Top 5 Things To Do In Palma, Mallorca

So many people ask me about things I would recommend doing/seeing in Palma de Mallorca when they are visiting the island. So, why not give a blog post to that topic. Just for y’all, my favorite peeps.

It was a difficult list. Palma has so much to offer – art galleries, museums, shopping, great bars, hidden back alleys where you stumble upon something new every single time. I could spend a whole week just exploring those narrow side streets.

In no particular order because they all rock.

1.Pilar y Joan Miró Foundation

First up, the Pilar y Joan Miró Foundation. If you are an art lover, you can’t miss this. You actually walk through the studios Joan Miró worked in through 1956 until his death in 1983. The collection of works by Joan Miró includes paintings, drawings, sculptures, and prints. You can see how and where he worked at the two studios (Son Boter and Sert Studio), both of these have been included in the Bienes de Interés Cultural architectural heritage list.

One of my favorite Miro sculptures in Palma ~ FEMME

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Joan Miró – Femme

2. La Seu

Next, the Cathedral – La Seu. This majestic, architectural masterpiece took from 1230 – 1601 to build. It has a gorgeous, gothic, rose glass window which is one of the largest in the world. And if you are into Gaudí, he later designed the columns and the controversial Crown of Thorns that hangs over the altar. It is situated next to the Parc de la Mar which is also a lovely place to hang out, look at the sea and have a glass of wine.

A visit begins through the museum entrance and there is a small entrance fee.

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La Seu in Palma, the Cathedral that took almost 400 years to build. Gorgeous!

 

3. Passeig Des Born

Enough architecture and art for you? Alright, how about some shopping. Did some of your ears pop up? Palma has great stores – from Louis Vuitton to Caroline Herrera to Hugo Boss. And they are all in one of my favorite spots in Palma, Passeig des Born. Come here to this tree-lined promenade with boutiques, cafes, shops and beautiful fountains at each end. You can always find a street performer or two to keep you entertained, if you are needing that.

Walk up to Jaime III and if you turn left you will find Es Corte Ingles (Palma’s big department store), Mango and other shops. Turn right and you can head to Placa Major, where pretty much in every direction are more and more shops. If you have been dying for a Starbucks, one has been recently established at the Placa Cort.

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4. Ca’n Joan De S’aigo

Time for a break after all that sight seeing and shopping. Stop at one of the oldest chocolatiers in Europe, founded in 1700. So much deliciousness under one roof. It’s almost a sin. Pastries, cakes, ice-cream, cava and the popular Mallorcan ensaimada. My favorite is the one with apricots. They have two locations but the Calle Can Sanc has the mosaic from the original building. Bon Profit!

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5. Palma Old Town Bike Tour and Tapas

Did someone say bike riding and tapas? I’m in. This is a super fun bike tour to see the top sights of Palma ~ La Seu Cathedral, the Royal Palace of La Almudaina, ride down the Rambla of Palma and discover the nightlife center of La Lonja. Finish your excursion with tapas at the Illenc restaurant.

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I hope you enjoyed the list. I would love to hear about your favorite must-sees in Palma. Thanks for stopping by this beautiful city!

Dia de las Islas Baleares

March First – Balearic Day. WHOOOP! The Balearic islands are so gorgeous -Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera. Have you been to all of them?

Here is one of my favorite beaches in Mallorca. I call it the Secret Beach because it can be a bit tricky to find if you don’t know about it. But it’s true name is Caló des Moro.

Man, am I ready for summer. See you at the Secret Beach!

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Sant Sebestià Fest~ Palma

Saint Sebastian is Palma de Mallorca’s patron saint and is honored for a week long during the end of January with each day becoming more and more adventuresome. Tonight there will be devils, fire and torradas. Will you dare the devils or will they dare you?

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Devils aren’t part of the celebration of Sant Sebastià, they are from the fiesta of Sant Antoni but the two are celebrated in Mallorca at the end of January and they have kind of merged together. Which makes for one fun party! The devils come for you as the correfoc (firerun) continues on, careful for fireworks and devils spitting fire at you.

The correfocs are my favorite.

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It’s cold in Mallorca so don’t forget your warm clothes, sausages for the torrada and you might want to forego that hairspray for the night.

(Pictures above taken by me January 2011)

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Spanish Navidad

Spain is a lovely place to enjoy the holiday season, with events and celebrations starting early December and going through mid January. Children typically only get a small gift on Christmas Day because they receive the majority of their presents on January 6th – Three Kings Day (Los Reyes). Christmas time is truly a special time of the year in Spain.

Here are some of my favorites from Spain.

The Belen (Nativity Scene) – You can always find a Belen in the bigger cities, some with a live Belen! And they can be very elaborate and beautiful.

And a bit of a strange tradition in Catalonia is the caganer (the crapper), where a defecating figure perched behind Mary and Joseph is said to symbolize fertilization, as well as bringing luck and prosperity for the year ahead.  The traditional figure is that of a young peasant from Catalonia, sporting a red cap and a pipe. But modern crappers represent public figures of the moment, from politicians to sporting heroes. Here is your Trump caganer that will probably be very popular this year.

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Next up is EL GORDO! You can get your lottery ticket pretty much almost anywhere. El Gordo (The Fat One) is a Spanish institution and the second oldest lottery in the world. The first Christmas lottery took place on 22nd December 1812 in Cádiz and the event has been taking place on the same day every year since.

It’s a bit complicated because so many people take part in the lottery, numbers are repeated up to 160 times. That means, if you win, you will most likely be sharing the prize with 159 others.

The night of the drawing is a drawn out affair lasting around three hours. The balls are drawn in a unique way befitting the unique lottery tradition, while the numbers are sung by the pupils of Madrid’s San Ildefonso school.

My next favorite Spanish fiesta is Three King’s Day (El Dia de los Reyes). If you remember the Three Kings are Balthazar, Caspar and Melchior and they bring the newborn Christ child gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The one thing that really bothers me is how the person who portrays Balthazar is a Spanish who is blackened up. There are many African people who live here, who I am sure would be quite honored to play the role of Balthazar.

There are many parades around Spain with the Three Kings throwing candy to the children. Here in Mallorca, the Three Kings arrive on boat. There is also the Roscón de Reyes which is a traditional cake (a bit fruitcake like) that families eat on the day. Careful though, there is a metal/plastic figurine inside it. Whoever gets it in their piece is crowned king or queen of the table. There’s also a bean inside the pastry and whoever gets it has to buy next year’s roscón.

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Good luck getting to be the king or queen of the party! Those are my favorites! What are some of your favorite holiday tradition where you live?

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El Día de los Reyes

Adoration of the Magi by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, 17th century (Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio)
Adoration of the Magi by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, 17th century (Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio)

The day for Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthazar to arrive is here! Children are anxiously awaiting all over Spain to see the Three Kings. Known in the Anglophone world as the Epiphany, the arrival of the Three Kings is defined in Spain by the enormous expectation and the tremendous annual celebrations that revolve around the event. Festivities officially start the evening before Epiphany, on the night of January 5, when the Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos (Three Kings’ Parade) takes place in every town and city, with hundreds upon hundreds of people crowding the main roads of the urban settlements in order to get a glimpse of the reenactment of the arrival of the Three Kings into town.

Here in Mallorca, the Three Kings arrive on boat and then proceed to join the parade (either on an elaborate float or on camels or horses) to throw candy to the children that line the streets. The children hopefully have been very good all year because this is the time they receive the most presents. Santa is definitely number two in popularity in Spain. But if the children have been bad they receive a bag of black coal, (usually a lump of hard sugar candy dyed black, called Carbón Dulce).

If you haven’t realized it yet, the Three Kings are the Three Wise Men who traveled by night all the way from the farthest confines of the Earth to bring gifts to Jesus, whom they recognized as the Son of God. The two days remain a beloved tradition, the night before when the Kings arrive and January 6, the day of the Epiphany.

It is a special time here in Spain! But sadly, it is also the end of Christmas.

Til next time!

Menorca ~ Part DOS

Hello again! Back to my vacation in Menorca – part two. I kept hearing about this festival but everyone was telling me different cities it was in. Thankfully the lovely car rental lady at Europcar (NOT Avis – see last post for aggression) told me for certain the festival would be in Es Mercadal on the weekend. It is the smaller version of the Sant Joan festival in Ciutadella in May. Which is CRAZY! Looks super cool but I would rather have the tamer version of it. And it allowed me to come into full contact with the horses! Something I doubt would be possible for me at the Sant Joan festival.

Check out these pics from the Sant Joan festival in Ciutadella. Insane in the membrane.

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and this …..

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Wowzers. That is A LOT of people. But that is the Sant Joan fiesta. Es normal.

The festival in Es Mercadal is called Sant Marti. The horse is the common hero of all the local saint’s day festivals celebrated in all the Menorcan villages during the summer and clearly shows how authentic the island customs are. The drivers and horsemen, dressed up in the outfit called “de just” (of the just man) in a combination of black and white and they ride Menorcan-race stallions in a long procession or parade (qualcada) which goes through all the main streets and squares of the town.

During the two days of the holiday, strict protocol is observed, mixing religious acts which are closely observed, with moments of collective fun especially during the “jaleos” which take place in the main square and where the horses, horsemen and public take part to an equal extent in the show.

And this Jaleo is what we went to on Sunday morning at 11 am in the Plaça Constitució. It was, in a word, fantastic. First, the riders rode in a procession through the street showing off themselves and their gorgeous horses. And then the fun begins! They ride into the public circle in twos while the spectators (me!) try to touch the horse while it rears up. This went on for about an hour. I am allergic to horses. Seriously, all I have to do is look at a horse and I start to get welts on my face and arms. But after 15 minutes I was ready to get into the game. Screw allergies! It was so much fun.

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and

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and

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If you get a chance to go to the Sant Marti or the Sant Joan festival I highly recommend it. And make sure you wear clothes that can get dirt, sand, horse slobber and more on it. NO HIGH HEELS! No. Muy ridiculo – and don’t think I didn’t see it.

Next up – El Toro, whose summit (357 metres/1,171 feet), bristling with a cathedral of telecommunications towers, is visible from most of the island. The highest point of all Menorca and on a clear day you can just about make out the entire coast of Menorca. A Christ statue welcomes you to the top and the Església del Toro.

Time for a beer! Off to the west coast, to the town of Cala en Porter. Just around the tip of the bay, in the south-facing cliffs, the Cova d’en Xoroi is a spectacularly located pirate cave (and who doesn’t love pirates), complete with legend attached ~ bloodthirsty pirate named Xoroi makes attacks on a village, carrying off a hapless vigin and somehow disappears into thin air until an improbable fall of snow allows desperate villagers to track footsteps back to the cave and free the virgin, while the pirate ends it all by jumping into the sea. Nowadays the cave has been turned into a nightclub, which doubles as a bar/tourist attraction during the day, with fabulous views out to sea, small nooks and low tunnels. I think it would have been quite fun to go to the nightclub, the place is so original. But since we were leaving on the ferry that night, it was impossible. Next time! The entrance fee during the day was 8 euro for adult but with your ticket you received a free beer. Isn’t the view fantastic?

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And we still weren’t done for the day. If you are in Menorca, you have to hit the beach! The day before we went to Cala d’Algaiarens in the north and today it was going to be Cala en Turqueta in the south. There are many beaches to choose from just south of Ciutadella, many walkable along  pathways (sometimes very narrow) from one beach to the next. We parked and had to walk about 15-20 minutes to get to the beach. It was already around 5:00 pm and the beach wasn’t too packed. We went to the left to get the most of the setting sun. Cala en Turqueta is a series of tiny patches of sand and mini-bays, with illicit boathouses and shacks redolent of pirates and smugglers. There are those pirates again! These gave the tiny beach an atmosphere of intimacy and adventure. There are many places to walk around so it is perfect for everyone of all ages. Do you want to see the view? Of course you do.

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Yeah, that’s me. Enjoying Menorca to the fullest! I loved it and can’t wait to go back. Now it’s your turn!

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Menorca ~ Part UNO

Hola! How are you today friends? My cousin, Megan and I, went to Menorca last weekend. Where is Menorca you may ask? Well, let’s consider Mallorca the island major and menorca the island minor. It is only a hop skip and a jump away from here. There are two ferries you can catch from Alcudia (in Mallorca) to Ciutadella (in Menorca) – Balearia and Iscomar. Balearia has a faster boat which only takes 1.5 hours between each island and Iscomar boats take about 2.5 hours. Of course the faster boat is a bit more expensive but each way is anywhere between 45 – 80 euros depending on what all you want regarding speed and schedule.

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Don’t you just love this little sketch I found? It is adorable! I wish we would have had more time to have seen everything. Menorca is MUCH smaller than Mallorca and I was surprised at how quickly we could get from one end of the island to the other. Let me tell you about the trip.

I decided that we would take our chances with the ferry ticket and we would purchase the round-trip ticket when we arrived in Alcudia on Friday. Why? I don’t know. Stupidity, probably. We arrived about an hour and a half before the Iscomar ferry was scheduled to leave, I asked for round-trip tickets, Friday and return on the Sunday 7:00 p.m. ferry. “Sorry, the 7:00 ferry is booked. We have the Monday ferry available?” Ahhhh, why do I do these things?!? I smiled at my cousin who may or may not have been panicking inside. We both had to work early Monday in Mallorca so that was not an option. “Two one way tickets to Menorca please.” I responded.  And we got on the boat!

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It was a very nice boat! We sat on the top deck in the sunshine and drank a beer while we cruised to Menorca. We arrived at the Ciutadella port a little after 19.30, jumped in a cab and went to our hotel, the Prinsotel. It was a nice hotel for a great price. The room was clean, a big pool, friendly staff and just a tad bit on the outskirts of Citutadella (about an 8 euro cab fare to the centre). We cleaned up, got ready for dinner, easily booked the 11 pm ferry back with Balearia on Sunday evening and we were off to have some food.

Ciutadella had a really fun and vibrant atmosphere going on. We headed down to the port where there is pretty much fish restaurant after fish restaurant with the same menu, maybe a pizzeria or two thrown into the mix. We choose a fish restaurant (naturally) with tables right at the edge of the port and settled in. It was lovely! There were fish jumping out of the water! Here is a picture from where I was sitting.

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Gorgeous, right?  After dinner we headed towards the “bar/nightclub” area around the Pla de Sant Joan. We thought JAZZBAH looked the best and it was so fun it was the only one we ventured to that night. There are three levels: the bottom level is the dance floor, the next two levels are more of a chillout area with tables that overlook the other clubs surrounding the area and the port. I ordered a POMADE, which is gin and lemonade but it was more like a lemonade slushy and it was absolutely scrumptious. I had a few more …… PARTEEEE TIME!

The next morning we ventured out of our hotel and grabbed a taxi to AVIS for our car rental. I will try to make a long story short BUT when we arrived and said we had a reservation they asked for our International Driving License. Okay, yes, I read in all the books that you should have one but NEVER in my 7+ years of living in Europe have I ever been asked for one – this is including being pulled over my Spanish Policia plenty of times. I argued and stated what I just told you but they stood their ground. So, last time I reserve a car with Avis in Europe. I had them call us a taxi and funnily enough it was the same taxi guy that dropped us off! He asked, “Que pasa?” and I explained the situation back to him in Spanish. WhoHoo for ME! He took us to Europcar and we had no problem renting a car with them. So off we went.

To a gorgeous beach on the Northern coast – Cala d’Algariens. If you go, don’t park in the first parking area keeping driving down that bumpy dirt road, there is a parking area much closer to the beach. We arrived, walked about 10 minutes until we got to the beach, walked down the wooden steps and crashed. We were tired, possibly a bit hungover (those Pomades!) and it was freaking hot.  But check out the view.

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The water was cold! And it gets deep pretty fast. But it was an expansive beach with room for everyone. Come and visit! After a couple of hours chillaxing we figured we should drive to the other end of Menorca and check-in to our hotel, shower up and grab some food. We opted for a quiet night in Mahon from partying it up the night before.

We finally checked into the Catalonia Mirador des Port. I say finally because they are many one way streets and it was difficult for us to find the correct street that would actually take us there! Possibly you could chalk that up to be hungover…  Anyways, I was extremely disappointed in the hotel. While the reception woman was very nice and breakfast (for an extra 8 euros each) was fine, the room reeked of cigarette smoke and everything was out-dated. Regardless, we unpacked and walked around the Mahon port area. It was much quieter than Ciutadella. But sweet and tranquilo. We stopped by the restaurant Casanova (Moll de Ponent 15) for a huge personal wood-fired oven pizza. Delicious! Just what I was needing.

We had big plans for the next day – the horse festival in Es Mercadal (my favorite festival so far!), a cool bar on the cliffs of Cala En Porter and a beach on the Southern coast. Check back soon for Menorca Part Dos! Gracias!

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