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MALLORCA, Spain: The Low Season Experience on Mallorca

Visiting Mallorca: The Low Season Experience
Places like Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza for us seem to be when imagined are sunny holiday islands where there there are endless beaches.

I was very pleasantly surprised to experience Mallorca and the diversity the island has!

Palma de Mallorca, at least the area of the city we stayed in gave me vibes and nostalgic feelings of Beirut Lebanon at times, and also reminded me of Italian towns and of  places in North Africa.
The old section of Palma de Mallorca has wonderful back streets which feels like the Crusaders were still going through the area. 
I could imagine a celebrity like Sophia Loren appear out of some of the villas near the sea side area, with the private yachts and restaurants.

In the old sector of Palma de Mallorca, we went to a wonderful restaurant in a cozy backstreet area. The owner was Italian, and served Italian food which he cooks himself. The atmosphere was homey and happy. There was a lot of laughter among the other patrons also enjoying with us.
 The owner took us back into the wine cellar, which really smelled like a real wine cellar and had many kinds of wine. It was an enjoyable evening.

We had a nice hot tub in our hotel room which we used whenever we were in the room. We had a robe, slippers, and were even given as a gift a bottle of champagne! 

I was enjoying early already

The rooftop view from our hotel. The eternity pool was not heated so it was waiting for summer patrons.

We were surprised to find great chocolate cake at a McCafe in Palma de Mallorca!

Pride is taken in local varieties of jambon 

We rented a car and travelled around beautiful mountainous villages on Mallorca's Serra Tramuntana.

Exploring an old ruin of a tower.

Deia:  We were charmed by experiencing this mountain town during low season. Only one restaurant was open as most of the town was closed for the season. The colours of the buildings together with the misty fog and waterfall made me reminiscent of some towns in Nepal I wandered through.

We greatly enjoyed our initial experience in Mallorca, and want to experience more of the island, especially the other side of the island which was closed for the season when we were there.

BARCELONA, Spain: Our Barcelona Low Season Experience

Barcelona: Our Barcelona Low Season Experience

Barcelona is a major destination for tourism. It is up there with a well oiled industry which caters to many of the different interests of holiday makers and population which Barcelona hosts.

We wanted to experience Barcelona in a different light apart from the crowds. We noticed a large foreign worker population and were fascinated by the stories they shared with us as they tried to make their dream come true. During the low season we felt we had more attention given to us.

Our Hotel Welcome drink. Mamadou from Senegal was the man at the bar.

After a long flight, we always enjoy staying at hotels which have a swimming pool, a hot tub, and if possible, breakfast in the morning. I also am discovering though that it is fun go to outside of the hotel and try local breakfast as well.

The man who checked us in at the hotel we are staying in gave us a complimentary upgrade in our room, to a large balcony which overlooked the quiet courtyard below. At night I enjoyed sitting there with a glass of wine and watched the local activities happening in the windows of the buildings across and around the courtyard.

The hotel pool was located in the spa section, surrounded by a glass room. The pool was reminiscing of those posh spa types which one looks at in the pretty brochures. It definitely had that "Zen" feel when entering it.

We did see many of the iconic locations which Barcelona is famous for. We walked from our hotel along quieter back streets, stopping into local cafes for a coffee and pastries before reaching the sites. The "on and off tourist bus" costed 40 Euro each person, which we felt we  much rather wanted to spend our money elsewhere.

Hard working servers ( from the Philippines) who lived in Barcelona  for many years. We enjoyed conversation at an honest and down to Earth restaurant off the tourist path.

We enjoyed our time in Barcelona, and if there were a special event or a friend's occasion happening in that city, we would return with them.

SITGES, Spain: Experiencing the Low Season Magic

Sitges:  Experiencing the Low Season Magic

When you mention the name of this Spanish seaside city, immediately images of beach, sunshine and summer holiday fun come to mind.
I like to experience a popular place when the busy crowds are less, and when the main attraction that time of the year is not always the beach and sun.

More care and attention is experienced, and the more personal connections happen. We stumbled into a delightful surprise in a local restaurant hidden among the many side streets in Sitges.

The two chefs, Juan and Pinyiar were very passionate about their food, where the local ingredients came from, ( they named the town where the potatoes they use came from, 3 kilometers away from the restaurant), and they gave us very personal and quality time, with nice conversation. We thought we had entered a fine dining restaurant! 
We had local red wine which we enjoyed very much and finished off with a specially prepared dessert!  It made a wonderful memorable evening.

Although it was not swimming season, the beach was very beautiful and inviting! Some brave people were splashing and enjoying it's refreshing chill. We had a perfect beach walk and fresh air.

We did have a chance to swim though. The hotel pool was heated and had several fun aspects to it. I was imagining how this pool would be like during the busy season, as the hotel is famous for gay men staying and enjoying during Sitges holiday time.

A stroll along the back winding roads in the old area allowed us a serendipitous experience when we had a chance encounter with a cute man from Israel who was renting a space and trying to sell products made with salt from the Dead Sea. 
We had a playful moment, all of us giggling when we sampled the salt scrub, anti aging cremes, etc. 

He greeted us with " I've been waiting for you both all day"! 

I certainly would fancy visiting Sitges during the high season to add a new dimension to my experience, seeing all the gay guys in their prime, during Sitges prime time season.

TEPOZTLAN MEXICO: A Weekend with Friends in Tepoztlan

A Weekend with Friends in Tepoztlan Mexico

We were enjoying a get away to see our friends in Mexico City for a week, and enjoyed a "Mexican village" feel for a weekend in Tepoztlan, which is a few hours drive from Mexico City.

When we left the big metropolis, small country towns gave our drive another perspective. It reminded me of county towns in Thailand, especially the small "mom and pop" style restaurant which we stopped off to have breakfast at.

Tepoztlan is a town which has visitors from Mexico City coming for quick visits, as we were doing.

photo: internet photo

 I feel this town  is trying to present itself as a bohemian artsy town where one can stroll down the main street and get a massage, see artisan shops, eat vegetarian food at a Krishna Awareness owned restaurant ( as we did),
go to a tea house which is decorated in a way which is interpreted how a "chaikhane" in Central Asia or some place in the Middle East is like, and a historical landmark on top of a mountain, which people climb up to and enjoy. 
 We stayed at a locally run boutique guest house for the nights, which had a garden where we shared a bottle of wine, conversation, and even shared some marijuana together!

We drove a bit further, and visited a local spa for gay males, called Tepozspa.
photo: internet photos

our photo

The place has nice gardens, an out door and indoor hot tub, a central pool area and a bar for drinks where one could congregate with other guys and friends.

Inside the building a steam sauna and dry sauna, and the ubiquitous dark room, and private rooms for those who have the urge to know their new found friend/s more intimately.

When I submersed  myself in the hot tub, I felt like I just wanted to stay in there the whole time we were at the spa.

It was a perfect weekend get away to have quality time with our Mexico City friends, and a great way to relax and unwind from the day to day events.

All in all, the town is fun to experience as a getaway, but from my opinion, it is a one time visit, as there are many other places to experience and explore around Mexico.

SOUTH AFRICA : Guys' road trip adventures in Durban, Nelspruit and Hibiscus Coast (Margate and Oribi Gorge)

Guys' Road Trip in Durban, Nelspruit and Hibiscus Coast (Margate and Oribi Gorge) via Swaziland and Mozambique

After saying our goodbyes to our wonderful Mozambique friends and our French host, we made our way on our guys' trip through Swaziland to Durban and the south Coast areas in South Africa.

It definitely was not a monotonous voyage as we stopped off for fun local food, local ( Mozambique! ) beer and other goodies before crossing the border into Swaziland. We got some extra beer and drinks as we quickly learned how to give "dash" to the border people and soldiers along the trip. Our vehicle was searched by these several times at checkpoints along the trip.

Driving on a road which passes all kinds of farm land with goats and cattle many times in the road, in only a few hours time we came across this sign:

Durban's famous Victoria Market was a favourite haunt of ours, and it was fun to re visit the spice market, and see other things there.

Durban has a large Indian population, and we had our opportunities to experience local Indian food, Durban Style.

Our friend's sister was a manager at a large hotel near the sea in Durban, so we got a nice, water view room on a higher floor in the hotel.

After Durban, we drove across the coast to the 
coast to a seaside town named Margate. We rented a nice flat in that town and had fun with more South African friends who also lived in that area. Wine, beer and dinner parties, bath tub fun and laughter!

We both particularly enjoyed waking up before everyone else and had a stroll by the sea, and breakfast in a fun restaurant by the seaside. The waitress was very kind to us and helped us nicely.

Photo: One of our parties with the guys! fun!

Chris went zip lining across Oribi Gorge with the other guys, which is at a game reserve. I was so very scared of heights and was not at all going to be on a zip line.

I walked over a suspension bridge which wiggled and swayed over the gorge instead. I never looked down below me.

On our drive around the game reserve, we marveled over the animals which were roaming around or in packs together on the plains.

Another real treat was to meet our friend's mother and her husband. They lived in a township area nearby.  It was a pleasure to be invited to a nice dinner cooked by our friend's mother, special for us, at her home. I real rare treat for us to have this opportunity!

This trip to the south coast whet our appetite to return along this area near Margate. There are many holidaymaker towns along the coast which we would love to experience more. Since we have friends who live in the area, we shall with certainty be re visiting again!