Traveling the world, learning languages, and immersing myself in new cultures.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Palma, Mallorca: Germany's Paradise Island in Spain

Synopsis: It's been three long weeks since my last trip, and after being at work and thinking about considering doing some, I need a vacation! Staša recommends some fun in the sun in Palma de Mallorca, off the coast of Spain in the Balearic Islands. I prefer to stay in cold and rainy Belgium, but sometimes we have to get outside of our comfort zones.

Trip Overview:
Day 1: Leaving Zaventem, and with Ryanair you have to walk to the plane, and then wait outside as the line slowly moves and people file on. Of course it starts raining progressively the closer we get to the plane and then really hard as we wait at the base of the stairs to get on. 

Land in Palma and the weather is amazing, despite it being night time. Upon checking into the hotel, I discover that my Spanish is fairly good but not good enough to recognize and decipher Mallorquin (Spanish's mixed-breed half cousin). We head down to La Llotja to get some food around 10:30pm and the restaurants are packed. We decide on La Bodega and share a delicous paella with some sangria. Fat, happy, and sleepy, we go back to the hotel and call it a night. 

Thoughts: I am amazed at how much Spanish I remember. I'll try to speak it every chance I get while here. 

Boarding the Ryanair flight

La bodega is Mallorquin for "winery that serves good paella"

We get there about 40 minutes before the kitchen closes, just in time

Sangrrrria (you have to roll the R's in spanish)

You know the paella is strong when it has a lot of mussels

Day 2: Eat breakfast and then head out. Our free walking tour starts at Parc de la Mar but we have an hour and a half before it starts so we walk around and take pics of the harbor and Catedral of Santa Maria of Mallorca (aka La Seu). We can see Castle Bellver in the distance. 

We decide to do the free walking tour and our english speaking group is only five people. The tour is led by Anna, and though her English isn't strong, we still get a good grasp of the history of Palma. Next we head to Playa de Palma, in S'Arenal, by bus, passing into the very clearly German area, with 18 letter words on the buildings. Stop for quick, cheap, and terrible food before hitting the beach.

Walking along the beach and it is covered by people, despite the looming rain in the near distance. I hear German more than Spanish in this area. I go in the water and swim around a bit and the water is cool and refreshing. As I come out the water, it starts raining, but just for a minute, before passing. After laying on the beach for over two hours we go for ice cream at the Pabisa beach club.

Then, the sun comes back out so we plan to walk 14km along the water, back to Palma, enjoying the fresh waves of sea water on our feet. 3km in and we realize what a huge mistake that is and lay down on the beach for another hour. Then we jump on the bus to Plaça de la Reina, where we stop at Sazón for dinner, and it is completely empty. We go in anyway and enjoy some tapas, which are delivered very quickly for some reason, almost like no one else is in the restaurant. 

Thoughts: It is a holiday today so most of the shops around Plaça Mayor are closed and there aren't too many people around, except in the San Miquel area, which is also the area where the first Christian church was built in Mallorca.

Again, my understanding of Spanish is surprising me; must have been buried deep deep deep down in my subconscious. The Africans selling stuff are calm and not aggressive, like everywhere else I've been. Horse and carriages line the streets, although I never saw anyone actually use one. Bathrooms very accessible throughout the city. St Nicolas (Santa Claus) is very popular in the Mediterranean countries! Prices here are decent, cheaper than Paris, but not as cheap as central/eastern Europe. Wore a tank top and sandals with shorts all day and not once cold. 

Walking down the street and what do we see? La Seu
Working on my front lever

#LaSeu #PalmaCathedral #selfie

Hangin' around the palace

Real photographers get down and dirty for the good shot. I just get dirty for no reason

The king's garden of Almudania Palace

Very clearly the king's garden

Great king's think alike

So statuesque

Anna leading tours and whatnot

Finishing the tour at Plaça de Espanya

Summer drink on the boardwalk

The beach is packed

Amazing sand castle

Ice cream!!!

Unusual exhibit near Plaça la Llojta

Palma by night

Day 3: Wake up to discover Brussels has followed us; rain. Go for breakfast and then head to the meeting point for our 9-hour island tour. Tour guide speaks Spanish, English, French, and German with an impeccable accent in each. I'm so jealous. 

We start by bus and then jump on a wooden train. The views from the train are amazing but hard to capture due to the rain. From the train, we get on a tram in Sóller, that takes us to Port de Sóller. Get on a boat that takes us along the coast to Sa Calobra. It starts off nice and then turns into a rocky, rollercoaster, boat ride and everyone that iss on top quickly runs to the bottom area.  The ride gets rockier and sick bags are being passed out left and right. Even Stasa is feeling nauseous after the boat trip.

Finally, we are on sweet, sweet land at Sa Calobra. We go over to torrent des Pareis, a dried up canyon, accessible by sea or by two walking tunnels. We stop for more terrible touristy food before jumping back on the bus. We take the windingest road to 2000ft (609m) above sea level, seeing Puig Major, the highest mountain in Mallorca, covered in clouds. Pass by Gorg Blau, one of Mallorca's two fresh water reservoirs, on the way to Inca. We pass by more stuff but we are sleep, until we stop in Inca for a brief break. 

From there head back to Palma and the hotel. Rest and refresh before heading out for dinner.  The sun is back out and it feels so good. We walk around Palma a bit, to see it from different angles. We end up at Plaça de la Llotja for dinner and eat at Michaelangelo's. After a pretty good dinner, walk along the beachfront and Parc de la Mar, and admire the buildings lit up at night. 

Thoughts: What the heck, rain??? The tour guide barely said anything on the way out from Palma, when everyone is fresh and awake, but did all the talking on the way back, through which most of, I slept. Lemon trees everywhere in the Sóller area. Despite the overcast and incessant rain, I wasn't too cold with a muscle shirt and shorts, even while on the boat. Instead of hailing a taxi people line up at taxi stands and wait for one. It is so nice to eat outside; too bad smokers always ruin it. 

Starting the day off wet
Coach bus that we started and ended the tour with

The high-speed (20 mph/ 32kmph) wooden train that took us to Sóller

Our linguistically gifted tour guide

I'm on a train! I'm on a train! 

Sheldon would be so jealous (Big Bang Theory ref)

El barfo... I mean el barco is spanish for boat
All the people were on top when we first started

The Boat ride

Eating my sandwich, despite the weather
Headed into the tunnels from Sa Calobra to torrent des Pareis

Journey through a tunnel

Headstand in torrent des Pareis

The winding road, with no rails, through the mountains on the way back

This house is perfect for me

Tapas at Michelangelo in Plaça de la Llojta

In Parc de la Mar, playing on some...thing

Day 4: Weather is amazing and beautiful all day, but we fly out at noon and don't get to enjoy it. Someone on the plane has some serious, chemical warfare-esque, gas. No es bueno. 

Thoughts: To exchange today's weather with yesterday's would have greatly improved yesterday. Thanks to the beautiful weather, the view from the plane is spectacular. 

My store

Not sure why everyone is trying to LEAVE Mallorca

Final Thoughts: 
Palma is clearly overrun with German influences, but not so much to lose its Spanish/Mallorquin identity. Had a bad weather sandwich, with the beginning and end of the trip having nice weather. I guess this is why you should stay for longer than a few days. I still have to come back and see Ibiza and Minorca. 

Location: Palma de Mallorca, Balearic Islands, Spain


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