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7th July, 2015

Palma, Majorca

The young pilot asked me my name when he reached the bridge, he smiled when he heard and said, ‘Paco send his very best wishes’. I replied by telling him that I was calling regularly into Palma when Paco started his pilot training over 17 years ago, and he expects to retire next year I was advised.

Even before we managed to get ashore, the temperature had climbed to 28 degrees and there was little wind. The narrow gauge train tour to Sollér was unfortunately full so the alternative was a ride on the shuttle bus then a stroll past the impressive cathedral and into the old quarter. Of course, over the years, the types of shops have changed to cater for the ever increasing tourist trade, but we did find a few unusual ones. Mrs R was quite taken by a ‘vintage’ clothing shop (not to be called second hand I was told), and particularly by the huge amount of fur of one sort or another hanging on rails. Very much favoured by northern Europeans tourists apparently, but after she had made a thorough rummage, I was somewhat relieved there was nothing of suitable size, not to mention budget. I actually preferred a shop nearby selling miniature soldiers, obviously of more interest to male enthusiasts, though not my particular hobby.

We took the opportunity of finding empty seats outside at a quieter café where there were less folks passing by, after which it was time for me to head back to the ship while Mrs R continued on her retail mission. Managing to find my way back through the labyrinth of narrow streets, I eventually came out through a mediaeval gate adjacent to the cathedral grounds and close to the busy city ring road. The air conditioned shuttle bus offered welcome relief from the midday sun and a temperature which I later found out had reached 31 degrees.

Departure was delayed for a short while as an American cadet training vessel, the Empire State, came in and berthed just ahead of us. Built in 1962 as a cargo ship and still propelled by steam turbine, the pilot explained he was somewhat relieved when the propeller actually went astern on demand. There were dozens of cadets’ top side and not one of them had a hard hat on; however I did see many baseball hats, bandanas and one sombrero though!

Captain Philip Rentell

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