Travelers: Martin (Germany) and Lisa Buchmueller (US), along with their son Max (age 4), who attends Eduwings kindergarten in Shunyi. They joined eight other couples/families from all across Europe, made up of Martin’s group of friends from an Erasmus year at the University of Birmingham in the UK in the 1990s.
Destinations: Solingen, Germany; Palma de Mallorca, Spain
Dates: June 19-28, 2013
Travel plans: The family flew from Beijing to Dusseldorf in Germany to drop in on Max’s grandparents in nearby Solingen. They then flew Air Berlin to Mallorca where they rented a ten-bedroom house in Alcudia in the northeast of the island.
Cost: Flights were approximately RMB 21,000. Car rental for three days in Germany cost RMB 2,500 and seven days in Mallorca cost around RMB 2,000 (both Opel Corsa, both excluding gas). Accommodation at the Finca Casa Siona in Mallorca worked out to about EUR 50 (RMB 418) per person, per night, with an additional nightly fee for the group’s private chef of EUR 30 (RMB 251) per adult.
I spent an Erasmus year in the UK at the University of Birmingham in 1996-1997 and a group of friends from the time continue to meet one or two times a year in different cities. We come from all over Europe and we have met in over 20 places where one or more of us live. As we grow older and many of us have kids, we typically meet at weddings or summer holidays, like the trip to Mallorca we made in the June 2013.
Before joining up with our friends and their families, we spent two days in my home town of Solingen in Germany visiting Max’s grandparents. He loves animals, so we took a trip the zoo in nearby Wuppertal. A sunny morning in the zoo turned into a thunderstorm, and our holiday (and perhaps our lives) were almost cut short when a big oak branch, almost the size of school bus, broke off and landed just one meter behind us. It was a very lucky day!
We flew onto Mallorca, where we had rented a large finca (Spanish country house) with ten bedrooms, terrace, garden, and swimming pool just 5km outside the city of Alcudia in the north-east of the island. We had a private chef who cooked for us every evening but we made our own breakfasts, which beamed us back to the chaos of our student days 17 years ago!
The house was perfect for such a large group and was only a 15-minute drive away from some beaches that were great for small kids, with soft white sand and shallow water for them to play in. Mallorca also offers busy towns, quiet alleys, and picturesque bays.
As well as spending time with friends and families by the pool at the finca, we also visited the cathedral in Palma and took the old tram up to the picturesque mountain town of Soller. It was great to spend so much time with our friends and to combine it with visits to some “hidden gems” and trips to the beach with all of our kids.
- The northeastern part of the island, where we stayed, is not overrun by package holidaymakers; the beaches were very child- friendly and safe. Stay away from the main tourist areas near Palma.
- Be warned – there are not many very large fincas in Mallorca and they tend to book out three or four years in advance.
- Air Berlin overbooked our flight and caused a long delay. Budget airlines can cause all kinds of hassle so spending a bit more can sometimes pay off.
- Organizing our rental car upon arriving in Germany was expensive and tiring after a long flight.
- Wi-Fi access in Spain is not as widely available as in Asia, which can be a real problem for people who need to stay connected with work.
- A lot of ATMs on the island charge for withdrawals so you should think about getting adequate currency beforehand.
Photo courtesy of Martin Buchmueller
This article originally appeared on p34-35 of the beijingkids January 2014 issue. Check out the PDF version online at Issuu.com
Check out the PDF version online at Issuu.com