After spending several weeks hopping in and out of the sea, snorkeling in bays, lounging on a boat and getting to know the little town of Puerto Andratx heading to a city is a complete culture shock. Palma, the capital city of Mallorca, was what you would expect from a city- busy streets, busy people and lots to see and do.
The city is on the coast with a huge port and marina lined with rows and rows of white hulls and Spanish courtesy flags fluttering in the breeze. Overlooking the sea is La Seu- the Cathedral.
In the shade of the cathedral gathered street performers, floating men (see photograph below), hair braiders, caricaturists, henna tattooists and of course lots of eager tourists getting the full works. It was the Covent Garden of Palma! Looking down on all of this hoo-ha are the prying gargoyles and imposing scale and grand design of the cathedral. It is probably even more spectacular at nighttime though when the whole thing is lit up against the backdrop of a black star-pricked sky.
We stayed in a hotel up in the old town just beyond the cathedral where the streets are narrow, the buildings old and everywhere has a whole lot of character. The hotel was tucked away in a street it was barely noticeable but through the door you enter a gothic townhouse. With oil paintings on every wall and each room being accessed through huge oak doors with brass handles it was something different, unusual and special.
Like in Soller, the hotel had a little courtyard where table and chairs stood in the dappled shade of trees where birds sang. It all sounds rather clichéd but that’s exactly how it was. After pounding the streets of a very hot Palma this proved to be the perfect little spot to read another chapter of two and catch up with some instagramming.
Up from our hotel and around the main square we discovered the little network of busy shopping streets. With clothes shops, boutiques, ice cream parlours, caramel shops, football shops…saying that there was a bit of everything wouldn’t be an exaggeration.
The whole city is practically walk-able in one afternoon so if these little shopping streets aren’t your cup of tea then you can easily head to the more upmarket shopping street where Louis Vuitton, Hugo Boss and Loewe are popular stores. Even though my poor old LV is falling apart at the seams, a trip into Louis Vuitton wouldn’t have done my bank account any favours so despite its attempts to lure and tempt me in it wasn’t paid a visit. Along Born (the name of this upmarket road…Palma’s equivalent to Oxford Street) we found a little café called Born 8 where a counter display of the most beautiful little baguettes, slices, patisseries items and delicacies made passersby drool and stop in their tracks. Breezy and very cosmopolitan this trendy little café required a visit and it didn’t disappoint. Freshly squeezed orange juice, skinny little baguettes and a chocolate donut later (it had to be done) we were all set ready to see what else Palma had to offer.
As the blue skies turned to black it was time to head out in search of some supper. We found a lovely square which was heaving with alfresco diners, their tables lit up with candles. Sometimes busy don’t necessarily mean better but when it comes to restaurants I think this is definitely the case. People coming back to a place night after night and full tables is usually the best recommendation going. We were lucky enough to get the last table for two in the whole square. The restaurant specialised in pizzas so after our baby squid and olives we thought it would be silly to order anything but pizza. And we realised why the place was so packed…the food was definitely up to scratch!
As you walk back to the hotel (or waddle if your belly has rounded from one too many slices of pizza) you pass down little side streets where bodegas and bars struggle to contain their cosmopolitan customers who spill out onto the street. There is such a good vibe to the city at night that I would always recommend staying out late at night and catching up on sleep in the mornings when little is happening rather than waking up early and not being able to stay awake for the night when Palma is arguably at its best.