From the Sublime to Al Arenal

Given the choice we would love to have stayed in Andraitx much longer, but John had had to book our next stop weeks in advance to be sure of being near to the airport for Lara’s flight home, so we had to move on. Before doing she and I had a lovely morning by the pool and a swim.

P1130677Then we set out, wended our way through boats hanging round the fuel dock, avoided the strung out dinghies of the sea school, and hoisted the sails. At first the wind was light, but it picked up as we crossed Palma Bay and by the time we came into El Arenal it was blowing a hooley. Thank goodness for Lara dealing with the lines. John reversed in perfectly allowing for the wind, but everything happened very quickly after that and he could not leave the wheel, so I had to race off with the lazy line and leave her to manage the ropes at the back. Once we were tied on the marinera came aboard and helped me tighten the lazy line, or more accurately he took it from me and pulled hard on it before tying it off. He was relentlessly cheerful throughout, but we were glad when it was all done and later pleased the rather po -faced Swiss couple on the huge catamaran next to us had not been aboard throughout. We found ourselves on what they called the quay of hope. Quite what we are to hope for is not sure, possibly a swift end if the fuel dock six meters away goes up. The quay of hope surrounds the shipyard with the fuel pumps at its’ pinnacle. It is a busy shipyard. In fairness there is little shouting goes on, it would be pointless given the cacophony of sound coming from the equipment. There is the high- pitched whoop whoop of the little forklift truck plying its trade, the louder siren of the boat lift, the grinding motors of polishing machines and the whirling of high powered fans, blowing air into shrink wrapped boats. It starts at eight am, slightly later on Sunday.

We abandoned ship and went for a drink to the club restaurant and bar. This was much nicer, well in the marina proper with its lush planting and next to a sparkling swimming pool even bigger than the one in Andraitx. The pool deck is raised so there are views across the town with the longest beach on the island, the area nearest us being shaded by staggered palm trees. Lovely. We were served by a tall waiter with floppy brill-creamed hair and a mildly harassed look, who was in constant motion covering a huge area, inside and out, restaurant and bar. He plonked our drinks down with the firmness of a job done, as he turned on his heel and set off at speed to another table some distance away. Lara and I then went for our second, very refreshing swim of the day. Doggy paddling about in the pool with us was a small girl decked out in floatation devices, with her Mum walking up and down the poolside watching her. She did not progress far, but happily pottered up and down a alongside the edge completely absorbed. She lasted longer than Lara and myself, who climbed out and lay on sunloungers to dry off. We could both recall a small Lara being much the same, me delaying my entry into the water, because she always wanted to stay in so long. Lara now told me this never did me any good as she regarded the swim with me watching over her as merely an endurance test before I came in with her and the real fun began. Our current little mermaid was still wiggling away when we had dried off and set out for our showers. She was still in there when we passed later on our way into town to explore and find somewhere to eat.

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The town turned out to be disappointing. The marina was obviously situated at the posh end and the further along the long beach we walked, the less enticing it seemed. The beach was on one side of the road and a ribbon development of tacky looking shops and bars was on the other. The beach itself should have been spectacular, but the crowds of sun worshippers had vacated to leave a carpet of litter, mainly large plastic bottles. By morning these had been cleaned up, though some obviously are taken by the tide as we had noticed floating plastic on our sail over and wrongly attributed it to the ferries. The contents of the bottles no doubt contributed to the inebriation of various groups of tourists weaving along the promenade. Mainly German, so we did not have to suffer the shame of watching our fellow citizens make fools of themselves. In fairness they were quite pleasant drunks and, apart from one Happy Wanderer, quiet ones. Nonetheless we decided to turn round and head back. We called in at a place we had passed on the corner humming with older people, we decided had known a thing or two, but it was still full, so went back to the marina restaurant. As we entered our hearts sank. It was full of people milling around a projection screen with drinks in their hands, obviously a private do. Just as we were turning to head back for a rummage through the lockers onboard our waiter from earlier materialized from the crowd beckoning us to follow him.

He took us back to the pool terrace, smiling and indicating tables. There in front of the pool were two black guys, dressed in white suits singing Cold Play numbers. Very well actually, but heavily amplified. This was bemusing, they were obviously a classy act playing to a few groups scattered about the pool. We wondered if they had been engaged by the private party humming inside and if we therefore were gate crashing. Our waiter was confident we could sit anywhere, so we settled down on one of the sidelines and ordered some tapas followed by a vegetable paella. Lara and the waiter seemed equally pleased by this, “Wonderful Paella!” he said, reminding me of Raymond Blanc. At the table in front of us were the mermaid and her Mum picking at a salad and some olives. The little lady was still as lively as a cricket and had a little dance next to the table before climbing up beside to her mum, who calmed her down by showing her video of her epic swim on a phone. The performing duo also danced, moving in immaculate synchronism, putting in huge amounts of energy, despite their meager audience. They took turns singing lead vocal and harmonizing through a much more contemporary repertoire than any other act we have overheard on the Islands. When the mermaid and her Mum came to leave the duo smiled and waved turning towards her in unison, still singing away. Their efforts were rewarded by a few more groups being drawn to the tables and our waiter rolled his eyes and apologized for the slow service. He was covering three separate areas on his own, while the other staff concentrated on the party inside, who by now were murmuring over the clatter of cutlery. In spite of being hard pressed he made a big deal of serving the paella, scooping together the contents with two spoons, dishing up three heaped platefuls and placing the rest to one side, covering it with a spare plate to keep warm. It was an excellent paella, with a vast assortment of vegetables, including asparagus and artichoke hearts, but so generous. This was another evening when we needed a doggy bag for the rest of the meal and Lara’s eyes sparkled at the prospect of breakfast.

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