Mallorca. My worst holiday could be your best!

Mallorca1

A long time ago, when this site was just beginning, I wrote about Ibiza (Eivissa), but I didn’t include Mallorca or Menorca. I still have yet to discover Menorca and its many treasures (I’ve seen the photos), but I have been to Mallorca.

It was my worst trip ever.

In retrospect, I totally blame the circumstances going on. I had just been fired from my job for being “demasiado reservado” (too shy and reserved), and I had also taken the chance and told the guy of my then dreams (now I wouldn’t touch him with a ten-metre pole) that I had feelings for him. It was unrequited (no correspondido).

Never do this the night before a weekend getaway! It cast a bad mood over everything. I felt so lost and alone. Everywhere I saw, every couple (straight or gay), reminded me of my eternal singleness. As it was a Ryan Air flight, I would’ve lot more by cancelling than by not going, so I went.

I did my best. Palma de Mallorca is a nice city, and the Spanish Royal Family have a summer residence there. I only got to visit Valldemossa (I regret not going to Deià instead), where everywhere I went I was greeted in German, which I don’t speak. If only I had my B1 in Catalán then!

mallorca4

I know out of all the places I’ve been to, it is probably Mallorca that deserves a second chance. I know I missed the best of the island for sure.

And we’re in luck, as I actually wrote up a decent entry in my personal travel journal about what I was experiencing. Yeah, Mallorca needs a second chance!

mallorca3

It was sort of a bad-luck trip all around.

The plane arrived about a half hour late, and we all know I hate flying. Then the hostel gave bad directions for the bus to town, which meant I ended up seeing practically all of Palma de Mallorca. Then, the hostel sucked. The people working there were incredibly unfriendly and somewhat rude. And I had that funk. The part of town it was in was dodgy, and it was a 45 minute walk to the “centre historic” (CATALAN). The beach was even further. At least the weather was nothing like it was forecast to be.

I was going to go to the castle first, but I had no clue how far up it was. I was rather hungry too after getting up at the butt-crack of dawn and not having much to eat. So I eventually found a place to have a bocadillo de tortilla close to the centre. I was getting annoyed because NO ONE SPOKE SPANISH. It was mostly German with some English thrown in. There were hardly any Spanish whatsoever. The place is just too damn touristy.

I did see the palace where the royal family holidays. I skipped entering the cathedral as it’s probably a sin to charge people to enter a house of worship, eh?  I walked around the Parc del Mar, which was beautiful, made it to the beach…walked back, stopping at the Hard Rock, even though I didn’t buy anything til the next day. I ate another bad meal and elected to catch up on sleeping. Having your heart broken keeps you from sleeping more than three hours ya know.

Saturday I woke up about 8.30 so I could have breakfast at a really awesome cafe, then I went to catch the bus to Valldemossa. But wait, the web site was wrong, so I missed the bus! I ended up walking around the centre historic for a bit, going to a gay cafe, then catching the bus at 12.30. Valldemossa was beautiful. I had a decent lunch there, then went back to Palma…I went to the beach, but I didn’t stay long as I went back to try to take a siesta as I had a headache. I went to a farmacía so I could speak Spanish and bought some ibuprofena. I then went to the castle, which was amazing as usual. I had dinner at the cafe where I had breakfast, and the waiters set off the gaydar. A few minutes later I heard them talking about his “novio”, so my European gaydar…I totally forgot the word! CONVERTER! has finally arrived.

Set Meravelles

Palma de Mallorca

mallorca5

With over 400,000 habitants, the capital city of the Illes Baleares is located on the south of the island. The city dates back to 123 BC when the Romans conquered the island. The yearly average temperature is 21ºC (71.2ºF). There are many churches, including the cathedral La Seu (built on a prior mosque), the old city and the Arab baths. The Royal Family’s summer residence is found here, and there is also a beach. What more could you ask for?

Castillo Bellver

mallorca6

Located on a hill 3 kilometre west of Palma, the Castillo Bellver is one of Europe’s few circular castles. It was originally the residence of the Kings of Mallorca when they weren’t staying on the mainland and was built in the 14th century. It has been a museum since 1932 and has served as the city’s history museum since 1976. It’s one of my favourite castles I’ve been to, and I didn’t have to risk herpes simplex I by kissing any of its stones!

Valldemossa

mallorca2

Although the small town only has 2025 habitants (2014 figures), it has a lot of history and has attracted various people throughout history. Ramon Llull, famous in Catalán circles, lived in the area. Austrian Archduke Ludwig Salvator was a fan, as was composer Frédéric Chopin (and to a lesser extent, Chopin’s lover George Sand. Today you can still visit the Royal Charterhouse of Valldemossa, a former Carthusian monastery.

Deià (To be discovered)

Deià, a small coastal village of less than 800 located 16 km (10 miles) north of Valldemossa, is one of my biggest travel regrets. Writer Robert Graves was a fan, as are Mick Jagger and Mark Knopfler. It’s the cliffs on the sea and the coves that brings so much attention to it.

Sa Dragonera (To be discovered)

Just off the west coast of Mallorca lies the islet and Natural Park of Sa Dragonera. As the island appears like a dragon, it received the name “dragonera”. Sometimes foreign languages aren’t so daunting, eh? It’s about 3,2 kilometres long and 500 metres wide, and the highest peak is 360 meteres. The Audiencia Nacional prohibited construction on the island in 1984, and the Balearic government declared it a national park in 1987. It is a part of Andratx.

Andratx (To be discovered)

At the tip of the island and at foot of the Sierra de Tramontana mountains, Andratx, population 16,000 or so, dates back to the Roman times. It was built inland to avoid pirate attacks, and 12 of the towers built to protect from pirate attacks still exist today. The town has undergone a transformation since 2004 and has become one of the most popular areas for foreigners and is beginning to attract celebrities on holiday.

Pollença

The port town of 16,000 on the north part of Mallorca, Pollença is a lovely port town that was founded in an area that would avoid pirate attacks. Beware, Captain Jack Sparrow! There are a few coves (calas, or small beaches), and a 365-step staircase that leads to a church and impressive view of the town and area.

Advertisements

Ibiza. Eivissa és més que festa.

Ibiza is an island known for its parties. Mariah Carey herself has one of her rappers name check it in her “Don’t Forget About Us Desert Storm” remix. David Guetta got his start there in the discos. This is the Ibiza known to the world.

I challenged that notion. I’ve been wanting to go to the island for a long time but in “plan tranquilo”, as the Spanish say. I went the first weekend of March, risking “bad weather” (I live in the Basque Country and grew up in Ohio. Unless it’s a Mediterranean storm, I’m not going to be too fazed) and being bored. Neither happened.

I stayed in Ibiza Town, the biggest city with a population of about 50,000 people. The clouds were a bit grey, but nothing that deterred me from exploring the Dalt Vila, their Casco Viejo, recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. The views of the sea and nearby island Formentera were incredible. Medieval villages and cobblestone streets never get old in my book, and I explored this part of the city to my heart’s content.

Despite being March, there is a bit of nightlife in Ibiza. My morning flight kept me from really seeing the discos, but I had a few drinks in the Plaza del Sol. The locals were friendly and excited that a guiri spoke catalán. They seemed separated from the political drama of Catalunya’s quest for independence and Valencia’s quest for language independence for their “valenciano” dialect. As long as you didn’t call it “mallorquín”, they were okay with it being called catalán.

On Sunday, they were having a celebration, as apparently March 1st is Balearic Island Day. A parade nearly had my bus ride to Santa Eulària des Riu cancelled. The bus made it through, and I went a half hour north to the third-largest city on Ibiza. The church on the hill made me feel more as if I were in Greece than Spain. The white décor and blue roof enchanted me, and the views of the spectacular sea below were nothing short of breathtaking. It was about 20ºC (68ºF), warm enough for a nice, long, barefoot stroll on the beach.

The highlight of the trip was the nearby island Formentera. This is the stuff desert islands are all about. The choppy waves made the half hour ferry ride torturous, and for the first time in my life, I got seasick. It was one of the windiest days I’ve seen in my life, which meant no bike ride through the island for me. Darn. I did take a hike to the nearest village from the port of Formentera and fell in love with the island.

By going during off season, I got to experience an Ibiza far removed from the parties and tourists that would make it a living hell for me during the summer. I found a quaint, picturesque island and friendly people. It was a nice return to “Spain” after living in the Basque Country for so long, and it is a place that I would enjoy returning to. I definitely preferred it to its big Balearic Sister Mallorca, which I think is owned by Germany at this point. I look forward to the day when I can go to Menorca, the least-known Balearic Island and supposedly the most beautiful. I can’t speak for the summer night life, but for a late-winter escape for those wanting tranquility, Ibiza can’t be beat.

CINC MERAVELLES D’EIVISSA

  1. Formentera
    033 122
  2. Dalt Vila, Ibiza Town
    032
  3.  Santa Eulària des Riu 
    046
  4. Puig de Missa, Santa Eulària des Riu
    060
  5. This Sunset
    086 095