Two chic’s, a car, and an island called Mallorca

pnb2There are those times, when a good friend whom you met on a Solo backpacking trip in Panama, and ended up travelling together, to then once again meeting up 2 years later in Las Vegas, dIMG_4379ecides the time has come again to reunite, and what better place to reunite then in Mallorca!!   Well there are those times for me, that’s for sure:)  So in a case like this, there is no other way to go about things, then to make the whole experience epically memorable, and full of awe and amazement.  On this particular day, we decided it would be a good idea to have some lunch, somewhere awesome of course, and check out one of the many caves on the island.  Just another typical day in Mallorca..   First off we hopped in our ‘little’ rental car, and put the pedal to the metal! Just two awesome chic’s, cruising the island highways, absorbing all the phenomenal scenery.  From ocean view, to cruising up mountains, and even doing both at the same time, to also flat farm land, and then vineyard land, Mallorca leaves nothing out.  So after once again astonishing ourselves with the stunning landscape, we were feeling about ready for some lunch!  We then burned on over to the little town of Alaro, where you will find the famous Mallorca lamb restaurant nicely nestled into the side of a mountain.  To get up the mountain you either need to cruise up, or hike up, on the tiny and very windy road(and yes I do mean Wine-Dee), although if you are thinking of wind, it was a tad bit windy as well.  Not to mention barely wide enough to fit one car, so it’s always an interesting scenario when someone is coming in the opposite direction.  Anyway after cruising up the mountain in our little car with no guts… Long behold, there it was, in all its Glory.  Es Verger, A.K.A ‘The Lamb Restaurant’.

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It is a family run restaurant, on a little farm, where lamb and sheep are running around with ample space to frolic, and bell’s on to boot. Literally, they all have bell’s on their neck, and it’s actually really cute, but I tried not to get attached, hence the name of the place.  The Lamb Restaurant is very well known in Mallorca, and it’s a must visit destination when on the island.

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Well what are you waiting for?? Come on in!!

It’s always a busy place, even in the winter.

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Upon entering, they locate you some seats at any table that has enough space for you and your crew. It adds to the event for sure when you join a table full of people whom  are already having a great time, and also salivating over their meals.  It gives you a great opportunity to mingle with new people, and share this lovely experience.  Sharing things in life just makes it that much more enjoyable.  They do offer a house red wine, which to be honest isn’t too bad, and its nicely served in a plain glass bottle, yup can’t get more down home farm style then that!  The two most popular items on the menu are, suckling pig, and… I doubt you guessed it. It is quite a long shot.. However, YES, if Lamb flashed through your mind, your a winner!  Both are slow cooked for about 4 hours, to ensure the meat is unforgettably tender.IMG_4384

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I had to put that pic up, I fell in love with that little guy.  He was the sweetest and happiest person, and still working hard for a living! Unstoppable:)

We both opted for the lamb, and let me put it to you this way…  We didn’t speak. We almost forgot we were both there.  Then we would look up, see each otherIMG_9393, and all we could say was, ‘Wow, this is amazingly good’.  It was soooo tender, and you could taste the herbs.. And as we all know, lamb and potatoes go hand in hand, or at least they really compliment each other when sitting side by side on a plate.  So you get some nice roasted potatoes and a salad on the side. It is all about the meat though. Delish!  Once you have finished chowing down, and enjoying that ridiculously delicious meal, you can finish it off with some flaming coffee.  Its flaming, and freaken strong!! Holy smokes… well that is what was coming out of my mouth! or at least that would be a good description of  what it felt
like;).. However if you like a stiff drink, as well as coffee, and maybe you’re a bit of a pyromaniac, then this drink is right up your alley!!  There is also a hike from the restaurant up to the top of the mountain, where there sits the Alaro Castle.  You can do it before hand to work up an appetite, or you can do it after to work off all the food you stuffed yourself with.  Either/or, it’s so worth the hike. It’s a beautiful view from the top, and there is a little café there if you would like a beverage while you soak up your surroundings, and snap some photo’s! It nice just to sit there and treat your eyes, while massaging the soul with the spectacular scenery.   Now to get back into the car, and roll down this mountain!! Yah, really, the gas pedal isn’t so necessary.. you can totally roll. No pun intended.

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Once we were ready to continue on our glorious adventure filled Mallorca day, and after we closed our eyes and put our finger on the Mallorca map, it appeared the next stop was going to be on the East of the Island, destination, Arta.  Where in fact we were going to visit some Caves.  The caves of Arta, are just one of 6 caves on the Island, each of the different cave locations are different and unique from one another.  It’s one of my missions to visit all of them:)  1.5 hours later, and we were in Arta.  It was a super quiet little town, and we really didn’t see a lot of people.  Now  we needed to be pointed in the right direction.  Off we went to a little bar to ask for assistance.  We were greeted by a cute little older lady, and even though I am pretty decent at speaking Spanish, I couldn’t for the life of me remember how to say ‘CAVE’… Darn it!! So I opted to describe it to her in Spanish, what I said to her, would translate in English to, ‘ We are looking for a mountain that all the tourist’s like to visit, and they can go inside of it and it’s very beautiful.’ ‘Do you by chance, know where that is?’… Well she was looking at me a little bewildered, and her response was, ‘A mountain, that people go inside? I have no idea. But there is a Castle that the tourist’s love to go see’. Haha.. Nope as much as we love castles, that wasn’t the purpose of this escapade, and our time is running short, because its 4:30pm, and the caves lock up at 5.  I plugged in my phone into the outlet to get some charge so I could tell her the name of what we were looking for… Then the cute yet spunky little older lady gave me crap(in Spanish of course) for plugging my phone in without asking…. Oops!(understandable though).  So I apologized and unplugged it, then she gave me crap again, and said “Plug it back in!’ and said she was only saying I should have asked first, and she forcefully in a cute little older lady verbal way, made me plug it back in.  So once it turned back on, and I pulled up the info, first thing I thought was, ‘Would you look at that, yup, of course, Caves in Spanish is just “Cuevas”… haha, really now’.  Good to know! I was able to then tell her ‘Cuevas de Arta, in Canyamel’.  Well that light bulb in her cute little face almost burst it lit up so fast! She knew exactly where we were going, and with huge arm gestures, and a bit of excitement she gave me our directions.  In which case we did the typical Spanish gesture of kissing her on both cheek’s, which she loved, and we thanked her and hit the road.  She was so sweet, even when she gave me crap;)

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6km later and we were in Canyamel! Driving up the beautiful scenic road on the mountain till we reached the Caves, that tower over the sea. IMG_4407 The parking lot was pretty much empty, but the box office was still open.  We paid our ticket, and the guy told us we had to wait 20 min for our tour..  No worries! As the view was spectacular and we were happy to embrace some of  it.  I needed a bit of caffeine to give me an energy boost after all that lunch and driving.

Not a bad place to enjoy a cup of Java.

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20 min later and it was go time! Our awesome tour guide, had arrived.  He unlocked the gate keeping us outside the Caves, and welcomed us in. IMG_9423 We walked in, and the utter amazement hit us like a brick wall, There were stalactites of huge proportions, taking on extrordinary shapes hanging from the very high arched roofs, and then there were the stalagmites, beautifully growing up from the ground .   Just one more reason I love living places in the Winter, because there are no other tourist’s, we had a private tour of these incredible caves, for only a few bucks and a sweet ass road trip.  We were told that in the summer, it’s crazy, with bus load after bus load of tourist’s, and groups of up to a hundred people at a time, with kids suddenly turning into monkeys, and wanting to climb all the formations.  Being in those massive and extremely impressive caves, just the three of us, was astounding.  It was so empty, calm, quiet, there was nothing else inside, but hollow peacefulness.  The Caves of Arta have been open for public viewing with tours for over 200 years.  Way back in the day, they lit the whole place with candles to provide light inside, and you can see all the black everywhere that was left from burning candles inside for so many years.  It is so freaken cool.  It takes 5000 years for the stalagmites to grow 1 centimeter, so you can see these have been growing for an extremely long time.  Longer then we can really fathom in our minds.  They take on different shapes, and with your imagination  you can see all sorts of things from jelly fish, a thinking person, a lion, and even long draping curtains. IMG_9440 It was said that Gaudi had visited the Caves several times, would spend days in there, getting inspiration for his Art. True though, when you see these Caves, and you see the structures Gaudi built, you can totally see the resemblance.  There is an interesting tidbit of a fact for you:)

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IMG_9469This particular structure is known as the ‘Mother’, and she has been here for about 80 thousand years and she still hasn’t reached the roof yet.  Apparently at one time, a very wealthy person decided they wanted to buy her, they were going to cut her out and bring her home.  Supposedly in the beginning the owner of the Cave was going to sell her, but then decided not to, and that the cave should remain as is, and intact.  Thank goodness for that! I feel she belongs there, exactly where she is meant to be.  One more interesting fact is that all the Caves in Mallorca, are privately owned.  I wouldn’t mind having my own cave, especially if it was a stunner like this one! There was one point where our lovely Mallorquine guide, who was so full of Charisma, and was able to speak about 5 different languages, turned off all the lights in the caves, and we were all standing there in total darkness, you could feel the remote emptiness, yet there was such an energy about this place.  He said he doesn’t normally do that on tours, but because we were three, and literally the only three, he could do things a bit differently, and that this would heighten our senses for the little light and music show.  Which it definitely did! 45 min after entering the cave and we were done our tour.

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The whole experience was AMAZING! And having the whole place to ourselves almost made it a bit magical.  We were on a high from it, and couldn’t stop talking about it all night.  What can I say, Mallorca is Awesome, and so was this reunion with one of my fav travel buddies.  I love when you make no solid plans, and randomly pick places to see during an adventure day, it blows your mind, just like the wind blowing your hair;) And ends up being so much better then you even imagined it to be. Happy Days!!

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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ppp

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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!

An Amazing winter in Palma Begins

So Palma de Mallorca….

Hellllooo Palma!!! Here I am. Boom! Back in Palma. There is no place I would rather be at this moment.     Mallorca is an island with endless adventure and activities, and Palma is a small city with an incredible energy to it.  If you have heard of the Island, then you would know its a very popular summer destination.  This will be my first winter in Palma, and I am so excited to share all of my experiences with you.  One thing I have learned in my travels is that I much rather prefer to spend the low seasons in a place that I love, as its less touristy and you get much more of the local experience.  I just did an Atlantic crossing on a yacht where we started in the Med and crossed over to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Smooth sailing all around!  It was a nice month abroad, but I am so happy to return to Palma! There is no place like freaken home, and Palma absolutely feels like home to me.  I was feeling a bit of Jet leg yesterday, and today… it sucks! Jet leg was foreign to me until last year, when my immunity wore off!! Whyyyy?!?!:( but now I feel I have bounced right back, and I am ready to explore!!

No matter what tickles your fancy, Outdoors, sports, hiking, cycling, wine, music, food, beaches, scenery, this place has it all, and a little more. Its just before New Years, and the weather is still so nice!  Well maybe not all would agree, but being from Canada, I compare to the weather we experience there, chopping wood in -50c, limbs almost freezing off and eyelashes freezing together.  Sounds ideal doesn’t it??  But in the daytime here its still about +15 and higher, with no snow on the ground(I really miss snow though), so you cant really complain to much.  I love to dress for colder weather anyway, you have many more style options, endless layers of style, just like peeling an onion:)  A couple more days till New Years eve, another year flew by, time to get my party pants on.  Happy Palma Dayz!!!