An Englishman’s Guide: Mallorca Pt 2

Thinking about it, this section is going to be largely based around alcohol, and accurately recalling experiences involving copious amounts of the stuff is an inherently difficult thing to do. So this could be quite short. Sorry.

Amendment: It’s not! It’s really long! Sorry.

Uno mas?

Pleasingly, Mallorcans seem to view casual drinking as a way of life. Not in the same way that we view hardcore drinking as an essential pillar of life, but in a more sedate, refined way. A small, ice-cold beer with your lunch is standard fare. Every cafe and tapas bar, and I imagine many churches and playschools as well, have some kind of delicious brew on tap. Generally it’s Estrella, the delicious gold nectar out of Barcelona. This can only be a good thing.

If a beer at lunch and dinner just isn’t going to cut it for you, there’s a handful of good bars in Palma town. One of these is certainly not Shamrock’s, or pretty much any place on the waterfront. Shamrock’s is a little slice of Southend on a Saturday night. It smells a bit like vomit, even outside. Whilst enduring my beer, we witnessed a man run past who’d had so much coke that he was clutching his shoes in one hand and his heart in the other. After pausing to scream wide-eyed at a lamppost he sprinted off down the road. About an hour later he ran back the other way. He didn’t have his shoes any more.

Try and check out Lorien, which is a tidy little beer cave just up from the waterfront, near-ish the Cathedral. Aficionados will note the mind-boggling range of heady brews, as well as the terrifying man that serves them. Gibson, which is more in the centre of town, is also a good watering hole, especially if you are on a date or have money, because it’s also crazy expensive. Another of its plus points is that you can hide in the corner and play ‘would you rather’, with a focus firmly on the rest of Gibson’s clientele, with 3 Finns, an English girl and a wonderfully angry American.

Top Tip: Finns do not understand ‘would you rather’. They get the concept, but will spend a long time forlornly muttering “but this is not how it works reeeeally” in a very Finnish accent. Pretend you don’t understand their concern, it only adds to the amusement.

Anyway. Wine.

One must in Mallorca is a wine-tasting experience/bender in Santa Maria. Take the excessively-developed-for-a-tiny-island train network from Palma towards Inca and you’ll wind up in Santa Maria in about 20 minutes. Don’t get the stop wrong, because the majority of other stations on the island are helpfully located in the middle of vast fields, miles from anything.

Head towards the Macia Batle Bodega first of all; it’s Mallorca’s biggest and most famous winery. I think. Take the self-guided tour, i.e. wander aimlessly through the cellars nodding sagely but not quite understanding, until you reach the tasting room. Unfortunately we couldn’t do the proper tasting as there were 60 Russians having a private gathering, but eventually a sturdy German girl took pity on us and gave us a mini tasting, which still consisted of a good 7 or 8 wines in about 20 minutes. Their top whack red is a hefty 15 Euros a bottle, but is admittedly delicious; a mellow and fruity explosion of happy.

Don’t stop there. Wander out, half cut, into the blazing 6pm heat and then stalk the town looking for free wine. We only managed to find one more that was open, maybe they saw us coming, but that was a surreal treat too. The Sebastia Pastor Bodega, I couldn’t for the life of me tell you where it is, was a tiny little family run concern. We were given a rambling 15 minute verbal ‘tour’ of the bodega, some of which I understood (which is odd given that I don’t speak any Spanish, must have been the wine), by the absolute boss on the far left. Check out his bloody moustache! One of the main things I noted about this family was that every man, literally every man, is called Sebastia Pastor. All I could think was, “That must make the post a very difficult time.”

Angry American politely listened to all of this before cracking out something to the effect of “Great. Where’s the free wine?”, at which point Sebastia Pastor went on a one man crusade to get us monumentally drunk. A couple of large glasses of his finest Crianza, or 10 minutes, later and we were all fucked, slumped against wine tanks or leaning a little too casually against walls.

It was great.

We also saw a woman come in and buy some wine and produce, all the while with a small parrot clutching on to her shirt and squawking. Nobody batted an eyelid. I bloody love Mallorca.

One quick tip: Santa Maria has an amazing public toilet shaped like a wicker basket (for some reason). Locate it and remember it early on, you will need it.

rantraverelax Phrasebook

I promised activities and exciting adventures with tour buses. I lied, that stuff got covered off in Part 1. Ille Cabrera and the Caves at Porte Cristo. That’s two activities. Happy? Good. Time for some filthy language!

As I’ve mentioned, I don’t speak Spanish, but with the help of Spanish-speaking Americans I now know some useful phrases and quite a lot of sleazy lines, which I’m happy to share here. Family members should probably go and do something else now. Put the kettle on, have a nice cuppa. For everyone else, master these lines and you’ll be as successful with the ladies as I was…

“Si” – Yes.   Use this a lot, even if you don’t have a clue what’s happening.

“Claro” – Clear/Understood/Ahhh OK.   Ditto.

“Vale” – OK (pronounced like ‘ballet’).   Ditto Ditto.

“Hace calor, o eres tu?” – Is it hot in here, or is it you?

“Hace calor, o eres mi polla?” (ll pronounced like y) – Is it hot in here, or is it my penis?

“Hace calor, o eres ti concha?” – Is it hot in here, or is it your…you get the picture.

“Tu me pon es” – You turn/are turning me on.

“Me voy a carrer” – I’m going to come.   Strangely, given the sure-fire-winning nature of the previous lines, I didn’t get to use this one.

And no, I didn’t learn anything actually useful.

In Summary

In the format of potential tourist information slogans:

“Mallorca – The rock that rocks”

“100 quid return on Ryanair – what the fuck are you waiting for?”

“Hace calor, o eres Mallorca?”

Fin.

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French take Frenchness to entirely new extremes

French riot police have today been told “très bien” by Nicolas Sarkozy’s Ministry of Frenchification after making one of the most stultifylingly French demands ever witnessed in human history.

The weapon-wielding violence enthusiasts have expressed their complete outrage at a law which bans them drinking at lunchtime. Yes, you did read that correctly. The officers are apparently incandescent with rage at being told they can no longer enjoy their customary beer or wine with lunch whilst on duty, a practice which formerly involved large quantities of fine Merlot and a couple of cheeky Lafites being carted along in the riot van, to be cracked open in the street. Whilst they were working. On protests. With weapons. And protesters. In a climate of hostility.

In a statement, spokesman for the police Pierre du Pierre announced the collective disgust: “If a French man cannot enjoy some fine wine, some bread smeared in a paste made of cruelty and entrails, and somebody else’s wife over lunch, then what is the point of living?”

“Henri! Bring me my cravat.”

French Riot Police: Where dangerous meets chic

Outdated national stereotypes aside, perhaps the riot police have a point. They might argue that French culture is built around casual afternoon drinking, and they might well win such an argument, but they should beware of shouting about it too loudly lest their British counterparts get wind of it and start demanding Jägerbombs with every fag break. Our riot police are probably violent enough without any chemical encouragement. Couple this with the fact that us Brits are notoriously bad at lunchtime drinking and there are compelling reasons why this debate ought to stay very much on the other side of the Channel.

I wasn’t around for the Eighties and too busy being a child to remember much of the early Nineties, but by all accounts this was the end of a golden era of British luncheon beverages. This was also the end of an era where literally nothing got done after 2pm because everybody was asleep or fighting. A relative once recalled her 21st, some 30 odd years ago, which involved “a couple of lunchtime drinks”. When pressed, the exact figures were 9 vodka and lemonades and three shots. In a 45 minute lunch break. She doesn’t remember the rest except vomiting into a stairwell down 22 floors and being found in the toilets at about 7 by a cleaner who assumed she was dead.

And they say our generation has drinking issues.

Staying with great British traditions, millions of us are off to partake in the traditional Easter weekend activity, queueing! Thousands of cars will glide onto the main roads and simultaneously stop for no reason, leaving people free to enjoy the picturesque settings of Junstion 26 of the M25. The weather is fantastic, and people are really going to make the most of it by slow-cooking themselves in an old Ford Mondeo for the majority of the weekend.

Whatever you’re up to this Easter weekend, I hope that Jesus brings you all the chocolate you could wish for. Poor guy is probably kicking himself for choosing the whole messiah business over a more lucrative career in confectionery. The man sells more creme eggs than Bibles.