This morning we awoke to clear blue skies and no wind. The marina was flat. Wow. The forecast said heavy rain all day. What happened? Since we had an extra day to kill and nice weather, we called the Segway place to see if they could squeeze us in for today. We made an appointment for 1130. Yay! It was such a gorgeous day that we walked to the tour office, located near the cathedral in the historic district.
The Segway place in France stocks the i2 models that have LeanSteer â„¢ technology. It is super easy to use put your weight on your toes to go forward, and put your weight on your heel to go backward, and to stop you center the weight on your feet. To turn, you lean your body right or left, the more you lean, the more you turn. In a lot of ways, it is similar motion to controlling a snowboard. It is so stable that we were beginning to think all those crash clips you see on U-Tube were staged.
We again lucked out and got a private tour. This place only has one i2 and the rest of their units are an older model. Christi got the i2 and Eric got the older model. The motion of the older model is controlled by hand levers, not leaning. It is not nearly as easy to use, or as stable and safe. Since it is harder to steer, you are more prone to fall, which Eric did once. This must be the model from all the Internet video clips. Eric says the older model is as much fun as the newer model, you just have to concentrate more on the steering.
The tour lasted two hours. It wasn’t a narrated tour loaded with lots of info like our tour in Paris. We basically followed our guide around the city, and she didn’t say much about the places we visited beyond the name. It may have been due to a language barrier, though we doubt it. But we aren’t complaining, because we spent a significantly larger percentage of our time actually riding rather than standing in front of monuments. We covered a lot of ground. Truth be told, we were more interested in playing with the toys than the tour itself.
We went down to the waterfront, passed by the cathedral and castle, and continued following the water to beyond where Kosmos is parked. At a small side street, we turned and started up the hill. After weaving through several blocks, we came to the entrance to the nature preserve that surrounds the Castle de Bellver. It is a pretty park with a nice, well groomed trail leading up to the castle. It is mostly pine trees, with a few olive trees thrown in. There were several people walking their dogs.
At the castle, we stopped for a break for a few minutes, then headed back down through the park. Once out of the castle grounds, we took a different series of streets back down to the waterfront, popping out close to Kosmos. We followed waterfront for one very long block until we got to the river. On the red tour bus we had learned that the river used to run through the middle of the historic district. But because of flooding issues, in the 1700′s the river was re-routed to be outside the fortified walls of the city. The river parallels where the walls used to be. They turned the land where the river used to be into the high end shopping district within the historic area. The fortress walls were destroyed only fairly recently. It was determined they were no longer needed for defense, and having the walls in place impeded the city’s growth. There is one relatively small chunk of wall left, what looks to use like a former guard tower.
We hadn’t realized the tower has been turned into a contemporary art museum. We rode through the entrance into the courtyard of the museum, where there is a large patio that was once probably full of canons. The view is, of course, gorgeous. The architect that did the conversion to a museum has combined the contemporary with the historic for an interesting effect. Frankly, it is kind of weird. In Malta, they had sought a harmonious intertwining with the old and modern, but here they just kind of plopped the modern on top of the old.
Then went zipping through the streets of the historic district. This is where it was really fun to be on a Segway, cruising around on a motorized vehicle in streets closed to car traffic. We saw a lot. She took us by several churches, all gothic in style; the fish market, which is a beautiful building under restoration to be a museum; the cathedral and palace; the street considered to be the cool restaurant and bar scene; a nice town square; a government building of some sort; and past a couple more museums. Several homes had their gates open and we could see into their front yards. Most were lovely courtyards with covered car parking off to the sides. We wonder if that was the stable for the horses way back when. The old area is really cute. Lipari is probably the closest comparison to Palma. Here are a couple of buildings we liked.
The Segway tour was a good orientation of the city and a good way to evaluate what else we may want to do while in town. We wish we had done this tour the day we arrived. We probably would have spent our time differently. We are glad we got delayed so we had this extra day of sightseeing. We thought we had seen the whole city with the red bus tour, but because the bus is too wide for most of the streets, it misses the vast majority of the historical area. It would have been a shame to have left without seeing the best of Palma.
At the end of the tour, our legs were tired. Last time we hadn’t ridden as much, so we hadn’t felt it in our legs. We went to lunch at a restaurant near to the tour office. After lunch, it was still sunny above, but we could see ugly storm clouds in the distance. They were definitely carrying rain, and a lot of it.
We started walking towards Kosmos. There are a few old, mostly dilapidated windmills between the cathedral and where Kosmos is berthed that you can see from the waterfront. We wanted to check them out, so we chose a road above the waterfront, hoping it was the right one. We meandered along, checking out the old houses. And we did come across the windmills. Here is Eric in front of the best of the bunch. Beyond the windmills are some nice, newer areas. It was a neat little exploration.
When we were fairly close to Kosmos, we stopped for gelato. Not hustling back to Kosmos straight away was probably a mistake. While we were eating our ice cream the storm hit. It poured down on us violently. Fortunately, we were in a covered patio, so we weren’t getting much water on us. We waited and waited, and finally decided to brave the rain and head back. Fortunately, we had umbrellas!
When we got back to Kosmos, our legs were sopping wet. And as we walked along the dock, the rain stopped. Lucky us. The good news is there was a stunning rainbow on the horizon.