Clang, Clang, Clang Went the Trolley

Clang, Clang, Clang Went the Trolley

Tren de Soller

With hours to kill before our night flight back to Blighty, we plumped for a day trip to Sóller and its coastal sister, Porto Sóller on the north side of Mallorca. The touristy thing to do is ride the antique tren that runs from Palma railway station so that’s exactly what we did. The vintage rolling stock slowly pulled out of the station, chugging through the burbs and breaking free of Palma’s grim industrial hinterland towards a verdant agro-plain bursting with olive groves and pretty market gardens. Thirty minutes into the journey, we began to ascend towards the lush, pine-smothered mountains, passing through a series of long damp tunnels on route. For no apparent reason (Freudian?) Liam was visibly excited about the tunnels. After a couple of photo opportunity pit stops, we arrived at our destination.

Built in 1912, the railway is quite the engineering feat but I do wonder if it was a bit of a folly back in the day; the end of the line is a sleepy village in the middle of nowhere. Still, it’s doing a roaring trade these days judging by the international crowd shifting uncomfortably on the hard wooden benches. Note to self: next time, take cushions.

Sóller itself is a picture-postcard hamlet with a handsome main square given entirely over to tourism. A spot of lunch was on the agenda and we sat down at one of the many eateries ringing the piazza. Our set-price tapas plate was a huge disappointment – overpriced, underwhelming and partially inedible. If you ever find yourself milling around Sóller, avoid the Sacova Restaurant. The next leg of our grand tour was by tram to Porto Sóller, a non-descript purpose-built resort set around a stunning bay in the shape of a Celtic bracelet. The sandy beach was packed with marinated sun-worshippers. Parasols and sunbeds, like much of the clientele, had seen better days. As the sun gave up the ghost, we hopped on an air-conditioned bus back to Palma (half the journey time and a fraction of the price) sated, slightly sozzled and steeled for the Sleazyjet scrum.

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i-m-so-excitedLiam’s possesses a fine pair of lanky lalls and doesn’t look good with his knees wedged against his chin so I booked emergency exit seats for the flight to Palma. You can do that on Sleazyjet these days (for an extra fee, obviously) and this helps to mitigate the scrum at the gate where it’s every man for himself and the Devil takes the hindmost. Senior citizens have been known to break a hip in the sprint. As Liam enjoyed the extra inches, our neighbours gathered around us: a squawking clutch of bottle-blond Essex grannies with fake nails, fake teeth, spray-on tans and spray-on micro-skirts. They hit the bottle as soon as soon as the captain switched off the fasten your seat belt sign. Drinking the plane dry, they even demanded a discount as they polished off the bar. The saintly cabin crew indulged them with grace and patience. We were relieved that an emergency landing was not required since these pissed-up ladies would have struggled to see the doors, let alone release them and the only brace position they knew was chucking up in the gutters of Magaluf. One senior attendant, a slightly camp Spanish trolley dolly with an Andalucian lisp, had clearly seen it all before. He looked over at us with a wearied expression, throwing his eyes up to the clouds in resignation. Almodóvar met Essex and lost every time.

On the Buses

Liam and I spent a few days in Gran Canaria to celebrate my birthday and to catch a few rays before the winter drizzle forced us into snug hibernation. We flew Easyjet – On the Buses with a tango tan. As usual, speedy boarding was a nail-biting chaotic scrum. Mindful of our blood pressure, we decided not to leg it to the front. As we queued to board the plane, a lumpy broad with precision-cut bottle-black hair and a particularly miserable expression, ram-raided a wheelchair-bound pensioner through the snaking crowd. “Well, excuse me,” she screamed. “Get out of the way!” Startled passengers parted like the Red Sea, us included. Presumably, the charmless dragon was pissed off about having to do some work.

Thankfully, we managed to get seats together and strapped ourselves in for the full EJ experience. The chief flying mattress was a jolly fat fellow, an extraordinarily energetic thing who cha-cha-cha’d up and down the aisle and nearly took off when indicating the emergency exits. Cha-cha-cha man tried to talk up the over-priced down-market bacon butties by announcing that they came with “an accompaniment of ketchup.”  Amazingly, the hype worked and steaming cellophane packs of soggy microwaved rubber were hurtled down the cabin courtesy of the “here, catch,” school of Sleazyjet service. Half the punters suffered third degree burns.

Next Holiday Post: Gran Canaria, Sex Emporium.

Unfinished Business

This year, direct Sleazyjet flights to Milas-Bodrum airport start on 26th March. Low gear hassling, a fresh lick of whitewash, flourishing floral fauna and ruins un-ruined by a savage sun makes springtime in the Aegean a Turkish delight. Braving a last minute tantrum by grumpy old Mother Nature, savvy travellers might be tempted to try out Bodrum just as the town emerges from the short, sharp winter. Come by all means but, this year, give Bodrum itself a wide berth and go exploring elsewhere. This year’s spring clean is more of a root and branch demolition. Some bits I thought were completed last year have been dug up again. Why? Who knows. Will Turkey ever be finished? Probably not.

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