Finally made it to the Balearic Islands in Spain. We landed at the Majorca (also spelt Mallorca) airport and took the bus in to Palma de Mallorca. Our hotel, the TRYP Bellver, was in the port area. The port area is a long strip of hotels, restaurants, cafés and clubs along the marina with the big yachts, which is a 20 minute walk to the old town (at least it is from our hotel, depends where you are on the strip) and a 10 minute bus ride to the beach. Majorca is beautiful! The blue waters of the Mediterranean, green vineyards and mountains make it a gorgeous place plus the clear blue skies and 30 degree temperature certainly helps.
First day was a beach day at Playa Major. It is a 10 minute bus ride from the port. The beach is in an inlet surrounded by cliffs and hotels. There are many chairs available to rent with umbrellas or you can choose to lay in the sand. We chose beach chairs, it was 12 euros for 2 chairs and an umbrella for the day. The water is amazing, clear, calm and warm. Not the best place if you want to surf or boogie board, but a perfect place for a relaxing day at the beach.
The next day we took the hop on/hop off tourist bus around Palma. Sadly the earphones with the commentary only worked about 30% of the time but the tour itself was good. We only got off at 2 stops, the old town and Bellver Castle. The old town starts at the palace and cathedral which look over the port and continues for many blocks From miles away you can see the cathedral as it is raised up on a hill. There is a walk along the wall near the cathedral by the maritime park that can be accessed by going up to the cathedral or from a few of the streets through the old town or maritime park. The cathedral itself is impressive with some interesting statues, carvings and of course religious artwork. Wandering through the winding streets of the old town can feel like a maze but is a great way to spend a few hours or for an evening out. Plus there are many cafés or ice cream/gelato shops to stop at for a drink or snack along the way where you can people watch and relax. A wide boulevard parallels the old town and is a nice walk, again with shops, cafés and restaurants plus fountains and trees. The area is beautiful with all of the old Spanish architecture.
Bellver Castle is on the edge of town up a hill. There are great views over Palma and the surrounding countryside from up on the ramparts. The castle was used by the Majorcan royalty until the late 1300s when they lost independence. The palace then became a jail off and on over the years before becoming a tourist attraction. Inside the castle there is an exhibition of the famous political prisoners held in the castle when it was used as a jail. The views are the best reason to stop at the castle, you can see for miles in every direction showing the various landscapes in the Palma area.
The next two days we did tours of the island. On the first day trip we went to Formentor, Alcudia and Pollenca. In the old town of Alcudia near the old wall there is a huge market selling everything from leather goods to souvenirs to food. It surrounds the town and continues down the Main Street. The town itself is a medieval Spanish town but it is hard to really explore much as the market seems to take over every area making it very crowded. Definitely go down some smaller side streets to escape the crowds and see more of the town. Formentor is a beach area with a narrow stretch of beach along a clear stretch of sea. The water felt lovely after the hot crowds of Alcudia. We spent the afternoon eating the lunch we bought at the market and enjoying the sun and sea. Next was a boat trip to Pollenca, which is a popular place for British tourists, and then back on the bus to head back to Palma for another evening on a patio with tapas and sangria.
Our next day trip was an island tour to Calobra and Soller. First stop was at a leather factory near Inca which had nice shoes and bags but was just a tourist shopping stop. Next we went to Santuari de Lluc, a religious pilgrim area with a beautiful church and grounds plus sectioned off rooms for pilgrims and travellers to stay in. The black Madonna statue was said to be found in the area and is now a relic in the church, people line up to see it and pray. We then took a winding narrow road through the Tramuntana mountains toward Calobra cove where we stopped for lunch and a swim in the cove at the mouth of Torrented de Parells. As Majorca does not have rivers, a torrent is where all of the rain water collects and then rushes down to the sea. The area is lovely with a few restaurants and two coves to swim in, one in the port, the other at the mouth of the torrent which is a 10 minute walk from the port along the sea and through two caves. One warning, there are no facilities at the cove by the torrent so change or use bathrooms in the port before heading over. We ended up changing on the beach behind towels, very awkward! Also, the beach is rocky so bring swim shoes if you can, something I sadly forgot and my feet paid the price. We then took a nice boat ride, about 45 minutes, to the port of Soller, along the cliffs, where we took an old tram to Soller to catch the old wooden electrical train back to Palma through the Tramuntana mountain range. The train was built in the early 20th century. It is a lovely trip with beautiful scenery, plus taking the old train is a great experience in itself.
Sad to leave this beautiful place but it is one I hope to make it back to. Still so much to see, and I definitely could use some more beach and sea time!