And so, another hard day of touring has come to an end.

Not exactly a hard day.  Our travel agent received some promotional thing of a free private car, complete with a private guide and, for whatever reason, offered it to us.

And so, this morning a black chauffeured Mercedes pulled up alongside our ship, two men jumped out, opened the doors for us, and asked us what our hearts desired.  Our hearts desired to go to Valldemossa, the village in the mountains where Frederic Chopin and George Sand spent one winter many winters ago. They came to this village for warm air for the suffering from consumption Chopin not realizing that Valldemossa means “Valley of the Moss” in Spanish, which if they did, would have given them an inkling of the local climate. They rented 2 cells in a monastery that, while being under construction, rented out some cells to tourists to help support their construction project.

Now, monastery cells are not what we all think.  At least, not in this monastery. They are 3-room apartments, and George rented two of the cels for herself, her kids, and her lover.

Between the raw winter and the villagers, who never warmed up to the unmarried couple living together in sin and, especially, to the cigar smoking woman in trousers who, on top of it, was the one paying the bills, George Sand ended up hating Valdemossa .  But come on, she was an oddball even in Paris!  Did she really expect to be accepted by Spanish peasants?

To add insult upon injury of the bad climate, the only piano Chopin could find in Majorca was a lousy instrument with bad sound.  So he ordered a new piano from Paris.  But the piano was held up at the border since Spanish authorities decided to tax it at 50% of its value.  So after much haggling and delay, the piano was finally delivered, but by that time Chopin’s health deteriorated because of the damp winter, and the couple left for Paris. The piano stayed. Chopin’s hands played it for 20 days.

The silent monks of the monastery spent their days praying and working the garden on the wide veranda outside Chopin’s room. The view from this garden down to the valley, with the mountains surrounding it, terraced groves of almond trees, and some old farmhouses took my breath away.  It was one of the most beautiful views I had ever seen!

The village itself is very pleasant, medieval, and very well kept up.

From Valldemossa we were driven to another charming village of Deia, from there, to a very lovely little town of Soller, and to the port of Soller.  The port of Soller is a harbor of the Mediterranean with such a narrow mouth, that it almost looks like a mountain lake.  Lots of fishing boats were moored there, the buildings around the harbor traced the shape of the water creating a circle, and the area between the buildings and water was bustling with people sitting in cafes and restaurants.

On the way back to Palma, we stopped to enjoy some spectacular views, and were then deposited right by the gangplank of our ship.

That is how the other half lives.

Ourselves, we really can’t complain.  After lunch on the upper deck, we went back to town.  We visited Palma de Mallorca with Lisa and Jason some 10 years ago, but have little recollection of it save for the shop where Kenny walked into a glass door and bloodied up the floor.

When we came back from town, there were three ships at the dock, side by side.  There was a Pappa Bear of 3000 passengers (1000 crew – MSC something or other), next to him there was a Mamma Bear of maybe 2000 passengers (Costa), and the last but not least there was a teeny-tiny Baby Bear, 200 passengers (300 crew) (Seaborn Legend).


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