Today, 10th February 2015, I start my 90 day virtual tour of Spain on the island of Mallorca in the company of Vicki McLeod. I do hope you will follow me as I cross the country and its islands on my digital journey. I look forward to “meeting” many of you.
Day ONE By @mcleod_vicki
Arrivals, PALMA and surrounds
A lot of people who visit Mallorca come to the island for their holidays. They are picked up at the airport and whisked away to their all-inclusive hotels where they lounge by the pool for a week, lapping up the sun’s rays, and then they are returned, sunburnt and slightly addled, a week later back to the airport. I call this the holiday bypass. It’s a shame as if you skip travelling through Mallorca’s towns and villages you will miss out on its beautiful landscape, almond blossom, mountains, cultural idiosyncrasies, Dimonis, running with fire and modernist architectural style. Mallorca has a lot of style. In fact, the only thing I would tell you to definitely ignore would be the most famous place of all, Magalluf, unless you want to go on the human version of a safari. In which case, that can be organised. But not on my three day tour of my home.
Tip Numero Uno, rent a car. As much as I hate to tell you this, the transport system in Mallorca is okay, but hanging around waiting for buses is not how I would want you to spend your time on my island. So get yourself organised with a motor. I like dealing with Avance in Portals because they are a local business so try them. (0034 971 675 539, talk to Micky or Maria they will sort you out).
You’re going to have to stay at one of the most beautiful, and famous hotels in Mallorca: the luxury hotel Belmond La Residencia The property is sprawling but nestles perfectly into the mountainside – a village unto itself. There are manicured lawns leading onto orchards of lemons and oranges, many terraces where Mediterranean flora and beautiful trees provide shade for the summer, and a mountainside of olive groves producing fruit for the hotel’s very own extra virgin olive oil.
It really is a very special place. Its location has a mountain backdrop and the Mediterranean Sea in the foreground. There are 67 rooms, in beautiful local style, simply and elegantly furnished. The hotel consists of a mediaeval watchtower and two large manor houses from the XVI and XVII centuries. Many of the original architectural features have been maintained. The views are panoramic and the peace and tranquillity a balm for the soul. The property has a flock of sheep and a number of friendly donkeys which accompany guests who choose to head up the hillside to the mountain refuge where a traditional Mallorcan picnic can be served. Others may prefer to head off to the sea for a boat trip that is complimentary to guests.
The hotel has a gourmet restaurant, a bistro and a pool restaurant and each provides different menus. There are cooking classes with the chef for those wishing to improve their culinary skills. A tennis coach organizes a programme of tennis activities and is there to improve your game. A kids’ club provides activities for the young, while families are encouraged to take classes together with the artists who provide activities to suit different tastes. As artists abound in this tiny village, you can join in on the weekly tour visiting them in their studios and getting to know how they came to arrive in Deià. The hotel has an art gallery that offers exhibitions, changing every fortnight. And on Mondays there are the ‘Artists on the Lawn’ open to anyone who wants to showcase their work. There is a Sculpture Garden showcasing work by local and international artists which is open to the public, as is the art gallery. Once you are settled into your room, you lucky boy, then it is time to get out and about.
Palma has to be on the list of places which you spend some time in. So get yourself to the city, park up in the Santa Catalina area, hit the pavement and head south to start on the Paseo Maritimo with a stroll along the front. You will see hundreds and hundreds of boats as Palma is famous as a port for yachts, and in particular super yachts. Once you’ve got to Parc de la Mar you can stop and turn to face the Cathedral. I’d recommend you go in and have a look around. The building has many influences from and connections to Gaudi, who lived and worked on Le Seu, the Cathedral, for a decade at the beginning of the Twentieth Century. You have to pay a small entrance fee to get in, but it’s worth it. Access to the Cathedral outside of service times is through the Casa de Almoina which houses the Museo de la Catedral.
Then from the Cathedral turn and walk up towards the Paseo Borne. It’s a luxury shopping heaven, if that floats your boat. It’s also another iconic area in Palma and a nice walk. Do me a favour though and miss out going on one of those horse drawn carriages, they gather at the bottom of the Borne and I don’t agree with them. Instead I would love it if you would visit myand give me a LIKE. Every week in Pet Project Mallorca we try to help an animal get a new home. When you’re at the top of the Borne stop off at Bar Bosch and have a coffee. Bar Bosch is the most famous café in Mallorca, and it’s oozing with tradition. Once you’ve done that then take a left up Jaime III and take in some more shops. Once you’re at the top of the road you have the option to do a quick detour to some art galleries (I would suggest Es Baluard as it’s got a variety of exhibitions including permanent ones from established resident artists, plus some visiting expos) or go straight on towards the most trendy area in Mallorca at the moment: Santa Catalina.
I know that markets are not a big deal to people who live in Spain anyway, but Santa Catalina market is quite an interesting place to visit. It’s in the centre of the district and has a good selection of traders working in there. It’s not at all like your normal Spanish market, of which Mallorca has plenty, in Palma you could also go to see Mercat Olivar, but not today on my particular tour. Santa Catalina market is different because of the type of people it serves: the superyacht crews, and in particular the chefs, shop here. You will not see such an amazing range of fish, meat, fruit and veg anywhere else on the island. If you want it, they’ve got it, or they can get it. Also the rise in demand for “health” foods has meant that “ecological” (or organic as we would describe it), food is quite easy to get hold of there. Take some time to wander around the areas as Santa Catalina is really good for funky fashion and interesting shops and is one of my personal favourites to spend time in
After you’ve had a look around then I suggest you get back to your car and head down to Mood Beach in Puerto Portals for a bit of lunch and a rest. You can rent a sunbed there for the day for a very reasonable 39€ including towels, orange juice, water, a fruit plate and a glass of cava to toast the sunset. Their restaurant overlooks the sea, and it is quite lovely to sit in there, drinking a glass of chilled wine and having a salad, or fresh fish or a steak. In the winter there is a Menu del Diá for three courses for 19.95. They also have regular live music and
entertainment on a Friday and Saturday evening and on a Sunday afternoon, and they have a very busy Salsa party every Friday night from midnight. You can see more at their website here www.moodbeach.com It’s likely that once you get to Mood you won’t want to move again, and you can spend the evening there then get yourself back up to Deia to your hotel.
Or if you are inspired by the views of the sea to charter a boat then I would recommend www.baxtermarine.com in Puerto Portals very highly. Catch them on twitter too. They are brilliant, completely trustworthy and very knowledgeable. You could ask them how much it would cost to be picked up by boat from Mood and taken back to La Residencia by sea. Just a thought!