I like to think of Majorca, the largest of the Balearics, as an island with multiple personalities – even its name has a split personality, Majorca or Mallorca; Mallorca is the Spanish name however British journalists in the 1960’s felt that the ‘ll’ in the middle (pronounced as ‘y’) was too difficult for us Brits and so the name Majorca was created.
Despite being only a two hour flight from Exeter airport (barely time for an inflight coffee) this was my first trip to this popular holiday destination. I must admit that I felt some trepidation as its reputation as a Party Island was foremost in my mind.
A short bus ride took me into the capital Palma which is dominated by the huge Gothic cathedral and the harbour full of millionaire’s playthings… so many yachts! Some with their own helipads and all with full-time uniformed staff awaiting the possible arrival of their owners. The old part of the city is a maze of narrow streets and quirky boutiques opening onto sheltered squares with open air restaurants where I would start each evening sampling the delicious tapas with a glass of local red wine whilst watching the beautiful young Mallorcans promenading.
If you want to explore the island it really is a good idea to hire a car and on the whole I found it easy to navigate the road system. I drove up into the Serra De Tramuntana Mountains (now a World Heritage site), with their dramatic peaks and charming villages it was easy to understand why celebrities such as Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones have a home here. The village of Deia is a walker’s paradise; however be sure to park in the first car parking space you see as on the steep mountain roads parking places are at a premium. The drive back to Palma took me through the olive and almond groves to Valldemossa and its romantic Carthusian monastery.
If you don’t feel brave enough to drive there is a vintage train with brass and mahogany carriages used by locals and tourists alike that runs from Palma to the seaside resort of Söller. Many of the beaches around the island such as those at Porto Pollensa are gently shelving making it ideal and safe for young families. Although some of the more exclusive areas such as Illetas (home to many a Spanish footballer) and Andratx have almost no beaches but do have marvellous restaurants and a chic ambience.
I felt that I could not leave the island without visiting the infamous Magaluf; despite being only 10 miles from historic Palma I felt as though I was in a different country… now I’m sure that my son would love it but I was not enticed by the invitations to foam parties and Irish bars although the town itself was clean and well laid out. I did experience a moment of panic as I seemed unable to break out of the perpetual loop that was the town’s one way system, when I passed the same Union Jack towel draped over a hotel balcony for the third time I thought that I was destined to remain in Magaluf forever!
I was left with the impression that Mallorca had something for everyone, from April until September it is a hot and bustling destination but warm and gentle throughout the winter; in February the almond trees break into blossom and springtime is the best for walking the mountain footpaths. It is perfect for a weekend break with friends as well as a two week family holiday. There is so much I didn’t see such as the largest underground lake in Europe, but then I always like to leave with a reason to return…
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