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Cap De Formentor

posted Dec 26, 2010, 1:06 AM by Quoc-Anh Vuong   [ updated Jan 4, 2011, 9:44 AM ]

After long day of traveling, we all went to bed early, not wasting any time to enjoy the Egyptian 800-thread sheets and the luxurious goose down comforter. BWT, here is the place we stayed, and we can rent it at reduced rate if anyone interested; without the reduced rate, I don't think we could afford to stay there. Sitting up in bed, I surfed the net to plan out for us, places to go for the next day. I came across a website which recommend a "must see" vista place called Cap de Formentor. It's located at the northern tip of the island, and according to the previous tourists, who had been there, the driving part is most treacherous. The joke about the Cap de Formentor taxi driver can get to heaven instead of the priest was mentioned, due to the narrow, winding roads, the taxi driver can get more people to pray than the priest. For backup, I located the Cap de Formentor on the car rental map, just in case the GPS could not find the spot; and planed the route to get there.

The rooster crowing at 4am woke me up, the sun had yet to come out and I did not want to leave the comfort bed, so I coaxed myself back to sleep without much difficulty. Around 6am, again the ... damn roosters! But this time I got out of bed. From our bedroom, I looked out through the double French door to the backyard, which has a small brick-built grill and two white lounge chaises; green golf course in the distance, and all mixed in with a light morning mist. I started making the coffee, and went up to the second floor patio to take few pictures. Life was wonderful. On the Christmas day, we all woke up quite early, around 7am. Had a nice breakfast of Jamón Iberia, eggs, and sausages. The crusty breads are very tasty, like the French baguette but a bit wider. We poured olive oil on a plate, sprinkle with sea salt and bit of pepper, using it to dip breads. I convinced the family to venture to the Cap de Formentor, and ... did not say much about the some people had to turn back or threw-up on the way to that place. Besides, it was the 25th, not many cars on the road, so we could take our time negotiating the hair raising turns and bends.

Driving at 120km/hr, it took only around 40minutes on the highway to get to base of the mountain, we then embarked on the narrow winding road. The drive was indeed treacherous, but the traffic was very light, pretty much empty, so we took it easy, using 1st or 2nd gear for every turn. The light traffic also gave us opportunity to stop at almost every turn out or vista point. We saw mountain rams and goats, the view of the cape town below, and also the magnificent cliffs and ocean waves crashing into the foot of the rocks 400ft below. The winding road took us to the light house on top. The lighthouse is also a cafeteria, but unfortunately it closed on the 25th; so we can only admire the panoramic view. We saw two cats, bathing under the sun, Bảo & Thuỵ really enjoyed petting the cats. I can only imagine how wonderful it would be, for a cold and windy day like that day, if we could sit in the cafeteria sipping coffee or hot chocolate and taking in the magnificent view.

Left the lighthouse, we drove down mountain, and backed into town. We noticed many bicyclists along the way. Our next destination is the Cathedral. We've read about the pickpocket and Gypsy issues in Palma and Barcelona, so we took precaution; having our wallet in the front, inside zipped pocket of the jacket. We also strategically arranged our walks, so that I have Bảo and Thuỵ watching my back and I would watch Hương's back. Oh yeah, we prepared! :) We also played out the scenarios at home, practiced of detecting pick pocket, and for each to find the safe spot to keep our valuables. Besides, both Bảo and Thuỵ had several years practicing Kungfu, so ... we feel pretty confident walking in the old town streets, even empty narrow alleys. It turned out, we did not meet or noticed any Gypsy; well, we saw one in Barcelona, she tried to give us a red carnation flower; but after two times of saying "no, no quiero", she just walked off.

Palma Catheral does not have that scary look, bony spikes, like the famous Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. However, it still has the Gothic style architecture, with arches and bridges to the bell tower; and also gigantic doors. It's so funny that ... since the doors are so huge, not practical to open and shut often, thus smaller doors are made in the big doors for daily use. The Cathedral is so big and tall, so it's easy to use as a reference point when you wandering in the old-town. If you get lost, just look up and find the Cathedral bell tower and navigate yourself out of the old-town maze. The Cathedral was closed, strange! It was the 25th, for ... Pete's sake; so we headed off to the next point of interest, which is the Arab Bath house. Another thing about walking in the old-town of Palma you don't have to worry about getting lost, signs are at most corners, showing directions to the nearby tourist places.

Winding through the Medieval quarter of cobble stone narrow alleys, I was more fascinated by different shapes and sizes of doors. None of them is alike, each is unique. Common point is that they are all very well made, solid wood, stained. Some are carved, and adorned with elaborated irons. I took pictures of them, and thinking of making a photo series about doors around the world. Finally, we arrived at the Arabic Bath house. It was built in the ten century and survive only by chance. It has a nice court yard in the center, surrounded with Mediterranean plants and flora. Seats are available under the shade of trees, must be to relax in the summer heat. The bath house is on the West side of the courtyard. This is a two level steam bath house, main steam room has a dome shape ceiling, it has round openings on top, perhaps to provide lights into the room. In the center is the water pool with surrounding ledges; twelve small columns supporting the dome ceiling. To see such amazing structure and technology in the tenth century is quite a feeling.

On the way back, we made it to the hotel's convenient store, just enough time to pick up few items to make dinner, we then went to bed early. We had a good sleep that night, did not wake up until around 9am on the next day, Sunday.