Monday, July 23, 2012

I Heart Mallorca

Dom and I just spent a week in Spain. Two nights in Barcelona followed by five on the island of Mallorca. I’d been to Barcelona about ten years ago with a friend but it was Dom’s first time. For the most part, we took it pretty easy – Dom was nursing some injuries following his Tough Mudder debut. The most breathtaking thing to mention is the interior of Gaudi’s Church, La Sagrada Familia.  I didn’t go inside last time and this alone made the trip back to Barcelona worth it. It was stunning.

Mallorca is a short flight away from Barcelona and for some reason is a hotspot for German holidaymakers. Dom (being German) has been to Mallorca about ten times. So to make this trip different from his family beach vacations and friend party vacations, we rented a car and stayed in a cute villa in a cute town and spent our days exploring the island, squeezing in a couple late-afternoon hours of sun-baking and indulging in some great meals along the way. It was fantastic.  Below is my effort to document everything we explored so if you ever want to check them out for yourself, you’ll have a few recommendations. My gift to you. I wouldn’t mind repeating the whole thing again myself.

Arta – A village in the northeast of the island and where we called home. Typical sleepy, Mallorcan town with narrow cobblestone streets, a church and a castle high on the hill.

  • Ca’n Moragues – Our sweet B&B in typical Mallorcan wood & rock style. We scored a free upgrade and were in one of the nicest of the eight rooms.  They serve a good breakfast every morning and the three resident turtles always made an appearance. Would recommend Ca’n Moragues to anyone.
  • Saint Salvador Hotel & Restaurant – The place just next door to Ca’n Moragues. It has one of the most beautiful courtyards I’ve ever seen. Dom treated me to dinner here. We both got the “surprise menu” and were blown away. If you’re in Arta, don’t miss it.
  • Calle Cuitat – The high street in Arta that really comes alive in the evening. Full of restaurants and bars with outdoor seating, shops & street vendors. It’s hopping til about midnight.
  • Sa Gripia – Busiest restaurant in town and right around the corner from the hotel.  It’s where the locals go so the kind manager translated everything on the menu for us. Reservations are a must for weekends. Beautiful salads, a Spanish-produced Amstel on tap and a menu that changes daily. Superb.
  • Sa Teulera – Restaurant known for its suckling pig. We saw them setting up the roaster early in the day and we went back for a taste in the evening. It’s a little bit French, a little bit Spanish.  Nice and slow service, a beautiful patio and despite us not really liking the suckling pig (crackling!?! Ugh, gross), we had a nice time mainly due to the atmosphere.

Cap de Catalunya & Cap de Formentor – Two lookout points in the northern most tip of the island. A long, windy, taxing drive but well-worth the views. From Cap de Formentor you can even see Menorca, the neighboring island.


Wine Country

  • Binissalem – This town marks the northern end of the wine region. We made a quick stop at Jose Ferrer Cellars then headed south for some of the bigger wineries.
  • Santa Maria del Cami – This is really the heart of Mallorca’s wine country. We made a long stop at Macia Batle and toured the winery, stayed for a tasting and left with a few bottles. If you’re in the area or just love wine, this is a great way to spend an afternoon.
  • Alaro – We stopped off at S’Oliveret, a B&B in the town of Alaro that I almost booked for our stay in Mallorca. It looked beautiful and I had heard the food alone was worth the stay. We took a detour after wine country to check it out and grab some lunch. The place itself was set in a valley on a huge olive orchard. It was beautiful. The restaurant didn’t disappoint either. We both got paella worthy of Dom’s favorite meal of the trip.

Beaches -

Cala Torta – Small beach in the northeast near Capdepera with a little shade and lots of seaweed. Called ‘unspoilt’ in many online reviews but it was actually pretty busy and not so nice.  Just skip this one. There are better.

Cala Agulla – The German Beach. Just east of Cala Torta.  It’s long and busy and filled with Germans. A couple beach huts are available for drinks, there’s good shade and it’s scenic. If you’re in the mood for a schnitzel or bratwurst or beer garden (or should I say Biergarten), then this is the place for you.

Port Soller – The beach in Soller, which is a town in west Mallorca known for its mountain views. Long, but shallow beach with cute cafes lining the street behind the beach. It was cute and quaint but full of Spanish teenagers which made it kind of annoying.

Platja de Palma – Talk about commercial. Palma is the largest city in Mallorca and right next to the airport. If you aren’t renting a car and just want a beach vacation, then you’ll likely be staying in Palma. The beaches are packed and there are millions of shops, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and strip joints. We spent our time on the east end by S’Arenal where all the Germans go. I think Dom wanted to reminisce a little and I had a good laugh at all the Germans who were drinking god knows what out of buckets with 3-foot long straws.  We decided it was time to go when we saw an old couple doing the dirty on the beach. Dom grabbed a currywurst and we hit the road.

Cala sa Nau – Beach in the Southeast of the island near Cala D’Or. Small but scenic with one beach hut and a few chairs you can rent.  It’s set among rocky cliffs, which makes it pretty but very windy. When we were adequately covered in sand, we left for Cala Mitjana.  We did return in the evening, when this place surprisingly turned into a beach party with a DJ pumping out the tunes. Worth the visit on a Saturday night where it has a good vibe and is perfect for people watching – you’ll see a mix of families, killer-bod guys there just to show off, topless hippie girls running around and everything in between.

Cala Mitjana – We climbed the cliff from Cala sa Nau to Cala Mitjana. I’m not sure I’d recommend doing this but it was a memorable, adventurous trek and made the arrival to Cala Mitjana all the sweeter. Apart from a tiny beach, Cala Mitjana is private property, owned by someone who is very, very wealthy (even Google wouldn’t reveal who). The house was massive and set on acres and acres of finely pruned grounds. And it’s hard to miss the gigantic yacht floating out front.  You felt like a guest at this family’s private beach. I wish! The water is warm, the beach is small and not too crowded and the sand is white and clean. Worth a trip if you can find it!

As you can probably tell, we had a great trip – saw a lot, ate a lot (my waistline can attest) and fell in love with the place.

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