When I was 13 years old I went to Mallorca; that was during the Easter holidays in 1984. Unusually, my memories were few from this trip, as were my photographs.
I remembered the Hotel Bon Sol – its alcoves and Middle Eastern-style furniture. I liked walking down the stairs and along the corridors by myself because they seemed dimly lit compared to the bright sunshine outside. The eyes of the statues followed me in and out of the shadows.
First thing in the morning I pulled back the curtain – outside was white. A heavy frost covered fields and fence posts and beyond, a dense white mist obscured the loch and the hills. It was bitterly cold. The star-studded heavens the night before should have foretold of this.
Several hours later I was on the road with my friend Chris to Edinburgh Airport, driving through bright sunshine. We left the car at the Flying Scot car park; yes, I cocked my eyebrow too when I heard the name. We checked in. We wandered past the perfumes that irritated my nose, still experiencing the end of a cold that aggravated my nasal situation.
We flew into darkness and the vibrant blue-orange above the clouds lit up the edges of the wing for a moment. The excitement of the journey grinded to a halt when we arrived at Club Bellevue – culture shock. I experienced a wee bit of dread as I took in the group of apartment buildings. I thought of The Truman Show about the man who is brought up in a television show. The entrance lobby and stairs reminded me of a hospital.
However, there is always a plus side. We found a restaurant that was still open nearby at 1am. We bought a salami, mozzarella, herb and tomato pizza. The base was thin and the charred underside added to the flavours. The crickets strummed in the trees.
The next morning we took the bus to the old town of Alcudia where we thought we were going to be based. On Sundays and Tuesdays they hold a market here. The market stalls burst with temptation. I fell into it. Linens and cottons fluttered in the soft breeze that barely took the edge off the late morning heat, already in the 30s. Owl and butterfly pendants sparkled in the bright light and tables were topped with piles of bracelets. You could smell the leather when you passed the bag stalls. The strong colours of various pots echoed the colours of Spain.
Out of the shade and light of the market stalls we walked out to the illuminated streets that run beneath the old city walls. I stopped at a set of old crumbling steps that were not closed off with a barrier. I could not resist climbing up them. At the top there was also no safety barrier, just a long drop to the ground. When I turned to go back down my foot neatly fitted into a hollow worn down by seven centuries of soldiers and tourists.
Further along the porous yellowy stone was cleaner and modern steps lead you up to better preserved sections. From this elevation you can look along narrow streets with green shutters, red tiled roofs with square chimney pots and, in the north, the mountains. The only sign of the Roman inhabitants is a small ruin sitting on the southern outskirts. They had called the town Pollentia, founded after conquering the island in 123BC.
Although the island was under Muslim rule between 929-1229, the name is all that remains of this period; el Pujol Hill (Alcudia) was a farm lying in between the Port of Alcudia and the bay of Pollenca. Following on from this era the island was annexed to the Crown of Aragon. The building of the city walls began in 1298 and were not completed until 1362.
The town gates let you know that there is an enticing space beyond, treasured and protected for hundreds of years and now invigorated by a major tourism influx from April to September when the population is multiplied by seven.