W A T C H T O W E R : : P A L M A D E M A L L O R CA
W A T C H T O W E R : : P A L M A D E M A L L O R CA
P O R T D ‘ A L C Ú D I A :: M A L L O R C A
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
The most expensive star studded blockbuster film to have been partly shot on location in Mallorca, Cloud Atlas, will hit the screens here next week.
Have you seen the movie Cloud Atlas? I haven’t yet but I will.
It has already topped the box office in a number of countries, including China, the 100 million dollar movie, the most expensive independent film ever made, opens across Europe next Friday.
Cloud Atlas is a 2012 German epic drama and science fiction film written, produced and directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski, of Matrix fame, and Tom Tykwer. Adapted from the 2004 novel by David Mitchell, the film features multiple plot lines set across six different eras and stars Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, James D’Arcy, Susan Sarandon and Hugh Grant, to name just a few.
The official synopsis for Cloud Atlas describes the film as: An exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.
The crew along with Tom hanks and Halle Berry spent most of the summer of 2011 on the island shooting in locations such as the Port of Soller, where a huge set was constructed, the beach in Formentor, sa Calobra and various locations in the Tramuntana mountains including the Puig Major.
I remember reading almost daily when the actors were here filming about every movement any of them made. Also, People magazine published several pictures of Halle Berry (affectionately called Hairy Belly here in this household) walking around Palma or on the beach with her boyfriend Olivier Martinez. And she was quoted as Mallorca being one of her new favorite get-away spots! I mean, of course, anyone who has ever visited Mallorca knows what a beautiful paradise we live in.
Sa Calobra (above) is a great beach to go to, with long curvy roads to get there. It is located in the heart of the Tramuntana mountain range (the west coast), and you can reach it via a narrow motorway that winds its way along an impressive route: 14 kilometres of asphalt that descend towards the sea with a host of curves, 12 of them at 80 degrees and one – called Nudo de la Corbata (the tie knot) – at 360º.
I went to Sa Calobra for the first time last year and I quite impressed. Walking 300 metres along the cliffs leads to the outlet of the Torrente de Pareis stream, which makes a tiny, very well-preserved pebble beach. It is an impressive site, surrounded by soaring rock walls facing the sea 30 metres long and more than 200 metres tall.
I can’t wait to see Mallorca showcased in Cloud Atlas! Check out the trailer and go see it! The opening scene in the trailer is Mallorca and most of the outdoor scenes throughout it are the island as well. Looks like a fantastic movie.
Ahhhhh, the almond trees! How I love thee. Your tasty fruit, your beautiful blooms, your old stooped trees! The almond trees are blooming in Mallorca now and they are such a beautiful sight. Even with the dark rainy clouds we have had the past few days the white to bright pink flowers stood out so amazingly gorgeous against that grey backdrop.
Go drive around the island and check them out! Don’t forget to support your Mallorcan farmers and buy some almonds at one of the many markets around the island. They are delicious!
Cabrera island, so close, yet so far. I see it practically every day, calling out to me to come visit. Just south of my lil town of Sa Rapita and I have been wanting to take a boat ride there to check it out. Finally, with my friend Perla in tow, I did.
Cabrera is sometimes called Goat Island and measures four by three miles (about 6.5 x 5 km). It’s a charming rocky island, much frequented by pirates in days of old. On a darker note, it also served as a prisoner-of-war camp during the Napoleonic Wars. Many died on this island during this period. Cabrera is beauty incarnate, rich in wildlife and plants, and the island has been a national park since 1991.
Daily excursions by boat run from Colonia de Sant Jordi. The boat leaves at 9:30 a.m. and arrives back on the mainland at 5:00 p.m. You can also visit with your own yacht, but you must get permission in advance, and only 50 boats are allowed in the harbor (the island’s only legal mooring place) at one time.
Perla and I got up early, drove over to Colonia de Sant Jordi, had a quick café con leche and boarded the small boat. We made a reservation a few days before and everything was very easy peasy japaneasy. We headed for the back of the boat and pulled on our rain jackets, the day was starting out a bit cloudy. The trip took about an hour to get to the main island of Cabrera.
Once there, we had a “guide” give us some “guidelines”: There are no trash cans, so please bring your trash back with you. There are very few toilets, so please use the one at the port while you can. There is one small cafe and there is not a hotel on the island, so if you miss the boat back, well, have fun roughing it. After that, we were on our own for about five hours.
Perls and I had packed a deeeelish picnic and we decided the castle on the cliff was our destination for lunch. The castle was built in the late 14th century to ward off pirates, and later it held mostly French prisoners during the Napoleonic Wars. Pirates and prisoners, sounds treacherous. Let’s go! Climbing to the castle …..
We picked out a cozy spot where many prisoners probably once sat. But I bet they didn’t have as good of a spread as we had; Mallorcan Pere Seda rosado wine, Mallorcan olives, pickled onions, grapes, yummy Mahon cheese cubes and a baguette from the local bakery.
Even the ants enjoyed it ……
The castle (which dates to the end of the 1400 century) was the popular place to see once the boat docked. But Perla and I stayed long after everyone had checked it out. It was only us, and the ghosts for the remainder of our stay. We looked down towards the water 80 meters below, pretended we were prisoners for awhile ….
The prisoners probably never looked as happy, or pretty. And then, sadly, time to head back down so we wouldn’t miss the boat. Back down the skinny stairs.
Cabrera is famous for its population of Balearic lizards, of which there are about 10 subspecies. Here is one lil dude we saw. Cutie.
Past the graveyard where the prisoners who died are buried. Of 9,000 sent to Cabrera, only 3,600 survived.
And to the cafe for a cerveza.
Life is good.
But wait, the trip isn’t over yet. There is one more stop. Picture a bright bluejay. Picture the vibrant blue of fresh turquoise blue paint. Now mix those up, multiply it by 1000 and you are a little bit closer to the color of the water in the cave. Cova Blava was incredible. The boat enters the cave where you can jump in the water and swim around. And though it was a bit chilly out we didn’t want to miss out on anything. So swim we did! And it was cold. And beautiful.
Alas, the trip is over. The clouds started to rain. And we became the captain of the boat. Go see Cabrera.
Between January and February the island of Mallorca takes on a spectacular beauty. The almond trees are blossoming. The fields and hills are awash in white, pink and light green. And it is one of my favorite ways that Mallorca shows us, spring is just around the corner.