Thorn Around the World

"In The Palma My Hand"
It was October 26th, my last day in Barcelona. I woke a little early to organize and pack my things before my afternoon flight to Palma de Mallorca, an island in the Mediterranean where I would catch a cruise ship to cross the Atlantic. I was flying with Ryan Air, a European budget airline. But, great ticket prices means big baggage fees on size and weight restrictions, so I had to lighten my load as much as possible.

While Bozkurt was in our apartment kitchen making one last round of Turkish coffees, I was in my room, hovering over my tightly packed bags, staring at the huge glass stein that was given to me by the Icelandic national darts team-a prized memento of my visit. But, it was too big and heavy to pack along. So, I had another idea.

I asked Boz, "Could you deliver this mug to Keith at the George Payne, and tell him it's a gift from me?" I thought maybe Keith could use it as a trophy of sorts for the new darts league that was going to start at the George Payne. "Of course," Boz said with a smile.
Since I couldn't take it with me, this seemed like the most appropriate place to leave it, as a reminder of my time here and the friends and connections I've made around the world on this journey.

Finally, it came time to say goodbye. With a last hug and handshake I bid adieu to Boz and trundled my bags out the door of Sant Jordi Hostel and onto the noon streets of Barcelona. I walked to the nearest Metro station, and after a transfer or two I was on the express train to the Barcelona airport. It was a lovely day-the storm from the night before had vanished and warm sun and soft breezes returned. I was already missing Barcelona, but I was also getting excited for the next chapter of my adventure. On the train, a band of street performers boarded, entertaining the entire car with a few songs filled with that Latin flair. It was an energetic and pleasing sound, and happily I forked over a few euros to buy their CD.

At the airport, my bags barely passed the test: my carry-on fit by a few millimeters, but my big bag was a little overweight. I had to get out of line, take out a coat and wear it, and try again. Eventually, I got through security and to my gate safely, waiting to board, watching planes lift and land. Inside, I was hoping my precious darts-deeply packed in my bag-would make it safely through baggage and meet me in Palma de Mallorca too.
It's funny where you see signs of darts. On the plane, the overhead compartments were covered with ads sporting a bullseye logo. More than one fellow passenger must have wondered why I took a picture of the carry-on bins.

Below me was the glittering Mediterranean. It was a short flight, and soon after the coastal hills around Barcelona disappeared, the rockier cliffs of Palma appeared. We cut across the island as our altitude dropped, before spiraling in to land. I was about to spend four days on an island in the Mediterranean Sea while waiting for a ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Epic.
Plus, I had a friend, Maunela, who would join me later tonight. She's from Germany, and we met on another seagoing adventure of mine, two years earlier. She had some vacation time and loves Palma de Mallorca, having visited many times. As I would learn, Palma-renowned for its beaches and party atmosphere-is a favorite escape for the British and German. Manuela found a great package deal on a hotel, the TRH Terranova, outside the city on a rocky cape called Terranova. A place I was headed for now.

I yanked my big bag off the conveyor belt, thankfully intact. I found a map, asked some questions, and after hearing the cost of a cab, I figured my way to a bus stop and waited in the warm sun by some requisite airport palm trees. It's always fun being a bit lost in a new place, hoping you find your way. I was also hopeful to spy some dart bars.
I boarded the bus and enjoyed the ride along the quieter coast to the bustling center of the city of Palma de Mallorca, a micro version of old Barcelona. A fountain sprayed high from a sculpture in the plaza, surrounded by dozens of people and pigeons. Wanting to find my hotel first, I didn't take time to walk around. Instead, I found the underground bus transfer station, and boarded another coach to roll me up the coast to Terranova-another fun ride, staring out at the yachts, homes, resorts, castle ruins, churches, or beaches.

Mistakenly, I got off the bus a little too soon, finding myself in the town of Palma Nova, a decent but doable distance from my destination. But, it was the perfect chance to stop for a late lunch and a beer, and walk the streets from here, asking questions and scoping out the bars that might have an oche or two. On an island loaded with Europeans, you knew there would have to be some dartboards around.
By sundown, I stumbled upon the Star Bar-Scottish run and owned-before I found my hotel. It's a cozy and authentic little pub, tucked between the labyrinth of shops, clubs, restaurants, and boutiques that line the winding streets of this posh island. They had a board in the back and right away I was making friends with the owner and handful of patrons. A lady and I played a few legs to great delight and conversation. The owner, Tony Ortega, offered me some of his custom made flights, and pointed out my hotel on my map. Before I left we swapped info, and they told me that one of Spain's best dart professionals lives on the island, the PDC's Antonio Alcinas, and they would try to contact him for me to play and interview. I checked my email the next few days, but alas, that hope never came true.

But I did find my hotel and my awesome room-atop a mass of white terrace balconies over a pool over the sea. Manuela arrived later that night, and we ate and drank and caught up on old times and new memories. The morning was much the same, eating buffet and drinking coffee before cocktails, lounging around the pool.
That afternoon, we went to walk the town, and guess what I found down by the bay a short walk from our hotel-another bar, JJ's Sports Lounge, open air to the beach, with a board in the back. I smiled.

Over and double out.

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