An Englishman’s Guide: Mallorca Part 3

Another July, another trip to Mallorca. I’m nothing if not original. Here are part 1 and part 2 in case you missed these. Last year. Which unless you follow this blog very closely is highly likely.

Anyway, here are a few more bits and pieces to do and see if you find yourself in Mallorca and not in Magaluf.

Beaches and cliffs

The Spanish seem to take a very lax approach to private property, and as such you’ll have to jump over walls or fences to access at least two of the four. Nobody I spoke to seemed to think this was a problem.

Also you’ll need a car.

First up is Es Marmols, which looks a little like this:

It's pretty damn shiny.

It’s pretty damn shiny.

 

Marmols is a secret beach which, in general, only Mallorquins know about. Until now obviously. So keep it quiet. It’s an absolutely gorgeous little spot, but it takes some getting to unless you have a yacht.

If you don’t have a yacht, rag your hire car out towards Santanyi. Once you hit Santanyi, follow the road towards Es Llombards and Ses Salines. After a mile or so there’s a sharp left on a right hand bend which you should take. Head about half a mile down the road until you go past a big locked gate on the left, and park up on the right.

Now break into somebody’s land.

Jump the wall (easiest to do this by one of the trees), then jump the second wall by the crumbly bit (you’ll understand). Fuck your legs up scrambling though the brush to the left til you find a road, and follow that. At the fork/house go left then head right when the path diverges and follow the path down to the beach.

That sounds rough but it’s genuinely worth it – people just don’t know about this place. If in doubt about the route, follow a Spaniard. If they find this somewhat concerning, make sure you have this dog with you to put them at ease.

Solves all kinds of problems

Solves all kinds of problems

 

Oh also, it’s nominally a nudist beach, but don’t feel obliged to get your bits out. If you do, suncream. Lots of suncream.

For an evening of sunshine, you’ve got two good options both of which result in the kind of sunsets that make people go ‘aahhhhhh’. If you have a significant other look into each other’s eyes and consider how lucky you are to have each other. If, like me, you don’t, make snide comments instead to make yourself feel better.

The easy option is Sa Foradada – head up past Valldemossa and go right as you leave the village (towards Deia I think…), then veer wildly off the road after a couple of miles down to Sa Foradada, which I think is listed as a restaurant. Park up in the car park. There’s a nice bar at the lookout point, and if you’re looking for some daytime fun the walk down to the point and back is a good way to while a day away. The sunset you see will look something like this:

People actually clap when it goes down.

People actually clap when it goes down.

Option 2 is to go out to Cabo Blanco. Head towards Llucmajor and then follow signs for Cap Blanc. Park up by the gate and break in to more fenced off land. Head towards the lighthouse but be aware that you’re walking into Cicada Alley. Walking with your arms flailing is a strong tactic, and keep your mouth very, very closed unless you want a flying cockroach in your mouth. Sit out on the cliffs to the right of the lighthouse. It’s a lot quieter and more remote here, and you also get to watch the sun go down behind the mountains which is quite pretty.

This view comes with a 90% chance that is cicada is mating with your hair

This view comes with a 90% chance that is cicada is mating with your hair

 

I should also mention that Cala Varques, which I mention in one of the previous posts, has gotten really popular. It’s now pretty packed but still worth a go. Swim out and round the left hand cliffs round to the next bay to find some really cool caves to play in.

Eating and Drinking

Don’t try and get breakfast. Spaniards do not understand breakfast. Spain, much like the District Line, is closed on Sundays, struggles with mornings and doesn’t really work. You can sit in a cafe in the centre of Palma at 9.30 in the morning and you’ll not see a soul. You can do what we did and drive out to a mountain town (Bunyalbufar) and try in vain to find anywhere open at 10.30 in the morning.

Embrace the Spanish lifestyle. Don’t get up before 10.

The best Mallorquin eating and drinking happens in the evening – during the day you can stop off anywhere for a pastry and a beer, maybe a little bocadillo to tide you over. If you’re really hungry go for a Menu Del Dia, but don’t trust anywhere that charges over 10 Euro.

For evening munching, I’d recommend Cafe Antiquari or Bar Espana in the middle of Palma – you can get a few beers and some good, homemade food for very little cash, and the atmosphere is lovely in both. For a more serious meal, I like Don Caracol up by Plaza Espana – a proper Mallorquin restaurant that’s not over-priced and does good hearty food. You can also sit down at midnight, which is fun.

Outside Palma, head up to Alaro in the mountains (drive to Bunyola, then signs to Castell de Alaro). There is an amazing little lamb restaurant in the middle of nowhere which does gorgeous lumps of fire-cooked lamb and pork. You can also walk up from the restaurant to the Castle, which has specatular views over the Tramuntana. It also has nothing in the way of safety fences, so impress your friends by leaning out as far as possible over the 500ft drops. They’ll think you’re really cool.

All the rocks.

All the rocks.

 

Misc

Train to Soller! Train to Soller! At 19 Euro it’s a bit steep, but a nice day out. You take the old 1912-style trains through the mountains from Palma to Soller. You can stand outside like a real cowboy and take in the views, and also try and steal oranges or lemons from passing trees like the filthy tourist you are. Warning: may result in broken arms.

Then at Soller you can walk down the tram track to the Port de Soller which will take around an hour. There’s a path which takes you past a minor piece of cinematic history in the form of the hotel from The Inbetweeners Movie, which is actually an abandoned shithole full of graffiti and probably crackheads. It’s still a nice find, especially if you start shouting ‘cum on me bastard tits’ repeatedly to recreate the highbrow gags in the film.

"You shit on the floor, fifty Euros"

“You shit on the floor, fifty Euros”

At Port de Soller you can laugh at all the people who chose to go and stay there, as they’re basically trapped, and walk around the bay to some viewpoints up above the cliffs. Don’t bother getting the actual tram at any point, a taxi is 8 Euros compared to a crowded tram at 5 Euros each.

Useful Phrases

My Spanish hasn’t improved much past the inappropriate chat up lines, but here are a couple of extras:

“Si y no” – “Yes and no”. Typical Spanish answer to any question/observation. “The sea is over there.” “Si…y no.”

“Perros no” – “No dogs”. I like to throw this in to every conversation at least once.

“Esperamos por los huevos” – “We are still waiting for the eggs”. Useful in bars when they forget the eggs.

“Tengo sueno” – “I’m sleepy”. You will be. It’s well hot.

“Gorda/gordita” – “Fatty/little fatty”. Give your female friends a complex with this apparently endearing term.

An Englishman’s Guide: Mallorca Pt 2

Thinking about it, this section is going to be largely based around alcohol, and accurately recalling experiences involving copious amounts of the stuff is an inherently difficult thing to do. So this could be quite short. Sorry.

Amendment: It’s not! It’s really long! Sorry.

Uno mas?

Pleasingly, Mallorcans seem to view casual drinking as a way of life. Not in the same way that we view hardcore drinking as an essential pillar of life, but in a more sedate, refined way. A small, ice-cold beer with your lunch is standard fare. Every cafe and tapas bar, and I imagine many churches and playschools as well, have some kind of delicious brew on tap. Generally it’s Estrella, the delicious gold nectar out of Barcelona. This can only be a good thing.

If a beer at lunch and dinner just isn’t going to cut it for you, there’s a handful of good bars in Palma town. One of these is certainly not Shamrock’s, or pretty much any place on the waterfront. Shamrock’s is a little slice of Southend on a Saturday night. It smells a bit like vomit, even outside. Whilst enduring my beer, we witnessed a man run past who’d had so much coke that he was clutching his shoes in one hand and his heart in the other. After pausing to scream wide-eyed at a lamppost he sprinted off down the road. About an hour later he ran back the other way. He didn’t have his shoes any more.

Try and check out Lorien, which is a tidy little beer cave just up from the waterfront, near-ish the Cathedral. Aficionados will note the mind-boggling range of heady brews, as well as the terrifying man that serves them. Gibson, which is more in the centre of town, is also a good watering hole, especially if you are on a date or have money, because it’s also crazy expensive. Another of its plus points is that you can hide in the corner and play ‘would you rather’, with a focus firmly on the rest of Gibson’s clientele, with 3 Finns, an English girl and a wonderfully angry American.

Top Tip: Finns do not understand ‘would you rather’. They get the concept, but will spend a long time forlornly muttering “but this is not how it works reeeeally” in a very Finnish accent. Pretend you don’t understand their concern, it only adds to the amusement.

Anyway. Wine.

One must in Mallorca is a wine-tasting experience/bender in Santa Maria. Take the excessively-developed-for-a-tiny-island train network from Palma towards Inca and you’ll wind up in Santa Maria in about 20 minutes. Don’t get the stop wrong, because the majority of other stations on the island are helpfully located in the middle of vast fields, miles from anything.

Head towards the Macia Batle Bodega first of all; it’s Mallorca’s biggest and most famous winery. I think. Take the self-guided tour, i.e. wander aimlessly through the cellars nodding sagely but not quite understanding, until you reach the tasting room. Unfortunately we couldn’t do the proper tasting as there were 60 Russians having a private gathering, but eventually a sturdy German girl took pity on us and gave us a mini tasting, which still consisted of a good 7 or 8 wines in about 20 minutes. Their top whack red is a hefty 15 Euros a bottle, but is admittedly delicious; a mellow and fruity explosion of happy.

Don’t stop there. Wander out, half cut, into the blazing 6pm heat and then stalk the town looking for free wine. We only managed to find one more that was open, maybe they saw us coming, but that was a surreal treat too. The Sebastia Pastor Bodega, I couldn’t for the life of me tell you where it is, was a tiny little family run concern. We were given a rambling 15 minute verbal ‘tour’ of the bodega, some of which I understood (which is odd given that I don’t speak any Spanish, must have been the wine), by the absolute boss on the far left. Check out his bloody moustache! One of the main things I noted about this family was that every man, literally every man, is called Sebastia Pastor. All I could think was, “That must make the post a very difficult time.”

Angry American politely listened to all of this before cracking out something to the effect of “Great. Where’s the free wine?”, at which point Sebastia Pastor went on a one man crusade to get us monumentally drunk. A couple of large glasses of his finest Crianza, or 10 minutes, later and we were all fucked, slumped against wine tanks or leaning a little too casually against walls.

It was great.

We also saw a woman come in and buy some wine and produce, all the while with a small parrot clutching on to her shirt and squawking. Nobody batted an eyelid. I bloody love Mallorca.

One quick tip: Santa Maria has an amazing public toilet shaped like a wicker basket (for some reason). Locate it and remember it early on, you will need it.

rantraverelax Phrasebook

I promised activities and exciting adventures with tour buses. I lied, that stuff got covered off in Part 1. Ille Cabrera and the Caves at Porte Cristo. That’s two activities. Happy? Good. Time for some filthy language!

As I’ve mentioned, I don’t speak Spanish, but with the help of Spanish-speaking Americans I now know some useful phrases and quite a lot of sleazy lines, which I’m happy to share here. Family members should probably go and do something else now. Put the kettle on, have a nice cuppa. For everyone else, master these lines and you’ll be as successful with the ladies as I was…

“Si” – Yes.   Use this a lot, even if you don’t have a clue what’s happening.

“Claro” – Clear/Understood/Ahhh OK.   Ditto.

“Vale” – OK (pronounced like ‘ballet’).   Ditto Ditto.

“Hace calor, o eres tu?” – Is it hot in here, or is it you?

“Hace calor, o eres mi polla?” (ll pronounced like y) – Is it hot in here, or is it my penis?

“Hace calor, o eres ti concha?” – Is it hot in here, or is it your…you get the picture.

“Tu me pon es” – You turn/are turning me on.

“Me voy a carrer” – I’m going to come.   Strangely, given the sure-fire-winning nature of the previous lines, I didn’t get to use this one.

And no, I didn’t learn anything actually useful.

In Summary

In the format of potential tourist information slogans:

“Mallorca – The rock that rocks”

“100 quid return on Ryanair – what the fuck are you waiting for?”

“Hace calor, o eres Mallorca?”

Fin.

An Englishman’s Guide: Mallorca Pt 1

Bought to you by me! An idiot in a jaunty hat.

So, Mallorca.

Those of you with a passing knowledge of European geography will be aware that Mallorca is one of the Balearics, a small group of islands that sit off the east coast of Spain. Balearics sounds a little like bollocks, and as a youth I certainly thought of Mallorca as such. In Essex at least, the kind of people who generally want to go to Mallorca are the kind of people who have nicknames like Jizzy Pete and hang around outside terrible clubs looking for ‘fanny’. Amongst the Brits, Mallorca is probably best known for Magaluf, or Rashtown as I like to call it. It’s the kind of place you can find Jizzy Pete looking for fanny.

Don’t be fooled, however, because the island is actually an absolute gem. Whether it’s beaches, mountains, good food, good wine, or just a massive piss-up you’re after, then Mallorca is probably the right place.

Go Mobile

Hire a car. I really can’t stress that one enough. You can have a great time without one, but you’ll have an unbelievable time with some wheels at your disposal. Public transport on the island is very good, but the best it has to offer is well off the beaten track. We booked and picked up our brand spanking new Peugeot 208 on the same day, and 3 days of use came to about 160 euros. We went with Goldcar and they were pretty good, and I’ve also heard good things about RecordGO.

Sun, Sea, Psicobloc

The last time I visited Mallorca, a two day jaunt at the end of a long month travelling, we stuck strictly to Palma beach. This is a perfectly nice beach, and a bit of a tourist hub, but there are some absolute stunners out there that you really shouldn’t miss. First and foremost amongst them in my mind is the magnificent Cala Varques on the eastern side of Mallorca.

This unbelievable little cove is a must see for any visitor, and almost makes the car hire worth the cost in itself. Drive towards Manacor, noted for producing Rafa Nadal and absolutely nothing else, then head for Porto Cristo. You need to take a right onto the Ma-2015 and follow it to the end, then left onto the Ma-2014 and right after about 100m. To my knowledge it isn’t signposted at all, but is worth a little head-scratching to get to. You’ll find yourself on a dirt track, which you should park on. Follow the trickle of locals for what seems like 10 miles through the forest and scrub, before emerging in a little piece of paradise.

I was too busy avoiding weeping to take any pictures, but luckily Google has come to my aid:

Not even a good picture

Apparently every now and then you’ll be greeted by a cow on the beach being herded by a naked elderly man. This can only be a good thing. We managed to plonk ourselves down behind a group of girls, one of whom kept standing up, facing towards us, and tweaking her nipples. This can only be a good thing. I had to resist the urge to applaud loudly.

Over to the left of the bay is a little covered outcrop where an elderly lady and middle aged man, who I can only hope are lovers, serve cold drinks, cocktails and fresh sandwiches. I was driving so stayed off the hard stuff, but elderly lady made me an awesome homemade lemonade, and the girl next to me squeaked a bit when she tried her caipirinha, so I think it was quite good.

The real pleasure at Varques is up and over the rocks to the left. If you follow the trail up and over you come to one of the world’s premier psicobloc sites. For the uninitiated, Psicobloc (aka deep water soloing), is a form of rock climbing where you mill about with absolutely no ropes above a suitably deep bit of ocean. If you fall off, you only hit crystal clear blue coolness. It’s incredible, and I’d urge anyone to try it. There are also a couple of big caves around there; try swimming to the back of the left-hand one and putting your face against the hole.

Sa Rapita is another tidy little beach, this time on the south of the island; it runs into the famous Es Trenc beach but is a little quieter, and seriously beautiful. The water seems to run as a little shelf for about 50 metres out to sea, it’s only about two feet deep and like a bath, before plunging into proper, glass-clear water. Something about the length of the beach gives it a really great atmosphere; you get a feeling that you’re just a tiny speck in a vast paradise. It’s quite pleasant.

The beach at Sa Rapita.

Finally, there is Sa Calobra.

Sa Colobra is brilliant for two reasons. One is that it’s unlike anything else I’ve ever seen. The beach is formed as the Torrent de Pareis tumbles headlong out of the mountains between two vast rock walls; the result is an unusual arrangement that feels a bit like the scene in Star Wars where they almost get squished by slow-moving walls. (Quite why they jumped down that trash chute has always puzzled me. Surely any self-respecting Death Star would have had a fire exit they could have fled through? Less dramatic I suppose…)

“Shut down all the garbage mashers on the detention level!”

The second plus point to Sa Colobra is that you have to navigate a bum-puckeringly tight set of mountain roads to get there. This is excellent if you are driving with a mortal enemy with a heart complaint: they won’t make it half way. I managed to terrify a Texan and an Essex girl with what I called my precision and they called “fucking insanity”. This can only be a good thing.

Eating. Drinking. More drinking.

There are many culinary and bacchanalian delights to be found on Mallorca, as long as you are prepared to accept that serrano ham and cheese are classed as necessities in every meal. This can only be a good thing.

Being Spain, tapas is pretty popular, and every Tuesday and Wednesday night Palma holds la Ruta. Smack bang in the centre of town you’ll find a load of tapas bars that have clubbed together to make this event successful. 2 Euros will get you a little bite to eat, there’s always a healthy selection, and a canya (small beer) or glass of wine. Not only is this dirt cheap, and good food, and an acceptable way of getting trollied, but it’s also a good way to meet people as half the town seems to come out and play. Expect the revelry to go on until at least 2, although the tapas is usually gone by 12.

Staying in Palma, the Can Juan de S’Aigo has to be checked out too. It’s been about since the early 18th Century and serves up ice cream you’ll struggle to beat anywhere. The Almendra (almond) and Fresones (strawberry, more like a sorbet) are particularly good, but at 2 Euros a pop you could eat your way through the whole selection and not feel hard done by. Half chocolate, half strawberry is a definite winner. While you’re there, pick up a freshly baked ensaimada, a local pastry which is gorgeously light and perfect for dipping into the dribbly remains of your ice cream.

I don’t know what flavour this was but it tasted like happy.

Veering out of Palma is worthwhile for some good eats. Get up into the mountains just to the west of Palma and there are some real treats. There’s a sleepy but beautiful little village called Puigpunyent. A small bar on your right as you head into town serves a great Pa amb Oli with typically Catalan service; the woman seemed genuinely affronted that we wanted to order food and drinks. I like that. Pa amb Oli is a simple yet delicious plate of lightly grilled bread doused in fine olive oil and a suggestion of fresh tomato, then topped with your choice of ham, cheese or any combination of those two. It’s a world of choice. There’s also a handful of fresh local olives and some spicy pickles to go with it. In a swelteringly hot place, it makes for a pretty perfect meal.

If you want something more substantial head up to Genova, a short trip from Palma. The place seriously enjoys meat. The most famous establishment is Can Pedro, where roast lamb in a hundred different ways is the order of the day. Make sure you’re hungry, when you order roast lamb that is literally what you get. Beware the meat sweats. There would be a picture but I was too busy struggling to breathe. One note of caution, expect to pay 20 Euros for food and drink there. It’s good, but probably touches the margins of good value.

Finally on the food front, get up to Valdemossa and enjoy a coca de patata (cake made from potata. Not as weird as it sounds) with a big bowl of dipping chocolate (chocolate a la taza or  similar). It’s a good way to spend an afternoon.

Potato and cake, together at last

On that sweet thought I’m going to leave it for now. In the next episode, alcohol, activities and how to alienate friends you only just made with the help of a Peugeot 208 and a Portuguese tour bus.

Stay tuned!

P.S. I have shamelessly pilfered most of the pics in the above from my travel and drinking companion on account of being woefully inept at cameras and stuff and she is in touch with the social world whereas I still regularly forget my phone has a camera on it. Check her out! @katie_jane_rose