A week in Mallorca

  • 7 August 2022
  • Prue Scott

“We need a beach,” said xPat the Australian.

She was right. The beach at Viareggio is largely expensive bagni (beach clubs), you sit in rows, the sea ain’t that great. We wanted golden sand and blue water. Swimmable blue water.

xPat loves a travel challenge, so off she went with her iPhone. It took only a matter of minutes before she came back with…

“Palmanova in Mallorca. Direct Ryanair flight from Pisa to Palma, easy taxi ride to the hotel, swimming pool, buffet breakfast included, seafood, beach, affordable.”

Bathers, sunscreen and water bottles went into the carry-on luggage and we toddled off to the stazione, heading for Pisa and the airport.

Blue skies, blue water, BEACHES! We could see beaches from the plane. Once again, the xPat Personal Travel Agency delivered.

First surprise. Mallorca is surprisingly large. I viewed it as a dot in the ocean, but it’s a good 3,600km2 with a coastline of about 500km. What we see in the travel brochures is the tourist resorts; the rest of Mallorca is quite different. It’s agricultural, with citrus, almonds, olives and grapes grown there for centuries.

There are few current stats, but you won’t be surprised to hear the bulk of tourists (and some of them are very bulky) come from Germany, the UK, Spain and Nordic countries. These people contribute to some 15 million visitors a year, Covid-notwithstanding.

Second surprise. This is why they have one mother of an airport. It’s the second busiest in Europe…and it’s huge. We walked several kilometres to get out of it, part of a giant ball of human fish, swirling this way and that. Good natured chaos outside. Finally found our taxi driver and off we went.

Palmanova is one bay short of the notorious Magaluf where the party people once partied but not so much anymore; the Balearic authorities have clamped down on the bad behaviour. Our bay was a family bay with strong British flavours.

We were a week ahead of the official start of the season, so it wasn’t too crowded. Lots of family groups, mostly British, many of them smokers. New Zealand has tightened up on public smoking so much that I’m always a little astonished to roll over on my lounger beside a pool to get a noseful of smoke.

Bad news: the beach water is just a tad too nippy. But we did meet Charles from Nigeria who managed the loungers; he spends the summer in Mallorca and then his own summer at home. The pool is good, but off limits before 10am and after 6pm. One of the downsides of pre-season hols.

Our hotel was a repurposed block about five minutes from the beach. Perfectly serviceable room complete with a balcony where we could watch people broiling themselves around the pool across the road.

Hotels everywhere – behind us, beside us, in front, across the street. It gave me an idea of just how this place fills up in season. Flights arrive in the early hours (they’re cheaper) and you meet sleepy-eyed people emerging from the elevator for breakfast.

Breakfast, by the way, was a non-stop buffet from 8.30am-12.30pm. There was your standard British with fried eggs, sausage, baked beans, bacon (sort of edible) and hash browns. Your Portuguese breakfast of pastries, including little nuggets of deep-fried custard dusted with icing sugar. Toast, fruit and very bad coffee.

Beachwear for Africa, as one might say. Along the main drag, shop after shop full of cheap leisurewear, most of them selling the same stuff. Ditto the souvenirs. But, joy of joys, ABI restaurants. ABI = anything but Italian. Great food, but one longs for something different and here it was – Thai, Indian, Chinese. I’m not saying it was good, just that there was CHOICE!

Go to Soller, said Carolina. This was easy. Mallorca has a tap-and-go system that uses your credit/debit card without bank charges. What a great system. We took buses to Soller and then back to the airport – for less than €10. A bus into Palma and the vast underground bus terminal (searingly stuffy in May; July and August must be hell) where we changed for the bus to Soller. Out into the parched landscape and beating sun; through craggy mountains and onto this exquisite, ancient town with a bustling square, good coffee and a tram that takes you down to the port.

The port is like a mini Monaco with yachts and prices to match. It’s ringed with restaurants and we walked from end to end. We liked one restaurant but Senor would not break a table for four. I was dismissive; xPat might have won him around (she’s worked in hospitality). We ended up at the Argentinian burger café; xPat wanted hers well done and I wanted mine rare. Both came charred and raw in the middle, but beautifully seasoned and worth having.

(I managed to lose all my Soller photos from phone and camera....yes, I know....so, these are courtesy of xPat)

short walk uphill to the bus home and we repeated the journey in reverse.

But wait, there’s more. There’s much more to the Baleariacs than the resort hotels on Mallorca; there’s also the interior with exquisite villages. Menorca is far less touristy and there are even good places to go on Ibiza. Definitely on the return list.

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  • Amanda Brett
  • 7 Aug 2022
  • 11:08 am

Excellent outsourcing!!

  • Lynn Clayton
  • 7 Aug 2022
  • 11:47 am

Delightfully written per usual - I could almost smell and taste the place!

  • Jane Parkinson
  • 7 Aug 2022
  • 1:42 pm

Loving your travelogues, Prue! I can hardly keep up with you this year!

  • Jo Dalgety
  • 7 Aug 2022
  • 1:44 pm

Loved the photos, Soller looks fab!

  • Julianne Evans
  • 7 Aug 2022
  • 2:23 pm

I love getting these tantalising windows into other worlds Prue. And always so delightfully written.

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