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!

Good Ole Saint Nicholas

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German postcard. Image from St. Nicholas Center, http://www.stnicholascenter.org

Saint Nicholas, the one we have come to know and love as Jolly Ole Saint Nick, aka SANTA. But how much do you really know about him?

Today, December 6th, is Saint Nicholas Day. A holiday celebrated in most of the European countries. Children will set out shoes with coins, hoping for a small present or Dutch children will put carrots and hay in shoes, again waiting for a gift. For me, the Christmas season starts on this day: the children’s eyes getting large with seeing a present in their shoe, the excitement of the month, the parent’s giddiness in showing surprise that St. Nick was there. Even though in the U.S.A we don’t celebrate St. Nicholas, we are still hanging the wreath on the front door, starting to put up the tree, deciding what color lights this year – blue or red, maybe white. I remember being super duper good throughout the month of December so I would get all that I wished for from Santa. Please, the Barbie Dream House!

Our beloved Santa is a mythical figure. What? Say it isn’t so! Sorry for any spoilers I just gave away. Pssst, the tooth fairy ain’t real either. But I love to see my nephew’s or my student’s faces light up when they talk about either of them. By the way, the tooth fairy in Spain is a mouse. Hehe.

But THE Saint Nicholas was a real to goodness, live person who, as legend has it, performed amazing miracles and his legendary habit of secret gift-giving gave rise to the traditional model of Santa Claus. He was born a looooong time ago, in the year 270 AD and died on this date (Dec 6th) in 343 AD.

Some of these miracles you might ask? The main one happened when he was quite young. He was on a pilgrimage to the birthplace of Christianity – the Holy Land and set sail on an Egyptian ship. During the night he had a vivid dream of a terrible storm that would put them all at risk. He warned the sailors of this storm but also said not to worry, for “God will protect them.” Within minutes the sky grew dark and the waves high and strong, the sailors were extremely frightened. One sailor climbed the mast to secure the ropes so the mast wouldn’t crash onto the deck. As he was coming down, he slipped and fell to his death. Nicholas began to pray over him and as he did the storm began to ease. The fallen sailor soon awoke without pain and the ship finished its journey.

Astonishing, no?

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The dowry for the three virgins (Gentile da Fabriano, c. 1425, Pinacoteca Vaticana, Rome).

Another tells a story of a poor man with three daughters. In those days a young woman’s father had to offer prospective husbands something of value—a dowry. The larger the dowry, the better the chance that a young woman would find a good husband. Without a dowry, a woman was unlikely to marry. This poor man’s daughters, without a dowry, would be sold into slavery. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home-providing the needed dowries. The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold. That is why three gold balls, sometimes represented as oranges, are one of the symbols for St. Nicholas. And so St. Nicholas is a gift-giver.

There are more miracles, saving people from famine, sparing the lives of the innocently accused, one with him saving a child even after Nicholas had died. Also, bringing three children (sometimes the stories say it was three students, some three clerks) back to life after an evil inn keeper murdered them to sell as pork pies. Kinda reminds me of the Sweeney Todd musical.

Whatever the case he is the patron saint for many – sailors, merchants, children, voyagers, repentant thieves, pawn-brokers, students and even marriageable maidens. So all you marriageable maidens out there, fly your Saint Nicholas flag high!! 🙂

And that, is the true story of Saint Nick. Now where are my shoes?

 

A lovely quick white fun-filled holiday

Dec. 24:

Left Mallorca for Germany. Adieu!

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Flew over the Alps. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

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Landed in Düsseldorf in complete fog.

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Landed safely. Whew! Ordered an extra large coffee and went upstairs to meet my boyfriend to head off to Wesel for the Christmas celebration to begin. We arrive, pour some champagne. But first, lemme take a selfie.

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Awwwww, I love it. Mama N always decorates her house so beautifully and Christmas time is no exception.

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Opened all the presents. Dr. Dre Beats headphones!! Thanks Santa! Now time for the FOOD. Meat fondue. So delicious.

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And now we are stuffed. Upstairs for some laughs and wine. Next day we did a quick trip to Xanten, Germany to visit the cathedral.

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Then drove to Detmold and went out to dinner at the Greek restaurant. Yummy. Next day was time to fly back to Mallorca. And we woke up to a white winter wonderland!

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I hope your Christmas was blessed too. OX

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Stuff and Things

Onward and upward! Only inspiring, happy, positive, funny posts from here on out. Relax. And enjoy!

1. Have you heard about Veronika? She is amazing. Started out with making coats for the homeless and it expanded. We all need more Veronikas in the world.

2. It is almost Halloween!! What is your costume going to be? Or better yet, what will your pumpkin look like? If you are still having difficulties with that last question, check out the 25+ ways to decorate a pumpkin. No carving!! I really like the famous faces and the pastel pumpkins. Tough choice!

3. She was the Erin Brockovich before Erin Brockovich. The forty year anniversary of the death of Karen Silkwood is Nov. 13. You might possibly remember the Academy Award-nominated film with Meryl Streep portraying Karen Silkwood. A tragic mystery that is still unsolved.

4. Okay, need some uplifting music? How about this. This kid CRACKS.ME.UP. I love him! Turn it UP.

5. Let’s just end this on a non-scary note. How about sharks? Without the spiky teeth. Yeah.

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Robert Graves

Today, around one in four of the residents of Mallorca is a foreigner. Such a figure would have horrified the island’s best known 20th-century expat, the writer and poet Robert Graves.

When Graves first arrived on the island in 1929 it was already known as a desirable and unspoiled holiday spot in certain rarified artistic and moneyed circles, but few foreigners chose to actually live on Mallorca.

Graves, though, was after more than a break in the sun. He already had a reputation for his poetry, and his fiery, engaging personality and popular but intelligent writing made him famous at an early age. In 1929 he published Goodbye To All That, a sharply observed and lucidly written autobiography covering the period before, during and immediately after WW I. It was hailed as a classic. Yet Graves’s life at the time was a mess: he was unhappily married, broke and suffering shell shock.

The idea of leaving England for Mallorca was suggested to him by Gertrude Stein (who described it as ‘Paradise, if you can stand it’). He followed her advice, abandoned his wife and his four children, and with his lover, the American writer Laura Riding, he came to live in Deià. And Mallorca he found the peace and inspiration he needed to write, producing more than 120 books in his 90 years, including the historical novels I, Claudius and Claudius the God.

He also became famed as a literary exile, attracting a stream of celebrity visitors – Ava Gardner, Alec Guinness, Peter Ustinov, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Kingsley Amis among them. Graves charmed them all and played wild practical jokes at the parties he hosted.

Graves was very much the Brit abroad – he liked the fact the Mallorca wasn’t far from the Greenwich meridian, was hot and cheap. But there is no doubt that the rural Mediterranean lifestyle suited him – he began to think of Laura Riding as an ancient Mediterranean moon goddess, until she left him for another writer in 1939. By then Graves was back in the UK, having left Mallorca in 1936, when Palma became a Francoist base for fighting during the Spanish Civil War.

Ten years later he returned to the island for good, this time taking Beryl Pritchard, who was to be his partner until his death. Mallorca’s influence on the Graves opus is oblique. The island’s climate, colors and the topography of its fig and citrus trees no doubt fed his imagination for the Roman works he wrote in Deià. Graves influence on Deià, however, is still huge.

A more personal legacy is the continuing presence of his family in the village – Beryl and three of their sons still live here. Every year on July 24th (Graves’s birthday), locals gather at Deià’s amphitheatre across the road for the Canellun to hear Graves’s family and friends read selection of his poetry, under the direction of the ‘keeper of the flame’, his daughter Lucia.

* the above was from my TimeOut book Mallorca and Menorca – pg 108 “Local Heroes Robert Graves”

I have been wanting to visit the grave of Robert Graves for a long time now in Deià. Finally this weekend I hiked up to the churchyard at the top of the village to view it. And even with sweat streaming down my face, my back and pretty much everywhere else, I was thrilled to view the grave. A simple headstone which states: Robert Graves, Poeta, 1895 – 1985, EPD. EPD = En Paz Descanse ~ Rest In Peace.

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EPRT II Stralsund, Germany

Old warehouse in the Stralsund harbor. You can see Rügen Island in the distance.

The next day we drove about six hours from Wesel to Stralsund, Germany. One of the main reasons for our road trip to the north of Germany and over to Poland was for my Mom’s family tree research. She has been really into this for many years and has made amazing strides in finding out so much of her and my ancestral background. Go MOM!

So, Stralsund. Stralsund is a Hanseatic town in northern Germany. During its history, it had to defend its independence against Lübeck (Germany), Denmark, Holland and Sweden. In the Thirty Years’ War, General Wallenstein vowed that he would take the town even if it was chained to heaven – but he failed. Subsequently, Lower Pomerania stayed under Swedish rule for 200 years until 1815, when it became Prussian. Despite its turbulent history, 811 protected buildings survived in the old town, among them some truly remarkable examples of architecture.

The town’s largest church, St. Mary’s (Marienkirche), which was built in 1383 – 1473, with an octagonal tower for seeing great views of Stralsund.

I thought this Milchbar (Milk Bar) building was super cool. I took about a bizillion pics of it.

As I mentioned above, my Mom is trying to find out more about our family tree. She has traced my Great x5 Grandparents to a tiny village called Müggenhall – we drove through it and it was one street, maximum 20 very old homes. But we went to the next town over and we were able to meet with the minister (Der Pfarrer) in the town of Franzburg. He gave us many books to look through but we couldn’t find anything that had information with the names that Mom was looking for. Nonetheless, I think Der Pfarrer was happy with Mom’s 50 Euro contribution for giving up an hour of his time to dig out these old books for us to look at.

Besides going to Müggenhall we also went to a small village about 45 minutes from Müggenhall where my Great x5 Grandparents went to work as servants at an estate. It was bigger than Müggenhall and the homes were more cared for, obviously a village with more money. We scoured the graveyard for Schulzs and actually found a few. This one was my favorite, though a bit strange because it was so small and on top of another cross. Was it a child?

And my obsession with graveyards continues…. with a new post! There was a large home with a farm and more that quite possibly could have been where my great great great great great (whew!) grandparents worked. Here was my favorite building from there, love the thatched roof!! Maybe my Gx5GP (please tell me you get that) slaved away in there making cheese or washing laundry or sneaking away for a nap.

Looks like a perfect place for a snooze. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

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