Sunday 29 September. Being of dispositions unwilling to head into the complete unknown if such can be avoided, my wife and I decided to drive to Port d’Alcúdia to find out exactly where it was that we needed to return our hire car come Friday, given that a special arrangement is in place to open the office an hour early for us and that this leaves us with under an hour to get to the embarcation point for our ferry to Menorca. The first step in this exercise was to try to get the car’s somewhat benighted satnav to admit the existence of not only the address of the office but even the town it was in. This was achieved with a certain amount of swearing, and so we set off, in the first instance in the opposite direction to the nice satnav lady’s recommendation, on account of not wanting to deal with the twisty roads and Bunyola on a Sunday.
Some 40 minutes later, we were outside the office and so reasonably content that we could find it again. The challenge of getting a taxi to the embarcation point can await solution another day. The idea of a coffee stop formed itself in both our minds simultaneously (as far as these things can be established) and Jane suggested we look at Port de Pollença, just along the coast, as it might be a nice little fishing port with a nice little cafe or two on the seafront. Stark reality hit as we approached – it was a big, seasidey sort of place, and today being a Sunday meant that it was very crowded, i.e. difficult to find somewhere relevant to park.
We decided to give it a miss in favour of having a peek at Cap de Formentor. A friend had recommended that the hotel there is a lovely place and we thought perhaps we could get a coffee there. Had Tony Hancock been there, he would have said, “have you gone stark raving mad?” or some such; but he wasn’t and so we set off. The even starker reality of the inadvisability of this excursion started to hit as we joined a very, very slow and increasingly long cortege of cars full of people with exactly the same idea. The road to the cape is very narrow, quite twisty and absolutely overrun with cyclists. It being uphill for much of the way, the cyclists were not going very fast at all; and, with traffic being heavy in both directions, overtaking cyclists was a waiting game. We got to a point where we were offered either the beach or the lighthouse (in high season, this is where visitors are obliged to park and take a bus to the cape, as my brother found out; but driving to the cape was permitted today) and we thought it was unlikely that the hotel would be a hospitable venue, so we ploughed on.
Another ineffable truth was soon borne in on us: even if we wanted to turn round and go back (and before too long we certainly did) it was going to be nigh-on impossible – no stopping places (that weren’t already full of dodgily parked cars). So, to tailor a quote from Gerard Hoffnung, “we decided to carry on”. There actually was a stopping place and mirador (viewpoint) about half way along, but it was full of buses and cars and more dodgy parking and there was no chance of us getting in. So the peristaltic field of the traffic bore us along slowly and inexorably until we caught sight of the lighthouse at the cape – and the dozens and possibly hundreds of cars that formed the queue to get anywhere near it.
(Photo © the distaff side, as I was busy trying to avoid barriers and oncoming traffic). Reaching the back of the queue to go further was actually a good opportunity to turn round, so we did. On the way back, Jane managed to capture a couple of pictures of another view
and very handsome it was, too. Amazingly, when we got back to the official mirador, although it was busy, as seen in the background here,
there was a space so we piled in and walked up to where everyone was taking the usual selfies. From there the view was almost worth the walk.
Back at the car park, a vehicular scrum formed around the space we vacated and we carried on our way back towards Port de Pollença – on practically empty roads! We had obviously chosen (similar to the first attempt at the Drach caves) the absolute peak time to go there and the way back was largely unmarked by traffic, either cars or cyclists.
Or it was, “Up to a point, Lord Copper”. There were occasional bursts of oncoming traffic whose patience with the situation, judging by their lane discipline, was exhausted. One red car was so far over on a particular bend that in trying to avoid hitting it I put the front wheel in a ditch. Cue grating noises and lots of swearing. I was able to back out and all the wheels appeared to be still attached and pointing in the right direction, so we carried on. I don’t think there’s any visible damage; we’ll find out at 0800 on Friday 4th October.
Outside the above mishap, the road back to Port de Pollença was amazingly empty of traffic; we decided that it should be possible to get back to the hotel just in time for a late lunch. This part of the mission was accomplished successfully and the rest of the day was a masterclass in slothfulness, which, after all, is what holidaying is all about.
Tomorrow – who knows? Possibly Valldemossa and that Chopin trip. Stay tuned to find out!
* OK, so “crash” is overstating it a bit – but it got your attention, didn’t it? 😊