These days Cotswolds wanderer is meant to be understood as a Cotswolds fan wandering everywhere but in the Cotswolds. Off to see the world as the song goes and yep, there is such a lot of world to see. So let’s go to Mallorca.
I am a simple girl. There is nothing I love more than the mineral smell of the sea and the warm caress of the sun. Throw in the fabulous light of a blue sky, the salt on my lips, the lapping of the water, Calamares Plancha for dinner, a lazy stroll on the paseo maritimo as the sun goes down and I am in sensorial heavens. Santa Ponça, a medium size resort to the West of Palma has all of this on offer and it is on the quiet side if you choose a hotel out of the city centre. If it weren’t for places named “Celtic pub” or “Little England” with landlords saying “Sorry love, don’t speak Spanish” when you try asking them for directions in the official language of the island, it would truly be a perfect resort.
Mallorca is much more than its resorts and beaches but considering it is only a two hour flight from the sunnily-challenged London I would certainly consider going back for a long week-end of vitamin D topping.
Here are my highlights for Mallorca.
- Palma. The centre of Palma is Mediterranean done best, with light-coloured buildings, meandering streets bordered by palm trees and cafes and the smell of grilled fish emanating from restaurants. It is a little touristy-posh but full of life and light. It is the kind of place I miss 358 days in the year. The cathedral La Seu is a must see. This gigantic church is one of the biggest in Europe and took 4 centuries to be built (1200-1600). It can be seen from the port, miles away and overlooks the sea like a defiant lighthouse. Inside, the scale of it is breath-taking, with plenty of treasures from all times including the Crown of Thorns candelabra by Gaudi which is, well, very Gaudi. Another thing to say for Palma is the extremely well organised public transports, all departing from the Plaça de Espana, on time, cheaply and efficiently. It is worth spending a full day, if not two in Palma.
- Torrent de Pareis and Sa Calobra. Torrent de Pareis is considered the most magnificent hike through canyons and gorges in Mallorca. It lasts 5 hours and is also one of the most difficult. I would have done it had I been equipped but I wasn’t so I went to Sa Calobra where it finishes and gazed longingly towards the path leading to the gorge. The place is truly gorgeous and manages to remain wild despite its many tourists. It reminded me of the Samaria Gorge in Crete and I would have loved to be able to compare them. The views from the Tramontane range and the picture perfect port and beach were the natural climax of the trip.
- Valldemossa. This is where Chopin and George Sand chose to live for a winter and even if their time there was difficult and bitter, the town is anything but. Apart from the tourist shops and patisseries, it is easy to see the place has not changed for centuries. It is an idyllic little mountain town where beauty comes calling at every corner.
- Soller and Port de Soller. Palma is the only city in Mallorca to have its town built so close to the sea. Anywhere else, the towns are located a few kilometres away from their ports presumably to have time to defend themselves from invaders. Such is the case with Soller, located inland in the Tramontane. The town is pretty and worth looking at for an hour or two but the trip there is especially worth it in order to take the heritage tramway line that goes to the port, 5km away. The tram is all wood and opened in 1913. In 20 minutes the landscape changes radically, from mountain town to lemon orchards to a beach town. Two different worlds for 6 Euros, what’s not to like?
- Cuevas del Drach. I have a thing for caves. They fascinate and spook me in equal measure and I try to visit them whenever I have the opportunity. These caves called dragon caves, are the most impressive I have seen after the Gouffre de Padirac in the Lot in France. They are 25 m deep and 2,4km long with a lake at the bottom. Even though I was one in the long queue of visitors, I felt I was the first person ever to marvel at the whimsical forms produced by water and limestone. The humidity, the smell, the alien beauty of the spot left everyone whispering as if they were in a church. At the bottom, a live classical concert is played from little boats for 15 min. Definitely my kind of church.
I went to Mallorca with haunting images of Magaluf in mind, unsure there would be enough to do for a whole week and I have regretted ever since not booking two weeks. The island have everything I could have hoped for and I have come back with memories of swimming in blue coves, sun on my skin, salty hair, salsa dancing in cafes, magnificent views from the Tramontane, perfect little ports, gigantic churches, delicious tapas, humid caves, pearls, new culinary discoveries (the Coca, Balearic version of the pizza), time sipping a coke on a sunny terrace, ice creams, smells from botanic gardens, gorgeous natural spots, reminiscence from my childhood holidays spent in Spain… This paints my picture of happiness. I’m not so sure I am a simple girl but I will settle for a hedonistic one!