(30) DAYS OF EDEN

(30) DAYS OF EDEN Adventure, mystery, anticipation.

What started as an emotion quickly became reality when I pushed the ‘confirm’ button online and booked my ticket to Spain. Within 4 days I was frantically packing and rushing out the door headed to the airport on Good Friday. I mean, how much better can a Friday really get? There was a flurry of crazy events leading up to my departure that both excited and exhausted me. Somehow I managed to get everything done at the airport last minute and waited eagerly for my flight at 8 pm. Unbeknownst to me, this wouldn’t be the trip that I initially anticipated, yet one filled with delays, pain, celebrations, new relationships, Barthelona, unexpected shopping, hello kitty and volcano’s.

The adventure

I reached Munich, barely making my connecting flight to Mallorca with only 7 minutes to spare…nice. Celebrated my flight over the French Alps with a Warsteiner and was very happy to arrive at Palma de Mallorca on time. After an hour of watching the baggage carousel whirl and constantly checking the oversize baggage conveyor, I discovered that my bike wouldn’t be joining me to the hotel but took it in stride as I jumped into the taxi and headed to Puerto Pollensa. It wasn’t the first time that my bike had gone ‘missing’ so I tried not to panic and hoped that it would turn up sooner or later (it later did).

The riding was spectacular and right away I jumped in with both feet, committing myself wholly and completely to the mountains. I faced the daunting challenge of re-learning how to navigate a mountainous descent, nearly hitting a mountain goat (Billy), tamed sa Calobra, then climbing, climbing and more climbing (when in spain!). Spending hours upon hours on the bike with little prep time in Toronto, I was faced with injury which was new and frustrating. With my love of photography I was able to take rest days when the pain got really bad and go off on picture taking tangents. Each Wednesday I visited the local market to buy fresh fruit and continued the picture taking extravaganza.

Having accomplished most of my training goals while in Mallorca (aside from growing my biceps) I decided to explore a change of scenery and ventured across the sea to mainland Spain, hello Barcelona! Barthelona was amazing, architecturally beautiful and the city was buzzing with tourists. I walked, walked and walked some more, sometimes with camera, sometimes without. I sampled the food, the beach, museums and the shopping. I didn’t anticipate going to Barcelona so this was a surprise adventure thanks to the volcano and my extended time in Spain.

The mystery

The night before my return to Toronto I checked my flight and sure enough it was cancelled because of the volcano in Iceland. Now what? First emotion was one of panic. How am I going to get home and when am I going to get home? The second emotion was disappointment of not being able to get off the island and be home for my birthday. Lastly, fear; am I going to make it home anytime soon or is this volcano going to keep erupting for months and months forcing me to stay here forever (thanks CNN).

After numerous phone calls to several airlines I was able to find a return flight to Toronto. It wasn’t clear if the volcano would stop erupting by then but at least I had a flight booked and a promise of making it home relatively soon. With the fear dissipated it became clear that I’d have to occupy myself for an additional 11 nights in Spain, not a bad thing and I’m sure no one in Toronto had any sympathy for my extended vacation. Spending my birthday in Mallorca as fun, the Hotel was very gracious and made it memorable.

When you spend 30 days with yourself you learn a lot about who you are. There is plenty of time for introspect, for soul searching, for evaluation. Mallorca being my Eden, there are no distractions. Time on and off the bike you get to learn who you are and start to connect the dots and look for missing pieces of the puzzle and clues to what you can do to be better, stronger and whole. In a way, the volcano provided a complete twist of fate. It forced me to be patient, it forced me to be out of control, and it forced me to slow down. Sometimes as much as we try to control our destiny and the path we follow, we fail to realize that sometimes life throws us a curve ball and as much as we try, we can’t control everything. Life holds mystery that can’t be solved.

The anticipation

Soon after my flight was booked to Toronto it became clear I had no idea what to do with my extra time. My knee was not doing so well at this point so being stranded on an island with thousands of cyclists was basically, well, a tease. Every morning I’d sit and eat breakfast and watch them ride by taunting me to get out and do the same. Surely I must be able to fill 12 extra days in Spain doing something fun other than cycling, shouldn’t I? As much as I loved being stranded in Spain I was starting to miss some of the comforts of “home”. Its funny how you take things for granted when you are home and don’t seem to realize how big a role they play in your everyday life. When I’d go to the market each Wednesday I’d look for organic produce because, well, organic tastes better and is better for you. Who knew how much an impact ‘organic’ had? I can definitely assure you, based on what I tried in Spain (with the exception of oranges), organic tastes better and I was sad to learn that there is very little ‘bio’ in Mallorca. Of course along with certain food, I also missed my kittens.

As the days passed I did get some additional rides in and continued on my picture taking spree which took me to different places and offered new perspectives. The short trip to Barcelona helped break up the last 12 days. I was very excited to explore the beautiful city for the first time and have a little adventure; something to look forward to before coming home. After returning to Mallorca it was confirmed that I’d be flying back to Toronto on my scheduled flight with no more delays which made me very happy.

After finishing packing for my flight home I took a few last pictures as the sun rose over the Bay of Alcudia and headed back to the airport. It was finally here, the day when I’d be home to see all the people that I’d missed and have a proper birthday celebration!

What’s it like to experience 30 days of Eden, nothing short of breathtaking.

Mallorca has always been my Eden: a place of ultimate happiness, bliss, paradise.

The food at Hotel Galeon was absolutely amazing, from lamb and rabbit to paella and octopus, Chef Havi took good care of me. The staff was amazing and I ended up being the solo guest for most of my month-long stay (can you say fantastic service?).

Weather was also remarkable; it only rained 3 or 4 days during the month of April which made it easy to ride. Each morning I was greeted with blue skies and temperatures in the high teens, perfect for riding with the addition of arm, knee warmers and a light vest. People wonder why Mallorca is so popular amongst the 15,000 or more cyclists that visit each spring and the answer is simple. Good weather, light traffic and a mixture of mountains and flats make for epic cycling.

While in Mallorca I heard MEOWING and RAWRING, BAAAAING, BARKING and NAAAYING, not just Tiesto, Pete Tong and Paul Van Dyk.

There were trips to the market, pictures, pictures and more pictures of food, landscapes and architecture. There were unexpected birthday celebrations in Spain with birthday cake, candles. There was a sense of vulnerability when descending the mountains for the first time in a long while at speeds approaching 70km’h, sometimes with goats as spectators.

My friends in Mallorca, Xavier and Oscar helped make my visit special by introducing me to new people and being great training partners when their schedule allowed. I was very fortunate to do most of the training rides that I enjoyed before returning to Toronto (many of the longer ones with company). There were relationships that were strengthened during my visit in Spain and new ones that were formed, virtually and otherwise.

Mallorca makes life simple, incorporating all the things I love into each day: a relaxed breakfast, riding, lunch, blogging, photography, walking to the centre, napping, 2 hour dinners, blackberry messenger, movies and TIME… a great routine that allowed for maximum relaxation while enjoying some vino tinto and cervetha. With the extra time I had in the evenings I was able to chill out with good wine and movie watching galore, from the usual classics to Californication.

Leaving

In the end, I was met with mixed emotions when leaving Mallorca. I was eager to get my body ‘fixed’ and return to see my clients and friends but was reluctant to leave the dream world that I had been living in for a month where everything was perfect.

It’s remarkable how 30 days of Eden can warm your soul, stir and provoke emotions that lay dormant and give you a break from reality (along with a new appreciation for all things organic). As much as I enjoy being back in Toronto, I miss my Eden and look forward to our next rendezvous.

 bay of alcudia

bay of alcudia

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What do croissants, riding and wine have in common?

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