Saturday, 3 September 2016

Pine trees, pastries, Pokémon & Padrón peppers

Always one to make the best of a bad situation, I am taking full advantage today of the fact that the sun seems to have finally disappeared by sitting inside to write all about adventures in Palma. I would have written much sooner but sadly a traumatic flight involved (or perhaps resulted in) me losing my notebook where I had written each evening about the day's events. Thus, I have had to find time to first write again about the whole week before eventually finding time to type it up. It's been a busy but of course absolutely wonderful summer!

Friday 12th August

An interesting arrival into Palma as we declined one ant-infested hire car, got ambushed by all the one-way streets, found ourselves stuck down an alley-way in the enormous replacement car with no idea how to put it into reverse then paid 30 cents to decide whether or not to park in a carpark before finally taking our Airbnb host for a ride to find an appropriate place to park. All settled in we took to Trip Advisor which recommended a tapas bar not too far away. Down another alley-way (slightly dodgy looking this time) we ventured to discover very yummy tapas and our first bottle of Cava; soothing the nerves after all the trauma that had come before.

Saturday 13th August

Feeling much more relaxed after the previous day, along we walked to where the car was parked. Admired a few market stalls on the way, came to the end of the market and paused... struck by the realisation that the car had been replaced by said market stalls. The morning of our first full day was thus spent chasing local police, our oh-so helpful host and a taxi to take us to the car itself which looked a sorry sight indeed chained up in some far away 'aparcament'. Huge fine paid, off we drove to make the most of the rest of our day (not before checking where we actually were allowed to park to avoid a repeat performance) in Pollença, a coastal town in the North of the island. Stopped a while to enjoy lunch on our first Mallorcan beach before taking a 'pine walk' along to the end of the bay. Fortunately the car was still there upon our return so we could all breathe a sigh of relief. Found safe parking back in Palma so headed out for food at a pizzeria with a huge selection of film-themed pizza toppings and some tasty Sangria.

Sunday 14th August

Relieved to find the car exactly where we had left it, we took a drive to a beach recommended as a point of historic interest. After a very touristy experience the previous day, it felt very promising to park up in a field in the middle of nowhere. A hike through more pine (this time a whole forest of it) led us to the most stunning beach. Here we thoroughly enjoyed a full day of sea, sand and funny grass-balls before we headed back through the pine where we stopped a while to pet some Iberian piglets, a realisation that was all too shocking as I enjoyed Iberico ham, eggs and chips for my dinner...

Monday 15th August

Drove to Sóller to enjoy the freshly-squeezed orange juice (and ice-cream) it's famed for. Could have quite happily spent the day café-crawling around the main square but as the trams kept tooting their horns as they trundled past, we thought we'd better have a ride. The tram took us to the port of Sóller where we enjoyed remarkable views, the tastiest seafood (I had squid-ink spaghetti topped with calamari, prawns, mussels and clams) and a paddle before heading back into the mountains where the town stood which were now beautifully lined with low-lying cloud as the evening drew in. After a longer day and plenty of food to see us through we decided to have an evening in with cards, guessing games and pre-made Sangria.

Tuesday 16th August

Began a rainy day in Alcudia for the market set in the pretty old town. Enjoyed lunch and Mallorcan beers at a tapas place (of course) before making our way to Fornalutx, a mountainous village once voted Spain's prettiest. Wandered aimlesssly, hypnotised by beautiful streets, architecture and countryside, relishing the peace brought by drizzle and precarious roads. Back in Palma we tried a tapas bar with a twist; Padrón peppers (of course), avocado and strawberry tartar, Spanish omelette with 'crystal bread', a zucchini, rocket and mango salad and more Iberico ham, eggs and fried potatoes, all washed down with another bottle of Cava.

Wednesday 17th August

Our final day with the dear car, we opted for another beach day, this time in the South of the island. Walked along the shore until we found a quiet beach spot where we sat to enjoy our lunch and a spot of relaxation... all well and good until a highly persistent wasp (or it could have been multiple wasps) decided to harass us. Moved to a slightly busier spot in the hope that other beach-goers might have picnics of greater interest. Finally relaxed it was a struggle to tear ourselves away but there was definitely a big sigh of relief from all as the car was delivered back to the hire company (not before we had to make way for a Paella coming at us along the road). Took a taxi back into Palma and made a return visit to the restaurant from the night before (it was just so good)!

Thursday 18th August

Until now our exploration of Palma itself had revolved around restaurants, wherever the car was parked (or not parked, as the case may be) and 'Spermacat' (we mis-read the sign for the 'Supermercat). Our penultimate day began with a hearty brunch in one of the main squares. From there we wandered semi-aimlessly around the old town until we came to the cathedral. Tempted by a look inside but not really fancying the queuing, we headed instead around the bay and a way out of the city, up into the hills to find a Gothic style castle. I think we all thought we were genuinely close to death (or at least a collapse) as we dragged our way up the never-ending steps in the heat of the day. Stopped a couple of times to admire the view (well, and to down drinks and catch our breath) back across the city. I do love a good castle! Jelly legs from the walk back down again, we decided to call it a day and headed off to the beach to spend our last full evening enjoyed baked goods, Cava and the sunset.

Friday 19th August

With our flight not until the evening, we decided to spend the morning back on the beach before facing the reality of end-of-holiday joys like packing. Checked out, we ventured into the Arab Quarter to admire more architecture and to take refuge in the shade now bikinis were packed and a quick shower was no longer a possibility. Visited the oldest café in Palma for one last Ensaimada as a very fitting bid farewell to Mallorca.