geesus, I reeaaally need to get over this hitting publish hurdle, I wrote this months ago!
ok, some of these probably aren’t distinctly Mallorcan and I could probably apply to other parts of Spain, but this is what I felt at the time.
- Arenal (area of Mallorca I was staying in) in October is a VERY different place from August, sooooo much quieter at the end of the season
- Lovely sunsets
- Tapas – YES!
- Pulpo a la Gallega (OMG, YES!!!)
- The price of beer and wine – YES!
- The price of cigarettes –
YESI mean NO!
- The mountains….OMG…the mountains – Stunning!
- Road cycling is a big deal here!
- Can get by without much Spanish
- Mopeds can go on the motorway!
- They get some gnarly storms here – awesome thunder and lightning
- Ruta Martiana is fun – thanks to Grant for telling me about it and showing me about
- I get the impression Mallorca has not got a great live music scene (or it does and I didn’t find it)
- Lots of digital nomads and expats here – and they rave about Mallorca
Mallorcan Month Highlights
Co-working & Co-living @ BednDesk
I’d been to Mallorca earlier in 2016 year for a one-week workcation at a place called BednDesk (BnD), which is what prompted me to return for one month on my #nomadLife. It was a completely impulsive decision. After returning to Birmingham after the workcation, I took a picture of my sky one week later as it was tipping it down with rain, feeling sorry for myself and posted it in the BnD Slack community. This was promptly followed by a picture of a beautiful, clear and sunny Mallorcan sky, sent by BnD founder Matias. I blame him entirely for my impulsive decision because a few days later, after telling him of my cunning plan to return for a month in October, I was all booked in.
The sunny skies weren’t the only reason for returning. Up to that point, BnD was (and still is) my favourite co-working and first co-working/co-living experience. I was drawn by co-working done well, as is done at BnD and the prospect of co-working and living with other digital nomad types.
Since working from co-working spaces, I’ve been compiling and iterating on my list of minimum requirements and things that make a co-working space great (there’s a future post about this). After looking back at that list, it’s not surprising to see that BnD ticks most, if not all of my boxes. My requirements fall into 3 categories for co-working; People gotta work, people gotta eat & drink and people gotta be social.
On the working front, BnD is a small but great workspace that can accommodate up to about 8 – 10 co-workers. It is functional, comfortable, even comes with monitors if you want one. Everyone is there to work hard and we are kept fuelled by the coffee machine in the office and the lovely bakery next door (the Jamon y Queso pastry is to so very moorish, pretty good croissants also), or I could just pop upstairs to the apartment for a snack.
However, we choose to co-work for a reason, so whilst all hard workers, everyone there is social also. The founder has made great steps to build a culture that helps foster this. From having the Slack community, to organising meetups and frequently inviting members for lunch, dinner gatherings, drinks etc. Because BnD is particularly geared towards digital nomads, it attracts a very diverse, interesting and accomplished calibre of co-workers that it’s an absolute pleasure to meet and spend time with.
This is enhanced by the co-living aspect. BnD is all in one building, with a distinct separation between the working and living space. The apartment has its own entrance which you have to leave to get to the office. The living space is comfortable and feels like a home while you are there, that roof terrace ain’t bad either. Combined with getting to know some of your co-workers better, it’s a fantastic experience.
Matias, founder and my sometimes (and longest serving) roommate at BnD was always great to talk to, have dinner with, watch a great or crappy movie with, he fell asleep and left me to it for the crappy one, but I got my revenge by getting him hooked on The Walking Dead again…sorry.(not sorry)
I was proud to introduce a BnD tradition (while I was there anyway) of Friday beers which we always took the very short walk to the seafront, to close our week with a beer whilst watching the sunset.
End of season suits me better
Going back in October was definitely quite different, Arenal is very touristy (think German Magaluf) at one end (down by the front) during the summer season. But there’s more to Arenal than that…walk a few blocks up away from the front i.e. to BnD and beyond and it becomes fairly local and non-touristy. It was really quiet, with an even more noticeable difference in the last week or so of October. I much preferred this. However, I still stuck to the quiet local beach and recommended local restaurants in the neighbourhood rather than the front while I was there.
This island is stunning and perfect for road tripping
I took a Saturday to see some of the mountain areas which had been recommended by various people. I hired a car and went, with a new BednDesk roommate, for a drive to Valldemossa, Deia, Soller and Port de Soller in the north-east area of the island.
The drive was not only great because of the stunning scenery but also because of the very good company of my fellow road tripper Christina.
We frequently got stuck, driving very slowly, behind pelotons (I had to Google this collective noun) of cyclists on very steep mountain roads. We didn’t mind much because the views were amazing and we weren’t in a rush to get anywhere. The cyclists were always very conscious of us and would give us a wave and a thumbs up as soon as they got any visibility that the road ahead was clear for us to go, which was nice.
We also got lost, realised we were running out of petrol and had some pretty nervous moments trying to work our way back to civilisation and a petrol station. After filling up, we were more leisurely when we got lost again and we decided to follow the signs for a restaurant (can’t remember the name now). Turns out that restaurant was too posh for the likes of us and was cost prohibitive to have lunch there. This detour did reveal that I have an inability to see a set of stairs and not know what is at the bottom. Behind the restaurant was a residential area with a series of posh houses set into the cliff. They were actually hard to notice until you started to descend this mysterious set of stairs, as they were all nicely camouflaged by the greenery surrounding them.
Anyway, I saw these steps and I just had to know what was at the bottom, I was hoping it was a secret beach or something…so down I went. About 10 mins later, I got to some rocks and that was it. I suppose the locals and the brave might have navigated the rocks to get to the water, but I didn’t. What I did have to do was climb back up what felt like a bazillion steps.
We found our way eventually and had a late lunch followed by a beach snooze at Port de Soller, followed by listening to some pre-sunset jams, which was a lovely way to round off the trip before heading back to Arenal.
When old and new friends mix
I had a fantastic evening with Sonia (old friend who lives some of the time in Mallorca) and Christina (new friend) when Christina and I decided to head to Palma for an evening and I thought it was a good time to catch up with Sonia as well.
Sonia was only supposed to be staying out for a couple and leaving us to it, but after an unfortunate and hilarious incident, we ended up going on to have dinner and some more drinks. The unfortunate and hilarious incident started at the first cafe/bar where we met Sonia and Christina spilt her beer all over Sonia’s lap. This was immediately followed by the waiter dropping the plate on which he had brought Sonia some serviettes to clean herself up with, causing the candle on the table to spill candle wax all over Christina and her bag. I was unharmed during all this, just watching it all unfold before me, wondering what the hell was going on. I laughed so much I had tears in my eyes and very nearly wet myself at various points during that evening. So thanks to Sonia and Christina, you two really are the best company.
Other bits and bobs
I ran even more in Mallorca than I did in Brighton. When I was in Mallorca earlier in the year in August, we got into the habit of getting up early, going for the swim, it would already be light but we’d see sunrise peek over the buildings during our swim. During my time in Mallorca this time around, it didn’t get light until about 7.30am. Despite not getting to see the sunrise, improving on forming this habit was not that hard when I got to run on a pretty much empty stretch of beachfront, greeted only by the gentle lapping of a glass like sea reflecting the moonlight, other early runners, the street cleaners and those off to stat their day of work. It was a great way to start the day, though I often struggled to get up, once I got out there and smelled the sea air and heard the waves, it was an invigorating way to start the day.
I also did my 1st 10k (6miles) in a very long time during my last weekend on the island. It was quite tough, I thought I would begin to struggle after the 5k mark as I was only used to running that distance. However, with the race starting at 10.30am on what turned out to be a gloriously sunny and warm (end of October) Sunday, I struggled right from the start of the race. I just wasn’t used to running in that heat and found the race really difficult. I was still happy to have done it in under an hour with a finish time of 55:17.
I started the race with Noelia, who I first met during my earlier workcation to BnD. She turned out to be some sort of speedy gonzalez professional calibre runner. I blinked and she was gone, next time I saw her she was on her way back from the first turnaround point in the race, next time I saw her she was heading back to the finish line whilst I was still going the other way towards the second turn around point and in probably quite obvious pain. Bless her heart she came and found me after she was done and I wasn’t far from the finish line, to run alongside me for a bit and give me some encouragement. She placed 3rd in our category and won a trophy. (although she told me she would have much preferred the chorizo and chocolate she got the last time she won a race than a trophy that was so light you couldn’t even use it as a door stop, can’t disagree with her on that).
A curious thing about that 10k race, at the beginning, they give you a bag of goodies and crap, you know the stuff you usually get at the end of a race. The really curious thing was that it included a can of isotonic non-alcoholic beer, I opened it to try it, just to confirm that it really was beer…and sure thing it was. (It subsequently got binned)
I also won a bottle of cava in the raffle which I collected and drank with my BnD comrades on my last night in Mallorca. I never win anything, so I was well made up
Mallorca is an island where you really need a car to have the freedom to do lots and explore on your own in a short space of time. If I did it again, I would try to secure an inexpensive long term (month long) car rental. Being based in Arenal, which though it had a bus link to Palma, it wasn’t a quick journey with the fast bus being 30 mins and a normal bus 50 mins. The fast bus also didn’t run very late. I went to Palma mostly by taxi, the few times I went on my own. There are not very good transport links between areas of the island, at least not any options that wouldn’t take up too much of the day. This made Mallorca a very different type of month than Brighton. It meant I did less exploring, was more reflective and worked a bit more actually. I didn’t mind though, once I settled into the limitation (perhaps mentally self-imposed of not having that much freedom to explore), it was a more relaxing month than some of my other stops on the journey so far.
I managed to get myself in the local paper in Mallorca after Matias did an interview about BnD in the local Mallorcan paper. The journalist needed a picture but contacted Matias during the weekend when he was on one of his sailing competitions, so he told her to go onto the BnD Instagram and pick one. The journalist only went and picked the picture I had taken of a few of us at Friday beers. Naturally, once I got into the paper, I was recognised all over Mallorca, friends got calls to say they’d seen me in the local paper, I was stopped in the street and chased by paparazzi. It was a good job this happened towards the end of my stay, I don’t think I could have dealt with all the attention I was getting. (LOLs, in case my piss take isn’t coming through via the writing medium….I am taking the piss)
I like a good archway or avenue…
I’m still shit at taking selfies…