Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mallorca

It's really nice to be back after six days away. I'm trying to remember everything, but fortunately I also kept some notes and plenty of pictures to help.

We had a wonderful time and excellent weather up until the last day, but even then that didn't ruin our trip. All I had to do was think back to the flight in, over the Alps, and all of the snow, to know that I was very fortunate to enjoy the last days of summer weather with beaches close by.

The beaches were a bit littered, but I appreciated being able to sit by the crashing waves and admire the sand. The detail of many of the shells makes me in complete awe of nature. I even found a few pieces of beautiful sea glass.

There was plenty of shopping and laughter with the girls. I must say that I love shopping in Spain - they use more color and have really beautiful jewelry. That was my biggest weakness through the trip. I'm very partial in my jewelry choices and only like genuine stones and metals. While that may not sound too difficult to find, believe me - it is... until you go to Spain.

The girls biggest weakness was staying out late. That really made me feel old since I simply could no longer hack it. They got the biggest kick out of the late night antics and various drinks, which was funny. We had a great time meeting Catherine's welcoming friends - everyone was so incredibly nice.

Catherine has been living with a family since January and it has certainly been trying at times. One thing that really made me laugh is that Silvia, the mother, taught her how to dance like the flamenco dancers from her hometown of Granada. She said they learn by thinking of grabbing an apple, twisting it off the tree, and tossing it away. I was hysterically laughing as Catherine demonstrated, and when it didn't fit the song she would say, 'No, it's not ripe yet.'

A few small things that caught me off guard were seeing a DJ with an I love NY t-shirt, the amount of people we seemed to encounter from Argentina, and how content so many people seemed to never leave the island - not even to travel.

Uniquely Spanish things I observed include the yellow glow of street lights, metal garage doors covering store fronts, palm trees, limestone, and a laid back attitude about life.

Not everyone appears to be happy about being part of Spain. We encountered several 'Mallorca is not Spain' graffiti writings around town. Catherine's friend Vicky told us some of the people from the island would rather do things their own way, which doesn't seem like it would be changing anytime soon. I also saw some interesting things that reminded me of Basquiat's work.

One distinct difference between Spain and Mallorca were the windmills. They weren't unique to Palma and dotted the entire island. Some were more rustic in appearance, but they were all so striking.

We were also very happy to eat delicious local tapas and pastries. Traditional Majorcan dishes include manchego cheese, Pa Amb'Oli (Mallorquin tomato bread), olives, and many pork based sausages. I didn't try any of the meats, but the cheeses, breads, and fresh ingredients were great.

I am seriously still thinking about the delicious foods. As always, I also purchased some exotic salts. One is black salt, and the others are limited edition (lemon+lavender and orange+chili) from a local company called Flor de Sal D'es Trenc. They have beautiful packaging which never hurts.

Mallorca really had some surprises for me. I have always heard that it is heavily visited by Germans, however I didn't expect to occasionally wonder if I had stumbled upon some tropical piece of Germany. We didn't even visit the German area of Palma. The only dead give away we were in Spain was the Spanish architecture.

Dominating the sky line was the cathedral. I loved seeing the city from above because there were some amazing roof gardens - including one with a beautiful pool.

The cathedral is Palma's main land mark. It is enormous, beautiful, and originally built on the grounds of an Arab mosque. Whenever I see enormous and lasting structures like this I cannot believe that people were capable of building with such sophistication when they didn't have modern machinery.

I could not believe how large the cathedral was. It was surrounded by city walls, which were also immense. There is so much to see from every angle.

The chapel to St. Peter by Miquel Barceló is very stunning. I was also in love with the stained glass windows, particularly the one in the main chapel ('Capilla Real'- Royal Chapel).

I went as soon as it opened and was immediately struck by the bright colored circles that were cast on the back wall and floor. Someone definitely got things right when they were designing that.

We sat outside the cathedral enjoying the sun when I noticed tons of lizards scampering around the limestone walls. Not only were they climbing on it, but we also watched several go inside the small cracks. Catherine later told us there is an entire island off the coast of Mallorca called Dragonera. If I ever make it back I would like to visit.

I was very excited to see more of Gaudi's stunning work as well. He has several buildings through out the city and an enormous chandelier in the cathedral before he grew angry and left Palma. Thankfully not all was lost and he created wonderful things in Barcelona.

Following Gaudi's organic influence was a striking and apparently very old olive tree in the middle of town. I loved all of the curving lines and it's unique form. I never saw a tree like it.

The palm trees and bright colors along the streets also added to the ambiance. We walked around the city center and the narrow winding streets around the cathedral and continually found beautiful things. There were plenty of shops surrounding the area that also sold jewelry and the famed Mallorcan pearls.

We visited Porto Cristo (home to Rafa Nadal, the number one tennis player in the world) and the Cuevas del Drach (caves) on the East side of the island.

The caves were unbelievable. They are said to be 15-20 million years old. Unreal. After walking through and admiring the beauty of nature we enjoyed a unique classical concert played by people in boats. When the concert had ended we went on a small boat trip across one of the largest subterranean lakes in the world.

Plans changed quite a bit after we missed several buses due to imbibing a lot of sangria and sharing great conversation and laughs. Since the night was still young we decided to go out once we arrived back in Palma. Cat wanted us to try a traditional drink called Gin Xoriguer Mahon, unfortunately it's only sold by the bottle. It was a lot better than I expected, but an early evening for me.

The restaurants were quite good. Here's a synopsis of my favorites if you head to Palma...

Food + Drinks


Cappuccino- an upscale cafe chain with wonderful sandwiches, coffees, and thick drinking chocolate. It's a great place to pick up a quick bite to eat.

Tanto Amore - Fabrica 10. One of the best stone fired pizzas I've ever eaten. I'm still thinking about it. I also ate some of Catherine's calzone and it was equally delicious. 

El Boxto - Carrer de Velázquez 14. A fun concept where you have a beer tap in the middle of the table and it displays how much your table drinks on a screen. The tapas are fantastic and it's really inexpensive for the quality of food and entertainment factors.

Wineing - Apuntadores 24. A wonderful place for wine tasting. You receive a card when you enter and then can try a sample, half glass, or full glass, all while keeping tab on your card. The machine measures things out for you.

Churros con chocolate - This is usually available at many places around Christmas, but we were able to find several cafes that still served the traditional dessert.

Ca na Chinchilla Sa Botiga - Carrer Dameto 11. A speciality shop with wines, cheeses, salts, and olive oils.

Colmado La Montaña - Carrer Jaume II, 27. A small shop specializing in salts, meats, and cheeses that are local to the area. They also had the cheapest prices on Mallorcan salts.

If you want to bring back any alcohol I highly recommend waiting to purchase it at the airport so you can carry it on. I brought Stefan back some of the Gin Xoriguer Mahon this way.

Shopping

Zapping - Pas d'en Quint 1. A boutique store with beautiful and unique clothing at reasonable prices. 

Natural Mente - Carre Palau Reial 3. A natural shop selling beads, shells, and natural decorations. They also state the items in their store are responsibly harvested and legal to take home.

Jewelry - Edmund Arnold Joyero. Pas den Quint 4. I bought turquoise and coral necklaces at the shop across from Zapping. They have authentic stones and metals, but classic and simple pieces.

For my quintessential children's book I bought it in the book store at the back of the tourist information office at Passeig del Born, 27.

Locals Suggestions
Unfortunately we didn't make it to the following... hopefully next time.

Ummo- Carrer de Sant Magí 66. Upscale and unique dishes. Catherine has been before and she and her friends raved about it.

Beaches - locals highly recommended visiting Cala D'Eia (a rocky beach) and Son Serra De Camprina and Sa Ràpita. (I hope I spelled these right... I was copying from his handwriting).

Dragonera - the Dragon island off the West coast. From the images I saw the island and beaches are very beautiful. 


5 comments:

ohabbyreally said...

Wow! It looks so so beautiful! Nothing compares to the light in Spain! It looks like you had such a lovely time, your pictures always make me want to visit wherever you've gone!

Bluefish said...

I love every photo on this post. So much food and beautiful attractions.

Emily said...

abby...
You're so right - Spain always makes me want to go back for more. You might be able to find decent flights from the UK... there's a major British area there.

bluefish...
Thanks! The food was definitely amazing - I am still thinking about it way more than I care to admit.

JoernandAllison said...

I've been looking forward to this review for ages. I"m so glad to have finally gotten the time to read it. It seems like you and your friends really did some good exploring. The island is just so incredible, I am already dying to go back!
I will read this a little closer when I can. But, as always, your pictures rock :)

Emily said...

allison...
You're hilarious! We definitely saw a lot of Palma. I'd love to see more of the island. I know you guys are all about it and I can understand why.