We step off the plane at Palma de Mallorca airport and are immediately hit by a wall of heat. The sort of heat that makes you regret wearing jeans and trainers, and by the time we’ve got baggage claim we have stripped as much as possible without actually getting naked. This is the Mallorca we signed up for. Myself and two friends who also studied anthropology were looking for a bit of sun, sea and sand after our final year exams were through. The idea of staying in college when most of the people we knew hadn’t finished was depressing. There’s nothing worse than being the source of evil squints as you pass in the corridor, free to do as you wish whilst others slave away revising.
I had already been to Mallorca three years before with my uncle and his young family, and I had been blown away by it then. There’s beaches, mountains, trees, hot Mediterranean sun, great food, all on one small island. So I was pretty excited to be going back with friends and to explore a different corner of it. On my first visit we stayed in Porto Soller, a tiny but beautiful bay on the west coast of Mallorca. We stayed at a luxurious hotel on the sea front and spent our days on the beach and wandering around the old town.
This trip was a little different. Instead of heading out of Palma the minute we landed, we were staying in the island’s largest city and renting a flat in one of the main squares. Most of our fellow students who we had left behind imagined us partying in Magaluf until the sun came up before tripping back to our all-inclusive hotel. We let them think that, but secretly we were planning to spend much of the time dozing on the beach, eating food, visiting the Cathedral, and getting a lot of chilling-out time in.
Our flat was, quite simply, perfect. None of us knew Palma at all so we decided centrality was key, as well as being walking distance from the beach. Naturally we thought we would have to retract that plan once we saw the prices, but Mallorca apartments seem to be surprisingly affordable even in the centre, and we got this fantastic flat that overlooked the Plaza Mayor
The Plaza Mayor is a big tourist destination in Palma, but it’s also one of the city’s hubs, hosting markets and restaurants and big screens when the games are on. We were lucky enough to be able to see all of this from our balcony, which we soon moved the enormous kitchen table in front of so we could eat our meals and watch the world go by. Who needs an all inclusive resort when you’ve got your own little flat in the centre of Palma with a view like this?
We spent the mornings wondering through Palma, able to just aimlessly follow the twist and turns in the road and encounter something interesting at every corner. We visited the Cathedral, a must if you find yourself in Palma. The inside is interesting enough, but don’t worry if you don’t have time to have a look inside. Simply walking in its grounds and looking at it from afar is all you need.
Our afternoons were spent on the beach. The city beach might not look the most attractive as you walk along the main road towards it, but soon the main road and the buildings sites fall away to a long stretch of sand with the curve of Mallorca on the left and the Cathedral hunched in the skyline to the right. Reading a book and watching the distant specks of planes setting off from the airport was heaven on earth; just what we needed.
There’s definitely something to be said for ‘Mallorca time’. No-one rushes, no-one watches the clock. After spending the last year working pretty much none stop, culminating in intense revision for exams, this was the best cure. Mallorca also has an abundance of gorgeous cafes and restaurants where you can sit and watch the world go by. We had a favourite area near a church by the harbour, where they lit candles on the tables and we spent the evenings and nights drinking wine and eating paella.
Mallorca has got a very bad reputation for being a party island. But like Ibiza, it really doesn’t take much digging to find its sweeter side. The cafes, the food, the hot cobbled streets and the Balearic architecture is all there, ready for anyone to see. Self catering is the most inexpensive way of doing it; not only was our flat well priced but we bought our food from the supermarket underneath the square. A few simple pasta dishes were no hardship after spending a year of being fed by our college, and we made sandwiches for the hours spent wandering in town. It’s a great way to keep costs down and plus who doesn’t like snooping around a foreign supermarket?
We were sad to leave Mallorca after only a few days. But we were rested, tanned (we artfully covered up our bright red patches when we landed back in England) and full of good Mallorcan food. As a cure for the exam blues, what more could you want? Plus, I have an inkling that Mallorca will be pulling me back for many more trips in the future. For such a small island there’s a lot to see.