiet beach, pool, siestas, and nice meals. I enjoy the gym, swimming, running on the local forested hills, evening walks with the family after dinner and the bar at night. But most of all I am getting a ton of reading done for my Ph.D. exams next spring! On Sundays I go to the village to the 1248 church for mass (granted it was pretty much re-done in 1703, but still).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA View from Andratx village Andratx village View from the Dorint Hotel OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Camp de Mar Beach SAMSUNG Dorint Hotel Camp de Mar Hotel entrance, Dorint

The countdown hits single digits (almost)

Slowly things fall into place. Finishing up at BB&N was bittersweet. The kids where amazing, we had farewell parties in all my classes and a great end of season dinner for the boys Varsity Tennis team. The nuts and bolts of closing up my life in Boston went smoothly enough. I know I am going to miss old Boston, but after a total of thirteen years there, I needed to move on.

Driving a 17 ft. truck with a two axle trailer with the car on it was a different story. Nobody had given me specific instructions on how to maneuver such a beast. So off I drove confidently in the rain through Connecticut. At a gas station somewhere in Upstate New York I got my trailer driving lesson: I thought I had cleared the pump when I felt a slight nudge on the rig. Surely enough I had cut the corner a bit close and the trailer had gotten caught on the pump. Nothing broken, no problem. I proceeded to maneuver myself into quite a tangle, the trailer facing Canada and the truck facing Mexico (you get the picture). Somewhere in that mess I snapped the pump handle off of the pump! I finally spotted the huge gas tank delivery truck parked on the far edge of the station and I walked in the rain to beg the driver for help. After analyzing the situation, he gave me the lesson I had wanted all along! It took a while to extricate myself from the mess but eventually got out with only the car slightly less scratched than my ego. The station manager was fine with the broken handle. I slept in New Jersey and safely made it to North Carolina the next day.

After unpacking at Friendly lane on a Friday I flew to Spain for the summer holidays with my family. I hung out in Madrid, went to my nieces baptism, went to the beautiful Mediterranean island of Mallorca and at my family’s house in the village of La Navata outside Madrid.

So this is what I have worked three years for, this is when the proverbial manure hits the fan, this is when the action starts. I can’t wait for orientation on the 13th and for classes to start on the 21st.  I’m taking Medieval literature, old Spanish grammar, film in culture and Italian for beginners – like in the movie. On the flip side, I still don’t know what I will be teaching.

This is what I’ve waited for, this is it.ImageImageImage