A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about wine

In the land of white three-quarters.

i.e Palma de Mallorca

sunny 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Posted by lauracerys 06:30 Archived in Spain Tagged spain wine tapas mallorca palma Comments (0)

The Rustic Mediterranean

Cinque Terre - Italy

sunny 25 °C


Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. Poised upon breathtaking cliff tops, the picturesque haphazard villages of Cinque Terre fix their gaze upon the amber horizon of the balmy Genovese sunset. A postcard of the rustic Mediterranean Italy, these secret costal enclaves appear frozen in time. They offer an impression of mamma’s Italia, with an enchanting ambience of longstanding local tradition. Fishermen, in their quaint blue-green wooden boats, rise before the sun everyday in order to bring in the menu of the day, which, without a doubt, will be meticulously prepared according to timeless recipes of each family’s grandmother. Here and there sound a vespa or two wandering the labyrinth of narrow colour-splashed streets, which along with lapping sea-shores, the chit-chatter of the older generation and a passionate shrill from a member of the younger, form a perfect soundtrack to the quintessential Italian experience.

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The five Ligurian villages which make up the area of Cinque Terre, have always been important in terms of wine production and since the days of the Romans, their hair-raising cliffs have housed intricate terraced vineyards. In 1276 Cinque Terre became part of the Republic of Genoa which instigated the beginning of large scale agricultural commerce. The exchange of products with neighbouring communities and towns and cities further afield proved extremely advantageous for the area, and lead to a large extension of the vineyards and an important increase in maritime trade. Still today the prized wines of Cinque Terre, Sciacctera and Limoncino are produced in the area following a centuries old technique ensuring their exquisite flavours, and a glass or two is a must for every visitor to the area.

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The best way to reach Cinque Terre is by train. From the nearby port city of La Spezia you can take a local train directly to the villages. Tickets are available there and then from the station. Accommodation is not particularly easy to find in Cinque Terre due to its relative isolation and limiting cliff-top position. However the lack of mass tourism is precisely what gives Cinque Terre its Dolce Vita charm. Many tourists take a day trip to the area rather than stay for a conventional coastal holiday, and stroll along the dramatically beautiful hillside paths which link the five villages together. From there the terracotta, lemon and rosey rustic houses so oozing of stereotypical Mediterranean charm look their finest, and on a warm summers eve the sunset squeezes out every shade of colour throwing them against the shimmering azure sea. Although perhaps lacking in the fame of nearby Portofino and its southern rivals of Amalfi and Capri, Cinque Terre is the perfect destination for anyone seeking the romantic Italy of years gone by.

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Posted by lauracerys 09:41 Archived in Italy Tagged italy wine italian mediterranean vespa genova rustic lemons Comments (0)

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