Monday, 30 May 2011

Palma “the good bits”

Facebook followers may have read I had a nightmare finish to my Palma trip. In the interest of preserving the space time continuum and sanity I will write about that at a later date. 

I arrived in Palma at about 11pm on Friday the 13th. As is often the case I received priority treatment due to me not having an EU passport. When flying in and out of the UK I always find it faster having a New Zealand passport. Kiwis make better flyers and even worse terrorists or something.

My first impressions of Palma that it was sufficiently Spanish, favourably warm and definitely lively. I found my hotel quite easily and busied myself getting ready for a night out. My night out consisted of a romantic tapas bar crawl for one. I could not contact my friend who was having a birthday party. Her birthday magnum of Moet put paid to that. Retiring to my mildly opulent hotel I was asleep before 1am and looking forward to further adventuring.

Despite my best efforts my Spanish remains middling at best. I was reminded this on my tapas bar crawl the evening before. I am happy to say that I feel quite at home at a buffet breakfast inside a hotel. It was here that I unearthed one of my first Palma discoveries. Palma has a high tourist and resident population of Germans. There is a very obvious reason for this. Given potent history large tracts of Europe remain unfriendly to Germany. I am of course talking about last years Eurovison song contest. The Spanish are so relaxed they were actually  asleep during the contest hence they still freely allow Germans through and inside their borders.

My accommodation was quite close to the city centre. This did not stop me from going on a goose chase of sorts where I ended up strolling a large and prominent promenade. There were a lot of marinas with pleasure boats galore and I almost caught myself saying to imaginary people “I work on one of those”

The rest of my weekend was very Palmarisan. I sunned myself beside a rooftop pool with friends. I dined on all y0u can eat Sushi for 8 euros. I drank mojito's and dodged night time sunglass salesmen. On the Sunday I moved into an apartment with a couple of friends Debs and Heather closer to the old town. My Sunday afternoon was spent soaking up high density living beside a nunnery. If you want to live somewhere quiet. Live beside a nunnery.

Monday through Wednesday were the business days of my trip. I got down and got radiated, learning about gyro stabilised antennae systems and a whole bundle of cool stuff. Unfortunately large tracts of photographic evidence of my week away are now lost. This will be explained in my next blog.

On the Wednesday we had a small soiree/dinner party. Heather cooked up a delicious dish. Debs had a couple of friends over and I played my first ever DJ set to more than 2 people . The dinner and mixing were both very palatable. This may had something to do with the five bottles of wine that were bought from the local Wine Cave. A neat place where you can fill empty wine bottles straight out of the barrels for about 2 euro a bottle. If you want to live somewhere rowdy. Live beside a wine cave.

If I was to sum up the small slice of Palma I witnessed. It is definitely a place I could see myself living in. It is delightfully warm, has plenty of history and oozes charm. Whether it be the horse and carriages plying for tourist trade or the Mediterranean liveliness that begins at about 11pm Palma wants you and it wants you to have fun. 

Tune in next time for Palma “the bad bits”

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Falmouth > Bristol > Palma

Very conveniently a departing crew member was also leaving on Friday the 13th. He was going to an Airport that has flights to Palma. He had also bought a Porsche a couple of weeks earlier. Having not been in a Porsche before and having enjoyed working with Tim I was quite excited about the drive.

His Porsche is beautiful and seemed perfectly peppy. People who do not own Porsches are quite quick to label this model, the hairdresser Porsche as it does not have a turbo. Truthfully I think you would lose your hair if you did have a turbo fitted. We had a chance to drive with the top down. I might have taken a couple of photos.


Said Porsche. The mach speeds we travelled meant other vehicles started to disintegrate around us. Look by the passenger door and you can see a seat belt.



We drove past Glastonbury. This was a wistful part of the journey.

We eventually made it to Bristol. We said farewell and I busied myself with a mammoth lay over. Some eight hours lay between me and lift off. What did Bristol Airport have to offer? Well the first interesting thing was a prehistoric man. He had come out of the hills for his first visit to an Airport and the pay and display parking machines had him quite confused. With some helpful advice he faded from sight never to be seen again.

In the sliding scale of New Zealand Airports, Bristol Airport lies somewhere between the Auckland National Airport and Christchurch International. Sadly I was not allowed into the better part of the Airport for a few hours so I sat down in the bar, logged into the internet and proceeded to drink quite a lot of cider. I think my efforts in the airport were akin to an economic recovery package. I ate varyingly tasteful plates of food and bought three magazines to read.

Five hours later I was allowed to check and enter the slightly more exciting part of the Airport. Being a Friday night there were a lot of people escaping England for the weekend. Some of them were wearing themed team t-shirts which did not make any sense to me(possibly due to the cider) I did eat some very good fish and chips. I even tipped, by this time I would like to think I did not look English.

I had a horrible retail experience buying a pair of sunglasses. Whilst I am stoked with my sunglasses I do not think waiting 30 minutes to buy a pair of sunglasses in a nearly empty store is acceptable. I was not even in Spain yet.

Said sunglasses.

Queuing for my flight to Palma my brain(now sobering) started to work out why there were so many people with themed t-shirts. They were going away for Stag and Hen parties. This is a common occurrence for the English. Here for your delight are some of the t-shirt slogans I read

Actually I can not do it. Just imagine the most vile things you could write after someones name and you are halfway there. If you really need to know some, just email me and I will send some through.

Our departure was smooth unlike the t-shirts. I was on my way to Palma and the strangely familiar unknown.





Friday, 13 May 2011

What I learned today and other earthshaking possibilities

During quiet times on board I sometimes moonlight in the galley. Not being much of a Chef my moonlighting consists of doing what I know best, grating cheese. You might not think there is is much to grating cheese but to the semi professional grater there is a part that you probably dread when you reach the end of what you are grating and it becomes dangerous. Up until today I have either eaten the excess cheese/carrot whatever before I maimed myself or I have chopped it up and hoped the Chef did not notice.......

Today I learned a very useful skill.

-Simply take the small block of cheese/carrot/truffle what ever and place it under the heel of your hand.
-Then, massage it backwards and forwards against the grater until it disappears.
-Viola, it will disappear and you will not even add human to your dish.

In the interest of learning more than how to make Super Yachts look really clean and culinary dark arts I am going to a Satellite communications course in Palma tomorrow. I had wanted to attend a yacht systems course in Amsterdam but Amsterdam being Amsterdam I am still waiting after a year for them to organise a course that I can attend. Note to course organisers in Amsterdam, stop drinking so much coffee.

There has been an earthquake in Spain. It is also Friday the 13th. Tomorrow. Flying is considerably cheaper on Friday the 13th. I am practically throwing caution into the wind along with myself.

Grate.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Saint Ives, Train Spotters and other mammals

Last Sunday we ventured out of Falmouth along to the Cornish coast to Saint Ives. Saint Ives has a special meaning to me, it is where my Granny hailed from. This short journey was a way to pay respects and squeeze in some mild mannered English adventuring.

Saint Ives is pretty much due west of Falmouth. We elected to take a train. After long periods driving on the wrong side of the road (right) driving on the left seems foreign. On the plus side we would get to observe the coast, countryside from a rolling relaxed  vantage point.

The first surprise of our trip ? Remember my magnetic powers of the odd? Sharing our journey for the day; a large pod of trainspotters. Being my first real experience of trainspotters I was interested in how they interact and the very real obsession that trainspotting entails. Trainspotters possess seemingly freakish knowledge of trains. Some of our trainspotters may have been less serious than others. One was spotted making a choo choo noise leaving a café. Another seemed to take a mischievous delight in testing the mettle of one of the younger members by asking question after question on the name/specification and atomic structure of railway components.

Trainspotters aside the bank holiday weekend meant we had some other interesting personalities aboard our carriage. For one leg we had some pre teen dubstep enthusiasts behind us whose loud appreciation of dubstep and cuss words beggared my ears to distraction.

Another traveller loudly announced a hatred of university students and desire to bomb the local university. I wish I was kidding.

Thankfully a train change at Saint Erth allowed for a cessation of dark thoughts.  The coastal train ride to Saint Ives is a famously beautiful trip well worth 12 minutes of ones life.
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Arriving in Saint Ives it became apparent that the balmy weather we had been enjoying was changing. Saint Ives is the quintessential small English fishing village. Its narrow roads and careful development mean it is quite unique. That is not to say it has not been tampered with to encourage consumerism.

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The vast array of surf shops, pirate and witchcraft stores drove me to impassioned drink. After a couple of medicinal ciders we were ready to walk the streets again.

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I could live quite happily on this road.

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A very Celtic memorial to fallen soldiers.

With the day slipping away there was one more startling revelation to be made. By now the day was overcast, there was a bracing breeze and I surmise the temperature was 12 degrees. The beach looked nice enough but you would have to be crazy to sit on it.

Witness the ancient English holiday art of making a wind and sand proof fortification for sitting on.

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This beach hibernation made me feel chilled to the bones. It was time to return home. As often is the case with these travel excursions the behaviour of humankind sometimes upstages the scenery.