i.e Palma de Mallorca
19.04.2013 24 °C
A mere 25 minute flight from Barcelona lies the tourist haven of Mallorca, famous for its glorious coastline of soft, sweeping beaches, balmy, azure waters, and secret coves known only by Sunday locals. But for all the hype surrounding the holiday resorts, and for all the visitors that swarm there during the summer months, the capital city of Palma is by most, ignored. And so, given its ridiculous proximity, a friend and I decided to do something spontaneous for once and head on over for the weekend. And not long after we had left our apartment, as if it were only a commute, we were there, just in time for breakfast.
We had decided that the focus of our stay would be food and wandering. And so true to that we followed our senses through the old city centre in search of that perfect place. The first thing that stood out about Palma was its sensational colours. If you had to draw a child-like picture of ‘the Spanish Mediterranean’ it would surely look something like Palma. Zesty, orange and yellow painted buildings vibrantly displaying their multitude of warm shades and shadows, contrasting, or perhaps perfectly harmonizing with a deep sapphire sky. I was also enchanted by Palma’s scattering of old, tucked-away palaces, which must once have belonged to wealthy merchants. As we meandered the beguiling streets we often found ourselves popping out onto a square, and it struck me that Palma is in-fact a treasure trove of history.
Soon we found an idyllic breakfast spot – a chic, whitely-decorated café in that oh-so-cool style, perched on the corner opposite a church that told of days by-gone. We plonked ourselves down, took in the scene, cheered our fresher-than-fresh orange juices and thought ‘this is the life’. All that was left to do was a bit of that classic Mediterranean hobby, people watching. And I asked myself, ‘if the hedonists head to Magaluf, and families to resorts such as Alcudia, who choses Palma as their destination?’
I glanced as the cheery passers-by and it seemed to me that the majority were middle-aged couples of the culture-vulture variety. And what better place to go for a weekend get-away? Exquisite Spanish cuisine, colourful, winding streets that please no end of curiosities, elegant boutiques and a staggering cathedral, all offering the perfect opportunity to spend time wandering, browsing, dining and basking in the delicious hues thrown from that invigorating Mallorcan sun. Perfect! But something struck me about these visitors. Something which initially merely caught my eye, but that eventually became a clear cultural fact to me – British tourists have a deep, undying passion for white three-quarter-length trousers. They were everywhere. Scenes of happy-chappy Brits in white cut-offs actually formed part of the Palma stage, and thus my conclusion was undeniable. I wondered why it is that when we go abroad to balmier climes we feel the need to don said item? What is it about them that we love so much? Peculiar, amusing, and strangely comforting, it filled me with thoughts of home. But ultimately confirmed that Brits, in the sun, are hilarious.
It was time to move on and so we headed in the direction of the cathedral. Known for it’s dramatic positioning and theatrical design it is the focal point of the city and top of the Palma to-do list. It stands tall, proud, and seen from below or from further down the coast is a dramatic welcome to and emblem of the city. Triumphantly poised, high above, it seems indestructible and can’t help but impress. Its intricate design fascinates and obliges us to take countless photos, each time hoping to capture that perfect, postcard-worthy shot. The problem I found was that since the cathedral is so big, I couldn’t actually get the photo I wanted, as it wouldn’t fit in the camera frame. It just went to prove that Palma cathedral must be one of the most spectacularly located in the world, and is undoubtedly worth the visit.
Soon it was time for another gastronomic pause, and a long Spanish lunch of salads, breads, tapas, and refreshingtinto de verano was the perfect way to wile away a few hours. Mallorcan olives, we discovered, are absolutely delicious. Big, juicy, and with a tender bite, they are bursting with flavour, and are the perfect aperitif to accompany the glowing afternoon sun. Spinach and courgette infused tortilla came as a welcome surprise to the old favourite, and thin-and-crispy tomato and herb smudged bread a variation on a theme of the Catalan classic. We sat in a sunny alley surrounded by balconies and colourful window shutters, and in the corner, once again, sat an old, rather forgotten, little church. It was quintessential-Mediterranean-atmosphere central, and we loved it! So naturally, we ordered more, and stayed longer, basking in the energizing warmth and perfect afternoon ambience.
Before long evening fell, and we were eager to find a bar that we had seen reviewed on the Internet. To our delight, it was on the same street as our hostel! This bar is such a fantastic concept, that I can’t understand why there isn’t one in every city! Wineing, as it is called, is a help-your-self wine bar, and with 48 varieties to choose from, you really can’t go wrong. Upon arrival we were presented with a type of credit card which was needed to activate the wine dispensers. You pop in the card, select the amount and variety of wine that you want, the price is loaded, and out pours the wine. What a great idea! And so much fun! A perfect way to end our day.
Soon Sunday arrived, and it was time to say goodbye to Malloraca. But what memories did I bring back with me from Palma? Bright terracotta and golden toned homes. Winding, whimsical streets full of charms and temptations. Divine cuisine and fun, fun wine. And of course, without a doubt, those much loved white three-quarters.