Walkabout, Culture, Mallorca, Europe, Walkabout 2, Spain, 2014

The Germans and English Love Mallorca: But Apparently Not Each Other

I dislike feeling at home when I am abroad.
— George Bernard Shaw

The 2013/2014 ski season was not one of the best I had experienced, so when it started snowing in May I decided that, "Better late than never" is not always the case, and the more useful adage under these circumstances would be, "Get out whilst you can."

A friend was on a road trip and told me that she would be arriving on the Spanish island of Mallorca that Friday.  I had a quick look at flights at no one's suggestion, and you can only imagine my delight when I found a one way ticket on Skyscanner from Munich to Mallorca that very Thursday for 60 Euros, so I locked it in, then called her to invite myself. You can only imagine her delight!!

I was not phased by the 6am departure time: sitting up all night at an airport to save 20 Euros is always worth it, especially when you have three Ryan Gosling movies to watch. I mean when else are you going to be able to watch them whilst on holiday? 

Why would I sit up all night you ask? Well, the last trains arrive at Munich at 1 am, and getting a hotel would defeat the whole purpose of saving that flight money. But didn't I spend more than 20 Euros on snacks and coffee whilst I was waiting, you ask?  No, I only spent 18 Euros.

When I did arrive in Mallorca, and wanted to check baggage claim, I noticed that there were a few other arrivals from Germany, but I did not think anything of it, as, funnily enough I was incapable of thinking, perhaps due to frying my brain watching three Ryan Gosling movies. Nor did I think anything of it when the information at my first hotel in Palma Mallorca was in German before it was in Spanish.

My friend picked me up on Friday morning, as she had got the overnight ferry with her car from Barcelona to Palma de Mallorca. (In my hasty enthusiasm I had booked my flight a day too early, meaning that I spent a night in Palma, costing me — you guessed it — more than the flight) and we took the scenic route to Alcudia via Port de Soller. The Port was just what I had imagined Mallorca to be like, small and intimate with the undulating Mediterranean as a backdrop and the promise of tapas.

Alcudia on the other hand was not what I had imagined Mallorca should be like. Had I heeded the warnings, perhaps I would have been prepared for the Bettenburgen "bed mountains" that lay in front of me: 60's style, soulless, multistory blocks overflowing with geriatric Germans reveling in the packaged, pre-organised nature of these resorts.

When I checked in, the receptionist asked me why I couldn't speak German, and I informed her I could, but up until this very moment I was under the obviously misguided impression that I was in Spain. I think that the deal breaker came at dinner where the food was, well, traditional German food, prepared specifically for a demographic that may have digestion problems with spicy food and a preference for soft portions so as not to play havoc with dentures. Really bringing it home was the advertisement for weekly rentals on walkers and wheel chairs.

I do not have anything against Germans or geriatrics. However as George Bernard Shaw said, "I dislike feeling at home when I am abroad." That was where the discomfort lay, for I am not ready for retirement from whatever it is that I do.

My travel companion was in 100% agreement that we were not yet ready to be put out to pasture, and that we required a bit more spice and adventure in our voyages, so we looked into alternatives and decided that Port de Soller was our happy place. We made reservations to stay in a **** hotel (that is four stars, not a four letter profanity) on the beach for eight days, starting Monday, which left a whole weekend ahead of me.

As I had already watched all the Ryan Gosling movies I had downloaded for the holiday, I had some time to do some Nancy Drew type sleuthing to see if Alcudia had more to offer, and I discovered that there was also a shitload (an Australian standardised unit of measurement representing "a lot") of English tourists. We are not talking posh, pinky up whilst drinking a cup of tea English: we are talking talk show English. Not the Oprah type talk show, but that one that you go on so you can tell your brother that you are cheating on him with your father. And here is the best part: the German and English infestation of the island in the summer months is not harmonious.

In fact, a quick search of "Germans and English in Mallorca" came up with about three million hits. From what I can gather, the German's like to get up early and reserve their place on the beach with their towels, and the only way that the English can compete is to stay up all night and then jump off the balcony to get there before them, resulting in "balcony legs" and "vodka breath". These and other ailments are described in a hilarious cartoon (seriously, who said the the Germans were not funny?)  published by German paper Bild. The English rebuttal was a cliché-ridden cartoon in response, but not an entirely accurate one. Another was that the English should embrace the stereotype and feel no shame.

My sleuthing (and hunger) took me to the promenade, and then it hit me: in the German/English battle for Mallorcan holiday territory I had found myself on the front line. I could feel the characters depicted in the cartoons above walking towards each other and neither was willing to retreat. All those arrivals at the airport? Troops. And the Easy Rider Mobility Hire? Wheelchairs my ass! High Tech transport logistics I am thinking. The hotel filled with Geriatrics? It must be the German command centre. The sky may as well have turned black when I realised Summer still had a long way to go, and this was nothing compared to what was going to ensue in the coming months. 

So I left them wielding their artillery of towels and rolled up Daily Mails, went back to the hotel, ate some sausage and sauerkraut from the buffet, and downloaded some more Ryan Gosling movies whilst I wondered what Spain was like.



*I would like to state, that the main picture from this article was by no means taken in Alcudia. It was the drive on the way.