The Retirees return to Italy – On board the SS Costa Diadema – Mallorca

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We rise early and breakfast in our cabin as the bus leaves at 8.30 am. We are going to Las Cuevas del Drach (Dragon’s Cave), a limestone cave about 1 hour drive from Las Palma the major city on the island. The bus ride has some interesting aspects particularly the large number of windmills in every state of decay – restored through to tumbled down. These windmills were used throughout history of Mallorca as pumps to drain the lowlands. Las Palma has over 400,000 people out of a population of 800,000. We passed through Manacor the second largest city having a population 40,000 people and Raphael Nadal’s tennis school as he is a native of the island.

Once we arrive and alight from the bus, guides take us into the below ground entrance. The caves have been known since the middle ages, but were not fully explored till 1880 by a German speleologist who drew up the first detailed plan of the caves and then by a French speleologist Martel who gave his name to the lake in the bottom of the cave system. We enter the system through the cave called Luis Salvador and follow a formed path with lighting highlighting the limestone features within. Stalactites and stalagmites abound. There is a large pond of clear but bluish water called Diana Baths and many of the other formations have been given names to reflect the image evoked by the formation. Our journey reaches a climax when we arrive at an amphitheater facing Lake Martel.

The amphitheatre has been modeled as a theatre. Once all the stragglers have arrived the lights are dimmed and the concert begins. A quartet made up of two violins cello and harmonium playing classical music sails forth upon the lake accompanied by two other boats each illuminated along the edge of each boat. At the end of the concert lasting about ten minutes the boat with the orchestra sails into the caves and some are lucky enough to get a trip on one of the other boats whilst others like us trail through the Cave of the French completing the 1200 metre journey through the cave system. Awaiting us there is the usual gift shop and cafe but not much more.

Once we all emerge and all of the group is on the bus we traveled literally 200 m to our next point of interest – a pearl shop. As we had been through the fresh water pearl factories in China this really did not hold much interest and like China was set up as a honey trap for tourists. And that was it the tour was over and we were headed back to the ship. We were left feeling a bit flat. The caves were interesting but we were left with not enough time to visit Las Palma and too much time to go back to the ship. The bus stopped across the road from the Cathedral tempting us to venture forth and explore some more but with the choice of rushing around the old town or relaxing on the ship – the ship won. Tomorrow we start the return trip to Civitavecchia.

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