Having recently enjoyed a really good long weekend in Granada I felt, in the name of research, that I should try another! Flights were ideal, hotel looked great and the weather co operated- so off we popped to Palma de Mallorca.
Never having been to Majorca I had a few pre conceived ideas – and the chaps and girlies on the flight- obviously not planning on seeing daylight at all judging by the apparel – added a little to that but lo, as soon as we landed off they all popped to waiting coaches to go to the resorts along the coast and we set off for the bus and the city.
I love Spanish buses, they are cheap, they are frequent and they announce each stop, both verbally on a tape loop and on a digital display, so armed with our map from the tourist booth at the airport it was simplicity itself to hop off on the sea front directly in front of our hotel.
I had chosen it because I wanted to be on the waterfront and it was the perfect location – with a stunning view from the large terrace across the yachts to the wonderful Cathedral – La Seu – of which more later.
Having got a 6am flight we were sitting sipping Prosecco well before lunch and decided that having had an early start we would explore the waterfront and find ourselves some fish for supper. The waterfront is extensive, yacht spotting a great sport and the various bars and restaurants offered an excellent choice of tapas and just about anything else you might want. We settled on a restaurant situated on the waterfront itself – most are set back with the road dividing you from the sea- and had some wonderful prawns cooked in the famous Majorcan salt.
After a very peaceful nights sleep in a very well appointed room we were tempted by the pool – but decided to explore the city itself and hopped on a bus to the very stylish Avinguda Jaume III and the Passeig des Born – very elegant, very stylish and with a variety of shops to suit most pockets. The chain store El Corte Ingles is great for browsing and there are lots of pavement cafes when the feet or the credit card need a rest.
Retail therapy done we decided to visit the Cathedral – and what a Cathedral it is. The best view is from the seafront gazing up at the vast sandstone exterior rising above the city walls. The foundation stone was laid in 1230 on the sight of the city’s main mosque and a guide book will fill you in on the details but with the sun shining through the huge rose window colouring the floor and the pews, the influence of Gaudi and the view from the South Front across the harbour it is an absolute must see.
There are numerous small shops in the area and if you are feeling foot weary you can hire a horse and buggy to take you on a tour, hop on the ubiquitous red open top bus or do as we did, just stroll where the winding streets took us.
Our stroll included a search for the absolutely fabulous Bar Forn des Teatre where our map reading was rewarded with the sight of the blue and white boxes in the shape of a large wheel in which the ensaimades for which they are famous are sold. We sat on the pavement eating the most wonderful slice of ensaimade, fluffy light pastry dusted with sugar and with a filling of delicious local pumpkin jam– just sumptuous. I really coveted the blue and white boxes but my suitcase wouldn’t cooperate!
After a very relaxing afternoon spent swimming and reading by the pool we re visited The Boathouse for a very leisurely dinner and planned our final full day – a trip on the old train to Soller.
The train to Soller starts from the Plaza de Espana – not the main railway station which is also there but just to the left from a totally charming little station befitting the venerable wooden trains that have been plying their way through the mountains since 1912. The 27 kilometre journey takes about an hour trundling along with that lovely clackety clack sound of an old train. I opted to stand on the back platform on the last carriage which gave me an uninterrupted view and was great for photography – the trip through the tunnel was a little hair raising, literally as it was very windy – and I was glad to emerge at the other end into daylight, but it was worth it to watch the farmsteads and olive trees, the mountains and the orange groves we passed.
We trundled into the very pretty town of Soller and had a wander around and some very good coffee before then catching an equally old tram to take us to Puerto Soller – a very pretty working port with some great shops and galleries and excellent restaurants – lunch beckoned and we chose a workaday tapas bar right by the drying nets for some of the freshest and most delicious fried squid, plump and delicious tomato salad and a glass of Rioja, perfect.
I opted to sit in the train for our trip back, but it was equally enjoyable and it made a relaxing day out giving us a different view of the island as a contrast to the sea and the city.
We checked out of our excellent hotel the following day with a great deal of reluctance, lots more to see, lots more to explore and an island which offered so much more than I had anticipated – and was so different from any preconceptions I had. I can do no more than agree with G.K. Chesterton “The traveller sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.”
- Our hotel was the excellent Gran Melia Victoria
- Do pick up a bus stop list from the airport – really useful as it identifies the names of every stop on the two main routes.
- The train to Soller has its own website – and a video too. but make sure you check out the return train times, there is a big gap in the afternoon!