Saturday 9 April 2011

Isle Mallorca, Spain

Palma de Mallorca

We arrived late into Palma to stay at Roc Linda hotel, which is a far cry from the 3 stars it claims, but it does the job for the cheapest price in the area (we stayed here 2 nights). The next day we headed out to see the sights surrounding the main city on the island. The main sight to see in Palma is the cathedral, built out of a lovely brown stone that matches all the old buildings beside it in old town. Inside isn’t anything that amazing but the view onto it from the sea front is quite spectacular.

After enjoying the view from here we headed onto the Castell de Bellever, which in the low season is free (2 Euros otherwise). The castle doesn’t have too much to offer but the views from the mountain top onto the city are worth the trip up there. The castle is circular in nature and the inner courtyard is reminiscent of a very small bull ring.

Playa de Palma isn’t what all the German and English tourists (they were a HUGE majority here of tourist nationalities), make it out to be. Considering the places that we went to afterwards, the beach is dirty, the water is gross, and its very crowded (apparently during high season you have to literally fight for a space on the beach).  But we headed in for a freezing dip and soaked in a bit of the sun. At night the road along here is packed with the crazy cyclists back from a day scaring drivers, some with interesting war wounds. It is a nice place for a dinner if you can find a quiet spot.

Mountains of Mallorca

The eastern part of the island is full of mountains which make for amazing scenery and beautiful (but difficult to get to) hidden coves. We stopped at many places along the way but my favourite were San Elm and Sa Calobra. San Elm had an incredible beach that I wish we had swum in. The water is extremely clear and you can see a variety of fishes. It also has a view onto Dragona Island, which is a national park that is quite pretty. Sa Calobra, has an engineering marvel to get to it. The road you have to drive on to get there is very windy and takes you up and down a lot.  There is even a figure 8 at one point. But once you get over the hurdle of the sheer cliffs beside you as you are driving along you arrive to park at what seems at first rather disappointing area. From here you have to walk the remainder of the way, even through some tunnels to get to a gap in the mountains to a pebbled beach with amazing blue green water and lots of rocks to explore. Unfortunately it was too cold to stay in too long to explore them properly but in the summer it would be very nice (although crowded). Another great thing about this place is that the gap in the rock leads onto a gorge that has a great walk going back into a swallow filled area. There are also a number of wild goats in the area. This would be a lovely place to walk properly and camp in if you got the bus to the area (there are a number of buses that come from various points).

Separately we also went back with our host to explore the towns of Valldemossa, Banyalbufar, and Deia. Valldemossa, is just outside of Palma, and has unfortunately been found by tourists, so the prices for everything have gone up. The village is very pretty with cobbled streets and is set upon a terraced hillside. Deia to me was not as interesting but has some very interesting smells from the plant life in the area. It is set in a bit more of a dramatic position with massive cliffs backing the city. Banyalbufar is a very small village, but the rock formations here are similar to the pancake rocks in New Zealand, and it also has a great cove with a waterfall to swim in if you were brave.

Northern Mallorca

We had two nights in Port Alcudia, which has a great lagoon and beaches. But the main focus of our stay here was to explore the northern tip of the island. The lighthouse at Cape Formentor is the largest on the island and a great place to have lunch. If the weather is good (which it usually is) you can see onto the island of Menorca. The road to get there is also very interesting, like Sa Calobra, very windy and up and down. The cliffs here are also a great view.

The other main thing to enjoy in this area is the beach Formentor. It is supposed to be the most beautiful beach in Mallorca, and it is very nice. The water is quite shallow so its not as freezing (maybe a degree warmer) and there are pine trees growing right onto the beach, so you can shade yourself a bit from the very bright sun, which gives the water its wonderful shimmer and colours. Would definitely recommend this place if you have the time to stop for a while.

Eastern Mallorca

Our last days in Mallorca we spent exploring the much flatter lands of the Eastern side of the Island. We stayed a night in Manacor which is apparently the ugliest city in Mallorca, but I didn’t think it was too bad. It does have a very nice clock tower and a couple of good buildings but it doesn’t really have the appeal of other places. But it is a very useful base to explore this part of Mallorca.

We had our only negative experience in Mallorca in the caves of Porto Cristo (the light ones). Do not go here. Mass tourism and greed has actually destroyed this beautiful caves with the cutting of stalactites and mites to provide slightly better view of further back ones, and the constant leaving of the lights on all the time has caused a very thick layer of algae and other photosynthetic plants to grow on the caves walls, stopping all growth. These caves are dead and have just been used to destruction by the people “owning” them. They are obsessed with audiovisual displays on the caves walls which have been smoothed to make them better viewing. Horrible. In contrast to these horrible caves are some much better ones, also in Porto Cristo (del drach). The tour is actually cheaper here which is an added bonus, and much better. These caves have been well looked after and are still growing. They are also interesting in that seawater wells up within them despite not having a direct opening to the ocean. The karsts are much larger here and the cathedral is impressive. There is also a music concert with live musicians on a boat that goes along an inner lake, which you then get to go on. Much better cave tour.

Apart from the caves, the Eastern part of the island also has some great beaches, although the water is much choppier here. Salinnes is a good place to visit as you can see the other island Cabrera and has some interesting geology. However the mountains and northern parts of Mallorca are much more interesting than the South and Eastern in all honesty.

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