A while back, I booked some cheap flights to Mallorca, Spain with the intention of doing some cycling. Mallorca (also spelt Majorca) is a popular destination amongst European cyclists for somewhere warm to go in winter. By warm, it is still Australian mid-winter temperatures, but equivalent to an English spring.
Anyway, the date had crept up on me and before long, I was packing everything away for my trip. I saw this as an opportunity to start the year off on a fresh slate, clear my head in order to focus on the upcoming term. In the days leading up to my departure, I went out and bought myself a new suitcase (suitable for carry-on) and some new cycling bib pants. The latter, I purchased from a store near the railway station an hour or so before I called up a taxi to take me to the railway station. See, I am now operating two bikes; one for around town and the other for longer distances, and I took the latter to Mallorca, folded up in a soft bike bag.
The taxi took me, my packed-up bike and my luggage to the train station, where I managed to get on a slightly delayed train that went straight to Stanstead airport. The trip wasn’t long; Stanstead is on one of the two railway lines from Cambridge to London. Once at the airport, I found a trolley (much needed since my bike didn’t have wheels) and made my way to the departures.
Because I was flying Ryanair, I had checked in the previous day and had brought a printed-out boarding pass with me to the airport. I still had to drop off my bag though. There were self-serve bag drop counters, so I got the tag for my bike bag and was instructed to head to the oversize drop-off. Now bike-less, the flow took me straight to security, but here I missed a step. Being a non-EU citizen, I had to have my visa checked by a staff member at check-in to ensure I could fly. But by the time I realised this, I was already through security (minus a couple of items I forgot to bag), and started to worry. Beyond security, there were a lot of shops but no customer service desk. I had some lunch, then began to wander around to find someone who would help me with my query. The Ryanair staff I found were grumpy and not very helpful, but one of the airport security staff ensured me that all I had to do was go to my gate and be helped there.
So I went to my gate as soon as it was announced, and discovered that all this ‘visa-check’ required was for the lady letting us on the plane to look at my passport then write ‘visa OK’ on my boarding pass. And then I was let on the plane.
The flight to Mallorca was about 2.5 hours. We flew south over France, with some rather majestic views out over the Pyrenees, then crossed the Mediterranean to get to the island. Overall, it was comfortable; I plugged into my music and stayed that way for largely the whole flight.
Upon arrival in Mallorca, I had my passport stamped and went to find my bike bag, which fortunately arrived in one piece. I found a taxi, and was taken to the hotel: the Hostal Atlanta. I checked in with the British expat who I presume ran the establishment with his partner, and took my bike up to my room. It didn’t take me long to unpack it, and so it wasn’t long before I was down on the foreshore looking for food. To my surprise, a substantial number of restaurants and stores along the foreshore had closed just after sunset, or weren’t even open at all. I eventually found a take-away place which sold me a chicken schnitzel, but it was severely lacking in peas.
Later, I found myself with not a lot to do, so I decided to go for a late-night bike ride around Palma bay; I had my front and back lights with me. There was a bike path that followed the shoreline around to the capital, Palma, and beyond, so I set off. There weren’t many people out, so I had most of the path to myself. It was a pleasant ride, some bits along the beach, others along a promenade. About 10km into the ride, there were numbers counting down a distance, so I decided to go to the end and come back. The path terminated in a small doughnut loop, so I rode around and back home. All together, the opening ride came in at 33km in 1h 12m, a good warm up ride for the big days yet to come.