Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cognac Gulch

Plaza GomilaPhoto credit of Plaza Gomila to Salvatore at Il Guardiano del Faro

Chapter 36

While Helen and I were still living at the apartment in Son Armadams with her father, Mr. G., the three of us would sometimes go out for an evening stroll around the area. The Mediterranean summer nights were warm and scented with the exotic aromas of jasmine and dama de noche. It was such a pleasure to escape the heat and humidity of the day although the air never really cooled and one could wear sleeveless cotton summer dresses both day and night.

Inevitably we would take a long walk up the street to the area known as El Terreno and join the throngs of people-watchers in the Plaza Gomila, referred to by Mr. G. as 'Cognac Gulch'.

El Terreno means 'the land' in Spanish, and the area used to be on the outskirts of Palma. It was where wealthier residents built their summer or weekend home away from the bustle of the city; a sort of country retreat of long ago.

But by 1968 the distance between city and country had disappeared and El Terreno had become the nightlife centre of Palma, where bars and cafes vied for the attention of tourists and residents alike by setting up their tables and chairs outdoors in Plaza Gomila, which was a small plaza divided by a narrow road leading down to more bars and the Hotel Mediterraneo Grand.

It was a place where people sat to have coffee, brandy, gin & tonics or cool drinks in the evenings while all the time watching the stream of colourful passers-by, such as those in full evening dress as they walked towards the entrance of Tito's nightclub.

Tito's was the topnotch club of Palma, hosting international and national entertainment figures, where guests were served champagne and chocolates at small tables tiered around the stage. There was a dress code and if a man dared to enter without jacket and tie, he was taken aside and offered the chance to rent them. Women dressed in cocktail dresses and long gowns, and as they swished past the outdoor tables, their jewellery sparkled in the neon lights and their perfume trailed in the air, mingling with the scent of fresh coffee from the bars next door.

Sara Montiel Sara Montiel

Sara Montiel, or Saritisima as she was often called, was a frequent performer there in Tito's. Sara was a popular Spanish singer and actress from La Mancha who became well known for some of her early screen appearances. She was a frequent visitor to Palma.

But outside in Plaza Gomila the three of us would find ourselves a little round table, sit down and order our cafés cortado, our brandies Soberano, and pull out our black tobacco cigarettes, usually a national brand called Record which cost at the time just a few pesetas....worth pennies in other currencies.

cafe cortado
We'd sit there smoking and drinking, chatting, and laughing while observing the post beatnik, hippy, international crowd. As we listening to the babel of European languages mixed with Spanish and English, we kept watch for any passing celebrities. After all, we were there in what was the most exciting and interesting spot in the Balearic Islands, or so we thought.

We wondered if we might even see that new young curly-haired singer called Julio Iglesias who was becoming so popular after winning the Benidorm song festival with his own composition "La Vida Sigue Igual".

Young Julio Iglesias Julio Iglesias

Near to Plaza Gomila was the popular Africa Bar where English people congregated and around the corner was the Loa Bar, where one could find the best spaghetti bolognese and pancakes with real maple syrup; the only place in Palma where those were seen.
spaghetti bolognese
pancakesWe thought it could have something to do with the fact that the Loa Bar was a favourite haunt for American sailors from the sixth fleet who stopped there when they were in town.
Otherwise from where did the Loa bar get their real maple syrup? I asked but they would never tell!

Photo credit of Julio Iglesias to www.todocoleccion.net

Next: John Ulbricht & Angela Von Neumann


Anonymous said...

a real pleasure, every time. thank you for sharing. best wishes, klaus

Marysol said...

OMG Sharon! Sara Montiel was/is my mom's idol. She was a very popular celebrity in Cuba (as was Julio Iglesias and Rafael.
But, she was affectionately called "Sarita" by all her fans on the island.

What memories you've stirred up for me today!

Espero que tengas un magnífico día.

Canarybird said...

Nice to see you Klaus and thanks!

Sol...yes I heard that Sara was popular in Cuba and Latin America. In fact a few years ago she married a young Cuban fellow, but it didn't last very long. She's still a legend here in Spain although now a senior citizen. Un abrazo!

Anonymous said...

Julio Inglesias was the most handsome man. Wow.

I imagine it must have been a real skill to drink coffee from those cups with no handles.


Canarybird said...

Renee...it still takes skill to drink from those cups especially when the coffee is really hot! When in a hurry, we wrap a napkin around the cup lol!

myletterstoemily said...

my daughter is vacationing in the canary
islands this week!

she will love that i found your gorgeous

myletterstoemily said...

my daughter is vacationing in the canary
islands this week!

she will love that i found your gorgeous

Michelle said...

Oh what memories! I am thinking about writing a story about my childhood with you in Palma for my blog. As a child, I remember the ladies with the sparkly shoes during the Spanish evenings, the smells of Mallorca - leather, tobacco, sweet aromas from the bakeries and cafes, cafe con leche, the flamenco dancers....oh such wonderful fond memories. Thanks Mom! Love you. Michelle

Jo said...

Ohhhhh.... what a wonderful life you live. It's so far away from Port Alberni, isn't it? It's so beautiful where you live.


Did you ever see Julio Iglesias? He was always one of my favorites.

José Ramón said...

A very interesting blog.

Greetings from creativity and imagination photos of Jose Ramon

MurciaDailyPhoto said...

It was a lucky find this blog.
Mallorca brings me good memories. I have family in this island. My first visit was in early 80's, when I was a child (how different is the perspective of a trip to the island as a child). The following was in the early '90s, and my last visit in December 1998. Gomila Square, on my last visit, was no longer what it was. It had lost a lot of charm.

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