Last Saturday it felt like ages since it had been sunny - it was two days. Help! Have I become that person? Anyway, the returning sunshine couldn't have been celebrated better, because some friends took me to Bettina Papenkort's Indigo Spa in Alaró. It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen - the house, the garden and the rolling hills with the Mediterranean gleaming silver far out in the distance. I was in paradise, for as you know, I came here primarily looking for beauty.
In a little room at the bottom of the garden, Bettina had set up a spa room, where she gives facials and massages using products that she has made herself! I admire people like that so much. The work that goes into it is so incredible, and all using herbs, flowers and other natural ingredients. AND the packaging is beautiful.
I expected everything to be really expensive, seeing it's all hand made and hand wrapped individually, but no. The most expensive item I saw was 60 euros, and then it want down all the way to 10. Guess which one I bought! Ohhhh, the smell alone was so heavenly that when I came home I thought there was another, rich woman, who had suddenly moved in with me. But no, the fragrance came from my own hand, from the product demonstration!
If you love luxury, exclusivity, well-being, yoga and calm, AND have a car, this is the place for you. The place and view alone are worth your trip. Oh, and Bettina is so lovely, warm and welcoming; one of the many super-creative and hard-working people on this island.
And her daughter is an excellent cookie-maker! And her dog Jasper is the best dog evah. So as you kind of guess by now, I recommend a visit to Indigo Spa.
INDIGO DAY SPA
HOLISTIC TRAINING & TREATMENT CENTER
Camino de Son Fiol J
Mallorca Baleares Spain
TEL +34 609 812 511
Here is my good friend Ellen from North Carolina. We met in Hong Kong when I was teaching her and her husband Cantonese, and then became friends over a shared passion for Chinese food and adventure trips to China. When she was brutally torn away from Hong Kong after only four years of adventures, it marked the gestation of a new thought in my head: Why can't I be the one who's leaving for a change?
This week was her second visit to Mallorca in a month, and what do you know - Ellen went straight into adventure mode! This time it was tile related.
Why don't you have a personal documentary made when you're next in Mallorca? I'm here every day with my video camera and tripod, ready to show you all the adventure things! Yes, not only tiles!
I thought my new house had high ceilings, but that was before I visited Palacio Can Marques in Palma's narrow and mysterious Carrer de Apuntadores. Apuntadores! It was the first street I went to when I came here last May for reconnoissance. The name sounded so interesting, but do you think I looked it up? Oh no. I thought Punt, maybe means bridge? Something like guys who raise and lower bridges? But there are no... Never mind. I just looked it up . An apuntador is a prompter in a theatre. So... pretty close!
Anyway, last month my friend Mariette was here, and already other people are more adventurous than me, for it was she who dragged me into the beautiful lobby to check out the hotel, which had just opened. A kind receptionist showed us around, but I wanted more and sent them an email asking if I could take a closer look. The lively and knowledgeable hotel director Mariya took me around the Palacio, which used to be owned by the family Marques. And get this: The ceilings are 11 metres high!
AND! The rooms have books! Real books. That's all I need to know...
Each room is a suite and they all look different, with lots of lovely art and objects sourced all over the world by one of the owners herself, who also happens to be a designer! By the way, the room above overlooks one of my favourite plazas in Palma, the Plaza de la Drassana. There you can find Bar Arenas where they have the second best tapas in Palma, after Hostal Corona of course, because they (the tapas in Arenas) are made by Chinese! There is something about that Chinese touch that makes all food better.
And just to seal the deal - the bathrooms! Ohhhhh. Me, I'm a firm shower taker. Firm. I don't lie around in baths. What for? Just lie there, to get clean? But I would make an exception if I could stay in this suite in Palacio Can Marques. I really would.
Next time: The restaurants.
PALACIO CAN MARQUES
C/ Apuntadores 15, 07012 Palma de Mallorca
One of the reasons why I just had to leave Hong Kong after 30 years there and in China, is that everything had become so damned ugly. It was just high rises of 80 floors or more; cold, sterile, forbidding; glass and metal canyons. It made me feel like an ant. Look at this streetscape of Hong Kong:
All the signs are gone. The famous neon signs are all but gone, as are most street markets and anything that's cool and beautiful, the beauty being that it's unique and could only be Hong Kong. Now most of the city consists of shopping malls, high rises and highways.
Mainland China, dead set on out- hongkonging Hong Kong at all cost and in addition still on a great momentum started by Mao in the 1950s to get rid of all Chinese culture, is well on the way to becoming a gigantic shopping mall interspersed by highways as well. It hasn't yet succeeded everywhere, what with it being the fourth biggest country in the world and therefore quite a lot of area to get through. You can still find towns like the one above, Xiahe, not yet succumbing to the wrecker's ball. But with the latest push to get rid of all religion, perhaps they will now finally be able to raze the monasteries and build some proper skyscrapers.
I understand that people don't want to live in hovels, but when it comes to visual beauty, the shiny new stuff just doesn't cut it.
So because I couldn't very well ask Chinese and Hong Kong people to keep living like they did 30 years ago just in case I should drop by and want to take a photo, I had to leave. It was the only thing I could do. And guess what? I miss China, but, like the past itself, it's a China that no longer exists. Now I live among beauty again.