I’m handed my cabin key and directed down the narrow hallway. Mark Twain’s writing of his travels to the World’s Fair in Paris by steamship in the early 1900’s resonates in my head. His humorous description of the passengers projectile vomiting, the crew watching his every move, the tour drivers shenanigans brought a smile to my face.
Lights sparkle across the water, dancing up into my portal which looks out onto the dark Mediterranean Sea. Close to midnight the sky is filled with stars. My iPod plays beautiful piano, Yellow is the Color by Mezzanine de alcazar. Red wine ripples suddenly appear in my glass born out of vibrations from gigantic engines warming up.
I keep my cabin draped in darkness. two beds, more fold down from the wall, modern bathroom, table, chairs, and closet. I’m a passenger on the Balearic +. This first class ferry ride puts the ferries of the Pacific Northwest to shame. Swank Lounges, Swimming Pools, Luxurious over – sized leather seats, restaurants, spa services, and gift shops await passengers.
After touring the ship I’m happy in my cabin watching the lights of the port (Porto) grow smaller and smaller in the distance. The mainland disappears as we set course for the Island of Mallorca. Finally retiring my head to the pillow, I close my eyes noting the sun will rise over the Mediterranean in the morning.
Awakened by loud pounding on my cabin door I grab a quick shower and charge my camera battery. Sipping apple juice, still dark, I watch the day unfold, the ship docks at Palma, then a bus whisks us away to the terminal where each of us can disconnect from the sea and be on our way. I’m no hurry so I walk leisurely over to the Yacht Club, Club De Mar. The Bar De La Marina is still 20 minutes from opening. I watch the sunrise, shoot pictures, masts bob up and down. Soon I order café con leche, and a chocolate croissant, each does its part to complete my early morning concert by the sea.
Yahties awaken, stir about amongst the clanging of masts swaying to and fro. Memories of sailing with my father are interrupted by an older Wayne Newton looking character walking arm and arm with a younger, and very beautiful woman up the ramp to an awaiting taxi. His smile, twinkling blue eyes, skip in his step, he then unleashed a powerful embrace followed by an equally passionate kiss that literally lifted him a few inches off the ground. Taxi long gone, shoulders down he orders a cappuccino, and sits in the corner to avoid contact with others. It can be tough coming to terms with becoming invisible to women. Much is lost and gained in these moments. A bit later perched on the bow of his sleek ship, staring into blue water he adds some salt of his own making to the Mediterranean Sea.
I walk around the bay and greet locals on their way to work. Palma is a city with all the hustle and bustle one would expect of one of Europe’s favorite tourist destinations. I hail a cab to the local bus station and make my way out to Bahia de Alcudia. The first thing that one notices is the sheer size, the enormity of the Island. Figuring out how to best attack it’s geography is key to maximizing enjoyment of this incredible Island. I’ll return to the mainland and Barcelona by air but I’ll never forget my early morning arrival by sea.
Where to Stay on the Island
In the event money is no object then one can quickly find the types of things one expects at www.vipservice-mallorca.com. This upscale service will connect you with your Yacht, Private Plane, Helicopter, over – the – top accommodations, Limo, luxury sports cars and a guide for one’s every desire at a cost of course.
In the event one is on a budget but wishes to enjoy a few of the finer things in life for a night or two by mixing and matching then one is in luck on Mallorca. In the event one is on a budget of approximately 100.00 euros per day one can still have the time of one’s life.
To keep daily expenses relatively low (approximately 100 Euros a day) I recommend staying at the Hotel Playa Esperanza, Playa Del Muro. It is the last Hotel right on the beach with lots of open beach, large pool and grassy open areas. The other Hotel I recommend is the JS Alcudi-Mar which is across the street from the beach and $15-20 cheaper.
The JS Alcudi-Mar is an older remodeled Hotel with a rate of approximately 40 – 45 Euros and includes a killer breakfast. Orange and brown themes, clean rooms, small fridge, safe, excellent bathrooms, ocean view, spa, sauna, steam, Jacuzzi. The beds are older which takes some getting used to. Bartender is happy to supply one with glasses, ice and limes to take to the room for drinks which helps keep expenses down. Experience the Hotels professional whirlpool and then take a massage under the waterfall designed for pounding on one’s lower back which is conveniently on a timer. If you wish to be pampered I recommend the Spa Sensations directly across the street at the Alcudia ParkApart Hotel. Walk a few more steps and one finds themselves under the shade of a palapa, on a sandy beach, with drink service and neck rubs for the asking.
This Island is a favorite Northern European family vacation spot. Restaurants flank the hotel to the left and right. Try Gigi Popo for dinners and great homemade soups. It is not uncommon to see bikes with 2 –6 riders reminding me of the Flintstones. German cyclists ride all over the Island by day often times supporting the obscene number of doctors living here at their becon call. For those not training for the Tour De France one can rent a bike next door to the hotel and pick up super easy bike trails in the park a few blocks to the left of the hotel. One can also ride out to Can Picafort to the right of the Hotel, a moderate ride. Otherwise one might opt to ride towards the port of Alcudia avoiding the commercial center while getting to the other side where the bike path follows the bay around to the Cape; Cabo Formentor. This is a long relatively easy yet rewarding ride. Incredible rides and views await those willing to make the climb up the Formentor. This is not for the faint of heart.
The advantage of staying in Bahia Alcudia area is the economical Hotel rooms, easy access to affordable rental cars and the famed western coastline of the Island. I rented a Ford Fiesta for 25.00 euros a day including insurance from Partiro car rentals just a 5 minute walk to the right of the Hotel. The paperwork was almost non-existent, the whole experience was hassle free.
With the possible exception of drinks at sunset at the Aqua Bar offering an exceptional view of the bay (complete with fleece blankets, skip the martini) in Port Alcudia I recommend avoiding the port scene itself completely. Truthfully this entire region popular Northern Europeans including the area around the Hotel reeks of the tawdry tourism one would expect. Spending one’s time at the Hotel relaxing or exploring the Island by car is the name of the game on Mallorca sometimes spelled Majorca.
Future posts will detail Mallorca’s magnificent Western stretch of coastline, what to see and do. I’ll also list the best coves providing solitary experiences on the Island, once in a lifetime romantic hotels, inexpensive adventures and must-see- places to visit.
Few places in the world offer the level of beauty found here. Enormous drops off sheer tree covered cliffs fall straight into the deep blue sea below. Winding roads, mountains, lakes, nature reserves, farms and ranches, vineyards, orange, cherry, and lemon trees, olives grow everywhere. Gorgeous beaches, bays, and coves invite one to twiddle the day away in the finest of European traditions. It’s no wonder the Romans, Moors, and even Turkish pirates all took their shot at owning a piece of these Balearic Islands even if only briefly. Once seen this spectacular Island is never forgotten.