Brrr, chilly isn’t it? Especially if, like me you’ve just come back from four days in Mallorca! Mrs B, OMB and I flew to Palma from Leeds Bradford on Jet2 for a little bit of sun and a city break during half term. Apart from missing our puppy, we had a great time. The journey both ways was very smooth and easy, much less hassle than going from Manchester or one of the London airports and Jet2 is probably the most civilised of the budget airlines to fly on. Although the seats were a bit hard, there was a lot more legroom than you often get. A handy tip is if you are staying in the city itself, take the number 1 bus from the airport, only €3 and it runs every fifteen minutes.
We stayed in the centre of Palma at the Palma Suites hotel. This was very comfortable and we had a separate bedroom as well as a kitchen/diner/lounge with a sofa bed for OMB and balconies to both rooms. The hotel also had probably the smallest swimming pool in the world on the roof!
The hotel was very well located for the shops and restaurants as well as being a fifteen minute walk to the beach and the cathedral. It was also quite reasonably priced. However, although we liked it a lot and it was very smart, I’d recommend taking the tripadvisor reviews with a pinch of salt- the hotel had a sign in the bar saying that guests could get a free drink if they posted a review on there! Certainly there seems to be no point in paying the €15 per person extra for breakfast when you have a full kitchen and shops nearby to stock up on breakfast essentials.
Although Palma is being billed as something of a mini-Barcelona I think it would probably disappoint if that is what you are looking for. The cathedral, while impressive, is not quite La sagrada familia. If you want Barcelona, go to Barcelona .
We ate out each evening. Twice we went to the Animabeach bar at the near end of the city beach. This had a great view, friendly atmosphere, relaxing music and nice food. We preferred it to the Malibu Beach cafe at the other end of the beach which was a bit too upmarket to be comfortable even if the cocktails were nice.
We didn’t have time to try out the numerous cafés further along the coast at Portixol but they looked good and it would be a nice area to stay if you were most interested in staying by the sea. In the centre of Palma we also had a good meal at Cafe Mari-Lina which had a nice bar across the way which was very kid friendly as well as a Churros shop next door for dessert.
The bar, called Antiguades, showed a real difference between Spanish and British attitudes. It managed to be friendly for families while being casually sophisticated- a million miles away from a Wacky Warehouse tacked onto a lager and deep fat fryer place. The first time we visited with a couple of friends and their primary school age children they had a guitarist playing in the downstairs bar. He was unusual in that he was accompanying his acoustic guitar by playing an electric bass with his feet. I took the children round to the glass door so they could see it because they didn’t believe anyone could play guitar with their feet. Back home that’s as close as they’d have got. Instead, we were beckoned in and people spontaneously moved so the kids could sit on stools by the stage.
Near our hotel there were a number of authentic bars where you could get a pinxto and a drink for €2. Unfortunately we didn’t get to try them out because they didn’t come alive until past even OMB’s holiday bedtimes. In a sign of the times there was also a soup kitchen and food bank on the square in front of the hotel.
When we visited Barcelona we held back from eating in the restaurants on Placa Mayor expecting them to be bad tourist traps when in fact they turned out to be pretty good. Unfortunately the same can’t be said of Café Paris in Palma, which was bad.
The one day trip out of the city we did was the one recommended by everyone we knew who’d visited Palma. That was to take the vintage wooden narrow gauge train through the mountains to Soller. This was great fun and Soller itself cute. Better still was the nearby Port De Soller accessed by an even quainter wooden tram. Given that it was November we were particularly blessed with a hot sunny day but it really was a gem.
All told I can strongly recommend Palma as a destination for a short break. As the northern nights are drawing in I think we made the right choice over our other idea of a trip to Belfast…