Majorca-I never thought I’d type those words

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April 2nd 2015
Published: June 26th 2017
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Malaga to Palma, Majorca

Total distance travelled from Santos: 5837 nautical miles

We had made an executive decision to stay on board and mind the ship!! It was hot. 36 degrees C. Peace at last!!

Roisin and I have both visited Valencia before and all we'd be doing is the 'same old, same old' walking around the gothic quarter and paying $19.90 each for the privilege of being taken in to the city centre. It made a pleasant change to walk around the ship and not have to negotiate over-keen and over-enthusiastic Brazilians!! Stick a few Goths in the Safari lounge and the ship would even have its very own Gothic quarter!! The air temperature was in the mid-30s (centigrade) which is not ideal for city sightseeing. We have been ashore at a different port for the last six days in the past week and it's nice just to relax. The yacht club members we met a few days ago at the ‘special' meal may have many privacy benefits but for now the yacht club pales in to significance as we have our very own 139,000 tonne yacht…well until the captain gets back anyway!

It was a relaxing afternoon, sunbeds, Jacuzzi, strawberry daiquiris. That is until about 18:10. The ship was due to leave at 18:30 and we thought it strange that by now we hadn't had our peace disturbed as more passengers arrived back at the ship. Similar to the previous day we heard a lot of booing and jeering but it wasn't coming from the ship. Looking over the railing on to the quay there must have been nearly a thousand passengers queuing to pass through dock side security before boarding. Watching more taxis and buses arrive we noticed that the taxis were dropping people off at the entrance to the security tent and they were queue jumping. I'm surprised no scuffles broke out. That's a pity. It would have rounded off a perfect afternoon with a bit of entertainment to rival the Platinum Theatre!! It was definitely a case of all talk and not enough action!!

That evening Stephen asked Emelia, his Portuguese/Italian wife to tell everyone about the new English idiom she had heard.

‘Oh yes!' she said. ‘What does Bob's your ankle mean?' she asked the rest of us. None of us could actually come up with a reasonable definition. Not because we couldn't think of one but we couldn't understand each other through the laughter!!

Another day, another port, another $19.90 shuttle. This time it was somewhat of a hike to the centre of town, some 4km around the bay of Palma de Mallorca. However, it was only a short walk, mostly undercover, to the port gate. I had decided, prior to the visit that the Castello Bellver would be worth seeing during this visit. The fortress stands high above the city. I was not aware of any buses that pass by that way and due to my aversion with taxis we decided the best way to see the city AND visit the fortress is to utilise the hop on hop off system. I thought we had ‘boxed' clever by booking the hop on, hop off bus tickets on-line in advance. We hadn't counted on the MSC Splendida. On pulling back the curtains this morning, another MSC ship, of the same Fantasia class, the MSC Splendida, was moored behind us. This was not a scheduled stop as the web site: What's in Port clearly stated the only ship in Palma de Mallorca today should have been the MSC Preziosa. I spoke to personnel from the Splendida and ascertained that the MSC Splendida should have been in Valetta, Malta. Rather than interrupt the crew member and say that he had a shit navigator because this is Spain, I let him continue. He explained that there is a storm in the middle of the Mediterranean prohibiting them from crossing over to Malta and it was too big to circumnavigate. The captain had made the decision to call in to Palma.

With an additional ship in port comes additional passengers of which a fair few decided, like us, that the ho-ho would be the best way of seeing the main sights of Palma. The ho-ho bus stop (no. 14) was clearly visible across the street from the port gate, you just had to follow the huge crowd of at least 300!! Roisin went to the front of the queue and spoke to the ticket operative. As he still had to issue us with a ticket to enter the bus, we had to join the queue!! Had we known that advanced purchase doesn't guarantee preferential boarding (something we have been accustomed to on this trip!!) we would have not bothered with the tickets as a local bus (no.1) had the words ‘Centro' on the front. That would have been €3 well spent. Well, it is what it is and we waited in line managing to get on the fourth ho-ho bus to arrive.

Palma de Mallorca is the capital city of Mallorca, the largest of the Balearic Islands that lie a few hundred km off the Spanish mainland in the Med.

As already stated, we started our ho-ho journey from stop 14 – Estació Maritima. Castell de Bellver was stop number 9. There are 18 stops on the circuit and the bus only travels in one direction. A full circuit takes about 80 minutes so it was a case of sit back and enjoy the ride. It was certainly worth alighting at stop 1 – Antoni Maura, the stop for the cathedral and the historic quarter but due to all the palaver we encountered in securing a place on the bus, we decided to stay on until the Castell stop.

The journey took us right around the bay of Palma, the massive gothic structure that is the majestic cathedral of this city dominating the skyline. The Cathedral, known as "La Seo", is built on the site of an Arab mosque. The Cathedral is made from gold limestone from the local quarries of Santanyi. It is built in the French Gothic style and is 121m long by 55m wide. The imposing Bell Tower houses 9 bells, the most famous of which is "N'Eloi", 2m in diameter with a weight of 5,700 kg.

Most travellers alighted at this stop only to be replaced by another mass of people who were now moving on from the plethora of churches and narrow lanes of the old town to more of the same but further down the line!

As we headed away from the cathedral district we passed a police car parked across a street with blue lights a-flashing. There seemed to be a protest happening as people with placards were marching around and shouting some indecipherable slogans. If it doesn't involve the price of eggs it usually has some other political undertones

Another 20 minutes took us from the historic centre, through some back streets, slowly climbing to our destination – bus stop number 9 – Bellver Castle. The previous stop, Poble Espanyol looked interesting but we didn't alight. You could say the theme park has come to Mallorca as reproductions of famous buildings from Cordoba, Toledo and then Madrid came in to view together with typical houses from the Spanish regions. The audio guide stated that a visit here gives you a whistle-stop tour of Spanish architecture, showing its development through Muslim and then Christian influences. As I don't work for the Palma de Mallorca tourist board I won't give you the hard sell but if we ever are out this way again, I'll certainly consider this a pleasant alternative to the hustle and bustle of the cathedral district!

Bellver translates as ‘beautiful view' and the castle is in our old favourite, the Gothic style. It stands on a hill 3 km northwest of Palma. Bellver castle was built in the 14th century for King James II of Majorca, and is one of the few circular castles in Europe.Although it had long been used as a military prison throughout the 18th to mid-20th century, it is now under civilian control. The castle's plain, circular floor with round towers attached to it seems to have been inspired by the upper complex of the Herodion just outside Jerusalem, which is also circular and has a large principal tower and three minor towers as well. The main area accessible to the public is a barbican rotunda shaped building with many arches and an upper level. I wandered out on to the roof of this building that gave great views of the city below.

I have to admit and hold my hands up, Mallorca is a place that Roisin and I would never have considered for a holiday outside of a one-dayer arriving on a cruise ship due to so many generalisations. However, we were both pleasantly surprised with what we found. The people were friendly, the ambiance delightful and what Palma has to offer was plentiful and interesting. However, it's unlikely that Roisin and I will be booking our Ryanair fight to Palma just yet. We haven't quite lost our sense of adventure or imagination at the moment!!

So only one day left. It now seems a long time since we arrived in Saõ Paulo and took the bus across to Santos. After a short crossing from Corsica we will then be disembarking. However, we still have to get across to Corsica and the storm is still out there somewhere…lurking…waiting for you to fall asleep. It's been a long, activity packed cruise. I'm sure the storm won't have long to wait!!

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