Germany’s 17th State

Wrapping up our month of October 2016, despite having done A Week in Eastern Italy, and moving across town, we took advantage of a long holiday weekend to cross another Bundesland off our list. Well, not a real one. But still, a super-cool one.

We’d spent time in most of them already.

  • Bavaria (duh)
  • Ba-Wü
  • Rhineland-Palatinate
  • North Rhine-Westphalia
  • Hesse
  • Lower Saxony
  • Bremen
  • Hamburg
  • Schleswig-Holstein
  • Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
  • Berlin
  • Saxony
  • Thüringen

Still open, despite living here for 12,5 years:1

  • Brandenburg
  • Saxony-Anhalt
  • Saarland

Our really-bad-timing vacation destination was Mallorca: the “seventeeth Bundesland” popular with high-BAC spring break college students and trashy, sun-starved pasty people alike.

That was my prejudice, anyways. But there’s so much more to Mallorca, especially if you go in the off-season or explore inland areas. More on that later.

Background

Direct-marketing scored a hit with me. Inside of a day or two I saw an ad for

  1. convenient reasonably-priced flights from Munich via kayak.com, and
  2. some attractive Ferienwohnung offers from booking.com.

A quick check for a rental car offer in the area came back with an astounding price from a cheapo local car rental agency: €25 for a five-day rental. Not per day. €5 per day. It was a 4-door VW Polo. Our FeWo was about 20 minutes from the airport, close to a major highway (but not too close) and in walking distance of restaurants and small shops. It was nicely equipped with

  • two bedrooms
  • one full bath
  • a decent kitchen2
  • beautiful patio, table, chairs, and awning
  • a nice pool, grill, ping pong, and billiards table

We snapped it up right away and then offered to split it with some pals, who would fly in from another airport. They jumped on it too, and we were off to the races. All of this booking and planning happened long before we decided we’d have to move out of the old apartment on the island.

Points of Interest

Valldemossa

Fellow traveller and kindred spirit (and also our Shetlands Co-Explorer) Jen stayed in this little town a while back and recommended it to us. So glad she did! We drove in a scenic route up the mountains, parked and explored on foot. Don’t miss QuitaPenas for a simple, local lunch. It’s a hole the wall off the main drag you should definitely not skip.

Port de Sóller

This was mostly just a leg-stretching stop on our way up the northwest coast of the island. Nice boats to look at. Probably crowded, in a classy way, in the high season.

Cap Formentor

Car-sick prone? Be advised, the roads are winding and narrow. Maybe you want to bike or jog it there. The views at your destination make it worthwhile, however you arrive.

Alcúdia

Walk the perimeter of the town (pretty much) up on its intact city wall. There were plenty of cafés and restaurants at our disposal, but we were on an itinerary mapped out by Sarah, and so we pressed on, further up the coast to Puerto Pollensa.

Puerto Pollensa

Check your spelling on this one. It might also be written Port de Pollença.

Have lunch at Zarzales. Our travel buds loved their paella. Our food was great, too. The waiter was very pleasant and patient with our crappy Spanish, too.

Can Picafort

Maybe this ought be a Point of Disinterest! Sarah and I set out on our own for this one, seeking out a particular restaurant. It was already closed for the season, like 95% of the rest of this town. But walking up and down the promenade and among its neighborhood streets, we could tell this is the kind of place I thought represented all of Mallorca. We’ll skip it next time!

Colònia de Sant Jordi

We picked the “salt farm” in the southeast for a visit near the end of our stay. We arrived in the region a little earlier than we planned, so we strolled the shore of the beach at Colònia de Sant Jordi to kill some time.

Salinas d’Es Trenc

They harvest sea salt here, in various quality grades. There was not a lot happening during our off-season visit, but they were still offering tours. The gift shop has a nice selection of actually-not-junky souvenirs.

Before or after your tour at the salt farm, have a meal at Cassai gran Café & Restaurant. It felt a lot classier than it looked on the bill at the end — especially the lunch specials.

Wine Industry

While travelling through Mallorca with friends, friends of the friends also happened to be there. They reserved a table at Wine Industry and we enjoyed platter after platter of the tapas and (everyone but Yours Truly, the DD) a surprising number of bottles of local wine. It was a lovely atmosphere — an askew window kept the evening breeze flowing, and the waiter kept the consumables flowing.

En Todo

Mallorca surprised us (well, ME, more specifically). An off-season visit in a vacation apartment with a cheap rental car sure worked out great for us. We’d do that again, for sure — maybe seeking out agriturismo places next time. ¡Hasta la próxima vez, Mallorca!

  1. See what I did there? []
  2. I’d give it a 7 out of 10 on the FeWo kitchen scale. No dishwasher, but plenty of dishes and space to store them and wash and dry them, and working appliances and not disgusting cookware. []

A week in Eastern Italy

October was a big month for us. Really big. Yuge Enormous, even.

  • We went on vacation at the beginning of October.
  • We moved from our beloved literal island in the Danube onto a figurative island in the city.1
  • I changed jobs and office buildings at work.2
  • We went on vacation again at the end of October.

It’s almost the end of November now, and it feels like we’re still trying to catch up from October. We’d planned this trip many months in advance, coordinating with my parents and their friends in several different countries, and so bailing or rescheduling it to let us concentrate on our impending move across town and adjustment to a working kitchen again was not an option. Not that we wanted too, anyways — after getting the details mapped out with the new landlady and previous tenants in our new place, it was good to get away from a stressy bit at work. Continue reading A week in Eastern Italy

  1. More on that later, maybe. []
  2. Same boss, same employees, but new, old, and different stuff for me. Probably no more on that, ever — here at least. []

Bridge Update, Sep…um…October 2016

On the Move

We’ve been busy, like everyone, of course. We’ve been concentrating on the resolution of a small real estate drama, and trying to squeeze progress in that area around not one, not two, but three vacations planned out in advance. But that’s all coming to an end REALLY SOON. Continue reading Bridge Update, Sep…um…October 2016

Signal instant messenger app — now on all my platforms!

This is my White Whale: a messaging application I can use securely on any device I own, mobile or desktop, and any device my recipients are likely to own.

Recently, Open Whisper Systems released the iOS version of their Signal application that allows users to synchronize contacts and messages to a desktop application running as a Google Chrome app. Finally! I can send a message typed in through a full-sized keyboard and it will arrive on Sarah’s iPhone, or my parents’ Android phones, or any of their computers. It will arrive securely and without anyone or anything scanning it for marketing or surveillance purposes. Continue reading Signal instant messenger app — now on all my platforms!

Some Notes on a Long Weekend in Rheinland-Pfalz and a Bridge Update

Rheinland-Pfalz Rund- und Mariä Himmelfahrt

Bavarians celebrated Jesus’ Mom’s Sky Trip on a Monday this year, so we did a road trip of our own. We got an invitation from pals in two different corners of Germany to meet up in a third corner to explore and enjoy. We’d been to a few wine festivals before (with thanks to the Heidelbergerin/Brummagemerin for introducing us to Neustadt an der Weinstraße and Freinsheim, which we loved so much we went back again a few years later). Continue reading Some Notes on a Long Weekend in Rheinland-Pfalz and a Bridge Update

Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part V: the Drive Back

Catch up on the previous episodes here:

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

Early on the morning of our departure from Naples, Rachel took a taxi to the airport and flew to Sicily to continue her adventures there. We started a long drive back from Naples to Regensburg, stopping overnight twice along the way. Continue reading Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part V: the Drive Back