We have mentioned a few times already that the boat rocks a lot in this marina, so much so that we feel like we are in unpleasant seas. We are constantly crashing into both neighbors. Thank God for fenders, but even with the fenders, it makes an unpleasant crashing sound. The ropes make loud, creaking cries as they strain against the wind. The loud noises wake us up multiple times during the night. Eric gets up a couple times a night to adjust the lines. We aren’t sleeping well, which makes getting up in the morning hard. Also, getting out of bed in the morning when it is cold is terrible. Eric has been running upstairs, turning on the generator and heater, then crawling back into bed until the bitter edge of cold is gone. And finally, the sun doesn’t rise here until almost 0800, which throws our internal clocks off. When we awake at a normal hour, like 0700, we think it is the middle of the night and go back to sleep.
Needless to say, we had a hard time getting up this morning and were off to a late start. We were happy to see that the skies were mostly sunny with scattered clouds, and it was not quite as windy. Most importantly, it was significantly warmer. We still needed long pants and a jacket, but not the heavy sweaters we have been wearing underneath the jacket.
We had an early lunch at the restaurant across the street before catching the red tour bus. We have noticed gazpacho on the menu at most of the restaurants we have been to, it is a traditional Spanish dish. Gazpacho is a cold tomato soup. This restaurant makes it with sparkling water instead of regular water, which Eric absolutely loved. We also ordered the scallops, which in and of themselves weren’t interesting enough to write about. But the way it was served was — on a bed of mashed peas, with a side of a hot salad of grilled vegetables, and some kind of foamy stuff, like the foam from steamed milk, except it wasn’t milk. Maybe steamed butter? Does such a thing exist?
Fortunately, there is a bus stop on the waterfront just a couple blocks from the marina. We literally got to the bus stop just as the bus was pulling up. Now that is great timing! On the red tour buses you can get on and off at all the major attractions in town. We decided to make the most of the transportation and go to the places that would be hard for us to get to on our own.
Our first stop was the Spanish Pueblo, which is a purpose built tourist attraction, an old style village that recreates the most famous architecture in Spain. It was one of those places that if you didn’t go you’d wonder what you missed out on. The complex is protected by old style fortress walls, complete with guard tower and imposing entrance gate. We bought tickets and went in. The streets are narrow pedestrian lanes, the buildings are all packed in very tightly, and they are all attractive. There is a nice town square. You can wander along the interior of the fortress walls and go up into the lookout towers. You get stronger sense of what a real functioning medieval city was like than you do wandering around ruins and trying to envision what it might have been like back in the day. In that sense it is a neat experience. But it can’t be compared to going someplace like Rhodes.
The first shot is of the “Plaza Mayor” town square. On the right is the Felix de Torralba de Ribota fortified church. The arches you can see are actually a guard tower. The tall, thin thing on the left is Santa Caterina bell tower. The building that looks like it is attached to the bell tower is an example of typical Basque style. The second is of houses of famous people typical of the northern gothic style.
Our overall impression of the place is: bizarre. First off, it was clearly built as a shopping mall, equivalent to Seaport Village in San Diego. We think Seaport Village is a cute place to hang out, get lunch and shop, but we wouldn’t pay a $7.50 USD per person entrance fee to go inside. Only a few shops and a couple of restaurants are actually occupied, with the vast majority of the complex empty. The emptiness makes it feel kind of desolate.
We think the attempt to replicate the architecture came out poorly. The majority of the buildings are facades decorating a tiny building intended for shops. We have been to many places that have similar style buildings to all the ones replicated here, and we can say for sure that the in most cases, the size is significantly scaled back, so there is not the same sense of awe that the full size building brings.
Also, when you visit these kinds of monuments in person, it is often the majestic interior that makes the building phenomenal, not just the exterior faÃ§ade. A lot of the fun of going to the old buildings is seeing the interior dÃ©cor and the furniture and being awed by how big and fancy it is. Here, most of the interiors are simply concrete floors and white drywall boxes, patiently waiting for a tenant to move in and decorate. To be fair, a few of the buildings did have a decorated interior but there was always something seriously lacking. For instance, the Arab Bathhouse has a decorated interior, but just didn’t feel like the real Arab Baths we have seen inside some of the palaces we have visited. Maybe it is because smaller proportions makes it lose its grandeur inside the same as it does outside. Here is the Arab bath.
Our next stop on the tour was the Castle de Bellver, built in the 14th century. Going inside the castle is free, but there is an admission fee to go inside the museum housed within the castle. Inside the gate, the first thing that strikes you is the cool architectural design. Most castles are square with round guard towers, and we have seen a few circular ones, such as Castle d’Angelo in Rome. But this is a series of round guard towers and buildings that kind of make a scalloped, almost flower like, look. There is a wide courtyard that offers great 360 degree views, which is also scalloped. You can see all of Palma, as well as the surrounding undeveloped/sparsely developed countryside north of Palma. Yet another thing that we can’t remember if we have mentioned or not is that many of these castles have what looks like a second moat around the prized structure they are trying to protect. In most cases, we don’t think it was really filled with water, just a ditch to make it that much harder for an invader to climb the wall. But this one looks like it may have actually held water. This fort only has an exterior wall, not a second interior wall.
We crossed the bridge over the ditch and went inside the heart of the castle. As is often the case, the center is an open courtyard with rooms off the courtyard. The museum was closed, as were all the rooms. We are not sure why siesta hour? Closed on this day of the week? Closed for remodeling? Who knows. We went up to the roof, where the view is even more stunning.
We decided that was enough sightseeing for the day and went back to Kosmos to take care of internet stuff (yes, this marina has wifi, but it is expensive). We went to dinner at the seafood restaurant we mentioned seeing that first night in town. We got an apple and nut salad with a creamy blue cheese dressing. Out came an enormous bowl of diced apples and chopped walnuts, with just a few tiny shreds of lettuce, probably for color. The dressing was strong. Eric liked it a lot, Christi found it to be monotonous. We also got a seafood paella, which was better than the paella at the place near the cathedral. Paella is heavy and hearty, and after the enormous salad, we filled up fast.