My job is supporting people with spinal cord injuries live their daily lives, and one of the people I work with loves cycling. Late April he took on the challenge of the Mallorca 312 (doing the 167km option) on his handcycle, which means I got to go along to the wonderful Balearic Island of Mallorca.
This trip required a lot of checked in luggage as we had to transport all the extra bits for the handcycle as well as the usual disabled bits and pieces and chargers and our clothes. In the end we had 1 x 23kg bag, 2 x 15kg bag, 1 x 10kg medical bag (free), 2 carry on backpacks and the handcycle. The CAA says you can take up to 2 pieces of medical/mobility equipment on a flight with you and as EasyJet refused to allow the handcycle on as mobility equipment, we added the medical bag (does actually need to have medical supplies in it!)
The bike was dropped off at Gatwick the day before so we had room in the car for the luggage, wheelchair and ourselves.
Check in was relatively easy, got to skip the line and head straight to the special assistance computer, right next to the EasyJet rep so easy for her to approve the disabled baggage. The handcycle was a little bit more complicated as it does not fit on the oversize baggage scanner so had to go downstairs to another security checkpoint.
The bike was cleverly disguised as this cardboard box.
The flight was pretty smooth but once again reinforced how the cheap airlines are not good for anyone over 5’7 and has a wide spread (no leg room and tiny seats).
We were the first ones on and the last ones on due to requiring special assistance. Loved the Spanish name for it ‘Sin Barreras’ (without Barriers). When we landed in Palma, we took the ambi-lift to passport control, then had to get back on the lift to go to baggage claim – it was a decent drive so not sure how long the walk would have been through the airport.
Baggage claim was cleared out by the time we got there. There was one lady who was checking covid passes, but no other restrictions were in place for UK visitors.
Transportation to our hotel wasn’t pre booked so as we walked out – me pushing a baggage trolley loaded (thankfully didn’t have that stupid push to go bar!) with 6 bags and pulling the bike -an airport transfer guy spotted us. After liaising with his ‘second best driver’, between the two of them, we got the bags in the back and the bike in the interior of the van. Also got P and the wheelchair in as well.
We had booked into the Hotel Eden Nord in Port de Sóller. We disembarked everything and ourselves and got into reception. The hotel is on a bit of a hill so the lovely manager came to us with the information that she had contacted the sister hotel down in the port and had transferred us there at the same price as she didn’t think we could handle the slope. (We were prepared for it, but the sister hotel was an upgrade!)
We booked in for half board, with breakfast and dinner both being buffets. I did seem to have a bit of confusion with my Celiactravel.com translation card, but they were very helpful in trying to accommodate me. There is no toast for breakfast, but I was given oven baked paninis which I’ve been using to make up sandwiches as snacks throughout the day – saves on buying lunch!
Tuesday P linked up with a cyclist mate and they went for an epic all day ride, so I had the day to myself.
Across the bay from our hotel is a lighthouse so I decided to go on a leisurely morning stroll to reach it. The ascent took about 35 minutes and had wonderful views back across the bay.
Once I got back to the hotel, I caught up on a couple of episodes of Outlander, enjoyed my little sun trap and did some souvenir shopping. I found a Mallorca shirt to add to my ever growing travel quilt!
Wednesday was a bit of a rest day, catching up on admin and waiting for P’s mate to arrive (they will be doing the cycling challenge together on Saturday).
While P and his mate went out for a ride on Thursday to get those legs/arms pumping, I took the tram into Sóller as someone on the Facebook group Coeliacs Eat Abroad had recommended a restaurant in the town square that was clued up on gluten free.
Sa Granja had a few tapas options that were gluten free and fries as well. Unfortunately, none of the places I checked were able to to patatas bravas gluten free – no idea how they’re making it, but they’re putting some kind poison in the sauce.
The cathedral on the town square is magnificent both inside and out, however it does cost a euro to enter and as a millennial, I don’t carry cash so unfortunately I only got a glimpse of the inside epicness.
Friday was moving day. P’s mate had hired a van when he got in on Wednesday, so we packed that up with all our luggage, P’s handcycle and R’s hired bike, and made our way north to Platja de Muro, where the big event was starting from.
We checked into the Grupotel Alcudia Suites which were quite nice (although Spain doesn’t seem to believe in double beds, with all the places we stayed being two twins but the couch was comfortable). We had a tiny kitchenette that we didn’t take advantage of. We did however take advantage of the closest Burger King. Twice.
Burger King Spain offer gluten free whoppers! It’s been about 11 years since I had one so I was definitely going to take advantage of that!
We went to sleep pretty early the Friday night as it was a 4.45 wake up for me and P. Had to get up dressed, a small breakfast, onto the bike and make sure everything was A-OK.
The previous day the guys had checked in for the event and spoken to one of the organisers to see about an early take off. The event was set to start at 6.30 but imagine trying to head off with 8000 other cyclists! P also found out he was the only handcyclist taking part (no pressure!)
After they had gone off I went back to bed and had a lovely sleep in, followed by a bit of sunbaking on the beach before making my way to the finish line. P’s family had arrived the day before, so we all lined the finish area waiting for the cyclists.
It was a quiet night the Saturday, with another takeaway from Burger King and an early night.
Sunday saw R leave us to go back to the UK and P and I packed up and moved to our third location of the trip – Port de Pollença.
On the way we stopped in Alcudia with the whole family to meet up for brunch with two lovely cyclist friends at a vegan cafe – Verdeteja. The gluten free crackers were homemade and delicious.
We stayed at Hotel Hoposa Uyal in Pollença which was right on the beachfront and about a ten minute walk from the main area.
For dinner the hotel offers a 3 course meal, which from memory I think was either €28 or €38 set menu.. either way still pretty decent for a 3 course meal.
Monday was our last day in Mallorca, so we spent the morning on the beach and then went and explored the town of Pollença. The main attraction is the 365 steps up to the Calvary Church. It was a bit of a trek, but the houses and gardens lining the street are amazing, as is the view from the top.
The Parish Church on the main square has an amazing ceiling and alcoves that you can see for a donation.
For the last night I had some downtime so took myself to a recommended restaurant in the main area of the port.
Iru Restaurant has a coeliac menu full of amazing goodie! Unfortunately, they only had Pepsi beverages, but they did have wine!
I started my meal with Andalusian style calamari, followed by the IRU style glazed suckling pig with tumbet and ending with apple crumble and vanilla ice cream. It was all delicious.
Tuesday we were packed and carted off to the airport. I had my last BK in the airport (and was unimpressed when ordering the Whopper and receiving a cheeseburger!!)
The flight back was cruisy, however trying to get a Bolt or an Uber to take 2 passengers with one of them being a wheelchair user was another story. After 5 failed attempts, an hour of our time wasted in the cold, we just went with the airport taxi service which was about £70 from Gatwick to Epsom.
It was an amazing week and a fantastic way to spend working.