I had no idea what to expect from Mallorca as it was not on the original itinerary and I had never heard of it before. However, it ended up being one of my favourite experiences so far. I remember when we first docked; there were a series of complaints as we seemed to be in the middle of nowhere with the city barely in sight. We walked in our groups out of the port and into civilization. It was a long walk, around 20 minutes or so, but as soon as we were out, a huge shopping mall appeared and gone were the complaints.
Those who wanted to experience the culture found local restaurants, and those who missed home found McDonald’s. All of the student crew went crazy for gelato, because 10 days was way too long to be without ice cream. I love chocolate, but I went for mango because I missed fruit way too much on the boat. Some of us took the bus downtown to scout for places to visit the next day. It was a fun night, and I think I speak for everyone when I say that it was comforting to be on land again, especially after some stormy days onboard.
On the second day, our Danish student, Anastasia, took a group of girls to experience Mallorca from a local’s perspective. She was born there and visits her grandmother, who lives there, very often. It was also where her mother grew up, so her family was very familiar with the area. I knew this was one of our only opportunities to truly see a port like a local, so I was more than eager to join her on the family excursion.
She first took us to a little cafe downtown, where we met her mother who bought us traditional pastries and ice cream (Thank you Alexandra!). After a delicious breakfast, we set out to see the famous gothic architecture, including the largest rose window in the world. Then we went for more food at the indoor market where we ate at a tapas bar. There were some weird dishes such as pica pica (chopped octopus tapas), but the adventurous non-vegetarians ate it nonetheless. It was, apparently, delicious. The market also had a beautiful abundance of fresh fruits, including gigantic dates that tasted like gooey caramel, which we all took advantage of.
As much as we appreciate Frank’s food, there is nothing like fresh fruit; we left the market with happy stomachs and happy hearts. After our produce stop, Anastasia’s family drove us to her grandmother, Hanne’s, house. To my surprise, instead of the compacted apartment buildings we saw downtown, Hanne’s house resembled a small-town Italian villa, and a warm welcome from her made it feel like home.
The girls on Hanne’s porch overlooking the Mallorcan countryside.
The first thing we all did was lay on an actual bed! The 8 of us squeezed onto a queen size. It felt like heaven. It’s funny how much more I appreciate the little things after just one short month. I wanted to stay there forever, but then Anastasia mentioned that there was a pool downstairs, and suddenly I was the only one left on the bed. We scrambled to get changed, and prepared the fresh fruit we got at the market to bring down for sharing. At the pool, we enjoyed the sunshine while feasting on fruit as Hanne prepared dinner: seafood paella. Even though our stomachs were already filled, our mouths watered just by smelling the aromatic dish.
When it was time for dinner, even the vegetarians could not resist Hanne’s cooking, and ate around the seafood. It was probably the best meal I’ve had in port so far. By this point, all of our stomachs were now filled to maximum capacity, but the family brought out yet another 5 tubs of ice cream. Again, we could not resist it, and ate most of the ice cream with Anastasia’s mom’s homemade cactus syrup. It was absolutely worth our stomachs exploding.
Anastasia planned for us to watch the sunset on the beach, which was even more fitting since we all could use some exercise after that enormous meal. The sunsets onboard have been so brilliant, so I was not expecting much, but that evening I will remember forever, not because of the sunset, but because of the memories.
The girls and I walked out to the rocky shore, where the entire edge of the city extended to the cliffs. One by one, we hopped in the water, but a surprise jellyfish mob floated towards us, so we quickly hopped back out of the water and went to explore a nearby cave instead. After taking countless silly pictures in the cave, we walked back to the rocks, just in time to watch the sun set. Bonding over music and laughter as the sun traveled below the horizon, the evening could not have been more perfect.
When we got back to the house, Anastasia’s mother offered us showers. It was strange to be able to leave the water running, but it was the best shower I’ve ever taken. Before Class Afloat, I would never have appreciated showers, actual beds, or fresh fruit so much. That was one of the things that has stuck with me most so far: to appreciate how much impact little things can have.
After we were all squeaky clean, Hanne prepared yet another feast for us full of traditional foods as “night snack.” Anastasia’s family was so warm, and we left feeling less homesick. It was like taking a little vacation home: a perfect ending to a perfect port.
Written by: Class Afloat student, Alice Y.