For yacht crew, living and working at sea, it is often difficult to attend family affairs, birthdays, weddings etc… But as friends and family begin to understand your unpredictable lifestyle, a table place is always set for you, just in case you manage to catch a flight and make it at the last minute. Typically, you rsvp, I ‘might’ be able to make it…but it is always heavily dependent on the weather, arrival/departure of the boss, last minute change in the boat itinerary; you always end up cutting it fine. But, if by some miracle you make it to the event, having conquered airport check-ins and security, long flights and connections, taxis and trains, there is something special about that knock on the door, still in your ’foulies’, bag slung over shoulder with hair covered in salt!
I was unable to be with my Dad to celebrate his 60th birthday this year. As a thank you to him for believing in me, supporting my decisions and to wish him a belated happy birthday, I invited him to fly out to Palma to stay on the boat with me at the end of my working season. I met him at the airport and then surprised him by handing him the rental keys to a 1974 Triumph TR6 convertible….’Eliza what have you done?!’
We spent the weekend cruising the western mountain range of Majorca, winding through the valleys and woodlands; the incredible escalating views, hidden Spanish coastal towns, nature reserves and secret beaches. Every day we kept driving until sunset.
We started our trip by driving into Santa Catalina for a spoiling breakfast at a small café called Fibonacci. We enjoyed the delights of freshly baked croissants and squeezed orange juice. I couldn’t leave without a walk through Santa Catalina’s flourishing market hall; a place I am lucky enough to visit regularly when provisioning the boat. I never get tired of visiting its beautifully stacked fruit and vegetable stalls, the array of giant Mediterranean fish, the rows of Serrano ham that are carefully sliced and carved and the indulgent display of cheeses.
With a road map on my knee,, we drove North West from Palma, towards the mountains. We decided initially to drive to Valdemossa – an elegant Spanish town that is hidden amongst the muddled mountainous landscape. Parking is always a mission – especially during the summer season, requiring patience as we explored all the back streets to find a spot. Handbrake on, we left the car and walked fifteen minutes back into town. I led Dad to the beautiful stone balcony, via the historic town’s cobbled streets, that offers a striking view of the valley leading to the Mediterranean Sea. After a Cafe con Leche to get the ball rolling again, we returned to the car. On route we came across the local market situated in an emptied car park. The smell of roasted hazelnuts, fresh hams, cheeses and leather enticed us to wander amongst the maze of small stalls. It was too difficult to resist roasted tomatoes on toast crowned with Joselito ham!
Back on the road, we gradually climbed higher up the mountains. On every hairpin bend, we cast a glimpse back over the panoramic landscape that became more dramatic at each turn. Then the view became hidden as we disappeared into the thick woods. Flashes of sun hit the car through gaps in the trees. Suddenly the forest fell back behind us and the throaty growl of the TR6’s engine echoed through the dark tunnel we drove through that calved through the mountainside. Daylight appeared at the end and, as we left the echo behind us, we were treated to a magnificent 180 degree panorama of the open sea.
Deia; the next enchanting town that is perched in a ravine at the foot of the Teix mountain watches over the view of the Mediterranean waters below. We could see a cove at the bottom of the cliffs where turquoise waters lap the shingle beach. I caught glimpses of cobbled streets and elegant restaurants, cafes and bars amongst the traditional Spanish villas. The TR6, the landscape and the sunshine…both Dad and I sat speechless as we curved around the bay.
The road followed the steep cliffs along the coast until we reached a sharp bend to the right that led inland. Instead we turned left to Sa Calobra. The journey down the torturously windy road that zig zagged back to the sea was as memorable as the bay itself. After a good half an hour drive and hair-pin bends too numerous to count, we reached the bottom of the slopping mountainside. At the bottom of this valley, there is a beautiful cove, a hidden beach and an incredible gorge. Despite the number of tourists flocking here on buses to view the stunning scenery, it is still a spectacular place.
On the return drive back up the mountain, we enjoyed the roaring sound of the engine on every gear change as the sound echoed up the mountainsides.
As light started to disappear and the fuel gauge lit up, we left the mountains and joined the motorway that lead us south, back to Palma. It was a day that I am sure neither Dad nor I will forget. A fantastic weekend, sharing my new world and home away from home with my Dad!