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Miscellaneous Use this area ONLY if you can't find a suitable home for your topic. We'll create a new area if necessary and reserve the right to move topics to more suitable areas. Only post regarding the Pollensa area. This is not a forum for general discussion.

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Old 14-08-2012, 15:55
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Default Driving to Mallorca - with a dog .....

As we had lots of helpful pointers on this forum I thought we’d record our journey to Mallorca so others can add to it or as a future reference point.

After last summer’s trauma of leaving the dog for 7 weeks with various friends and family, Mrs Jilly decided this year that the dog should come for the summer as well. Now, it appears airlines fall into a number of categories in respect of dogs

- Not interested in flying a dog – most “budget” airlines
- Happy to fly a dog – but buying your own plane would cost less
- Not happy if you try to book the dog on as a passenger – well, worth a try and she does have a passport!

So, the conversation turned to driving to Mallorca. Having had a quick look at Multimap I reckoned that if we left our house at 3am I could hammer down through France and be at Barcelona for the midnight crossing – a few comfort breaks for the kids – and dog – but not much else.

So we had a discussion and Mrs Jilly decided it was a ridiculous idea and we should make a holiday of it and take our time, which apparently I agreed with.

Having looked at ferries to Santander – very expensive and dog in a cage for 24 hours – we decided – mainly for the dog’s benefit – to spend as little time on ferries and more on the road. Le Shuttle appeared to offer the quickest route to France and after extensive research on Baleària we decided on the 5pm Fast Ferry from Barcelona to Alcudia (which bizarrely goes via Menorca first).

Wednesday 3am – rise and shine, car loaded with suitcases, dog cage, 7 weeks supply of pasta sauce, Cheerios, new bed linen, a gallon of sun cream, 3 tired kids, 1 dog and 2 grumpy adults.

Make good time down the M4 and M25 and head towards Folkestone for Le Shuttle. Arrive at the electronic check in gate and are offered an earlier train which is ideal, pop into their service area to refresh the kids and dog, and on the train within 30 minutes. Bit freaky to start with and kids asking will they see the water coming up past the windows when we go under the Channel!

Before you know it were in cloudy and windy France which is about as interesting as Folkestone. We decide to head west towards Rouen to avoid the Paris traffic and the cloud and wind get worse. Certainly not one of the Top 10 Drives To Do Before You Die, however still easy enough. Get to Rouen then hook south towards our overnight stay south of Orleans.

Things get a bit more torturous now as we pass through numerous towns that appear to be modelled on Milton Keynes and into roadwork’s hell where they are building new roads (took a photograph as building stuff is unheard off in the UK).

Eventually get back onto the motorways, where all the toll road machines are on the wrong side of the car – thus having to wake slumbering co-pilot every ½ hour to pay the fee – and each stop sets the dog off barking as she thinks it walkies time again.

Eventually arrive at the most beautiful French village ever Sologne, near Chaumont sur Tharonne. We have the perfect hosts, beers are soon in hand, relax in their garden, dinner in the only restaurant in the village (dogs allowed in the indoors dining area !) , kids have a play in the park – as does the dog – and we’re all crashed out by about 10pm.

Mucho relaxo as they say on France !

Thursday 8am – dog decides 8am is a good time to wake up, and we’re munching on the most perfect French toast and croissants for breakfast. We bid our hosts farewell and are on the road again for 9.30am.

Mainly motorway today so Mrs Jilly is behind the wheel as the countryside becomes more like the picture book France we expected and the sun is out. Lots of stop offs today in the Aires, bit like our service stations but without the annoying AA salesmen and Starbucks, and some stunning bridges and scenery.

Head down towards Toulouse and then onto Carcassonne which we have never heard off but apparently has a bit of a walled city. Well, we skirt south of Carcassonne to get to our hotel on the far side and there it is, the most magnificent fairy tale walled city shooting out of the flat countryside, dominating the whole area. Much squealing and excitement, and the kids joined in too.

The excitement was soon tempered when we pulled up to our Etap hotel, which is as about as welcoming and atmospheric as a skip – but the only affordable place we could get 2 rooms and a dog into.

Given it’s on the edge of an industrial estate Mrs Jilly decided , for security reasons, we should bring ALL of the luggage in from the car. The fear was not losing the DVD players, the Satnav, or the luggage, but the Cheerios, pasta sauce and sun cream which was worth more than the car! Once all the luggage is in we realise we now only have one room to sleep in as the other is now a luggage store.

So, to lift our spirits we head into the walled city of Carcassonne which is even more stunning once your within the walls (I’m afraid Old Town Alcudia ain’t a patch on this) . Great dinner (with dog in attendance) and then a beautiful walk around the walls and streets – the place being even more haunting than expected as there is rock band playing a concert and there are Goth type kids everywhere – so we thought we’d better get out before dark !

Back to our skip, sorry, I mean Etap, for a terrible night’s sleep.

Friday 8am -We refuse to join the Oliver Twist like queue for breakfast – although no one is asking for more – and head to a local bakery for some fresh and edible food.

Off again towards Barcelona and the countryside becomes more and more Spanish, even though we’re still in France – but don’t say that to the Basques!

We had left some time to catch the 5pm Fast Ferry so once we hit Barcelona we headed for Camp Nou for a very quick visit and look around, just to say we had been there. No time for the tour and the club shop was a mixture of Supermarket Sweep and the running of the bulls.

Mrs Jilly was left on security detail at the car with the (guard) dog incase some opportunist thief fancied 7 weeks supply of Cheerios.

So, packed up again and onto the roller coaster of Barcelona’s road system, which resembles the Cars 2 movie being watched in the back of the car. Giving way, indicating, staying in lane and roundabout routine are all alien to your local Barca driver.

So, head down, foot down, and go for it was the order of the day until we safely reached the docks after our fourth circuit of the roundabout outside.

Rules are, even though we booked in online, check in 2 hours early (good idea as the queues became very long), need to collect a ticket for the dog (who can’t book in online due to poor typing skills) and only driver can drive on, everyone else and their dog goes on as foot passengers.

So, we leave the car in the “secure” compound, which is basically a car park with non-existent security, and given the black market value of the Cheerios we decide not to venture too far and walk a whole 10 yards to a hotdog hut.

We are called to board, Mrs Jilly, kids and dog have been given the wrong tickets and are refused boarding, I am on the ship blaming the ticket guy on the “secure” car park for giving us the wrong ticket, until I realise that somehow the correct tickets have, all along, been slipped into my pocket………….

Mrs Jilly settles in near the bar in the First Class lounge, which is exactly the same as the cattle class lounge except it is upstairs and has a bigger bar, which is great except the bigger bar is closed.

The sight of 2 armed policemen in the cattle class area didn’t really reassure us however the need for sustenance meant we had to venture downstairs and mix with the ordinary folk. They weren’t as bad as feared, but we bunkered down upstairs in the posh seats (which were exactly the same as the cattle class seats) to watch a movie with subtitles in English, including some rather interesting swear words from Simon Peggs character ……

Dog is put into the kennels on outside deck which is great for ventilation except the kennels are those horrible portable ones strapped to the deck, the dog area is not cordoned off and is populated by spotty faces Spanish scouts kicking the kennel and is in the full glare of the sun. So, we end up taking turns sitting on the metal deck trying to settle the dog and trip up as many spotty faced Spanish scouts as we can. Think I bagged about 7 !

5 long, hot, poor aircon hours later we hit Menorca for our first stop.Menorca looks wonderful in the pitch black and we take an hour to unload and load then we’re off to Mallorca which looks even better than Menorca in the dark.

Saturday 12.01am- So, just gone midnight we collect up all our stuff, DVDs, drinks, food wrappers , children, dog and land in Alcudia and 15 minutes later we are in PP – 68 hours after we left Cheltenham.

All in all, a wonderful trip down, the dog is loving PP and is in the square every night, boys brought their tennis rackets and scooters to play on, we have our car on hand, and have the rest of the holiday to look forward to the journey back.

Only downside is, the boys have decided they no longer like Cheerios for breakfast !!!!!!!
pollensa, debz1, sws97sdg and 25 others like this.

Last edited by Jilly; 15-08-2012 at 09:59.
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  #2  
Old 14-08-2012, 16:27
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Fantastic post Jilly. laughed all the way through, very brave of you but the benefits must out way the journey, having the dog, the car and all the Cheerios! Thanks for sharing, enjoy your extended stay!
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Old 14-08-2012, 16:32
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Absolutely fantastic account Mr Jilly . I think that because i have met you both it was easy for me to picture you bagging the spotty scouts rofl!!! , hilarious, you should write a book about your adventure.........who knows, a movie might follow .

Thank you for posting and cheerio for now .
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Old 14-08-2012, 16:58
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Brilliant! Thanks for posting, really enjoyed it & hope you all have a fantastic holiday.
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Old 14-08-2012, 17:57
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Hilarious! But very useful also from a practical doggy point of view. When eventually we buy in PP we will think about bringing our dog, and from reading your article, you seem to have found the best 'dog friendy' route.
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Old 14-08-2012, 20:46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sparky View Post
you should write a book about your adventure.........who knows, a movie might follow .
Driving to Mallorca - with a dog .....

is the natural title....
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Old 15-08-2012, 08:12
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Really enjoyed the post!

Looking forward to part 2 (Returning with 7 weeks supply of Cheerios ...)
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Old 15-08-2012, 13:19
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That brought back memories, we did a similar trip, but this was about 20 years ago, taking my friends 2 golden retrievers to majorca, (they had just moved over permenantly). But being 2 very keen twenty somethings we drove from Manchester via Dover to just outside Paris in one go, quick few hours sleep in car with dogs then onto Barca.(including getting stopped by the police, just so they could look at the dogs!!) We didnt take the cheerios but did have all the misssing doors from a B&Q kitchen on the roof for the new house in majorca. At the time the kennels were in the car hold on the Barca ferry, so we refused to put them in and left them in the car. Keep threatening to do it again with wife and kids. Really entertaining, brought back many memories of our adventure, made me smile.
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Old 15-08-2012, 21:48
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What an entertaining read, we had great fun reading the record of your journey. My son says it sounds like great crack but I on the other hand am not convinced !!!!
Regards jat xx
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Old 15-08-2012, 23:55
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brilliant read!
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Old 16-08-2012, 10:39
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Great post! I agree with Sparky, you should write a book.
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Last edited by marilyn; 17-08-2012 at 17:22. Reason: senior moment
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Old 16-08-2012, 12:21
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Cracking read, if you want to get rid of the Cheerios I`ll meet you off the ferry on the way back, my dog loves em.
They will be given a caring home.
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Old 17-08-2012, 15:29
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Thanks for the report Mr J, very good indeed. We did the trip last year but with only 2 adults and large dog in a large car so I guess we had more space. I can identify with the driving in and around Barcelona, especially with the couple of circuits of the roundabout at the ferry terminal. Best wishes for the return journey.
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Old 29-08-2012, 23:18
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Well written mr jilly! Knowing miss holly she is a wee character! I'm sure she had a fab holiday!
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Old 28-07-2013, 23:18
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So, given last years adventure (above) we decided to make some significant changes to this years journey to Mallorca. Not just in terms of directions and ferry crossings but more importantly the children have gone off Cheerios so it was mainly Branflakes and Shreddies in the car this year

Leaving the UK - still no checks on the animal you are carrying (a half human cockapoo in our case) so next year we are going to try and travel with a small tiger (assuming the cockapoo doesn't mind the squeeze) just for the craic.

Northern France - still nothing to write home about but headed towards Arras so we could stop off at the WW1 memorials at Vimy Ridge - breath-taking start to the journey, wonderfully preserved trenches and battle field monuments and graves. Hugely moving and a site of great pride for the Canadians there.

Driving around Paris - terrible idea - grotty and horrible motorway makes you appreciate the M25 traffic jams - yes it is that bad!

French Service stations - I will never ever again criticise our beloved motorway services which are way ahead of anything in France and have real ground breaking initiatives such as clean toilets, running water, bins, fresh and edible food, proper coffee and staff who don’t react to any question like you have just asked can you sleep with their mother.

First stop over Chaumont sur Tharonne - perfect B&B again made even better when we met the other guests who had the ONLY - yes the ONLY - cockapoo in the whole of Belgium. Identical to ours only it barked in Flemish (and English, German and French as those Belgium’s really do like to show off their language skills)

Next stop Carcassonne - middle son disappointed to find out we are not staying in a ESkip hotel again, beautiful walled town where we have a wonderful dinner and walk around before buying a couple of warm cans of out of date beer to help us sleep off the days journey. In fact they are so out of date one leaks in the boot going back to the hotel so we now have to drive with the smell of warm stale beer in the car for the next 2 days

Barcelona !!! - because of the later overnight ferry we had ½ day to kill. So having walked around Carcassonne again we decided to slowly head south and come off the motorway at Lloret de Mar on the cost above Barcelona. Looked nice in the pictures. I never knew you could squeeze so many Big Macs, Burger Kings, Plastic Paddy Pubs, Nightclubs and lap dancing joints into such a small space. This place makes Magaluf look classy.

So we headed on down the cost to some slightly classier resorts, and stopped off at a wonderful locals restaurant in a port for a late lunch.

Then on down the coast to the locals beaches above Barcelona (never knew they had any) and then into Barceloneta north of the Port which apparently is not only the site of the Olympic village but also the gay capital of Spain which prompted numerous questions from the younger kids about why those men were holding hands. After a walk along the promenade and beach we had plenty of time to get to the ferry – or so we thought.

Driving in Barcelona !!! – now I don’t know who upset me most, Mrs Jilly asking why people were jumping out of the way as we drove along pedestrianised streets, the kids asking “are we lost again”, the cockapoo chipping in with sarcastic barks or that bloody smart alec women on Satnav saying “turnaround NOW!” when you are in the middle of 5 lines of static traffic. Fun this was not !

We missed the Ferry terminal first time round, only just mind, and then had a 20 minute route to have another crack at getting in second time. Not bad, but when we were still going at our FOURTH attempt to get in the humour was frankly lost on me.

Then Balearia Ferries decide not to have their ferry leave from the Ferry terminal with a very large Balearia sign saying FERRY but instead to close off the ferry terminal entrance with cones and armed police. So, having decided being shot by a trigger happy copper may be safer than driving around Barcelona again we pulled up and asked for help. This consisted of “go left, follow that lorry” which seemed like a practical joke but was much better advice than the Satnav women was dishing out so off we went, and went, and went, following the lorry going to ….well, we’re not quite sure really.

Said lorry arrives eventually at a large roundabout, were it stops at security gates and we notice the world’s smallest sign saying Balearia ferries so we go for it, up a large ramp, down a large ramp, through an industrial park to a security gate in what looks like a hopeless mission to get off mainland Spain. We grill the security card in our best Spanish “wereio is el Palma Ferrio departurio “ . The security card turns out to be our saviour, he nonchalantly points to a gate of florescent jacketed folk.

We pull in, hand over a fraction of the correct paperwork and are waved through anyhow. We are now sitting in a covered derelict carpark surrounded by German drivers (they obviously got their early to bag their spots) so get out to stretch our legs. Toilet facilities consist of 2 portaloos, the male one of totally blocked by unimaginable items that could not have come from humans, the female toilet has a smell so unique it could be bottled and sold as poisonous gas to revolutionaries seeking to overthrow the government.

After a not pleasant wait we are boarding (before the Germans much to their disgust and our delight) and then clamber up the steps to bag a cabin (before the Germans) and a dog kennel (before the German dogs). Facilities are basic on-board but Mrs Jillys alcohol needs means she is straight to the bar to secure a few cold beers and hot dogs for all before the Germans arrive and storm the bar area and devour every piece of food and drink in their noisy queue jumping ways.

Having won the physcological battle with the Germans convincingly we head to the cabin for an uncomfortable nights sleep before we eventually arrive in Palma.

Puerto Pollensa – so, 3 ½ days later, 1,100 miles, one freaked out cockapoo, 3 tired kids, 2 knackered parents and the kids can’t be bothered going to the beach !!!

Was it worth it …………….
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