Woohoo, with Pol in Mallorca.
17 May 2011
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Tuesday 17th May
Not too bad a sleep last night, a bit of noise from the town hall square again, or maybe it was the local hookers on the corner selling their wares (couldn’t understand what she was saying). Our roomie is out early again, and we sleep in as there isn’t much we can do today. Even though we fly out at 4pm we have to start getting to the airport at noon. We figure we will just pack and hang about the hostel until then.
It is another stinking hot day, and we are wearing our heavy gear to keep the weight of the bags down. Tony wears a shirt he hasn’t used since leaving, and it is very loose, and the jeans won’t stay up without a belt, he wonders how much weight he has lost.
We head away about 11.30, stopping at the market for bananas and oranges to eat on the way to the airport. But the smell of the souvalaki gets to us and we have to stop for one last one before we go. At the train station we read a notice about a strike, the frigging metro is off this afternoon, bugger! We are relieved that it is a rolling strike, and the green line is affected now, the blue line we need to travel on will not be affected until 2pm. We get our tickets for the airport, EUR14 ($26.50) for the two of us, and are told we don’t have to change trains, it will take an hour, so we head down to the platform. The next train is there within minutes, and several of us with bags get on, but at Plakentias station they announce “end of the line, everybody off” and then the lights go out. We scramble to get off with our packs, as do many of the others obviously heading to the airport.
We stand looking a bit bewildered on the platform, then the sign changes to tell us when the next airport train will be, and Cynthea says it is in 24 hours! But no, it says 24 minutes, so we all take the weight off our feet and we have some of our fruit.
We get to the airport about 1.30, plenty of time. There is confusion where to check in, we are on an Iberia flight, but there is no Iberia check in desk. The notice board tells us go to desk 12, it is a Vueling check in. Tony puts the bags in the scales, Cynthea has 20kg, and Tony 25kg. The bloody woman tells us that there is a charge for our luggage, and Tony’s bag is 5kg overweight, so it will be extra. Tony quickly tells her they booked with Iberia and have a 23 kg allowance. He takes the bags back to shuffle the load, and all is ok. We ask where the bags are checked to, and where immigration control will be, and are relieved to be told it will be at Palma. The bags are checked all the way through (if we had to get our bags and clear immigration at Barcelona, we would have been struggling to make it). We figured that they wouldn’t be so silly as to split an international flight like that with such a short time between the connecting flights, but then….
We have backpacks with straps, so need to take the bags to a special desk, way down the hall. Tony asks at the gate about passport control, and we are told to carry on, it is a bit of a worry, as we haven’t been “checked out” of Greece. We figure it will be done after the security check, but it isn’t, in fact it didn’t happen at all. Go figure??? We guess it is something to do with being in the EU, but you can bet ya boots it wont be like this in the UK!!
We are told we have to be at the gate an hour before boarding, but the boarding pass says 30 minutes before, so we play it safe and head through, and wait, and wait… Tony remembers the phone card still has EUR4 on it, and as it is midnight at home figures the only one to call is Hayden. The money goes in little over 2 minutes, that is over $3.50 a minute, someone is creaming it. Good to hear all is well at home, and the only loss in the flood was the vacuum cleaner, the water came up to the level of the floor, but didn’t go over.
The flight on Vuelings Airbus A300-200 to Barcelona will be just under three hours, we are crammed into cattle class, and it is really cramped. Tony hopes he can stretch his left leg out a bit, it hasn’t been sore for a while now, but the cramped seating is likely to have it play up again. He has found that after a long flight he cannot sit with his left knee bent, it is very painful, and it is affected for many days after. Sitting in the seat the knee is soon sore, but he finds he can put his leg straight, so hopefully it will be ok. The safety video is rushed through (in two languages, and the English version is heavily accented and spoken so fast that it is difficult to understand, but it is the same as every other airline, so not a problem to us). Being a budget airline the food on board is bloody expensive, and we forgot to grab something from the airport, just as well we had our fruit at the airport! EUR6 for a ciabatta bread sandwich of minuscule proportions, but we can get a meal deal with chips and a beer for EUR9 ($17), and at these prices we get one to share. For EUR3 we can get two hot drinks as well, there is language problem and a bit of confusion, we don’t get the chips, but Cynthea isn’t charged for the can of Fanta she also ordered. Beer on its’ own is dear, the can we paid EUR1.30 for at the street kiosk is EUR3.50 on board, we wont be drinking much this flight! No freebies on this flight.
We arrive in Barcelona and start looking for the gate for our flight to Palma. Our boarding pass shows gate AB, but the A series gates are at the opposite end of the terminal to the B gates. We find the departures board, and we are directed to the A gates, but there is no actual gate number listed. It also looks like the flight is delayed about half an hour, so we text Pol to say we will be late. We wander around the airport for a while, and check the departures again to find the gate series has been changed to B, still no number, so we head over that way to wait. Like many airports we have been to in Europe there is no PA system announcing departures, and you have to keep your eye on the board all the time. Food at the airport is pricey, as we expected, but the biggest shock was the water, a small 500ml is EUR1.70 (we paid around 1EUR for 1.5 litres in Greece).
The plane finally arrives, and there is a very quick turn around, the last passenger is hardly off before we are herded on to the Airbus A320. Despite leaving nearly 45 minutes late, we are at Palma just half an hour late, so they made up quite a bit of time on the short flight. They offered a drinks service, but we had hardly been in the air 30 minutes, and they are telling everyone to put the seat backs up, and tray tables away. We hadn’t seen the drinks trolley, apparently if you did want to pay for overpriced food and drink you had to call the hostess. Our bags are first off and we look for immigration and customs, but there isn’t any and we walk straight through to see Pol and his mother, Carmelen, waiting for us.
We drive about 10km to the village of Esporles where Pol’s parents live, we are staying with them as there is no room at his flat, Pol is staying here too while we are there. Palma is about another 14km further on. As we drive home we see the full moon rise, it looks awesome. At home we meet Pol’s father, Eduard, and his sister, Claudia.
It is great to be staying here, a lovely two storey home just out of the village with hills all around, and a pool in the courtyard. We are made very welcome, and enjoy a wonderful meal. Fresh sardines lightly fried – they are so different from the smelly tinned stuff we get at home! Cheese, bread and salad, it was lovely. Meal times here are similar to Greece and Turkey, breakfast is mid morning, lunch about 2pm, and the evening meal around 9 or 10pm (in the summer it is much cooler at that time).
Tony asks if there are bathroom scales about, his jeans are very loose (hasn’t worn them for quite a while, but did so today to keep the weight down in the luggage. They won’t stay up without a belt, and the belt is now on the last notch, so he feels he has lost a fair bit. He is pleased he has lost another 5 or 6kg since the last weigh-in, when we arrived in Turkey mid April (that is about 12-13kg since Christmas, he hopes it stays off). We head off to bed very late (we have put our clocks back an hour for Spain). It is still very warm, so we leave the windows open for the night.