18-24 August 2009 I traveled to Palma on the island of Mallorca in the Mediterranean. The island is part of Spain.
This was my first international trip, and as such, I tried to take a bunch of pictures and video to capture the experience. The video will have to wait until later, but for now, here are the photos I took. Instead of presenting things in a strictly chronological way, I’ve grouped things into major subjects.
The pictures are clickable and link to larger versions.
Part 1: Travel To Mallorca
My trip began with a flight from Raleigh to Boston. The flight was uneventful, but there was one neat aspect to the flight: it traveled up the coast and I was on the right side of the plane so I was able to see a lot of the coastline between North Carolina and Massachusetts.
Once I arrived on the ground in Boston I had to deal with the poor layout of the Boston airport. I arrived in one of the domestic terminals, but my flight from Boston to Madrid left from the international terminal. In order to get from one terminal to the other you have to leave the terminal you are in, catch the shuttle bus that runs between the terminals, and then go through security all over again. My layover in Boston was only an hour, which ended up being just barely enough for me to make my flight to Madrid.
When I arrived at the gate they were just getting ready to board and they were on the loudspeaker calling my name (they needed to check my passport).
Once I boarded the plane to Madrid I started to relax a little. I am a nervous flier, but it’s not the flying that I get nervous about, it’s missing my flight. As soon as I am in my seat and buckled I start to feel better. I do worry about my luggage, but I’ve been lucky with that (so far…).
About halfway through the flight it was time for “dinner”. It was the middle of the night, but oh well. The food was actually ok. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t very healthy, but it tasted decent enough.
An hour or two before we landed it was time for “lunch”. It was early morning by this time, but if they want to call it lunch I’ll call it lunch.
The lunch came in a skinny cardboard box. I decided to save the lunch for when I was at the Madrid airport.
The Madrid airport (well, the part of it I saw at least) is arranged into two terminals: terminal 4 and terminal 4S. I don’t know why they didn’t just call one of them terminal 4 and the other terminal 5. Maybe there is a terminal 5 somewhere (it’s not on the airport map in the airline magazine, neither are terminals 1, 2, and 3 for that matter).
Both T4 and T4S are very long buildings. I’m not quite sure how long, but even if you use the moving sidewalks it takes a good 20 minutes or more to walk from one end of one of them to the other end. I know this because I had to do it because of a last minute gate change.
The ceilings of the terminals are pretty and wavy and wooden. They’re neat, as far as ceilings go. I wouldn’t want it in my house, but it works for an airport.
Madrid does do something very nice for people who have to travel from one terminal to the other: they have a dedicated subway. All it does is go from T4 to T4S and back again. There’s two trains, and the trip takes 3 minutes, so you’re guaranteed to only have to wait 3 minutes to catch the subway to the other terminal. Boston should look into something like this.
While in Madrid I didn’t actually get to see any of the city. I did catch a glimpse of some buildings off in the distance. I assume they belong to Madrid.
The plane that took me to Mallorca was a lot smaller than the one that took me from Boston to Madrid. It was still bigger than the one I rode in from Raleigh to Boston, which was nice.
The only truly unfortunate thing about my trip to Mallorca was that I was seated on the emergency exit row, which meant that I had no way of looking out the window during the approach.
The flight was uneventful and my baggage arrived with me, once I was able to locate it. For some reason my suitcase was sent to a different baggage claim than the rest of the flight. I’m not exactly sure why (the worker only spoke enough English to tell me where to go). I think it was because I was coming from America.
My first task after arriving in Mallorca was checking to see if anyone from Monty Program had arrived with me. I was supposed to travel the last leg with two of my co-workers, but they were nowhere to be found.
My second task was to get some cash and for some reason the Palma airport only seems to have one ATM machine. It was the only ATM I saw during my trip so I’m glad I made the effort to locate it and use it. ATM machines are the easiest way to get foreign currency, you just have to be sure and tell your bank where you’re going and when so they don’t refuse your card when you try to use it overseas.
My third task was to take a taxi from the airport to the hotel. The taxi driver knew where the hotel was, so I sat back and let him take me there.
The Palma airport is fine to look at, as far as airports go, but like other airports, it doesn’t give you a good picture of the surrounding area. This was one reason why I was bummed that I didn’t see Mallorca from the air on my approach. The view from the back of the taxi was better, but not by much. By the way: highways in Spain look a lot like highways in America.
I was very glad to have arrived in Palma.
Part 2: Mallorca
Mallorca is an island in the Mediterranean. It’s pronounced mae-yore-ka (mā-yôr’-kə, if you want to write it like you might see it in a dictionary). An alternative spelling is “Majorca”, which leads a lot of Americans to pronounce it as mə-jôr’kə, but that is wrong. The ‘j’ has a ‘y’ sound, just like double ‘ll’ does.
I don’t know much about the island’s history, but if you’re interested, there’s a lengthy Wikipedia article on the history of the island. Today the island is, as a co-worker told me, “where Europe goes on vacation”. Think of it as the European version of the American Hawaiian islands, without the south Pacific Polynesian vibe or the volcanoes.
Since Mallorca is a part of Spain I wanted to make sure and get a picture of a windmill. Mallorca is not being overrun with them, but there are a few here and there.
There were even some castle-looking buildings here and there. From the brochures I saw at the hotel they’ve mostly been turned into tourist traps of one kind or another, still worth visiting I would guess.
On our last day in Mallorca we took a boat trip and passed an official residence of the King of Spain. He stays here when he vacations on the island every summer. At least, that’s what our tour guide said.
Apart from the King’s house, there were a lot of very nice houses that we passed. I liked how some of them had carved rooms into the sides of the cliffs along the shore.
The boat ride was a lot of fun and let us actually see part of the island. There was no way we could see much of it on a little day trip (it is a big island, after all), but we did go a little ways up the coast to a nice swimming spot.
While on the boat trip we passed several old towers. They look like watch towers of some sort. They’ve probably been out of use for years.
At the entrance to the bay that Palma sits in there was a lighthouse. It reminded me of the Cape Hatteras lighthouse in North Carolina, just not as big.
The shoreline around the bay of Palma is very rocky. One of my co-workers mentioned that the northern coast of the island has a lot of beautiful sandy beaches. I don’t know which I prefer better.
The swimming spot the boat stopped at was in a little sheltered cove. The water was gorgeous and very clear. You could see fish swimming around in the water. The water was about 30 feet deep where we stopped.
Here’s a map of the island. This map was on the wall of the little outdoor bistro at the hotel we stayed at.
Part 3: The Hotel Riu Palace Bonanza Playa
Our hotel was right on the water, which made for some very nice vistas from most windows. The unfortunate thing was we were inside for a good portion of each day (we were there to get at least some work done).
My room at the hotel had a very nice view of the bay.
The view from the lobby of the hotel was pretty much the same as the view from my room, only higher up. The hotel is built into the side of a cliff, so the entrance is actually on the 8th floor. My room was on the 2nd floor. In the Unix spirit, the ground floor was floor zero.
Whenever we got back from meetings at the end of the day the sheets in our room were folded into some shape or other. I think this was supposed to be a bow tie or something.
A couple doors down from the hotel was a building with this marker outside. I don’t know what it says, but I recognize the name of Errol Flynn.
The brand of fire extinguisher at the hotel was “FireFox”.
“Playa” means beach (or so I’m told) and true to its name, the hotel did have a beach. It was rather small though, but considering the coastline where the hotel is located, they’re lucky to have any sort of beach.
On my flight out of Mallorca I spotted the hotel and took a picture. I don’t think I was supposed to use my camera at that point in the flight (we had just barely taken off) but I did it anyway. Don’t tell anyone, ok?
Part 4: The Food
While in Mallorca I ate a variety of food that was very different than what I usually eat. The bread was very different: thinly sliced and much heartier than what you normally find in North Carolina. Seafood is naturally a big part of the menu on Mallorca, but I tended to prefer the non-seafood items. I blame my 2000-miles-from-the-ocean U.S. Midwestern upbringing.
One day for lunch we walked down the street (well, up the street and then down, it was hilly) to a beachfront cafe where they served these large skewers of meat and vegetables. I chose the chicken skewer. It was very good.
There was also a fish skewer. Those that had it said it was good.
Part 5: Monty Program
The most important part of the trip was meeting my coworkers for the first time. This is the only job I’ve ever had where I haven’t met anyone from the company before starting. Apart from meetings during the day, we also went out to eat most nights. One night we went to a show at a place called “Son Amar”. It was in an old castle-type building that they had turned into a dinner-theater-like establishment. The show was a mixture of music, magic, and dancing. There was also a comedian, but I didn’t think much of him (he did have a nifty trampoline trick for his finale, but the rest of his act was forgettable).
Michael “Monty” Widenius is the “Monty” in Monty Program. Here he is with his wife, Anna.
I didn’t take a whole lot of photos of the various Monty Program employees, I’m sorry to say. They’re a great bunch of people to work with.
Most of the people in the company are from Europe and Russia. I’m one of a handful of Americans.
Here is a photo of all of us, plus a few guests, while on our boat trip. I wish I had a more normal photo of everyone, but this was the only time I had my camera when we were all together getting our picture taken.
MariaDB is named after a real person: Monty’s daughter, Maria. Here she is on our boat trip.
Part 6: Travel Home
After a full week of meetings and fun it was time to travel home. I traveled most of the way back with Ethan and Jen, saying goodbye to them in Boston. I think this self-portrait was taken on my flight from Boston to Raleigh.
When it wasn’t playing one of the two in-flight movies (Wolverine and Inkheart), the plane that took me from Madrid to Boston had a little rotating display of various bits of information about the flight.
I hadn’t seen Inkheart before, and I was glad I did.
The flight from Madrid to Boston served a dinner and a lunch. It was pretty much the same as on the flight out, taste wise.
That’s it for this trip. I can’t wait for the next one!