17 January 2011

Wherein Nija shows her photography and modelling skills, and a seaside town is occasionally seen behind her.

Happy New Year, dear reader, and I hope your holidays were lovely. I have been under a massive pile of celebration and assessment-driven guilt, which has prevented me from writing to you, but I am done with that shit, and I have a lot to say, so no more dilly-dallying, let's get on with it!

Way back in 2010 (yes, reader, it's been over a month since you've heard from me, I know the separation has been difficult), I went on a short weekend trip to Mallorca with some new friends: Despoina (my killer flatmate), Adrian (who's actually becoming quite a pal), and some guy named Matt. I think he's Adrian's friend.

We got a cheap flight and cheap hotel rooms, and we spent the weekend seeing what Palma de Mallorca has to offer. Which in wintertime, we learned, is really not all that much. But it was quiet and warmer than Manchester, so we were happy with walking along the beach.

Wherein Adrian shows his own modelling skills:

And English words that don't really seem applicable to the occasion are wrought upon the shore:

Wherein Despoina, a grown woman studying her doctorate in Finance, looks beautiful and ironic wearing a hippie necklace:

Mallorca has the same bizarre taste in graffiti that I loved so much in Barcelona, but that should be no surprise: they're both Catalan-speaking parts of Spain. Though, most people there also speak Castellano, and because it's such a huge German tourist destination, a lot of people also speak German. I loved dragging my old broken high-school level Castilian Spanish out of my brain-garage, taking it for a spin. I could literally feel my Spanish getting better each day I was there. The best part was that of the four of us, I knew the most Spanish, so I got to do a lot of talking. I miss speaking in not-English.

Though it does seem my inadvertant flirting is drastically amplified in broken Spanish; I think I single-handedly turned the Hotel Java's almost entirely meat- and fish-based dinner buffet to a 75% vegetarian buffet, just by telling the guy who set the food out what I do and don't eat. A Punjabi pizza-maker asked me where I'm from. Seriously, sometimes it feels like "Where are you from?" (when used as a conversation-opener) is a specific equivalent of "How you doin'?" which is only to be used on brown women. Next time I plan to visit, I'll have to learn how to say "Not your flippin' business, mate" in Spanish. And then they'll say something back, and I'll be in way over my head. No result.

Wherein Nija stops ranting about the joys and sorrows of making her way in the Spanish-speaking world, and gets back to the far more interesting photo essay, which really was going so well before. I don't know what she was on about. Right, then. Full stop. Breath. Bizarre graffiti:

Oh, Catalunya, how I missed you. It was exciting to see all the Catalunyan holiday stuff again, the fairy lights spelling out "Bones Festes," which of course means "Bone the Festes." Or, ahem, or it means "Happy Holidays."

My Top Model audition shots will not be denied!! I'm fierce, Tyra. FIERCE.

Actually, is that show still on? It's been about five years since I saw it. Wow, my references are nearly as old as my niece. Time to stop listening to physics podcasts and watch some television, Nij. I'll get right on that.

A Palma sunset, during which we should have been drinking wine and enjoying some crisps:

But my wine and crisps idea lost out early in the day to Matt's harebrained idea of renting bikes and riding approximately 35k into the city, past the city to the castle, and back. We actually rented two normal bikes and (wait for it) one (wait for it) tandem bike. Foo-doo-fa-fa, indeed. The only reason I'm not posting a picture of Des and Matt on the tandem is because it actually didn't look nearly as funny as the television shows make it look. They must use special Hollywood-style tandems on TV.

Yes, I did ride on the back of the tandem, as well, and yes, reader, the lack of control was frightening. Especially as Matt dragged the stupid tandem up a ridiculous mountain upon which the Arab once-rulers of Mallorca were silly enough to plant an absurd castle. Ok, so maybe the mountain and the castle aren't the preposterous bits of this story. Probably it was actually us.

So if they had a King of Fools, then we would wear that crown for riding bikes, especially a flipping tandem, up that mountain. I will not wear it proudly. In fact, I'll mostly make Matt wear it, as the whole thing was his idea. Nutter.

Hmm. Wherein we must have been at an art museum, but I think I had enjoyed a few beers with lunch earlier in the day, dear reader, so I don't really know too much about this picture. Except Des looks nice, and she asked me to take the picture, which is clearly an homage to Velazquez, that Prince of Genius.

Beware her cute, finance-y, hippie, art-friendly look, dear reader-- Despoina is actually a werewolf for dance. When the dance music rises in the night sky, she is transformed, and she will not rest until you wear your dancing shoes, and then until you wear them out. All of us, including Adrian, who claims to have more left feet than one would think possible on a human of relatively normal formation, found ourselves dancing in public two (count 'em!) TWO nights in a row at our Hotel, the Hotel Java. Which, apart from the four young, attractive people mentioned on this blog, was entirely filled with older, retired married couples.

That's right. It was just us and Mundosenior - Viajes y Servicios para Personas Mayores

(My broken Spanish translation: WorldElderly - Travel and Services for Older People)

The night was still young. Matt, Adrian and I needed a few more G-and-T's before we were getting out on the floor. Some of the old people were already rocking it, though, which I guess makes sense, as they seemed to go to bed around 11.30pm.

Des's dancing fangs were out, she was sniffing for rhythm. Finally, she said the unsayable:

"I'm going to pull a grandpa. I'm going to pull that one," she said, pointing at her potential victim. "He's a rock star. He wants to dance, I can tell. He's dancing already, in his seat. He's dying for it."

I know. She could almost be a homewrecker, but her intentions are so purely dance-centric.

Rockstar Grandpa's wife appeared, and Mr. and Mrs. Rockstar Grandparents got on the dance floor. Des was right. They were really good.

She could wait no longer. She grabbed Adrian; he couldn't resist. You know how it is, when you look a werewolf in the eyes-- you're hypnotised. Or is that vampires? Crap, if it's vampires, I'm going have to revise this whole anecdote to match the metaphor. Screw it. I'm going with hypnotism by werewolf. Go with it, reader. This is why we love metaphor, right? We never know where it's going to take us. It's a flipping adventure, ok? I'm driving the metaphor, and I'm not stopping to check my facts or to make sure I haven't accidentally put oil in the vinegar tank. Yes, metaphors run on vinegar. So go with it.

She happily strides onto the dance floor, Adrian trails behind her, dazed. They try to blatantly copy Mr. and Mrs. Rockstar, and the Rockstars... well, they notice they're being stalked.

And here's where things get weird. Because the Rockstars split up, to teach Des and Adrian their moves.

She pulled a Grandpa. That one. The werewolf's power is mysterious, readers.

Ok, I'm pulling over. My metaphor seems to be emitting an acrid black smoke. Maybe it's actually meant to run on oil? I don't do metavehicles. You can get out now. Seriously, this is where the metaphor stops, get out. Now. No, I can't drop you at your house. Get. Out.


Wherein an old olive tree mottles my skin:

Palma's beautiful cathedral:

Wherein my talent for capturing amazing shots of a built environment is categorically affirmed:

These are of the right laughable castle, Castell Bellver, on the top of the hilarious mountain. But still: my talent affirmed!

Wherein sundials are distorted for visual effect:

An alleyway, for your enjoyment:

From the castle balcony, looking down upon the common peons below. Feeling rather lonely up here, actually, and considering abolishing this whole aristocracy thing anyway.

We also visited the Palma cathedral, which is apparently incredibly famous, because Antoni Gaudí designed the central nave and canopy. I say apparently because even though Gaudí is probably hands-down my favouritest architect/designer ever, I'd never heard about this. Still it's quirky and amazing and bizarre, just like the Gaudí we know and love.

Though loved by the rich, jetsetting Barcelonan tastemakers, Gaudí was a controversial artist in his day, and well, hey, he's still not everyone's idea of brilliant. Which is why it is so appropriate that Palma's Cathedral features Mallorcan artist Miguel Barceló's take on the loaves and the fishes.

His version of the stained glass you expect to see in a cathdral is windows that look blacked out by spraypainting vandals. His idea of sacred religious sculpture is three-dimensional fish-heads swimming out of the wall, mouths open, toward the faithful (or, the faithless, in my case).

I thought it was one of the most calming spiritual places I've ever been to, but I overheard plenty of people who didn't like it, who didn't think it would last. And that felt just about right. I'm sure in 1877, a lot of people thought a mansion sculpted to look like it was a pile of bones under a slain dragon, topped with a cross planted in a giant bulb of garlic wouldn't last.

Wherein the arts triumph over their contemporary naysayers: Gaudí's Casa Battló.

The marina and shoreline from ludicrous castle:

And on our last morning, we stopped by a Sunday morning Christmas market. I thought we'd seen old people dancing at the Hotel Java. I know I've seen old people dance: my father can do the trademark "Dad's Special Side-to-Side Shuffle" like you wouldn't believe, unless you've seen it, and if you're reading this, well then, you might have. I've seen my cousins' grandmother jump around in a sari so long we got past thinking it was cute and worried for her safety. I've seen it, dear reader. I have seen there and seen that.

I thought there couldn't possibly be another aspect of old people dancing that would surprise me.

Wherein approximately 30 Mallorcan women wearing black pants, red sweaters, white scarves and Santa hats perform synchronized line dances to songs that have absolutely nothing to do with Christmas. Wherein it strikes your beloved writer: This is why I'm studying Anthropology.

More tomorrow, dear readers, and hopefully I will have dropped this whole "wherein" bizzo by then.


  1. Whew! Thank goodness someone posted to the blog. I was starting to panic!

    Lovely photos and narration and I must say that a winter holiday in Palma doesn't look like a bad idea whatsoever.

    Nice "Rock the Casbah" shirt!

  2. Yeah, and I've got loads more in the wings, just waiting to be typed, so after nearly a month of nothing-at-all, it'll be a week of exciting new things to read and pictures to look at. Possibly even moving pictures to look at while listening to. What kind of technology does she speak of??

    It's feast or famine over here at TEAETHQ.

    By the by-- I think it's time we changed the blog name. I'm gonna open a new competition in a post this week-- get thinking!

  3. Oh darling you look BEAUTIFUL!!! I've never seen you with so much hair haha. Krg is a lucky man. God knows I would steal you if I could. Krg, ill play a game of chess for her haha. Anyway, enough playing around. Your travel look awesome I can't wait for more!!!

  4. You'll what a game of what for what?? I get no say in this?
    You wish you could "steal" me? Are you a pirate? Do I look like Keira Knightley?

    Oh, there'll be no living with you after this, Christopher.

    Thanks for saying I look pretty. *blush, flutter*

    By the by, I know a cat named Henry who thinks he's Keira Knightley.

  5. Now you know as well as I do that chess has never solved anything, and may I say that Nija has never been impressed with my attempts to sort out conflicts with board games. Once I challenged a cop to a game of Parcheesi. Then it was Bobble versus a hornet. Once I even tried to play Scattergories against a hot bowl of soup. I burned my mouth _and_ couldn't think of enough words to outsmart the soup, but I'm sure it cheated.

  6. Wonderboy, you're hilarious! Scattergories. Bobble!? What are you like?

    I think the comment-readers should know that for the last 4 years, Christopher has been professing his undying, physically-erotic love for Craig.

    I can't believe you would just jilt Wonderboy like that, Christopher. It's like you don't even care about him anymore.

  7. NIJA!!! Shhhh!

    I am trying to make Craig jealous!!! So that maybe he will see that I am "over" him and try to get me instead.
    ...I would really like to be a pirate though and NO you get no say in this cause I'm just 100 percent into Craig...I'm sorry that I'm using you but you must understand that it is for the greatest thing that life has to offer.....LOVE!

    Love ya guys, just sayin.

  8. "Brain-Garage" is the best new phrase I've heard in a damn long time.

    I miss you guys! See ya soon!

  9. beautimus pics, m'dear! glad you guys got a shot of vitamin D in espana.

    best thing is, i get to see you soon! wherein you will be able to create gorgeous photographic images of the belfast built environment. which, let me be honest, is not exactly catalonian in its dimensions of gorgeous. it's all up to your talent.

    as for board games - a friend of mine was proposed to via a game of monopoly on NYE this year. i'm not sure how it panned out exactly, but as a board-game kinda gal, i was impressed. also, my parents finally found me a set of clue: master detective, which i asked santa for from age 6 through embarrassingly old. worth the wait.

  10. Jesus, girl, how long have you lived in this country, anyway? Even I know it's called Cluedo.

    I can't wait to play it!

  11. Wherein she reminds all of her friends who love her and miss her dearly one of the reasons we do so: because she's witty and entertaining. Thanks for writing. Love you.

  12. Oh, jdubb. I love you so. How have you been, my dear?

    I want you to know: I almost consider joining Facebook just for you.