ABOARD USS KEARSARGE -- As Marines and Sailors of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) (24th MEU (SOC)) close in on the one-month mark of their deployment, they made a stop at the Spanish Island of Palma de Mallorca for a few days of liberty.
Several tours were made available to MEU personnel and the ships crew, including a visit to the world-famous Caves of Drach on the East Coast of Mallorca, a half-day tour of the Inca Market - an inland town about twenty miles from Palma, a Casino Palladium dinner and show, and a scenic island tour, which is known as Mallorca's most unique tour.
The scenic island tour combined three forms of transportation to cover parts of the island that only native residents are familiar with.
A bus began the tour with a ride through Palma and a stop in Inca at a leather factory. After the leather factory, the bus ride headed to the mountains of Mallorca, with winding roads that were just barely wide enough to fit the bus.
Once the bus route reached the top of its climb, the descent seemed to be a bit more treacherous with hairpin turns that were amusingly referred to as "Tie-knot" turns. The first leg of the bus ride ended at the secluded beach-town of La Calobra where tour-goers enjoyed a delectable lunch before launching on a ferryboat along the coastline to the next town of Soller.
Once in Soller, everyone walked through the city to a parking lot and boarded the bus for a ten-minute ride to the Soller train station.
Upon arrival to the train station and after a break at the concession stand for some of Soller's fresh made orange and lemon juice, or some ice cream, everyone boarded the antique electric train.
The 100-year old train took riders through the scenic mountainside of Soller en route to Palma. On the way it traveled through 13 tunnels and descended about 400 feet.
The tour concluded with yet another bus ride back to the USS Kearsarge.
Another spectacular Palma tour was the Casino Palladium dinner and show.
Considered the most fascinating and sophisticated night out in Mallorca, the tour included a three-course dinner and music provided by an orchestra.
After dinner, guests were invited to enjoy the surroundings of the gambling halls before the evening show.
The show was an exciting display of genuine Spanish popular and traditional dances. Also included in the entertainment were daredevil motorcyclists and a spectacular laser-light intermission show.
With four days in Palma de Mallorca behind them, members of the 24th MEU (SOC) have impressions of a beautiful island to carry with them forever.
Follow the 24th MEU (SOC) deployment on their website at www.usmc.mil/24meu.