1st June – Saturday
Not a lot of sleep last night, the bars below didn’t close until nearly 4am. Not even earplugs helped. We are up at 6am, and out the door before 7. Just missed a bus to the bus station, but we were aiming for the next one anyway. There are quite a few at the stop waiting, a bit of a surprise given the early hour. We had thought (hoped) there would not be that many. The trip was a lot quicker than expected, they told us 28 minutes, but we were there in under 15, probably due to the fact there were not many pick-ups on the way. Another surprise at the bus station, the service to Malaga airport is listed when we arrive!
The bus even leaves on time, but it is not very clean, when we pull down the tray tables they are full of crumbs and it looks like they have not been cleaned in ages. We try to stay awake on the trip to Malaga, but it is difficult given the lack of sleep and the “early” start.
We are at Malaga well before we need to, which is fine by us. We would rather be somewhere with time to spare than stressed out worrying if we are going to “make it”. We had already checked in on line, and had our boarding passes, and when we saw the long queues we used the self check-in for the bags. We were then told to go to bag drop, but when we got to the Vueling desk there was no bag drop queue. Just one massive one. We joined that, and then saw an internet check-in and bag drop counter, but it was not opened. So we left the queue and went over there anyway. The others waiting starting giving us grief for jumping the queue, but Tony still waited until a woman at another counter was finished and went and asked what the story was. She confirmed that there was only the one queue, and Tony politely asked what the point of self check-in was if you had to wait in a huge queue with everyone who had not done so. She told him she would get something sorted, and in the meantime we had to re join the queue… at the back. There was a moment of hope when someone came over and rearranged the barriers, and it looked like we were getting the bag drop open, but no. It was only rearranging things because the queue was disrupting the rest of the airport. Then the bag drop only counter opens, but there is still no queue for it, she is taking customers from the check-in queue. Sigh. More than a little pissed off and it was 40 minutes until we got to the counter. The woman was the same one who talked to Tony earlier, and she tells us we have to remove the bag labels. Tony explained that they had only just been put on at self check-in. She then apologised and said she had asked for bag drop to be open and to out for look for us, but that didn’t go to plan. At least everything went smoothly when we had to negotiate security, no big deal there.
We had a little time for something to eat, and really just wanted a snack, as we couldn’t remember if that was included in the flight. So we grabbed a snack box at Burger King, and a coffee, and headed for the gate. It was nearly finished boarding by the time we got there, boarding calls are not announced, and in that part of the food court there was no flight board. The luggage bins were full, so we had to stow our gear under the seats.
Our tickets on Vueling cost €256. The flight left just after 1pm, and took about 90 minutes. No food or drink included. But you can take your yapping bloody dog on board for comfort. At least it didn’t yap the whole flight. Just pleased we were not sitting next to it! From the air we could see just how big Malaga was, it would be madness in the height of the season. There was a lot of building all the way along the Costa del Sol, and although it was lovely, we are pleased we did not go there and have the big crowds.
We arrived in Palma and had quite a trek, almost as bad as Frankfurt! Baggage claim took forever to get to. We then had to find the bus, and being an airport bus it was expensive. €10 for the two us, taking us about 6km. We arrived as one left, and had a bit of a wait for the next one. We had conflicting information as to which stop to get off at, and then when we got to the first one, the bus left before we could get off. So we had to use the other. It was a case of six of one, and half a dozen of the other, we had a short walk either way. €85 to stay in the Hotel de Sol for two night. Not the flashest place, but comfortable. No kitchen facilities, but they had a microwave and jug by the office, and if anyone left shampoo, etc, behind, it was left for guests to help themselves rather than be thrown away. There was also beach gear free to use, towels, umbrellas, lilos, etc. Our room was at the back of the hotel, so there was no street noise, it had a balcony that actually had room to sit outside, and the other guests were quiet enough, most of the time.
On the way through the area Tony said it looked a bit German, with the signage that was about. And that turned out to be so, we were in the area frequented by the German tourists, groups of young people on stag and hen do’s, or just a few days away. Just like any other group of that age and inclination they tended to be funny until the drinks hit home. We felt safe enough at night, but it was not very pleasant once it got to the wee small hours. In fact it got messy early, because they tended to drink on the beach all day. Lots of hilarious costumes, and the only annoying thing was the use of loud hailers, readily for sale from the street hawkers.
11km walkies today (bet much of that was at the airport!). Sunsets are still late, around 9pm the sun goes behind the mountains, but it is light for a lot longer.
02nd June – Sunday
An easy start to the day, a bit of wandering around the El Arenala trying to find a suitable supermarket. It seems anyone with a few bits to sell calls themselves a supermarket. Here, most are below ground level, and the entrances are small. You cannot tell just by looking at them if they are big or small, or what they sell. The small ones are barely wider than the doorway, and mostly sells snacks and drinks (including alcohol). We find a Spar that has a bit better range, and get some food and drinks, but they still don’t have muesli or breakfast cereals. Just along the road is another supermarket, and when head down below it is surprisingly big. We get breakfast food, drinks and fruit here, and head back for lunch while we wait to hear from Pol. There is a sunroof on the top floor of the hotel, fake grass, sun loungers, tables, umbrellas, and a shower (so you can check out, go to the beach, and shower and change before your late flight, cool).
Pol arrives late afternoon, he had trouble understanding where we were staying, because we were giving him details in Spanish, not Catalan. And our pronunciation is not that flash. We have internet, but no text, and he has texts, but no internet, so it is hard to send him written instructions. We think we have figured the bus system, but he is not convinced, haha. We tell him to catch the #15, but it is the local commuter, not the express bus, so it takes him an hour to get to us. Oops. We have a good catch up, and we head out for a swim around 6pm. Water is a bit cold, but ok once you get in. There are lots of fish hanging about, not fazed by us at all. The water is quite shallow for a long way, we can go out a fair bit and still not have water above our heads. We are on the beach until sunset, and Pol heads back to town. A bit of walking today, about 4.7km.
03 June – Monday
Today we had to change hotels, it is busy in this part of town (all them Germans!), so we could only stay two nights here. Check out is at 11am, and we have an hour wait before we can check in at the next place, just four doors along the road. We sit at the outside tables in front of Sol, and book our tickets to Ireland. Shock! Horror! We decided to give Ryanair a shot. Never say never. We still have to jump through hoops, but it seems a lot easier than it used to be with them, and not so many horror stories around these days. A basic €29 fare jumps to €78 when we add luggage. We don’t have a lot of options, but at least there are options. It is a bit difficult finding what the extra charges are should we be overweight, and there doesn’t seem to be an option to increase the bag weight beyond 20kg. What we do find is that we can buy a package that allows 20kg in the hold, plus two cabin bags, one of 10kg max, and a smaller one (no weight restrictions that we can see?) that must fit under the seat. We decide we can juggle this around because we have a detachable pack on the main bags.
Boogaloo is a newer, smarter hotel, €109 ($185) for two nights, includes breakfast. But we preferred the Sol, at least it had a fridge and there was a jug and microwave, even if they were in reception. They are supposed to have a café and bar, but the coffee machine is broken, and we cannot see the bar.
We asked for a quiet room, and are pleased to be at the back of the hotel again, so there is no noise from the street. We need to get our boarding passes printed for the flight to Dublin, but the printer at the hotel is not working very well, so we will have to get them printed off in town. Or Ryanair will do it for us, and only charge €20 EACH for their trouble.
We head into Palma (on the express bus!), €1.50 each, one way, takes about half an hour to get to the stop outside the cathedral. Pol is there to meet us, and we have a wander around before meeting his girlfriend, Sylvia. We have lunch at restaurant, and see Sylvia’s flat when Pol picks up a few things from there. She drives us back to our Hotel where we meet up with Carmellen, Eduard and their friend Carmen. So lovely to see them again after all this time, we go for an ice cream down by the beach. After they have left we go down the street looking for a feed. One of the guys touting outside a restaurant tells Cynthea that if she goes and gets her husband, who has avoided the hassling and walked on down the street, that we will get a free sangria with our meal. Cynthea goes and finds Tony and brings him back. We are not that hungry, and order a pizza and some bread and dips. When the food arrives Cynthea mentions the promised sangria. Apparently this is usually brought out at the end of the meal, probably in the hope that we will be kept there longer and order some more food! However they bring it out to us while we are still eating, and very nice it is too! It is well after dark before we head back to the hotel, so much for a quick snack while we were out. Being a Monday night it is much quieter than at the weekend, but even so there are still a few partying in the streets. Not as much wandering today as we had thought, just 4.7km
04 Jun – Tuesday
We take the bus into town to meet Pol again. Cynthea goes into the cathedral for a tour, and Tony and Pol go in search of an internet café to print the Ryanair boarding passes. The computer is in Spanish, or maybe Catalan, but Tony has Pol to help if he gets stuck. It costs less than €3 so that was cheaper than having those ripoffs do it!
We meet up with Cynthea back at the cathedral, and head down to the park to rest on the grass under the cathedral walls. We had hoped to meet up with Sylvia again, but she couldn’t make it today. We walked a little more, and headed for the bus stop, we were off to our hotel, and Pol to Esporeles. We need to pack our bags ready to leave tomorrow, but decide that we should go out for a quick meal. The waiter at the restaurant last night had promised us free sangria if we came back – we later realised that the “free sangria” was standard for everyone, cunning buggers, hahaha. We watched the sun set, followed by a tiny sliver of the new moon – Ramadan is now over. It was a clear night, and we say the International Space Station make its’ way over.
Back at the hotel we work out how we are going to redistribute the weight in our bags, and decided to leave the actual repacking until we get to the airport tomorrow afternoon.
Tony is quite surprised to see that we walked about 11km today.