An Unforgettable Dining Experience at Bens d’Avail

So here we were on a beautiful summeresque Saturday, thinking it would be a brilliant idea to take a little road trip and go for a lunch excursion. And what an excursion it turned out to be!! Off we cruised to that beautiful little town of Deia, well we were actually just outside town, on a Mountain, where there was the place of all places, Béns d´Avall. I Almost couldn’t believe my eyes when we arrived. First of all, the view, was just hanging there like a priceless painting, it was unbelievable. The most spectacular view I have got to enjoy while having an equally as spectacular meal. This was the topper of all the places that I have had the pleasure of visiting while in Mallorca, not to mention one of the best restaurants in my 9 years of travelling the world. We got there before it opened, to my dismay…IMG_5609IMG_5610 As after the little road trip, I really had to Pee!!! Darn it… and we had like 45 minutes till it opened.. It’s amazing how long 45 minutes can feel, when you have a bursting bladder! But none the less, we took a little walk to check out the beautiful scenery.IMG_5607 I already knew I was going to absolutely love this establishment. It had the perfect energy and ambiance to it all. The minute I heard the gate open though, it was like heavens gates opening! And I ran straight for the relief of the ladies room;) Happy days! And then when I walked out onto the terrace I was welcomed with this stunning vision, literally, stop in your tracks kinda stunning, the view and the table. IMG_5614 Wow. This alone was enough reason to come. IMG_5612Béns d´Avall has been here since 1971, it is owned by Benet Vicens(whom is also the chef), and his wife, Catalina Encrypt, together with their son James, whom is the second Chef to his father, and they are all absolutely LOVELY, might I add. So friendly, and inviting, and you can see they are there because they are doing what they love, and they want nothing more than to create a memorable experience for all of their guests. It is located in the most pristine location, right with mother nature, and all she has to offer. They have a set menu every day, that changes monthly, and offers only the finest cuisine, with local products from Mallorca. You have the option of the Express Menu for 50 Euros, the Short Tasting Menu for 65 Euros, or the Full Tasting Menu for 75 Euros! Well if you are going to come this far, you mine as well go for the full one:)IMG_5619 I decided it was only fitting to start off with a glass of Cava(Similar to Champagne), I mean being in that place at that moment, was somethinIMG_5624g to be celebrated, and bubbly always makes things seem like that much more of a celebration. Once we had put in our order for the full menu, it wasn’t long before the incredible culinary delights began to arrive. I think ‘Delight’ may even be an understatement. Mr. Vicens, knows exactly what he is doing in the kitchen. It’s Amazing. Of course, we were offered fresh bread to start, with olive oil for dipping, along with some little finger snacks,IMG_5626 to get the palette ready. I had no idea, that the full menu, is basically endless, and you best come prepared with your biggest appetite…. BUT, when the food is that salivating, you can make sure to keep eating whatever pleasure they put in front of you. Once we started our magical taste bud journey, I knew I had to combine it with a fine Mallorcan wine(I wanted to keep the experience as local as possible), I had the beautiful Catalina assist me in my choice, and it was a fantastic choice indeed! I ended up taking a red wine that goes by the name of ’12 Volts’, which is a Crianza make. IMG_5629Delicious! It paired very well with all the courses. I will be buying more from the shop for sure!

IMG_5628 We started with a Mallorcan pizzaIMG_5631 Next up was a Free range chicken Crepe Souffle with artichokes and black truffle.IMG_5632Then we were onto Foie Gras 2014. IMG_5660 To be followed by the fish, which was Ray Pave with Black butter, wild green asparagus and capers.IMG_5661 What follows fish but the meat dish! Candied and spiced Sierra de Tramontana lamb with legumes and winter vegetables. IMG_5663 IMG_5664 After all those courses, you have 2 desserts!! What the?! it just keeps on coming. You definitely get your moneys worth. And one more thing to boot!! IMG_5665

Well 7 courses and 3 hours later, and we were beyond stuffed, with absolute lusciousness. It was very nice that it is spread out over such a long period of time, you really get the opportunity to savour every morsel, and not rush through it, not to mention there is no one pushing you rush either. After it all, we still managed to have a coffee, it was kinda necessary or we would have succumbed to food coma, and never made the drive home;) They were so sweet, to even bring the whole crew out and take a photo with us. IMG_5662 All the people that play their part in creating an astonishing experience. What can I say. Amazing Venue, Amazing People, Amazing Food and Wine. I will be back there, FOR SURE! The end. Or maybe I should say, to be continued… This could be a monthly stop, since the menu is always changing;) Thank you Béns d´Avall!!

It was a day for Deia!!

It just so happened to be another day of kick ass Mallorca adventures! We road tripped, we dined, we cycled, and we just took it all in! Would you actually expect anything less?! I think not.
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We picked up a little chariot for the day from the car rental and put the pedal to the metal. IMG_9377No real route planned, just to eventually end up at the town of Deia, and just seeing what adventures ensued.

Having this mind set, you will always embrace every moment, and leave no room for disappointment. As per usual the scenery was breath taking. We just cranked out tunes, sat back, and enjoyed the ride. Passing through quite a lot of little towns, that all seemed to be ghostly that day..IMG_9302 IMG_9305It almost felt a bit eery. In some towns there was no one to be seen… We put it down to the fact that in Spain, come mid afternoon, people love their siesta’s, so obviously everyone must be sleeping, as mid afternoon it was. It was the only conclusion we could come up with.

A couple hours into our journey, and we were ready to find a place to get some grub.. A few empty towns later, and we had no choice but to stop in one and see what we could find. Well at first, all we found was cats. Basically everywhere… There truly was a large population of felines roaming about. Cute cats at that though! And so we took a moment to dish out some love and pets to a few. However that didn’t help the hunger pangs we were having. So we kept on walking through the quiet town. Only finding places to be closed.. Darn siesta’s!

Finally though, long behold we found a place that was open!! Woohoo!! Done and done. It didn’t look open at first, and we were still skeptical even when we opened the unlocked door… But once inside the empty establishment, we were warmly greeted by a big smile that a local Mallorcan women was wearing on her friendly face. Well we had a nice choice of seating, since it was all open.

The only real reason these places were so quiet was down to the fact that it is winter. In the summer, you would never ever experience this. So we were loving it! It’s amazing to have places all to yourself, and just kick back and relax. As Britney hadn’t tried a Paella yet, and it just so happens to be a typical Spanish dish, we thought we need to seize the moment and get right on that. So we ordered a Meat and Seafood Paella. I find, Paella’s are hit and miss. You either get a really fantastic one, or a mediocre one. Well this one was pretty darn good! IMG_9296 A bit more oily then either of us would have liked, but the flavor was spot on, and we dug right in, devouring as much as we could.. The serving was super big though, so we couldn’t finish it off.. But we enjoyed every bite we had, while we basked in the view out of our window seat.

Once we were all charged up again, or rather filled up, we went back out into the quiet cat filled streets, and this time, gracefully got back into our little Cadillac and continued on our ventures to Deia. Another hour of spectacular scenic driving later, and there we were. Or there it was. Deia.

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The location, and beauty of the setting, are nothing less than amazing.  You have mountains, sea, and sun, all there just waiting for you. Apparently a lot of famous people own property around the area, and I can see why. It’s Fantastic! A few more people than none were around, but not many.

We took a nice stroll around, taking in the splendor of it all, and once again, petting all the cats, that seem to own the streets! We instantly made a little buddy, and he followed us for awhile, and I couldn’t help but stop and pet him again and again, till we walked to far.. in which case he disappeared. We ended up even visiting a grave yard at the top of a little mountain that was located right beside an old church. After some tripsing around, we headed back down, and guess who was there waiting for us?! None other than our little feline friend, who actually came running to greet us. IMG_9380Yup, he knew good peeps when he seen them. After a glass of wine at a quaint little place, we were on our way again. IMG_9347

This time, on route back to Palma. It was time for a cycle! Upon arrival we went to a local bike shop called ‘Winora Bikes’ to rent a couple. It is a great centrally located little place, and super friendly service.IMG_9495 Cycling on this island is sooooo amazing. I love it. Full stop. You can go on full cycle trips if you would like.bik

It is a very popular sport here, and there are endless paths covering the island.

Just when you think your eyes have had their fill of absolute impressive beauty, you decide to take a cycle on the stunning shoreline, and they almost overflow with delight.

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 The bike path follows the coastline, and it is heaven on earth for your freaken eyes. We smashed about 30km, got our heart and blood pumping, and put the cherry on top of the cake for what was an outstanding winter day:)

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Palma Celebrations

As in Palma there is aIMG_5305lways a reason to celebrate, with different festivals happening all the time:) And so came to pass the weekend festival to pay patronage to Saint Sebastion, the Saint of Palma de Mallorca, from way back in the day, a day in 1523 to be precIMG_5303ise, and whom is honored by the whole nation, year after year. This is one of the biggest festivals of the year, and it lasts the whole weekend. It’s amazing how many people come out in the city, pretty much like every person in Palma is out and about! So it’s pretty awesome to just be around it all, so much energy in the air. I just so happened to be taking a leisurely stroll on the Friday morning of the festival weekend, and came across a Parade! Amazingly enough it was going straight through the narrow cobblestone streets, and they put a nice blanket of sand on the streets, which they cleaned up ridiculously fast when the parade finished.  Now you see the beach, now you don’t:)  I am used to seeing parades on large streets, so this was an interesting and pleasant little surprise. I took it in for a few minutes, and appreciated the cultural aspect of it before I then continued on my little journey.

IMG_5311Come evening it was time to head to the big streets for the display of people dressing as devils to represent evil and human temptation. So with masses of people parading through the streets, with large firecrackers going off, shooting sparks everywhere, you get lost in the exhilaration of it all, while also at the same time running from the sparks so you don’t have your hair go up in flames! Ooph, that was close! But also very enjoyable at the same time:)

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I know, I know, it looks like my friends eyes are closed(Sorry buddy), but its the only shot of that I got!

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After that all wrapped up, you could head back to the Borne where there was some stages set up and live music, where you can just keep on living it up. The only problem was if you needed a toilet, that became a bit of a mission…. but of course you troop on, as any good explorer would do. Just envision the desert, and hopefully that will buy you some time….

Saturday was a pretty quiet night, as it was all being saved up for the big Grande finale of the weekend, I mean save the best for last right?! Sunday was the day!! Yup, come Sunday evening, there were BBQ’s and bonfires set up all over the different squares in PTown, as well as stages, where there was live music, and each stage had different types of music.

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It was incredible, and a bit wet…. Of course it rained. But nothing a good old umbrella can’t sort out. The rain absolutely didn’t dampen the spirit. So to say;) It also didn’t last all night, and all the plaza’s were still super packed. All you had to do to partake was bring down something to grill, pick your favorite grill spot, and get in there! After grabbing a refreshment, it was go time.

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It’s pretty funny to be BBQ-ing in the middle of the downpour, but it also added a new aspect to the whole experience. After our little street feast, it was time to check out some music! You can bounce around from stage to stage all night, constantly mixing it up or boogying it down, you could even just pick your favorite stage and soak it up, if that is what your little heart desires. Gotta love the celebration of life that is always around every Palma corner.

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IMG_4294 Bon Appetit!

One Fine Day in Mallorca

When in Mallorca a must visit restaurant is Meson Ca’n Pedro, located in the little village called Genova, right on the outskirts of Palma.  So that being said, we had no choice… It had to be given a go.

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It serves up some of the most delicious real Mallorquin cuisine on the island, as real as it gets.  It was first startIMG_4323ed in 1976, by a couple named Pedro and Ana, and they obviously knew exactly what they were doing since it’s still absolutely thriving, even being re-done in 1991 to make it a larger establishment, so it can fit in its popularity:)  Its nestled right in between some little mountains, absolutely gorgeous location.  It’s huge!  You walk through the iron archway, and up the steps, and you are greeted with some nice green grassy manicured lawn areas, and then at the top of the steps, there is a playground, which is great, gives the children some extra excitement to burn off some of their endless energy:)

We walked in and the place was going off!! Super packed, and a line up waiting for tables.  Yes, looks like we picked the right spot.  We are off to a good start!  The interior is total Spanish style, and there are Iberian hams hanging from the ceiling, some ranging in prices up to 600 Euros! I mean it is a typical Spanish thing, but to pay that much, you would really have to love your ham.  This place is all about meat, so if you are vegetarian, it may not be so appealing to you.  Well as long as you’re not bothered having meat staring you in the face, tIMG_4310here are for sure options for you on the menu.  Endless food choices.  Ok, well perhaps that’s a bit exaggerated, eventually the menu does end…

Once we were seated at our table, and had a gander at our menu, we got right in there ordering some of the must try snacks.  There was fresh bread, garlic aioli, local Mallorquin tomatoes, garlic cloves, and olives.  What you got to do is cut a piece of garlic in half, then rub it on your bread, after that, you cut the tomato in half, and also rub that on your bread. you can then dip it in some olive oil, or put some aioli on top, holy man, soooo freaken good! And very entertaining.   While doing this, we had this great view of the mountains out the windows, and a handsome waiter to boot;) Details always set the ambiance of the experience.

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Once we were done basking in the incredibleness of our starters, it was time for course two!  We both opted for the roast lamb, even though apparently thIMG_5365[1]ey are famous for their rabbit dishes… Nailed it though!!! once again… Man we are so good at this.  The meat was barely hanging onto the bone, which made it that much easier to get in our mouths.  Literally, was so flavorful, tender and delicious.  It was accompanied with some roast potatoes and salad.  I don’t eat a lot of meat, but having meat and potatoes, is like a piece of IMG_5352home.. Gives me a moment to reminisce about when I was growing up.  Haha, nothing like a good ol flashback;) That meal was a total winner!  We thought about dessert, but there was no way, no possible way… Can you say ‘Stuffed’.  Although there was a great selection of homemade desserts, from cheesecake, tiramisu, chocolate mousse cake, to banoffee cake, just to name a few.  You will never leave this place hungry. By time we left, the place had emptied out quite a bit, just perfect for me to snap a few pics.  From what I am told, and what I observed with my own peepers, this place is always busy.  I can say for sure, I am not surprised!

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The fun didn’t stop there though!! After we finished up at this gem of a restaurant, we ventured on up the mountain, driving on the little loopy road, right to the top, where there is this little cafe with the most spectacular view! It’s not really a place to go for an amazing meal, but it’s a fantastic spot to go and have a coffee and take in the stunning view of Palma.  Once again, being winter, its quiet, so we had the whole place to ourselves! Like our own private venue.

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WOW!! is exactly what I thought while I was gazing out the window.  I mean look at that would you, that is a vision if you ask me;)

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We oIMG_4337rdered a couple “Cafe con Leche’s”, and just took it all in.  So much so, that we had to invite another friend, this is something to be shared! I am sure you agree:) And we sat there till the sun went down, way down, till it was gone, and the sky was black, and PTown was lit right up!  I mean really, how can you not want to embrace every moment of that amazingness, it doesn’t get much better than this! What can I say, another epic day in Mallorca, and absolutely unforgettable, that is nothing less than one I would highly recommend!! Never a dull moment around here;)

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Traintastic Adventures!!

There is just something about Antique things… They are full of so much character, and of course, history… Wouldn’t be considered antique if it wasn’t actually old! So that being said, why not go on the Antique Trolley Train here in Palma?!?! And well, us thinking this same thing, that’s precisely what we decided to do!

You begin at the train station in Palma, just near to Plaza de Espana, in the centre of Palma, and your final destination is a town called Soller. When you arrive to the Palma station, you see the large and fabulous ‘Art Deco’ wrought iron archway that is the entrance to the terminal, that’s when you ntrain (2)ow know you have arrived!! Not to mention, seeing the railroad tracks, that also kinda gives it away….. In any case, let the adventure begin! The train itself is very cool looking, and like I said, I love the fact that its antique, just makes me that much more excited to get on it. Once again, one of the best parts of doing these activities in the winter, is that there are barely any tourists, so you have all the space in the world. Well all the space in the train to be exact. In the summer these things tend to get packed, and your jammed in like a can of beans, but no matter what season you choose to do it in, it will still be enjoyable and memorable none the less.

 

Here we go! All Aboard!!

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Once you enter the train, is when your little time warp kicks in, your surrounded by polished wooden coaches, and the mountain style electric engine. You may find yourself questioning what year is it again?!? Although sometimes I question that exact thing after I have been travelling a long time in more remote places;) The train ride itself is a wee bit bumpy, but nothing uncomfortable. You have to keep in mind it’s all quite old, so it comes with the territory.

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However, the scenery is nothing less than incredible. A feast for your eyes, and a treat for your soul. This little Island is so vast in diversity, it’s an amazing thing to appreciate. As the train departs on the journey, you go through side roads, past little shops, and then long behold, you pop out right in the Centre. Once out of the city, you go through the local farms and farmland, just one of the many facets of Mallorca, you also get to pass through a couple of tunnels. The train doesn’t go to fast, so you really do get to absorb it all.

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Now comes the real spectacular beauty as you climb up and through the mountains, on your way to Soller. Spectacular. Is the exact word I would use to describe it. Ok, and maybe I would throw in magical, it’s also a bit like this too:)

You get to Soller, and it’s this charming little place tucked away in the mountains. There are plenty of nice little local eateries if you feel a nibble coming on. You can sample plenty of different things.

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IMG_4257  After you have spent some time walking around, checking out shops, and snapping photos, you can now hop on the little Tram that takes you to the Port of Soller. It passes through all the narrow streets and past all the little cafes, then right in between, like back gardens of people’s houses, then finally arriving to the port, which is in a beautiful bay. Just when you thought your eyes couldn’t take any more splendor, you now get the cherry on top of your little cake. There’s a beautiful beach, lined with more shops, cafes, and restaurants, if you have not already sampled too many delight’s back in the town, then this is a gorgeous spot to have lunch. We held out to eat at the port. We picked a restaurant called ‘El Pirata’, sat outside on the patio, and took in the stunning view. The service here was super good, and we shared a combination of tapas, and literally every bite we took was ridiculously good! We loved it! and would highly recommend it. We both decided the only and best option to wash it down with, was a nice chilled glass of rose. Talk about tasty and refreshing!

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What a kick ass and unforgettable day!! mixed with some fantastic company, and you got yourself just another, unbelievably awesome day in Mallorca. Happy Trails!

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Marketing It!!!

One thing I love is fresh produce, lots of vibrant colors, and knowing the quality of what I am buying.   Here in Palma there are lots of markets all over the place, to provide you with every colour of the spectrum!! From endless types of Fruit and  Vegetables, to Olives, Cheese,  all your tasty Mediterranean delicacies, the different cured hams that Spain is known for, not to mention fresh butchery’s if that is what you fancy, and fresh fish and seafood.  Happy Days with this beautiful array of endless fresh options!!  Well at least I sure think so…

Today we went on a nice little adventure to the  Mercat de L’Olivar, the biggest market in Palma, located just through the old town, well that’s not the only way to get there.  It’s really just nice to stroll through the streets of the old town, with the narrow streets, the very European building’s, all the shops and cafes…. You never know what you will find around the next corner, there are always things going on around Ptown.  Love it! That just means there is always some sort of little surprise excitement just waiting to be found, and I am always seeking it:)

After our little stroll, we arrived at the Market.

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It’s amazing how unimpressive it appears from the outside, and the drab looking day doesn’t help…. But just remember, ‘Looks can be deceiving’.  Just take a peek at what was awaiting us inside!?

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Immediately we were greeted with all those wonderful colors I mentioned earlier, just in time to give our eye’s a nice little massage.  How could you not want to take it all in??  I will admit though, the fact that I can speak Spanish really does come in handy in these moments, as not so many people here speak English.

But other then the language barrier the process is quite simple.  You walk up, tell them what and how much of each product you want, and they weigh it, bag it, and give you a bill.  Just like riding a bicycle.  Come here in the summer and its super packed, but another beauty of the winter is you have all the space in the world.

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Its just ridiculous, in such an amazing way, all the phenomenal things you can get there, your little heart will be so contentIMG_5262    IMG_5267  IMG_5261

So after we bought all the food we had came for(and a little more), of course we couldn’t finish off our market experience without trying some of the Sushi and Oysters from the seafood side.  Now that our eye’s are feeling thoroughly relaxed, it’s time to put our palette to work, and see if it awakens our senses even more.  First stop, we decided to have some Sushi! There are a few sushi stalls, but they weren’t all open, so with the art of elimination, and our keen sense of observation,  we narrowed it down, to the one that was open.  Bar del Piex.

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All of these little stalls make their sushi from the fresh fish from the market, and they are constantly filling up the display case.  You just need to walk up and pick out all the morsels you want, they are yours for the taking, at about one euro a piece.  We picked out a nice little selection, sided it with some edamame, and 1 wonton, that we intended to share, not knowing why we would share ‘A’ wonton and not just have our own… Sometimes though, one too many wontons, and you spoil the next course that you are looking forward to trying, Good ol’Oysters.  We decided though, it would be a good idea to wash our sushi down with a glass of the house white.  The wine was nice, and the Sushi was for sure good, but I wouldn’t put it down to the best I have ever had, but it was worth trying and did the job quite well.

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Next up, it’s time to slurp down some Oysters to finish off our little market adventure.  Conveniently located right next to the sushi stall, IS?? Well yes, you guessed it, it was none other than the oyster stall! You get a menu with a selection of 4 types of Oysters, and on the side you  have some lemon, tabasco, and pepper, to create your taste.  So you can either act like you know what you’re talking about and pick one confidently, or ask for assistance on choosing… However if youIMG_5285 actually are an oyster connoisseur, then just get in there! But before you do that you need toIMG_5276 order a beverage, and well, as its quite typical to have Champagne and oysters, we decided to wash ours down with some Cava.  Which just so happens to be a kind of Spanish version of Champagne, almost the same, but still a bit different, none the less, bubbly and refreshing, and its from an actual region in Spain called Cava.  Huh, who would have thought. Nothing like a good random fact;) This little combo, was delicious!

Is there even a way to make this look classy???

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Well now that we have had our fill of food sampling, it’s time to do some  more  meandering around, before heading home later and preparing a deliciously beautiful dinner with all these fresh ingredients.  Thank you Mercat de L’Olivar for a fantastic and fun filled afternoon!

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Happy Palma Days:)

Losing Hope In Malawi, And Being Saved By Beautiful Strangers

I had just arrived to Lilongwe the capital of Malawi after a 36 hour bus ride from Mozambique, on a local African bus, that was falling apart, overcrowded, and had no cushioning on the seats. Not to mention, I was one of the lucky ones to get stuck sitting in the middle on one of the fold out chairs, that literally only went half way up my back.

My back has ever been that sore in my entire life, no exaggeration. I could barely walk after that.

I hadn’t taken any money out of the bank before the journey, as I just figured I would withdraw some once I arrived to Lilongwe. No big deal right?! Upon arrival it took everything I had in me to gain feeling in my body again, and struggle to get off the bus, as I think I was on the verge of being paralyzed. To this day, I don’t think stretching has never felt so darn good or so darn bad at the exact same time.

‘Hello Malawi!’. I was still pretty excited to be there. A new destination to be explored, and adventures to be had.

With my backpack and massage table in tow I took off in search of a bank.  I only had about the equivalent of $30 on me, which doesn’t get you far when everyone you meet keeps ripping you off.

Right away a local guy came and picked up my massage table without asking, and started carrying it away. I began following him, he seemed to know I was en route to the bus into town and headed in that direction. As soon as we got to the bus, the guy puts my table down and tells me I have to give him a certain amount of money, and it was a a very large chunk out of what I had, much more then what a tip should be for such a short walk.

I was extremely sore and tired from the journey though, and I didn’t have it in me to argue or barter, so I just gave him what he asked for and got on the bus.

After forking over another good chunk of what I had left for the bus ride(which I found out later I was once again totally ripped off), I finally get off in town.

It was ridiculously hot, and I needed a shower badly, can you say 38 hour bus ride through extreme heat?! And I was wearing jeans(need longs to protect from malaria on bus rides), and melting, especially with also carrying all my luggage which consisted of a 70 liter backpack, a 25 pound massage table, and another hand held bag.

Yes, you could say my clothes were sticking to me, and yes, it felt awful, and I know it was not one of my most attractive moments. Thank goodness for a bit of perfume! Although that didn’t mask my greasy look.

Needing a break from carrying enough stuff for a mule and profusely sweating,  I ended up asking a security guard at a property if I could leave my massage table with him while I went on my mission to find a bank to which he kindly obliged. YES! that was a big load off my shoulders. Literally! My 70 litre backpack never felt so light.

First bank I came across I was so happy to find,  and it didn’t work with my card… ‘That sucks’ I thought. But ok, ‘Let’s find another one shall we?’…. Second bank, and once again, it doesn’t work with my card.  Alright then, no need to worry I told myself, third time’s a charm.  Or so they say, and this time it wasn’t so charming.

Yes, once again, the bank didn’t work with my card.  Malawi was definitely giving me a warm welcome, especially in my worn out condition. However gotta keep going! So I decided I would grab the bus and go back to the Lilongwe where there was the closest thing to a hostel that existed, and it would give me a chance to reassess the situation I was faced with.  Off I went to collect my table, and tip the guard as much as I could afford(especially since he didn’t ask for anything), as my means were almost out.

Just as I was getting money out for the security guard, two local guys once come and just grabbed my table and the small bag and start carrying them off back towards the bus.  They were watching me since I had arrived and knew exactly where I was heading.

Having learned my lesson previous to the last bus ride, ‘that this help is not free’,  I began running after them telling them to ‘Stop’, as at this point I didn’t have money to give them, I didn’t even have enough for myself.

They just kept on going, and didn’t pay me any attention at all.  As soon as they put my stuff down, they turn around and tell me they want 1000 Kwacha, so 500 each. ‘What?’ I say… ‘I cannot give you that, because it’s all I have to my name and I did not ask you to carry my bags, in fact I was running after you telling you to stop’.

They didn’t speak English, so it escalated quickly, and they started getting really angry with me. I was trying to explain, I literally only have 1000 Kwacha to my name at the moment.  However that was getting me nowhere, as they could not understand a word I was saying.

Suddenly people in the streets started to crowd around and ask what’s going on..  I am now super stressed at this point, and even more extremely exhausted from the long and painful trip up from Mozambique.  I once again start explaining my situation to the English speakers that arrived. I explained how I did not ask for their service, I was telling them to stop and they wouldn’t listen, that I have no money, other then my only 1000 kwacha, and I had no idea what I was going to do.

The people then said, ‘So what are you saying? You want to break the 1000 Kwacha bill and give them 500 each?’.  ‘No’, I responded, ‘I am saying it is all I have,  I can’t access any more money’.  At this point I am pulling everything out of my purse to show everyone crowded around how empty my wallet is and that it really is ALL I have….

Well suddenly everyone was yelling at me in a language I didn’t understand, I was alone, exhausted, and now at my breaking point. It was getting a bit crazy, and suddenly a few tears of stress rolled down my face, and I started saying and yelling ‘Give me my stuff! Take if off the bus!’. As if I actually had another plan. I probably would have just sat in the street and cried for awhile till I formed another plan of action.

Well as soon as those tears came out, a few of the locals started pushing everyone away from me and yelling, ‘Get away from her, the white girl is crying, leave her alone!’. At which point I was escorted onto the bus.

As I was sitting by the window, trying to comprehend what just happened and get my baring’s, a women came up to the window and said, ‘Excuse me miss’, I turned and looked at her and she continued, ‘I am very sorry about my people’.

When I looked in her eyes I could see the sincerity, and instantly felt a calming feeling come over me. To which I lovingly gazed back and responded, ‘Thank you, but please don’t say it’s your people,  it’s not your people, we are all just people, and it’s simply an unfortunate situation’.

It was when I paid the gentlemen on this bus ride going back, that I seen how bad I had been ripped off on my way there.

By time we arrived, I was all dusted off and ready to continue my mission. So off I went to the hostel, to see if I can figure something out, and perhaps they would give me a bed or a locker while I sorted my financial situation. That didn’t happen though, they told me they will not give me a bed until I get my money situation sorted.

Alright, off I go again, with almost no energy left in me. I came across the swanky Protea Hotel.  I thought to myself, ‘Ok, it’s going to be pricey, but I bet there they accept cards’, as a that time not many places did and I was running out of options, at least even if it’s a splurge it will buy me a day to figure out how I will access my money.

I walk up to the counter, I am told its $250US a night…. What other choice did I have at the moment, so I give my card, only to be told, they can’t accept it?! Are you kidding me?

Yes that’s right, it’s a travel visa, so the numbers are printed on the card, not embedded, and well, this is Africa! They only have the old machine to take an imprint of the card, not an electronic machine.  ‘ This seriously is not my day!’ I was thinking. As per always, I managed to keep a smile on my face, and I ask the women at the counter if I can book online, and she responded ‘No, its not possible’.

‘Can I please speak to the manager?’ I asked. I tell him my situation, and ask if he can just let me check in and I will get some money sent through Western Union to me from Canada with no problem at all.  ‘Nope’. Is exactly what he said.  But, he will let me make a phone call… Alright I call my mom in Canada. I was getting desperate at this point, and I tell her my situation. Of course as I am stressed and a bit scared now, I start telling her the fact of the matter. It’s going to be dark soon, and I am on the verge of being stuck in the streets of Malawi, with all my stuff, it;s not going to be a safe situation, and nobody will help me.  Well yes, a lesson I learned a few times in my life is, ‘Don’t tell your mother all the exact details when your doing a solo trip across Africa!!’ Obviously, its going to freak her right out.

With my mom having said she was going to western union straight away, relief came over me.  Problem was,  it was getting close to 5 at this point, that’s when western union closes, and its only getting close to 9am back in Canada, and that is what time western union in my town opened up. This was also before you could do online transfers. Africa is behind the times a bit.

My mom was hoping someone would be in the shop early to help her out.  So I ran to the Western Union office, and the women whom were working there kept checking and checking for my transfer.  Nothing. They stayed open till 5:30 for me.

Finally they said, that they have no choice but to shut, and they are so sorry.  Well that was the cherry on top of the cake and the tip of my emotional breaking point again.  It’s now getting dark, and its definitely not safe for me to be in the streets at night, not to mention, alone, and with all my belongings. I was absolutely losing hope at that point, and stressful, scared tears streamed down my face.

One of the women came over and hugged me, and asked how much a room was.  I told her at the hostel its 1100 Kwacha a night.  It might be a cheap hostel to a backpacker, but for a local women in Malawi, that is half of her month’s salary. With no hesitation, she says, ‘she will give me the money’.

Suddenly she took on the appearance of an Angel! My eyes opened in astonishment, gratitude and bit of disbelief. I was so beyond thankful, words can’t express my gratitude. I promised her I would give her the 1100 and even more then that back the next day. She just kept repeating, ‘don’t worry, just take care of yourself’.

Finally, I arrived back to the hostel, got a bed, and was thinking after all that, I could really use a good stiff drink. My nerves where shot., but I still had no money. I only had enough for the bed.

I began chatting with the other travelers in my dorm room, and I was telling them the tale of my crazy roller coaster ride of a day. Everyone was shocked and felt so bad for me, they all wanted to buy me a drink. Winning! And off we went to the hostel bar, where everyone was treating me, we were laughing, and having the best party ever.

A little later on, I was sitting at the bar having a chat with this guy, whom was also an avid world traveler. As we were having a chat about the events of my day,  he got up to go to the washroom, and on his return, he sits down and pulls out a wad of Kwacha with a clip on it and holds it out to me.  It’s maybe the equivalent of $40, which is a lot when you are backpacking, and a lot in the local currency, so it really is a wad of cash.  I automatically say, ‘No, no, no, I can’t take your money.’

He looked at me and said, ‘Listen, I have been travelling a long time too, and I know what it’s like when you run into these unforeseen situations.  I will most likely never see you again, and I don’t want anything given back for it. I simply want you to have this, so that at the very least you have something.’  And he put it in my hand.

We finished our beer, and he got up and left.

We did not exchange details, and never seen him again. I was blown away and completely touched by his selfless act. It is something I will never forget. That man must have had some good Karma in his court.

After all these incredible and heartfelt events taking place, and me back to loving life, I suddenly remembered, ‘Oh no! I forget to call my mom!?’ Everything just happened so fast, and I went from having the worst day to the best day, and I was now having the time of my life with all my new friends. The last thing my mom heard from me was that I was scared, penniless, and on the verge of having to fight for my life in the streets of Malawi.

So I borrowed a phone to call her.  ;OMG, Petrena!! Where are you?!’ she screeched. ‘I have the people from the Protea hotel driving all over the place looking for you!?’ Clearly she was completely panic stricken, and yet you could hear the reassured thankfulness in her voice to hear me alive. Oops.

‘I am Ok, actually I am better then ok, I am doing freaken amazing’ I tell her. ‘You wouldn’t believe all the incredible things that happened to me!’ I exclaimed.  Well yes my mothers sigh of relief was so big you could feel it, not just hear it.

One frantic and very upset mothers email to the Protea’s head office in South Africa, tearing them apart for thinking it’s alright to leave a foreign young women stranded in the streets, and giving false information about the ability to book online(when in fact you could book and pay online), was enough to get some quick action out of them.

After an incredible night with all my new friends in the hostel the hotel concierge picked me up the next day for a night in the hotel, and the general manager met with me in his office and he profusely apologized, and showed me the email my mom had sent to the office.

Yes I could see why he was so apologetic. Her motherly instinct, and direct wording, sure got things done.

My poor mother, the scares I have put her through on my solo travels.  Not going to lie, one night of luxury and a comfy bed was a ‘huge unexpected treat‘ after hitchhiking, crazy bus rides, sleeping on dirt floors in rural villages, and that painful almost unbearable bus trip from Mozambique. Knowing I still had a long way to go, it was a super rejuvenating evening.

I finally got my financial situation sorted, and I went back to Western Union so I could repay that Angel of a women double what she had given me.  Now she was the incredibly thankful one, it was amazing how her eyes lit up.

Yet she did more for me then she will ever know. She saved me when my last bit of hope was lost. She was the propeller for all the incredible events that followed.

To top it all off, after I left Western Union, a women approached me in the streets and starting telling me a sad story of how she needed this medicine and didn’t have money for it. I felt so bad, and so decided to give her the money. She kept raising the price of the medicine and in the end I gave her 2000 Kwatcha. Little did I know, that is one of the oldest tricks in the book. Ripped off once again. That was fine though. Another lesson learned.

In reality, what is wealth if not to be shared, and I had so many people share with me by that point, I was happy to give.

No matter what happens in life, if you make it through the worst, most hopeless moments of despair, and those moments where your suddenly feeling more alone then ever with you head held high and a positive outlook with a mindset to succeed and make it work – the moments to follow, are always unbelievable, unimaginable, and unforgettable. More then you could ever believe they would be.

Through all this, when I think back to the events that took place, it is not the hardships of that day that stand out in my mind.  What I remember when I think back to that day, is the incredible kindness that was shown to me by some beautiful strangers in Malawi.

Sometimes it ok to Wine a little

Ok, so being in Europe, you can’t help but enjoy the fine wine it has to offer.  Well let’s actually narrow that down, being in Palma de Mallorca, you cant help but to also partake in the delicious goodness of the fine wine on offer.  What better spot to choose, to tickle your palette then the lovely little establishment, that is named for this fine art of wine sampling, named none other then ‘Wineing’.

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The concept behind the excellence, is you go in and get a card, similar to a bank card, the only difference is with this one you can only withdraw wine.  I don’t see a problem with that!! More cards should be stocked with the good stuff:)

There is a nice large selection of wines, to provide ample hours of entertainment,  all nicely on display in their glass cases.  You can have just a sample, or a glass that is ‘half full’, or if your feeling thirsty, just get a full one!! Why the heck not.

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Yup, I think we got it down pat!

But lets not forget, there is a term that goes ‘Wine and Dine’… They do also offer a fine array of ‘Tapa’s’,  which are small portion’s of typical Spanish dishes, and there are quite an array of dishes, to choose from.  We opted for some Garlic Shrimps, Sliced Iberica Ham, a Cheese Plate, and last but not least, Dates and Bacon(one of the best tapa’s ever).  The food here is excellent, and so was the friendly service.  Ahhh, ‘Wineing’, it keeps you warm on a cool winters evening, wakes up your senses, and also gives you nothing less then a memorable experience, and if your not careful on the red, it will also give your mouth a nice dark red hue!  Good Times:)

New Years in Palma

Yup, its officially 2014!  Another year bites the dust… Its amazing how fast this past year went. What a kick ass year is was though! Good times… Just like last night!

A New Years in Palma!

The evening’s in Palma at this time of year are so beautiful! They have their streets and plaza’s all lit up, it just feels so darn magical:)

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We all went to this square in the Old Town of Palma, in front of the Townhouse.  People head there about 11 pm, there was a stage with live music, and by 12 the square was freaken packed!! Like a tin of sardines, and I was in the middle;)  The Plaza was beautifully lit up too though!!

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Literally it was amazing!! I just wanted to stand there and take it all in! Which is exactly what I did. Palma sure knows how to light up their lives!

Everyone brings their own drinks, and snacks if you like, and has a big ol shindig in the streets.  Having some Champagne not only keeps you warm, but makes it much easier to deal with being squished.  Its tradition that at midnight when you hear the 12 bell sounds you are supposed to eat a grape at every bell, and you make a wish while gracefully chomping down.  Its a cute little Palma tradition.  Now to see if my wish comes true!

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And yes, my grapes are swimming in Champagne. Haha… I only had one cup and two things that needed to be put inside my 1 solo cup.  All in all Palma didn’t disappoint for New Years!!  Had a nice little winter chill in the air, got sprayed with Champagne, stepped on a bit, pushed around, laughed a lot, and had a ridiculously great time!