Mallorca in Spain, is so well known to so many people yet there are those who have never yet been and have an idea that it might not be what they wish for a holiday.
We recently returned after a nine year absence in May this year and were delighted with our week; indeed the time was too short for both relaxation and discovery which is what we both like to do.
Our favourite destination is Puerto Pollenca because it is a well maintained charming town with superb beach and bay and also close to other interesting places like Pollenca and the old town of Alcudia. Primarily we want to relax, absorb the sunshine, walk to the markets, swim in either the pool or in the sea and eat good food. The surrounding area for scenic drives is beautiful.
However Mallorca is now recognised as a major cycling destination and all the good apartment complexes and hotels provide facilities for the biking fraternity. Moreover the island has plenty of wide good flat roads for the biking teams to practice and enjoy.
Presumably they also like the challenge of the Tramuntana Mountains from time to time! Also to be found along the Bay of Puerto Pollenca are the ardent sky surfers and windsurfers who launch from around the area between the eastern end of Puerto Pollenca and the western end of Alcudia.
Sailors and motor yacht enthusiasts love Mallorca with its many lovely marinas and safe harbours. Some of these marinas are for the luxury motor yachts and are the haunt of the celebrity crowd.
On this occasion we stayed at the new luxury OD Port Portals Hotel at Porto Portals which is a fashionable small marina west of Palma. There are two pleasant beaches and the smart shopping and restaurant area is a favourite with the yachting crowd.
Urban life in Mallorca developed from the time of 123 BCE following the conquest of the island by the Roman Consul Quintus Caecilius Metellus and the area known as Pollentia became a large urban development between the 1st century BCE and the 3rd century largely because of the strategic location between the bays of Pollenca and Alcudia. Indeed it became the most important city in the Balearics during the Roman period.
Today, we can visit those Roman remains beside the old heritage town of Alcudia. Do not confuse that with the modern town which is full of high rise hotels and apartment blocks and provides the form of holiday that is essential for some but not what I look for whereas Puerto Pollenca and Pollenca are a delight with their respective markets.
Puerto Pollenca’s in on a Wednesday and Pollenca’s on Sundays. The old town of Alcudia however is charming and to be recommended and has some boutique hotels and charming restaurants and designer boutiques.
Moreover we found two of our favourite restaurants are thriving and I recommend L’Aup near Pollenca for its delicious food in a garden environment and Restaurante L’Ovento at Alcudia Port for its stunning fish and old fashioned personal service – both are family owned restaurants and it is a pleasure to see local Mallorcans come in and relax.
Palma the capital city is charming and I would recommend it for a City Break perhaps in the low season. There is much to see including the wonderful cathedral La Seu which was started in 1230 but not completed till 1601. The Palau de L’ Almudaina is the Spanish Monarchy’s royal palace close by and the Passeig des Born is like Barcelona’s Las Ramblas. You have to walk ‘The Born’!
We had previously experienced the old-world wooden train from Palma to Soller and it is really worth doing. The little train journey shows the beautiful valley of Valle de los Naranjos (Valley of the Oranges) and it is an old town with charm built on the wealth of the citrus trade. From Soller one takes a heritage tram down to Port de Soller.
Long ago this was the main outlet for the produce grown in the valleys and terraces grown around Soller. These days it is a beautiful harbour with lively shops and restaurants. From here one can take a bus back to Palma so it makes a very pleasant day out.
Lluc is a revered place of pilgrimage since the foundation in 1250 of the Monestir de Lluc. Today Lluc is a large ensemble that includes a church, choir school, the old Augustinian monastery, a small museum, accommodation for pilgrims and a restaurant and souvenir shop for visitors.
Deia will be forever associated with the English writer Robert Graves who lived there in 1929 and he is buried in the cemetery beside the parish church at the top of the town. It is very fashionable these days and several celebrities own homes in the vicinity.
The mountain range in the north west of Mallorca is the Serra de Tramuntana and if you rent a car this is an exhilarating drive taking you from Palma up to the peaks and pines of this craggy mountain range. The highest point is Puig Major and one can then proceed to Pollenca and Puerto Pollenca.
On this occasion we had rented a self-catering small apartment which had its own communal swimming pool. It was very well equipped with comfortable beds and excellent hot shower and in a splendid quiet location yet close to the promenade and the beach. We did look however at one or two small villas and found a couple to our liking for another occasion; certainly for whole families the villa option is essential along with a hire car.
We found that hiring a car for three days was adequate as the rest of the time we just walked. Puerto Pollenca also has a rather nice small nature reserve right in its heart and we find that because it is such a favourite destination for English speaking tourists everything is very easy to achieve.
In the past on a longer vacation, we drove all over the island but in a week one is really looking for gentle pursuits on foot. I did swim and enjoyed it and the young families around us for the half term break were having a lovely time. The beach also has provision for the disabled to enjoy the sea and actually enter the shallow water on a specially provided vehicle – the Lifeguards have responsibility for this equipment.
Roast suckling pig, paella, seafood, lovely duck with cherries, good wine and homemade flan and other sweet delights are the ingredients for a lovely evening meal – or the gorgeous ice-creams – in a lovely temperature that might just need a light jacket…..at lunch one can put together glorious olives, cold meats, amazing salads and sweet Mallorcan oranges together with cherries and strawberries and honey almonds…..beautiful Mallorca, we will be back!
All photos Aline Dobbie.