Wednesday, 1 June 2011

How not to chillax, the Mallorcan way

This time three weeks ago I was in sunny Mallorca, enjoying the dramatic scenery from the pool bar at a lovely little hotel called the HSM President in a little place called Alcanada, just along the coast from Alcudia. We were there for a week's all-inclusive relaxation, a little light tourism and, well, gluttony essentially. The Yorkshireman and I had planned our break thinking that our recent holidays had all been very on-the-go and busy, so perhaps it was time to chill out in the sun for a while instead.

What we had forgotten (and what we rediscover about ourselves every time we try to take time out to relax and then promptly forget again after about a week back at work) is that we are not good at relaxing. We get bored fairly quickly. Lying on a sunbed all day is pretty much the most pointless thing I think either of us could think of. You get hot and risk sunburn and lie very still and quiet for, like, hours at a time. Where's the fun?! Nope, the Yorkshireman and I are people who enjoy making the most of our time and so what was supposed to be a week purely relaxing in our carefully-selected, secluded little hotel turned out to be two days of struggling to relax and four days of finding other ways to entertain ourselves.

Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy the chance to just sit still for a change. I recall being very relaxed on our first full day there, sitting in the pool bar, overlooking the boats sailing on the sea and the mountains in the distance, sipping on some sangria and reading one of my holiday chick lit books (Here Come the Girls by Milly Johnson in case you're interested - thoroughly good candyflossy holiday read but, warning, it will make you want to go on a cruise). I think I could have quite happily spent my day meandering between doing that and feasting on the never-ending supply of food and drink (all-inclusive is very bad for the waistline!).

However I also had a husband to consider. A husband who would only sit in the shade because the sun made him too hot. A husband who does not find reading a fun way to pass a few hours and therefore struggled to find anything else portable enough to amuse himself for very long. A husband who was consistently itching to get up and go and do something. Anythingatall, seriously! On the plus side I think he got a good few blog posts written in his little notebook. Bless.

I mock, but generally I understood his boredom. If I hadn't had a few good books with me I would have been ├╝ber bored just sitting around too. And so we lined up a few time-passing activities for various points of our holiday, turning our week of super relaxation into a holiday fit for a couple with super short attention spans. We walked, we explored, we visited roman ruins, we swam, we walked some more, we marvelled at the views, we watched box sets of How I Met Your Mother on my laptop in our room, we mourned the loss of my laptop power cable when it mysteriously broke, we went on a bus tour, the Yorkshireman took hundred of photos and I injured myself several times. So pretty much a standard holiday for us then!

The Yorkshireman is writing about it all in more detail, with his wonderful photography saying much more about the things and places we saw than I could ever hope to, so I'll leave that to him I think. I'm just grateful he didn't manage to capture me falling over a small speedbump literally about 50 metres away from our hotel, having already walked about 6km that day completely unscathed. I know, I know...

On our last full day of our holiday we finally found something relaxing to do. Believe it or not, spas are relaxing. Who knew?! We had tried out the gym part of it halfway through our holiday (I managed my usual 30 minute run on the treadmill, even in spite of having already gained about a stone from the never-ending supply of booze and buffets, so I was well impressed with myself - and rewarded myself accordingly with some sangria afterwards) but for some reason we hadn't gotten around to investigating the other parts of the spa. But on the last day we figured, hey why not, and the Yorkshireman treated us both to the health and safety inappropriate plastic flip-flops and very sexy bathing caps that were required for entry.

After about ten minutes of playing around in the heated pool, learning to press the shiny buttons that controlled jets of water and bubbles and all sorts of fun things around the pool, we wondered why the heck we hadn't done this earlier. This would have helped us to relax dagnammit! The steam room in particular was very cleansing (smelling as it did of Vicks vapour rub for some reason) and the powerful flumes of water landing on your shoulders from the side of the pool was like having a massage from a no-nonsense 1950s hospital matron with a grudge. We left our first session feeling so relaxed we ended up returning for a repeat performance a few hours later.

The next morning we awoke and stared out over our beautiful sea-view to see that, overnight, the sky had turned grey and it had started to drizzle. We enjoyed one last mammoth breakfast (complete with free cava just because it was there and we could), we checked out and then we settled in at the damp entrance to the hotel to wait for our transfer to the airport. The bus was half an hour late but we didn't panic and we didn't really mind and we both managed a quick nap en route to the airport. So I guess somehow we did manage to relax that week.

Relaxation (or lack thereof) aside, it was a lovely holiday. Mallorca is a beautiful island and if you avoid the major touristy resorts with their cheap and nasty Red Lion pubs (why leave home at all people?!), its traditional culture still shines through, surviving the influx of the American military in the 1950s to help build the radar station on Puig Major and even the influx of boozy chavs from Britain over the last twenty years. It's wonderful to experience a different way of life for a change and to just slow down and do whatever you want. That said, our next holiday is so totally going to be another city break. We may come home exhausted but give me bright lights, chain stores and coffee shops over sunbeds any day baby!

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