Date :Aug 30 and 31th/2015
place :Palma de Mallorca At the late afternoon on the day before our departure to Mallorca we met our dear friends from Rechovot. Upon their suggestion we got together at the Rock Beach in Bat- Yam, only 15 minutes away from TLV, at where one hears in the crowded beaches, only tourists, some English,German but mostly French.
Bat Yam is a distinct anthropological phenomena, composed of mainly 3 population groups: old timers rif-rafs , Russians and Ethiopians, who are the later newcomers.
The view of BAT YAM calm protected water off the elevated boardwalk of Bat-Yam is beautiful as are the sunsets.
However the sand strip by the water, that late Saturday afternoon, was mobbed, noisy and dirty. The Ethiopians encampments were tribal size. The rif-raf fathers were screaming at their kids NOT to visit the distanced facilities, but rather pee inside the sea water. And the Russian who took over the beach restaurant businesses, and now run in them a D-J operating discos of a blasting trance dance music, now host sweating hunks and knock-out barely covered Russian chicks that shack any movable parts of their vibrating bodies. So, after a month stay in over -heated Israel, that of Bat-Yam, was the last beach scene
I took with me, onto the flight to Mallorca and in landing at the Balearic Spanish riveting shores. And yet landing at another part of the Mediterranean, I realize that It is as hot and humid as it was in Israel. But here the similarities end. The Balearic Islands, best known for their Ibiza international party destination, are situated off the eastern coast of Spain. Palma is the main port city in Mallorca, the capital of this archipelago, under Spanish rule.
We were told that the hotels are operating at half of the capacity meaning half of the tourists are gone, so it was less crowded, now that the kids were back to school.
As the island is a big tourist attraction, that was a big relief. Upon arrival on Sunday late afternoon, we realized that many of the best Tapas places were already closed, so we had something small not that significant at a mediocre place.
The upside was, that it left much more room for the great dinner, which we had later that evening, at a beach restaurant called Ola- Mare at Cala Portixol.
David kept talking about the sea food Palela, one of the best he ever had, all next day... Since the portion served could easily feed 3 eaters, he enjoyed taking and eating the surplus next day. The vista of naturally protected Bay, the Marina with its luxurious Yachts and Port with its visiting huge cruise ships, seen from our fantastic "Gran Melia Victoria" hotel, located only 20 minutes walking distance, from the Palma city center,
Breakfast at the hotel's terrace is a true morning feast, both to the stomach and the eyes.
On the second day of our visit, we joined a free English guided walking tour to get familiar with the main city's center monuments.
The tour started at 11:00am from the Tourist Info booth, at the foothill of the "Almidiana Palace".
We kept climbing for the next 2 hours, up the hill through the narrow winding alleys , mainly constructed during 350 years of the Muslim ruling. They left a strong marking in the city after the previous ruling of first - the Phoenicians, then the Romans, then the Oregonian James kings, and much later the Spaniards with their Catholic tribunal and Inquisition. The Jews of Palma de Mallorca were forced to convert to Catholicism about 600 years ago, but now several hundred of their descendants, known as the Chuetas, are trying to reconnect to their Jewish roots. A group of 15 Chueta families have, over the centuries, maintained their Jewish lineage by marrying only among themselves, is one of the distinctions of this particular community of Anusim. “Although the 15 families married among themselves, these marriages were conducted in the church, and it was the church records, which eventually provided the proof of the of these people's Jewish lineage Other thing that distinguished this community is that they tended to give their children Biblical names, They did not hang pictures in their homes of figures from the New Testament, they did not perform last rites on the dying, and they observed Jewish laws of burial.
At the end of the walking tour and after familiarizing ourselves to Palmas's fascinating history, quint patios and squares, nobility palaces and seductive markets, we went on a driving excursion hunting for the best swimming beaches about 20 km South west of Palma.
In all these 3 beautiful villages the neighborhoods and houses are rolling down along the winding roads, from the top of the surrounding hills straight into the charming alcoves of a natural sea estuaries.
In the first 2 villages access to water was not user friendly , either because of the steep and rocky environment, or because of the visit of the Jelly fish. The last one at Camp De Mar, had an accessible sandy beach ,so I had a great swim at the tranquil perfect temperature water. David was less happy with this stand-still water as he prefers, much more., the open sea waves
By the time we came back from this extended beach hunting , and as we were tired from the day's activities, we were happy to stay in the hotel and have a light room service meal guaranteeing a greater enjoyment of the next morning breakfast.
Date: Sept 1-2015
Place : Soller
David started his day with an early morning swim at the Palma's close by city beach, while I enjoyed the early morning hours in bed, and then we both lingered at the terrace gobbling the fabulous breakfast.
We left Palma and drove up North West through a spectacular UNESCO Heritage mountain region named Siera Tarmutana
The region got these novel rating because of a splendid breath taking vistas -
a mixed creation of mother nature and men-made.
The tall pointy mountain ridges and hanging cliffs which drop vertically down into the sea are populated by small most quaint hung-over local stone made villages and scattered villas. The landscape around them is neatly groomed into winding
cliff-hanging men-made terraces, on which olive trees, vines and fruit orchard grow. The rest is densely wooded with pine trees .
The winding roads over the sea connect the spotted villages throughout the mountains and over the very deep valleys, are very narrow and trail right at the edge of the steep droop.
Being driven by David felt more like dizzy " Mr. Tod Mad " Drive".
Luckily the stunning views were well worth distraction.... walks throughout the following beautifully situated villages: Banyalbufar, Valldemosa, Diea and Soller. Though in air time the drive from Palma to Banyalbufar is fairly short, driving up to that village through the mountain area, was quite long, but very worthwhile .
The majestic nature scenery, the groomed stone houses with the lovely flower garden in between, the views of the stratified terraces,with their grown orchard and rain gathering pools, were all so captivating. Somehow, and due to a lack of clear signing system, instead of continuing North after seeing this first village , we mistakenly ended going back South to Palma.
Instead of returning to the widening roads through the mountains, we took the straight road to Soller, where we checked in to our hotel "Soller Gran Hotel".
The charming building, now looks like a perfect size mansion, was an old leather factory once (popular industry of the region), then converted to a private residence , to a small pension, and later to an upgraded 5 Spanish stars hotel.
Getting a large room and having dinner and breakfast in its beautiful outdoors patios, had added so much to the ambiance of our stay in this little quaint queen of the mountain Soller town.
At the small pictures train station building in town center, you can be surprised by an original 4 meters by 3 meter Miro painting which decorates the station's wall, along with blown up photos of Miro and Picasso, who often visited here. After a short noon nap, which revived us both from the long morning "Mad Drive"in the mountains, we ventured to another drive to catch up on the 2 other villages we meant to see in the morning.
So we drove South of Soller for about 40 minutes and got into beautiful Valldemossa.
This ancient city/village is within the mountain range of the Sierra de Tramuntana .
It was in this town's famous 13th century Palace and Monastery complex, build originally as a country Royal complex by King James II for his Asthma bedridden son, where the famous Composer Chopin and his companion author George Send rented in 1838 some rooms for Chopin's emphysema .This huge and well preserve past Royal/Religious complex which is now a museum, is well worth visiting..
Read More From there on the way back North, driving through most quaint Diea village a post directs to the Villa of the famous British Author- John Graves ( I Claudius..) Since midday David was dreaming of and salivating from the thought on having
Lechon - either a tiny one kg whole baby suckling pig, which is eaten with its bones, or a tiny lamb- in season, thus he was on the look out.. .
Following a talk he had with the chef and with the hotel manager, David was promised to have his subject of desire the next day.
Yet we still had a wonderful dinner at the hotel's well known restaurant, David had lamb rack and I had the best duck-con feat. We fell both exhausted to bed at the end of this long eventful day. ======================
Date: Sept 2nd/2015
Place: North East of Mallorca -
We woke up late today, took a walk in Soller Village, had a good breakfast, and headed to the Northeastern corner of this Island.
On the way to and just prior to arriving at a place called "Polenca"
we stopped by the country's side-way to check most romantic Relais Chateau Spa hotel named "Son Brull" .
The place was surrounded by flower gardens, Savinion grapes vineyards, citrus orchards and olive groves.
The building used to be an olive press facility, and the old Olive Press and industrial tools at display, were part of the decoration.
It is now converted to this enchanting luxury hotel, no vacancy- it was completely full. Oh well ... on another occasion.. On the way out we couldn't resist and sample the Savinion lush grapes off the vine, the sweetest we ever tasted.
The road climbing up the mountain is very narrow, full of curves above vertical drops, and swamped with loaded cars and buses of tourists.
If you can overlook these hurdles , you are guaranteed to experience a stunning scenery.
The entire area from the beaches of Ponta de Formentor below, to the elongated narrow peninsula leading to the ridge of the Cape above, is a nature reservation park. .
The water at the bay below are most tranquil and crystal clear .
The strip beach is considered one of the best area for swimming, though the strip is wooded with Pine trees, it lacks sand, is very narrow. Also accessibility is not friendly..
There is one grand most elegant hotel " Barceleo Fermonter" with humongous amazing grounds. It is a bit st back, but within walking distance from the beach strip.
The stylish indoor areas, the external colorful variety of garden flowers, walking paths, and huge pool are a fantastic and a compensating bonus for the beach distance .
I would love to go back and stay there one day..
It is considered one of the more attractive places, especially to German tourists..
German was the only language heard there. And those on the beach, who used the language for communication seemed to be tourists of the middle- law class like the architecturally plain condominium and rental facility around, to accommodate them.
On the way back we briefly stop at Santa Margalida and Sinu, two small quint mountain villages, and made it on time for dinner back at Soller.
David got his Lechon - piglet -which was a great finale for an exciting long driving day.
Date: Sept 3rd/2015
Place: Port de Soller,
"Port de Soller" which is about 10 minutes away by car, and 30 minutes ride by the local old fashion tram used by most arriving tourists between Soller village to the beach Port.
Port of Solier is one of the most gorgeous small beach resort outlet.
It has a a marina for small size sail boats, and It is situated along a perfect small size almost full circle, of naturally tranquil sea -bay estuary.
It is surrounded by beautiful villas within the wooded hills rising above it.
This understated place reminded us of the Italian Portoffino without the glitz.
During the early morning walk, the place was so beautiful and peaceful, that we decided to search for an hotel availability, and ended stayed over for one night.
We had no other reservations for our stay beyond the first 4 nights.
There are not that many grand hotels in this small place. So after eliminating those below standard, and exercising an heavy duty bargaining, lowering the ludicrous prices tailored especially for the Nordic/Scandinavian clientele, we settled in the charming 4 **** "Esplendido" Spa Hotel.
Leading an hyper active schedule in the previous days, we enjoyed lazying out during the rest of the day, swimming in this most inviting calm and warm water, dipping at the Hotel Spa, snoozing on the beach chairs, and mostly taking in big gulps, the serene beauty of the place.
Late afternoon that day we drove to another close by village named Formalutx and thought we arrived at one of the version of the "Garden of Eden"
The village hangs down from a mountain ridge with stone houses in between most versatile lush vegetation. The lemon, olive trees and fig trees next to the home are grow on terraces, slopping all the way down, to the narrow valley below.
The village was celebrating some festival , so all its residents were outdoors, in the main street area, drinking wine and bear and listening from all musical instruments including Scotish pipes....
There were few restaurants set down the main road, but one, with an hanging balcony toward the view and full with dinners, caught especially our attention. After interviewing one of the eating guests - a British couple who for 8 years has been returning to the Island and having the greatest meal in this place, known for its simple but most delicious cooking, we were convinced as well.
We too had a wonderful dinner at:
Restaurant Ca N'antuna" - Cuina mallorquina, and celebrating our 41st. Wedding Anniversary - hard to believe..
Place : Back to Palma -
And on the six day the sky opened its chimneys and the rain came pouring down all nigh and then all day, showering huge barrels of water and turning the dried land into running streams and mud. The dark clouds which initially gathered over the sea, stead- fast traveled in land, and loomed like an army battalions, armed with mighty lightning and thunder, right over our heads. We were told it was very unusual summer weather. The airport was closed for hours. The tourists who were lucky to stay dry, were hotel arrested. It was the right timing to depart the sea-side, so we sadly left Port of Soller, and drove back to Palma. We stayed dried by visiting Palau de l'Almudaina Castel .
A private guide who was kindly offered by the museum was assigned just for us which made the tour much more special
Originally an Islamic fort, this mighty construction opposite the Cathedral, was converted into a residence for the Mallorcan monarchs at the end of the 13th century. The King of Spain resides here still, at least symbolically. The royal family is rarely in residence, except for the occasional ceremony, as they prefer to spend summer in the Palau Marivent (in Cala Major).
We wandered through a series of stone-walled rooms that were lavishly decorated by period furniture, paintings and gorgeous Flemish tapestry.
The Romans are said to have built a castrum (fort) here, possibly on the site of a prehistoric settlement. The Wālis (governors) of Muslim Mallorca altered and expanded the Roman fort, while Jaume I of Aragon and his successors modified it to such an extent, that little of the Muslim version remains.
The first narrow room you enter has a black-and-white ceiling, symbolizing the extremes of night and day, darkness and light. You then enter a series of three grand rooms. Notice the bricked-in Gothic arches cut off in the middle. Originally these three rooms were double their present height and formed one single great hall added to the original Arab fort and known as the Saló del Tinell (from an Italian word, tinello , meaning ‘place where one eats’): this was once a giant banqueting and ceremonial hall.
Other bare rooms and terrace belonged to the original Arab citadel.
In the main courtyard, or Patio de Armas , troops would line up for an inspection and parade before heading out into the city. The lion fountain in its center is one of the palace’s rare Arab remnants. On the second floor up the grand Royal Staircase are the royal apartments , a succession of lavishly appointed rooms on its beautiful coffer timber artesonado ceilings, whose centre-piece is the Saló Gòtic, the upper half of the former Saló del Tinell, where you can see those Gothic arches wind up. Next door to the apartments is the royal Capella de Sant’Anna , a Gothic chapel whose entrance is a very rare Mallorcan example of late Romanesque in rose and white marble.
After the death of Jaume III in 1349, no king lived here permanently again. The adjacent Queen Palace, has been closed to the public and has been used for administrative function. It is now going through renovations and will be opened, as well as a museum, some unknown time in the future. In the shadow of the Almudaina’s walls, along Avinguda d’Antoni Maura, is S’Hort del Rei -the King’s Garden originally created during the Muslim period. Eventually, later in the evening the rain pour weakened then it gradually stopped , so we ventured out for dinner, going back to the beach restaurant called Ola-del Mare at Cala Portixol which I earlier mentioned.
We were both less enamored with it this time. There is never like the First time - doing something...
Date: Sept 5th/2015
Place :Last visit Day in Palma The mini deluge storm was over by this morning, so we woke up to a bit cooler but clear blue sky sunny weather. Hotel Mirador which finally had a vacancy for the last 2 nights of our stay, and which we manged to book at the zero hour, into entering a weekend, was not that great, but it is in a good location, right on the water front promenade, and within a short walking distance to the city center.
It definitely served its purpose and since breakfast wasn't included, it saved me the extra calories which I also beastly devoured at the other higher-end hotels we stayed in, and where it was simply impossible to pass on such a morning feast. Our last day was designated for roaming around, shopping and packing which we dutifully executed in the above order. We walked from our hotel to a near by renovated neighborhood above Gavirial Roca road, in which quaint small low white houses are situated within the old city walls overlooking the bay. It reminded us of Neve Tzedek , but with looming old windmills and houses' top roofs I imagined were similar to those mentioned in the Don Quixote novel. David had to stock up on the Mercedes- brand quality Tuna Fish - his favorite diet item. So he raided the Eroski Supermarket (a local known chain) and cleaned the shelves off 100 Kg (more or less) of preserved Tuna in cans and glass jars. While at it, we got also some olive jars, gourmet olive oil and vinegar. That shopping operation exhausted us a bit as well as triggered our appetite,
After some rest we dined at TAST an excellent Tapas establishment off Passage Born right in the center.
Having a sweet tooth, I was delighted to stumble upon one of the best local Pandarie- Pasteleria named S' Estacia during our wondering the center's allies on c' Sindicato, and amply sampled fantastic cakes
Recharging on our energies with Tapas and cakes we were ready for El Corte Ingles the Spanish equivalent Bloomingdale.
We got few small electrical kitchen items for our TLV apartment, as well as added to the already existing collection of all other sizes, a glass Coffey press of onlyone cup size . At the Tax Free return desk, while filling out the paperwork for the airport, the Coffey press which was carelessly and loosely rapped unprotected in a small plastic beg, slipped down and shattered on the hard tile floor.
You would not believe the shitty customer service, and bureaucratic incompetence which wasted lengthily our time, and , Our efforts to either have the broken glass part be replaced or get a refund, for an item worth less then 20$ which was negligently spent. And worst the manager we encountered , who was in charge of this International Store serving mainly tourists all day, spoke zero English and was completely useless.
This incident exhausted my good will and I plan to never set a foot in this service bankrupted store. With all our additional acquisition loads , we had to also get another bag to fit it all.... The logistic of packing it all utilizing miles of Saran wrap technique to hold it all together intact and unraveled, preoccupied us for the rest of the stay. We were holding our fingers all the way on the flight back in hope that all makes it safely back home along with us.
Overall it was a fantastic trip we highly recommend minus the shopping...