Written by dkm1981 on 27 Sep, 2011
There is so much to do in this area for every kind of person . . .*Beaches* Sunbathing is probably the top of most people’s agenda when visiting Palma Nova and Magaluff and you won’t be disappointed because there are plenty of nice beaches to…Read More
There is so much to do in this area for every kind of person . . .*Beaches* Sunbathing is probably the top of most people’s agenda when visiting Palma Nova and Magaluff and you won’t be disappointed because there are plenty of nice beaches to choose from. Each of them is sandy and the sea is crystal clear. They all have sun beds and parasols for hire, but are also lined with shops where you can buy your own lilos and parasols for a fairly cheap price. There are plenty of water sports to take part in as well, including hiring jet skis and pedalos or riding on a banana boat. The beaches are clean and safe; they are constantly patrolled by various beach personnel. *Nightlife* Magaluff in particular is famous for its hard core night life, with the main strip lined with every kind of bar you can think of – theme bars, English pubs, Sports bars and lap dancing clubs to name a few. The town is also home to the world famous BCM nightclub, which is a must for all party goers. Palma Nova offers a more sedate scene, although there are plenty of pubs offering cheap beer in lively surroundings. We particularly enjoyed the 80s bar on the sea front which plays good music and has outdoor seating.*Katmandu* This is a sort of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not kind of place in the middle of Magaluff. Even if you don’t go in it is worth going to because the building itself is worth a photograph. It is an upside down house and is quite funky. If you do go in, expect to pay through the nose – an adult ticket is twenty five Euros, although this gets you entry to the house, the crazy golf and the 4D cinema. *Sea Cruises* You can pick up information about the hundreds of different sea cruises that are available from the tourist information shops and most of the main hotels. They vary in price, but most last half a day and included drinks and a buffet for about forty to fifty Euros. There are also evening cruises that are a bit like floating clubs, with unlimited drinks from about sixty Euros.*Aquarium*Marine Land is somewhere that kids will enjoy as it offers a range of activities apart from the standard aquarium exhibits. There are dolphin shows, parrot shows and encounters with sea lions as well as cute little penguins. The park is just outside of Magaluff / Palma Nova and entry is free for under threes and half price for under twelves. Close
Written by Joy S on 25 Jun, 2009
The Caves of Drach are just south of Porto Cristo on the eastern side of the island. It took us just under 1.5 hours to get here from our base on the north of the island. The drive, through the middle of Majorca…Read More
The Caves of Drach are just south of Porto Cristo on the eastern side of the island. It took us just under 1.5 hours to get here from our base on the north of the island. The drive, through the middle of Majorca was really enjoyable - different scenery to what we had previously experienced. It was very lush, green and fertile with many crops growing and lots of olive trees.The caves have lots of parking which is free. Entrance to the caves is 10.5 Euros for adults, under 7's are free. It is constantly 22 degrees in the caves so you do not need a coat. You need sensible shoes, though it is not really difficult terrain inside. You are not allowed to take photographs.Thousands of visitors flock here to journey through more than a mile of caverns. The caves have been known about for around 3,000 years. In 1339 the Govenor of Majorca sent men into the caves. Pirates were also supposed to have kept treasure here, however nobody ventured more than about 200 yards from the entrance.In 1878 a group of Catalans went into the caves and told of the wondrous lights they saw. However, it was only in 1890 when a Frenchman called Edouard Alfred Martel made the first serious study. He found a lake of crystal clear water whose temperature stays at a constant 20 degrees centigrade.A Majorcan called Joan Servera bought the caves in the 1930's and had them illuminated with coloured lights in 1935. They are much the same today.You make your own way through the caves, thus taking everything in at your own pace. They have admissions about every hour - when we arrived about 200 people were queuing up in front of us. When they let us enter, we thought it was going to be a nightmare, crowded, hot and unpleasant. However the crowd thinned out inside, suprisingly quickly and you could then start to enjoy the experience.The caves are eerily beautiful. The lights are very atmospheric and the stalagtites and stalagmites are so impressive. Some are as thin as pins, others are like tree trunks - I had never seen anything like it.The caves have 12 main areas and other impressive chambers - the Black Cave, the White Cave and the Luis Salvator Cave. Luis Salvator was the Archduke of Austria who encouraged Martel to explore the caves. The walk through takes about half an hour, then you arrive at a large auditorium by the Lago de Martel - one of the world's largest underground lakes. After everyone is seated, the lights go out and it is pitch black. Suddenly you hear music, and 3 fishing boats strung with fairy lights sail past on the lake. They have classical musicians on board who play a short concert. It is very simple, but so beautiful.Afterwards you can either walk the short distance to the exit, or do as we did and ride there in a fishing boat.After our morning at the caves, we spent the rest of the day in nearby Porto Cristo. It is a lovely little town with a nice sandy beach, some quaint bars and restauants and is a pleasant place to spend a lazy afternoon. Close
Alcudia is a very family friendly holiday resort with lovely beaches and lots of bars and restaurants. It is really made up of three separate areas: the beach, the port and the old town. The beach and port are next to each other and…Read More
Alcudia is a very family friendly holiday resort with lovely beaches and lots of bars and restaurants. It is really made up of three separate areas: the beach, the port and the old town. The beach and port are next to each other and the old town and historical centre is about 2 miles away.The port is centered around the Passeig Maritim which is the walkway running parallel to the port. Here there are lots of shops, bars and restaurants. We enjoyed wandering around the marina and admiring all the boats and yachts.The beach is lovely - miles of golden sand and lined with very nice bars and restaurants. The majority of beachside buildings are hotels and apartments, none of which are more than 3 storeys high, so all are below the level of the pine trees.The old town is lovely - a walled city with Roman remains dating back to 70 BC. We enjoyed walking around the walls of the city and just wandering through the small streets which weave their way around this area. There are lots of lovely old houses and quaint squares.Alcudia is very much a fun place for children, with lots of activities to do. As well as playing on the beach with our son, we hired a carriage type bicycle with 3 seats and cycled for an hour on the path next to the beach. It was great fun. The cost for an hour's hire was 9 Euros.There is also a waterpark in Alcudia - Hidropark. It is not huge and does not have many big thrill rides, but there are quite a few slides, a wave pool, lots of shady areas to sit and a lovely children's pool. When we went it was very uncrowded so we spent a pleasant afternoon here. They also have a great children's playground and a huge crazy golf course.There are lots of boat trips leaving from Alcudia. We chose to do a trip that goes to Formentor beach and back. The boat ride takes about 1 hour to get there, you have some time on the beach and then the trip back to Alcudia. The boat was a large catamaran type vessel with lots of indoor and outdoor seating areas and a glass bottom underneath. Initially it was very pleasant leaving Alcudia and the views are glorious. However, they navigate very close to the headlands and rocks - presumably so you can get the views, but it got so choppy and bumpy I thought we would never see land again. Several people were physically sick, our son was terrified and the boat tossed and turned. We chose to forego the pleasure of the return trip, found a local bus near the beach area and took that instead. Apparently this is normal for these boat trips - by the rocks and headlands it gets extremely choppy and there is no danger. Beware thus, and if you are looking for a smooth boat trip, avoid these! Close
Written by Joy S on 23 Jun, 2009
The mountainous north-west area of Majorca always usually escapes the worst of the crowds. The area is a walker's paradise - trails wind through pretty hill villages, tumbling at intervals to rocky coves.It is Majorca at its most spectacular - dominated by the Tramunta…Read More
The mountainous north-west area of Majorca always usually escapes the worst of the crowds. The area is a walker's paradise - trails wind through pretty hill villages, tumbling at intervals to rocky coves.It is Majorca at its most spectacular - dominated by the Tramunta mountain range and its breathtaking scenery, it is also home to some of the most historical and picturesque towns on the island.We hired a car to explore this area fully. The amazing, windy, coastal road stretches the full length of the north west coast, climbing high to reveal dramatic sea views and dropping into picture postcard views. If you decide to drive this route, it will probably be added to your shortlist of best drives ever. The journey is only 88km long, but small winding roads mean it takes a lot of time.We left Pollensa and drove first towards Cap Formentor. It only takes about 15 minutes and is spectacular - right at the northernmost part of the island. Its highest point is 384 metres above sea level. The headland has quite a few lookout points with stunning views - look down at the cliffs below really does make you feel queasy.The drive from Puerta Pollensa to the beach at Formentor is as dramatic as any you could wish for. We did it ourselves, and also on a local bus - a bit hairy and not for the faint hearted. The beach is worth a visit. There is a hotel there which opened in 1929 and has been pampering the rich and famous ever since. The sandy beach used to be reserved for hotel guests, but is now open to everyone - it is beautiful.Our next port of call was the monastery at Lluc. This is Majorca's most sacred site and nestles high in the mountains. There is plenty of free parking and a few bars and cafes nearby.The monastery is popular with day trippers, but an air of spiritual calm still manages to prevail. A good time to visit is when the choir is singing at 11am and 3pm daily or on Sundays at 11am.Pilgrimages to the Lluc monastery have been going on for many years. Lluc comes from the word lucus - Latin for sacred wood. You see lots of cypress and oak trees on the journey up. The story goes that an Arab shepherd boy, newly converted to Christianity, discovered a dark wooden statue of the Virgin Mary in a cleft in the rock. The image was placed in a local church, but three times it returned miraculously to its cave, whereon the villagers recognised a message from God and built a church to house it.The monastery is still a centre for sacred pilgrimage and many come to see the statue of the Virgin Mary. It is now encrusted with precious stones and sits in a chapel decorated with the arms of every Majorcan town. The original Renaissance Baroque church is still there - built in 1622-84. There is a notable school choir based here - Los Blauets. They wear blue cassocks (hence the name), and the choir dates back to 1531 when it comprised 40 boys - "natives of Majorca, of pure blood, sound in grammar and song."After our stop at Lluc, we headed towards Soller. Be sure to look over to your right as you approach the Gorg Blau reservoir and you will see Puig Mayor - Majorca's highest peak at 1,445 metres.We were constantly taken aback by the wonderful views on this drive - rocky, craggy coast; crystal clear bluish green seas and one picture postcard scene after another. Close
Written by Joy S on 19 Jun, 2009
We spent a day visiting Valldemossa and then Deia, set in the mountains and both of which are an absolute must-see if you are visiting the island.Valldemossa is at the top of a picturesque valley. It is a lovely little town, with charming, pretty…Read More
We spent a day visiting Valldemossa and then Deia, set in the mountains and both of which are an absolute must-see if you are visiting the island.Valldemossa is at the top of a picturesque valley. It is a lovely little town, with charming, pretty houses, cobbled streets, very nice bars and restaurants and shops selling good quality, hand made souvenirs.We found a pay and display car-park close to the centre and stayed for 2 hours - this was enough to wander around, have a drink in a cafe and visit the monastery.The town is pedestrianised, so we spent about half an hour wandering and admiring the views. The village is said to be protected by its own saint - all the houses have a small ceramic plate at the main entrance asking for the saint to pray for them.The highlight of Valldemossa is the monastery - the Royal Cartoixa, made famous by George Sand and Frederic Chopin. They wintered here in 1838 and 1839 to continue their love affair away from the eyes of Paris. They were shunned by the conservative locals, and despite it being hardly flattering, you can still buy the book "Winter in Majorca" here, which Sand wrote about their stay on the island.The monastery was founded in the 14th century, but the present buildings are from the 17th and 18th centuries. After the monks abandoned the buildings, the cells were rented to guests. Sand and Chopin occupied cells 2 and 4, but all that is left of their stay is a small painting and a French piano. The peasants, fearing they would catch Chopin's tuberculosis, burned the rest after the couple returned to the mainland.It cost 8 Euros entrance into the monastery, children under 7 are free. The monastery is right in the centre of the town and is very easy to find. The visit starts in the church - neoclassical, decorated by great artists and artisans and started in 1751 on the site of the old, original church. Leaving the church, you visit the Cloister and then the ancient monks' pharmacy - very interesting with bottles and potions. Throughout the visit, information is displayed in a number of different languages. Next you visit the garden, the Prior's Cell, chapel, library, audience room and bedroom where you can see how the monks lived.Cells 2 and 4 are very interesting and have mementoes of Sand and Chopin's stay, as well as his piano and a gruesome model of his death mask.On our way out we attended a 15 minute piano recital of Chopin music, which was really lovely and definitely added to the visit.Deia is about 15 minutes drive from Valldemossa and has the most stunning setting - a backdrop of olive green mountains - and is so peaceful and serene. It has stone houses, creeping bougainvillea and is a magical place, inhabited by artists, writers and the wealthy. It has a laid back, bohemian feel with a number of restaurants and bars.Robert Graves lived in Deia and died here in 1985. He is buried in the local cemetery. His home is 5 minutes walk from the centre of town. Here he entertained such people as Ava Gardner, Alec Guinness and Peter Ustinov. The walk up to the church and graveyard is steep and hard work in the sunshine, but well worth it for the amazing views.A 20 minute walk from Deia is a pebbled cove with a charming bar which provides a good place to swim and relax in a dramatic setting. You can also reach the cove by car - we chose this way - it is a 5 minute drive down an extremely steep and winding road - a bit of a hairy journey especially when you are coming back up, but well worth it. Having spent the morning sightseeing, we had a most perfect afternoon here, relaxing on the beach and swimming in the clear waters. Close
Written by Joy S on 18 Jun, 2009
The journey from Palma to Soller has been described as being like a scene from an Agatha Christie thriller - I can see what is meant by that. The train carriage dates from 1912 and still has all its original character - leather seats,…Read More
The journey from Palma to Soller has been described as being like a scene from an Agatha Christie thriller - I can see what is meant by that. The train carriage dates from 1912 and still has all its original character - leather seats, old fashioned light fittings, small brass luggage racks and sash windows.The train line opened in 1912 and made the north west coast of Majorca accessible to Palma. Prior to 1912, the journey across the mountains of Majorca made travel difficult and the road was (and still is apparently) a terror to navigate.The train is powered by an electric locomotive and is supposedly the only one of its type still in use today.The train leaves from the station in Palma at Placa de Espanya. We used our satellite navigation and easily found the station and an underground car park right next to it. Parking there cost 1 Euro per hour.Train tickets are sold at the station and cost 17 Euros return, with under 7 year olds free. They do not accept credit cards - cash only.We caught the train at 10:10 and the journey to Soller took just under an hour. It is 27km in length. Leaving Palma, the railway goes northwards across the plain and then starts to wind up into the mountains and through 13 tunnels. Our son was thrilled by one especially long tunnel which took just over 6 minutes to pass through in complete darkness. The ride is not fast or exciting, but the views along the way are spectacular. All the tunnels make you think how difficult construction of this railway line must have been.Eventually you reach the valley of Soller - with beautiful mountains, olive trees, orange and lemon groves and lovely white washed villas.Five trains a day leave for Palma for Soller - the train at 10:10 stopped en route for photo taking. It was a great vantage point above Soller - a beautiful panorama and the fact it stopped for 5 minutes meant you had plenty of time to get out and take photographs.Soller itself is a charming, small town, dominated by the old train station and a lovely central square edged with cafes. The valley is lush with lemon and orange groves.We took the old open-air tram from Soller to Port de Soller - a lovely 15 minute rickety journey. Port de Soller is by the sea, very nice with lovely beaches and full of bars and cafes. Do be careful though with tram and train times back - you need to co-ordinate tram and train times carefully or you could be stranded. Close
Palma is the capital of the Balearic Islands and the largest city in Majorca. Half of the population of the island live here. It has retained much of its ancient charm - there are plenty of traditional restaurants, locals' bars and pavement cafes;…Read More
Palma is the capital of the Balearic Islands and the largest city in Majorca. Half of the population of the island live here. It has retained much of its ancient charm - there are plenty of traditional restaurants, locals' bars and pavement cafes; the fishermen still mend their nets on the harbour's edge; the traditional crafts of glass blowing, lace making and olive wood carving still exist in the small specialist shops of the backstreets. It is lovely to wander in the maze of beautiful ancient alleyways and sun baked squares of the Old Town.The city lies on the Bay of Palma with the long Passeig Maritim running the full length of its waterfront. Some of the world's most prestigious yachts can be seen moored in Palma's harbour.It took us 40 minutes to drive here from our base on the north of the island. We parked in an underground car park right next to the cathedral. It cost 1 Euro 50 cents per hour to park there, but was extremely convenient (and busy).Most of Palma's main sights are in the city centre within easy reach of each other. The jewel in the crown is the Gothic cathedral on the waterfront - La Seu. It is surrounded by a maze of narrow alleyways and ancient merchants' palaces which form the Old Town and Arab Quarter. Work was carried out on the cathedral for over 400 years and touches were added to it by Gaudi. It costs 4 Euros to enter - free for our 5 year old and you are not allowed to take photographs inside.You enter the cathedral through a side door and pass a small museum. If you head for the west portal and look down the nave you find the really impressive rose window. It is 12 metres wide and studded with 1236 pieces of stained glass. The columns througout are ringed with wrought iron candelabra by Gaudi and there is an unfinished crown of thorns made by him from cardboard and cork and suspended above the altar. Walk around to the south front facing the sea and look at the 15th century door featuring scenes from the Last Supper.We spent about an hour after we left the cathedral just wandering around the Old Town. We then headed to the Placa Mayor where it is lovely to have a drink of sangria and watch the world go by.We also did the Palma Sightseeing bus tour. It does a circuit of Palma which includes all the main tourist attractions, shopping centres and ports. It is a double decker bus with an open top. It gets unbearably hot downstairs, but also very busy upstairs. The cost was 13 Euros each for us and our 5 year old son was free. A basic audio tour is included in the price. Tickets are valid for 24 hours and you can hop off and on as many times as you like.There are 15 stops on the tour. We stayed on for the whole circuit - it took just over an hour. It is a good way to get your bearings in Palma, but it also takes you to the Castel de Bellvers - an impressive building on top of a hill, where you get the most magnificient views of the harbour and yachts and the city below. Close
Written by Joy S on 17 Jun, 2009
* It can be very busy in Majorca in August. If you travel just out of the high season, everything will still be open with half the crowds. We visited at the end of May - a great time to go.…Read More
* It can be very busy in Majorca in August. If you travel just out of the high season, everything will still be open with half the crowds. We visited at the end of May - a great time to go. It is not too busy, but the weather was hot and sunny every day. The chances of decent weather between May and October are high.* Driving in Majorca is sometimes a little adventurous. The traffic can be heavy, and the drivers are not exactly slow or careful. Be especially careful in the mountains where the roads are winding and you will meet a lot of buses.* Majorca has fine leather goods, glass, porcelain and clay whistles for children. These have been made in Majorca for centuries and date back to Arab times. We were very impressed with the shops in Palma - it has all the shopping quality and variety of any big Spanish city. * Go to the beach - this is what most people come here for. The main tourist beaches are on the southern and eastern coasts, but these places may be crowded in high season. More secluded and quiet beaches can be found, but sometimes you have to experience either a difficult route - eg cliffs and minimal parking, but it is usually worth it. Each time we went out for the day, we packed swimming costumes etc., spent the early part of the day sightseeing and then drove to a beach on the way back and relaxed there for the afternoon - a perfect way to spend the day.* Be aware of flower sellers in Palma - they sometimes try to put carnations in children's hair and ask for a Euro. Be firm, say no and walk away was the advice we got. There are usually pickpockets operating nearby. Also beware of pickpockets if you visit any of the markets. We did not have any problems though and felt very safe here at all times.* Eating ranges from gourmet restaurants in Palma to fish and chips. Local specialities include bread rubbed with olive oil and tomato and eaten as a starter and roast suckling pig. Try the paella - especially the seafood version - delicious. Many dishes are made with Sobrassada - a spicy sausage. The sangria and local wines are also excellent.* The international airport is 5 miles from Palma. We had read that the journey from here to our resort - Puerta Pollensa on the northern tip of the island would take 1.5 hours. It took less than 40 minutes, due to the new motorway network. The best way to get around the island is by car, but the local bus network is also very good. We had a hire car for 5 days - we booked this through our hotel, much cheaper than had we booked with a rental company in advance. This gave us the freedom to explore all parts of the island fully. We did also use the local buses to get to places not far from our hotel and found them to be reasonably priced and frequent. Close
Majorca is the largest of the Balearic Islands and lies in the Mediterranean Sea off the South East coast of mainland Spain. It takes about 2.5 hours to fly here from the UK.It has sunny beaches, amazing scenery, wonderful mountains and delicious food.…Read More
Majorca is the largest of the Balearic Islands and lies in the Mediterranean Sea off the South East coast of mainland Spain. It takes about 2.5 hours to fly here from the UK.It has sunny beaches, amazing scenery, wonderful mountains and delicious food. In high season, the island receives about 8 million tourists, a lot of which confine themselves to Magaluf and the neighbouring resorts.Served by frequent flights, with beautiful and safe beaches, we found Majorca to be a fantastic destination for families with children of all ages.Most people visit for sun, sand and sea, however there is so much more to the island. Palma, the main town and capital is charming and sophisticated. The Gothic Cathedral overlooking the waterfront has a lavish interior designed by Gaudi. It is lovely to stroll leisurely around the alleyways of the old town and enjoy a drink in a cafe around Placa Mayor, the central square.The North West coast, dominated by the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range is a beautiful area of olive groves, pine forests, ochre villages and a rugged coastline. It has been attracting people since Roman times. Now it is the favourite holiday spot for the Spanish Royal family.A drive through the mountains was a real highlight for us. Go off the beaten track, you will find villages with cobbled streets, honey coloured stone houses and rustic bars. The mountain town of Deia is an artists and poets retreat, but you can also find jet setters and celebrities here. Valdemossa, nearby, is simply stunning.The rail trip from Palma to Soller is a lovely way to travel. The rattling single track train passes through almond, lemon and orange groves. At Soller, transfer to the ramshackle tram that takes you to the waterfront at Port de Soller - a lovely place to spend an hour or so.The North Coast also has attractions like Pollensa's Shrine of Calvary - climb 365 steps up to a church for a wonderful view, and the dramatically sited Monastery of Lluc is worth a visit.The East Coast is dotted with small resorts with rocky coves, white beaches and clear seas. We visited the Caves of Drach - a complex of underground caverns dotted with lakes and pools which was fascinating.Away from the coast is an agricultural plan punctuated by crumbling stone farms and villages. Olive, artichoke and melons vie for space alongside wild flowers and cacti. Close
Written by smmmarti guide on 11 May, 2002
We walked the full three floors of the mega-shopping center, Centro Comercial Porto Pi,
located between our hotel and Playa de Palma, the center of the main city in Mallorca. We found some interesting bargains, since everything seemed to be on sale in Spain that…Read More
We walked the full three floors of the mega-shopping center, Centro Comercial Porto Pi,
located between our hotel and Playa de Palma, the center of the main city in Mallorca. We found some interesting bargains, since everything seemed to be on sale in Spain that month. By now I'd found my old favorites from Barcelona, Zara, Mexx, and others. This was another chance to observe the local culture as people wandered seemingly aimlessly through the three levels of shops and services doing a whole lot of nothing much. We were the quintessential conspicuous consumers, the ones with the multiple purchases. Everyone else simply pushed baby carriages, window shopped or sat around smoking on the many benches. This was shopping for amusement, obviously, though we were seriously looking for something a little "different" to bring home from holiday and my son needed clothes for the journey.
On the lower level of the center there was an amusement arcade and a few restaurants. It was a teensy bit different from being at an American mall; after all, the signs were in German, Spanish and Catalan and the Tommy Hilfiger here was twice as large as the one at home. The McDonald's located just outside the mall was absolutely jammed-packed at nine o'clock at night with families jostling babies, teen-agers talking on cell phones or sipping shakes, lovers on dates licking each other's ice cream, and me in the longest line I'd endured yet on holiday just wanting that blasted diet coke.
"What's going on here?" my son asked. "Do they all really like all this stuff?"
The next day we made it a priority to see old town Palma, something original and unique! The concierge arranged a taxi for us first thing in the morning. We finally figured out that our typical schedule of up getting up late, enjoying a leisurely breakfast before lingering on the beach and then going shopping, had been all wrong. Everything in town is closed between 2 - 8 p.m. After that, things kick up again around midnight. (Long siestas explain the Spaniard's ability to party till the break of dawn.) This mix-up in our bio-rhythms explains how we had ended up at the mega-mall instead of the oh-so-charming Placa Major to begin with, since mega-malls take exception to the siesta rule and stay open all day long.
The next day, our taxi driver took us on a little tour of the town of Palma. Along the way he told us how the Arabs used to control Mallorca but now they have the Germans. We actually laughed, because hearing him deliver his canned jokes in that cute accent made it truly funny. He took us past the Cathedral, ramparts and beautiful fountain square before dropping us off at the entrance to the old city pedestrian mall and the Avinguda Jaume III and the Passeig des Born.
Starting up the ancient, narrow stairs that led to the winding, narrow streets that make up the shopping area, we soon found Arlequin toys, where we spent a lot of time trying to think of who we could buy some of these things for. All kinds of nostalgic and weird items were on display. Crazy tourist shops with outrageous and creative gag items also held up rapt for some time. Shoe stores are plentiful in Spain, and this area was no exception. Yet, besides some very soft leather bowling-type shoes and sneakers, we didn't jump on any footwear fashion just yet.
My favorite shops were really the specialty food and sweet shops. The beautiful windows and displays showing such particular attention to detail are not the sort of thing one encounters often. There is a pastry specialty that comes from Mallorca, a coffee café with prunes and almond filling similar to Kringle that is sold throughout the area.
Not one passenger on the ferry bound for Barcelona was without a few of these distinctive cardboard boxes (similar to pizza boxes) with ornate scrolled calligraphy announcing the bakery who created them. We figured they must be something quite special. After tasting it, we realized it must be a nostalgia thing or an acquired taste, like Krispy Kreme donuts are to us…
Arriving at the center plaza after passing quickly past the high fashion and high-priced shops on Carrer Verl, we found an art fair in progress. Tables laden with handmade jewelry and other items circled the square. Entertainers who seemed to have taken their cues from the Ramblas in Barcelona, mimed and entertained in their harlequin silence under the blazing sun for the mere toss of a few coins. My favorite was a silver painted matador who looked liked he'd spent one too many days in lead-tainted paint! In fact, all the entertainers overall looked a bit world-weary to me, like clowns that turn scary, so we headed quickly down the Carrer Colon for more intensive browsing.
It's strange to encounter shops that are so old and so specialized as many are in Palma. Watch shops, knife shops, armor shops, war memorabilia shops, and butchers who let you see from whence the meat has come are here in plenty. Also a bit disconcerting are the tiny clothing shops where you are likely the only customer as the owner urges you to duck behind a draped curtain while she watches the door and convinces you try on something more risqué than you'd ever wear at home. It's hard to be gracious in a foreign language in these uncomfortable situations.
As a result, we didn't buy much in Palma's old center. It had been, however hard to admit, much easier to actually shop in the environment we are most comfortable in -- the mall. Regardless, it was great fun wandering the old Palma streets and joining in the passing parade of gawking, gazing, goofiness that makes it all so much fun and memorable.