Published: June 21st 2012May 19th 2012
When I was trying to fall asleep on the first night in the hotel, only one thought was flying through my head, it couldn’t be as bad as it seemed right? Or could it? The flight itself wasn’t that bad, although it could’ve been very unpleasant – I really don’t mind the kids on the plane, but the amount of prams we were taking on board was slightly worrying, not to mention a few groups of young, loud guys, having started drinking and partying before we even took off… in this case I was actually happy that we were flying with Ryanair and there were no assigned seats so at least we could choose to sit as far away from the young shouting crowd as possible… If anyone was hoping to sleep on this flight, not sure how they managed that, as the kids were all over the place and some parents must have thought they were on some kind of luxury flight since they were demanding constant attention from the stewards. I was sitting quietly, enjoying my book, somehow immune to this chaos. Even the little girl who was running up and down, either to the toilet or to her
dad (sitting on the other side of the aisle) and who was later even crawling under my legs, wasn’t disturbing my peace. Having said that, I was still pretty relieved when we landed, and slightly amused when the pilot got an ovation for putting the plane safely on the ground – I might have joined the crowd if it was a particularly rough flight, but there wasn’t even one turbulence this time… not that I haven’t experienced this before as it seems to be happening on every single cheap flight to/from Poland, I guess we are a very grateful nation... but so are the Irish it would seem… :)
Once landed in Palma, we went quickly to rentals and even quicker got overcharged for fuel and additional insurances (which happened to come up only now obviously), picked up our overpriced car and headed to Alcudia. An hour later we were still circling around Port d’Alcudia, trying to find the hotel, but finally it appeared in front of our eyes. We left the reception with the keys to our room and tacky bracelets stuck to our wrists (for a week! – still trying to figure out what tempted me
to go for the all-inclusive!). Despite arriving at the hotel around 11pm, we weren’t that tired, so decided to grab a drink and check out the hotel’s surroundings a bit. I guess we should've stayed at the hotel... as at this time of the day, the only thing we did see, were lots of drunk and loud people all around. Not to mention that one ‘friendly’ guy walked over to us and trying to show off his language skills started swearing in Polish. Nice! To say the least, we definitely weren’t impressed and quickly moved back to our room. First impression of the hotel pretty bad I would say, but then it was due to the type of its guests rather than anything else… Still very disappointing welcome to the hotel. Falling asleep I was wondering what we were going to wake up to…
There was no need to worry though, as we woke up to a beautiful, sunny morning and it seemed that we were in a totally different place straight away. After breakfast we found out that there was a market taking place in Alcudia on Sundays, so we picked our cameras and some money and headed
to town. It was funny on the way, all the tourists squeezed in the crowded bus, constantly being rushed by an angry driver shouting to move further ‘Pasa!!! Pasa!!!’, letting in even more people through the front door. There was nothing to hang on to, except the high rails, so either people were literally hanging on them (including me and my sis) or just going with the flow and falling on other passengers with every turn which only lead to smiles and laughs all around. Probably it wouldn’t be that much fun if the journey was long, but since it was only a couple of minutes everybody was in good spirits and we all managed to get out of the bus alive ;) The market wasn’t difficult to find as the stalls were set all around the old town of Alcudia. The biggest part of it located right next to the main gate. You could find all sorts of things there – clothes, shoes, bags, suitcases, fruits, veggies, jewellery, plates, bowls, mugs, sculptures, and many, many more… So we started the holidays with a shopping spree! If it wasn’t for the 15kg limit in Ryanair, our purses could’ve been in
trouble… Alcudia is quite small, so after wandering around the charming, narrow streets and treating ourselves to a dessert in one of the cafes, we headed to Port d’Alcudia. We stopped for a glass of sangria there and walked by the sea to our hotel. After dinner, unfortunately the weather got worse – the sky became very dark, wind got stronger and it started pouring rain which was soon followed by thunders and lightenings… was it the end of sun holidays for us? I just couldn’t believe the weather followed us all the way here…
When I woke up the next morning, I walked slowly over to the window and afraid of what I might see, with eyes half closed, slowly opened the curtains and… was overwhelmed with disappointment… the sky was grey, trees were bending from the wind, just miserable outside! Still there was no point sitting in the room and moaning about the bad weather, so at breakfast we decided we would just go for a trip somewhere. We took some warm clothes (very thin cardigan and even thinner jacket – we were expected tropics, so these were the only ‘warm clothes’ we had), bought a map,
jumped into the car and off we went.
First stop: Cap de Formentor! I have read that the road to the lighthouse is very narrow... At the beginning it seemed to be quite exaggerated as it was narrow, but not that bad! That was, of course, before we passed the pine forests and the road just became ridiculously tight! Sitting on the passenger’s seat, I could fully take in the views as well as the steep drops that we seemed to be very dangerously close to! There is a rumour that no buses take this route, not sure where it came from though as we happened to come across a bus just when we got on a curve – huge line of cars behind us, so no space to back up and the bus pressing on, giving us signals to move out of the way, finally with sign language - meaning waving hands like mad women :), we seemed to come to a solution and somehow the bus hanging on the edge of the curve and swaying dangerously over us, passed us by on the right side… I believe I swallowed my heart a couple of times there
as it was about to pop out of my chest… thinking the worst was over, we got to the lighthouse and we knew straight away we weren’t going to stay there long… a total chaos! Very few places to park, nobody coordinating how many cars are coming in and out, again lots of backing up and manoeuvring millimetres from other cars… woohoo! a space to park at last! I’ve heard that the cape is called by Majorcans the ‘Meeting point of the winds’, I know why now… saying it was windy there, would be a massive understatement! Too bad, we might have stayed there longer as the views were really incredible, but with the wind blowing our heads off, it just wasn’t that much fun. So after taking in a few deep breaths before the journey back through the narrow road, off we went again. On the way down we stopped at the Mirador des Colomer to admire the cape and its mighty cliffs (reaching 300 metres) – really stunning views!
Next stop: Pollenca! It seems that driving could be a challenge not only in the mountains of Mallorca but in its little towns as well! As trying to
find your way through the tiny one-way streets with cars parked all around these old towns, can definitely drain some of your energy. So first after coming upon Placa Major and seeing all the little cafés around, we knew it was time for a little break. After enjoying a cup of coffee with a slice of cake and admiring the old church set right before our eyes (built in 13th
century by Knights Templar), we went for a walk through the narrow streets of Pollenca until we reached the Calvari steps. Walking up the 365 steps you pass by some beautiful houses and gardens until you reach a little old chapel on top of the hill. One house a little bit on the side of the steps, was all covered in ivy (or similar plant – my knowledge about plants is not really great, definitely something to work on!), an iron gate depicting giraffes was warning the intruders to stay away and at the back a strange looking piece of wood, resembling a donkey’s head was guarding its garden (I still don’t know whether it was a sculpture or if my eyes were playing tricks on me and making out
this shape on their own…). The house looked kind of deserted, but the little curtains inside were suggesting that somebody was living there – bizarre little place! We walked for a while around the chapel, taking in the panorama of Pollenca and soon after decided it was time to move on to our next destination.
Final stop: Soller. Driving from Pollenca you see Soller from the top of the hills already - a little town set in a valley full of orange groves and olive trees, really stunning view! We couldn't help but walk around the town for a while, admiring once again the narrow streets with old, pastel-coloured buildings until we reached Plaça Constitució where we decided to treat ourselves to some tapas – just loved the dates in crispy bacon, yum! I believe you could sit at the Placa for hours taking in the surroundings and watching the people go by. Also you can’t miss the old tram, with some of its cars dating back to 1913, passing right in the middle of the Placa (it can take you to Port de Soller). Still, the first thing that draws your attention immediately after reaching the Placa are
the two buildings – the neo-gothic church of Sant Bartomeu and modernist Banco de Soller - both truly remarkable pieces of architecture, created by Joan Rubio i Bellver, a follower of Gaudi. Despite the horrible weather, we had a lovely day. All the towns we have visited on the way, although similar to each other at first glance, very unique after a closer look - deifinitely worth a visit.
With the next day spent mostly on or around the beach, enjoying the sun (yep! back to sunny weather again!), sipping San Miguel and just relaxing, we were ready to explore the island a little bit more – this time we headed off to the capital, Palma. First we thought it might be difficult driving around Palma as there are some impatient drivers on the roads there (we did experience it coming from the airport), but surprisingly it was a pretty easy drive and we found a car park just in front of the Cathedral (couldn’t be better!). We strolled around Palau de l’Almudaina, a formal royal residence, passing by numerous artists entertaining the tourists – mimes, flamenco dancers, musicians and even Sponge Bob and Shrek & Donkey posing for
a picture with the tourists, until we reached the Cathedral, La Seu. The legend has it that when king James I sailed to the island to defeat the Arabs in the 13th
century, his fleet came upon a storm. He made an oath to God then, promising to construct a temple dedicated to Virgin Mary if only he made it to the shores safely. He kept his promise and after defeating the Arabs, he started raising the cathedral on the site of a mosque - highlighting the victory of Christianity over Islam but creating one of the great historical paradoxes at the same time as the Cathedral is facing Mecca and not Jerusalem. No wonder the Gothic Cathedral is considered to be the jewel of Mallorcan architecture as it’s truly magnificent. Once you’re inside the cathedral, your attention is immediately drawn to the unusual altar or to be more exact the baldachin that hangs just on top of it – another of Antoni Gaudi’s masterpieces – an illuminated canopy symbolizing the crown of thorns. The location of the cathedral makes it stand out even more – overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, it’s the first sight any boat or cruise ship visiting
the Mallorcan port would look upon. After a visit to the cathedral, we wandered around the old town of Palma through its narrow and charming streets, stopping for a coffee here and there and treating ourselves to tapas again. Really lovely city bustling with life but somehow calm at the same time – probably because the pace of life seems to be much slower here. You see lots of people everywhere, but you can’t see anyone rushing anywhere... people sitting, chatting, laughing, walking around, shopping or simply enjoying the weather, surroundings and each others company… But then maybe it's the weather again that makes everything look so peaceful? Should probably start thinking about moving some place warm??? Hmmm…
The following day we headed to the eastern side of the island, starting off in Artá. Again you come off the main road and drive right into the middle of the old town, trying to find a parking space in the maze of one-way, narrow streets. After a few minutes of stress and unpleasant encounters with some angry drivers on the road, we were ready to explore Artá. Located on top of the hill, Santuari de Sant Salvador can be seen
from far ahead, so that’s were we headed first. We walked next to the old church of Transfiguració del Senyor and passing the Stations of the Cross, climbed the 180 steps all the way to the top. The church of Sant Salvador is surrounded by medieval fortified walls and from there you can take in the beautiful panoramic views of the town and its surrounding fields. We wandered around the charming streets once again and after cooling off in the shade with a cup of frappucino, we headed to the fishing village of Porto Cristo, visiting the famous limestone Caves of the Dragon (Cuevas del Drach) first. It takes around an hour to walk through the caves. I have to say I was surprised how warm it was inside – apparently the temperature stays at 20C throughout the year. Walking through the illuminated path, you pass by beautiful but at the same time bizarre stalactite formations – all sorts of shapes, just let your imagination go and you’ll be surprised what you might see, I swear many of the formations looked like dwarves to me, almost as if they were sitting there guarding the cave. Spooky! :) At the end
of the path you reach Lake Mantel (named after French geologist who first explored these caves in 19th
century) – apparently the largest underground lake in Europe. Here you can sit and enjoy a short spectacle of lights and music listening to the violin concert. Enchanting experience! Later on we went back to Porto Cristo and walked around its port looking for a nice place to eat some typical food again. There were a few places to choose from, but some looked a bit too posh (looking at the size of some yachts at the port no wonder why I guess). Finally we found a cosy restaurant by the canal and ordered a mixed platter of tapas – including my absolute favourite chopitos (fried baby cuttlefish) and paella. What a feast! It was delicious and a total bargain! Another lovely day!
On the last day, after checking out we still had plenty of time before the flight, so again we went for a drive around the island. We stopped in Santanyi and it turned out to be a good choice as we came just in time for the market. This time there was no shopping (bags beyond full), so
we just wandered around the town and only browsed through the goodies, tempted to buy some things a couple of times until we decided it was just best to leave the temptations aside and just have a coffee somewhere instead. So we sat on the side in one of the cafes and watched the market life go by until suddenly the place got filled with trucks and it was all over. The sellers dissembled their stands, packed their stuff onto the cars and were gone. Amazing how a little town like this can get so chaotic for a couple of hours a week.
With a few hours still left to spare, we headed to Palma to enjoy the beach the last time before we left. We stopped at Playa de Palma and after few minutes of walking had enough of it already. The beach and the boulevard along the beach were packed with people, mostly drunk people to be exact. Was slightly shocked to see so many clubs offering erotic shows just right along the beach, not to mention that we passed as well a huge club full of drunk men shouting and staring at half naked girls dancing
Mirador des Colomer
on the bars. Let's just say I was really glad that we weren't staying here for the week. Can't even imagine how this place must look like during the night... I do like to party once in a while but that was a bit too much - can't really see the point in coming here and walking around hammered the whole week... Not my kind of holiday... We quickly jumped back into the car and headed to the airport.
Still, despite the visit to Playa de Palma, I really loved Mallorca. Whether you're coming to Mallorca to party, or to find some peace and quiet, you won't be disappointed, as the island has a lot to offer for any kind of holiday-goers.
There are more photos below