When I tell people I don't know how to drive, their eyes widen in surprise and I can see them trying to resolve the problem.
"You'll have to get a motorbike then," they say.
I used to enjoy the idea of riding a Vespa over the cobblestones of some idyllic Italian town, but now I'm convinced I'd be a danger to myself and everyone else.
"Does your husband drive?" is the follow up question. They relax once they know one of us is useful.
From the response, it would seem that living in Mallorca without a car is madness. Well, today, without husband / driver, I was determined to overcome the obstacle of distance. I needed to get to Magaluf for research purposes. The characters in my novel are on a hen party and they may well end up there. It was necessary I checked it out.
How far away was Magaluf? Well, nearer than I'd previously thought, since I'd previously thought it in Greece. I saw a clip from a documentary on the resort once; drunken teenagers comatose on the floor, police breaking up fights, vomit and litter strewn across the streets. I remember feeling very sorry for the Greeks.
After rifling through a drawer of maps and leaflets the previous German occupants had left (stopping to giggle for a bit over a 'Gute Fahrt'), I ended up with a map of Mallorca. Magaluf looked a finger print away. I got a ruler and tried to calculate the distance using the scale. I estimated 8- 10km. It would take time, but physically, I was capable.
Equipped with water and an orange, I set off.
It was a long walk, but it was very pedestrian-friendly. Much of the journey took place on a tree-lined path, with box trimmed hedges coated in fine dust separating me from the road. It was hot but there was a gentle breeze. I saw vineyards and the first signs of mountains in the distance.
An hour later, I paused to eat my orange under a tree and thought of my Dad, because he'd always peeled the oranges on walks when we were little. Was this nostalgia or heatstroke? I sipped my water and pushed on.
I arrived at Palmanova two and a half hours later. The sea was a stunning blue, the distant boats a blinding white. English voices carried in the air. Restaurant menus offered options familiar to the British palate like pizza and roast beef. Topless young men paraded burns so bad I had to stop myself suggesting, in a maternal voice, to put on some aftersun and cover up for a bit. I was clearly closing in on Magaluf and it was time to eat and get my energy up before the final leg.
On my way over to Mallorca, I'd met two young girls heading out to work in Magaluf on the plane and they'd warned me about Spanish food. Funny as it's the food I've grown up on and it's one of the things that excites me about living in Spain again.
Among the British pubs and tributes to Blackpool, I sought out a tapas bar, tucked into a deliciously spicy frito de marisco and a caña, and basked in the great sense of achievement that came with having fulfilled my mission WITHOUT A CAR. And I seriously considered the idea of walking around the whole island, a sort of alternative to the Camino de Santiago.
Of course, by the time I got to Magaluf, I was far too knackered to do any exploring. I got the bus straight back, which for only 1.50€, seemed a bit of an affront to my aching legs.
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