Soft stones at Posada Terra Santa
First day, 12:30 p.m. – How delightful it feels to wander freely in my leather sandals on the airport's smooth and shiny floor. I dreamt of these ivory beaches surrounded by clear waters for so long, my bare feet leaving an ephemeral trace, soon to be washed by the sea. A few minutes on a taxi and I enter the Posada Terra Santa. As a 16th century manor located in the heart of the old town, this very private address urges me into a personal apartment, elegant right to the secular stones used to build the walls.
I'm restless and eager to discover this old port city, once coveted by the Roman Empire, Vandals and even Vikings. I carelessly drop my suitcase on a soft and cosy bed and then plunge the tip of my toes in the heated swimming pool of the hotel terrace, from which I can make the silhouette of the Sant Francesc Basilica and the Santa María Cathedral.
Posada Terra Santa
Carrer de la Posada de Terra Santa, 5
07001 Palma de Mallorca
+34 971 21 47 42
Her Majesty, the Santa María Cathedral
5:30 p.m. – A masterwork of Gothic style, this colossus was built over four centuries. It is 44 metres high under the arched ceiling, 121 metres long and 55 metres large. Under the impetus of King of Aragon James I the Conqueror, construction started in 1229 where the great mosque of Madina Mayurqa stood, the building being consecrated 117 years later. Famous Majorca artist Guillem Sagrera finished it in the mid 1500s, and it was restored early in the 20th century by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. Striking a majestic pose, it overlooks the Palma bay and reveals its brilliance to all inhabitants when daylight fades. As I gaze at the beauty of the structure, taller than Medieval fortifications, the visit ends and I feel at peace listening to silence.
Catedral de Santa María de Palma de Mallorca
Plaça de la Seu
07001 Palma de Mallorca
+34 902 02 24 45
Royal dance at the Almudaina
6:30 p.m. – Standing in front of La Seu, the Royal Palace of Almudaina took on its current shape in the 13th century where a Moorish Alcazar stood. After the foundation of Palma the Roman in 123 BC, a fortress was erected here in the 10th century and transformed into a princely residence under the Umayyad caliphate of Cordoba. This hidalgo residence has been home to the King and Queen of Spain during their visits to the Balearic Islands, since Philip II of Spain. A true concentrate of Majorcan history between Mudéjar style and Levantine gothic architecture, the citadel overlooks the city with a few luxuriant palm trees standing in front. I take a last glance over my shoulder and slowly move away from the monument, attracted by the scents of Sumaq.
Palau de la Almudaina
Carrer del Palau Reial, s/n
07001 Palma de Mallorca
+34 971 21 41 34
Sumaq, when Peru meets Japan
8:00 p.m. – I leave the Plaça de la Seu, resolute to reach Palma's heights. Originally from Cusco, the capital of the Incas in the heart of the Andes, Chef Irene Gutiérrez established herself as an ambassador of Nikkei gastronomy in Mallorca. Ceviche was born from the strong Japanese immigration in Peru at the end of the 19th century. It is enriched with soy sauce, sesame or wasabi that subtly softens the lime.
The Sumaq, nestled in the Santa Catalina district, offers a dozen different types and combinations around the Peruvian national dish. With a glass of Verdejo in hand, I try a secuencia de ceviches de pescado after a causa de pulpo al olivo tomato stuffed potato, avocado and octopus, all topped with Peruvian olive cream. The night is cool, and I walk back to my room a happy camper.
Carrer de Cotoner, 44
07013 Palma de Mallorca
+34 696 52 67 58
Far and beyond at the Castell de Bellver
Day two, 7:30 a.m. – From the Bosc de Bellver, the eponymous castle watches over Palma's peaceful nights, barely interrupted by the sound of the surf... I swallow a cafe con leche and discreetly find may way outside. I'm set on climbing up that hill, covered in pine trees, where the Castell de Bellver reigns supreme.
A surprising circular Gothic fortress, it became home to James II of Mallorca when peace was secured between his kingdom and the crown of Aragon in the 14th century. Only a couple of miles away from the historic centre, it has become a very important museum of archaeology, painting and numismatics. Its dungeon and gigantic arms' courtyard are complemented by a secondary area built around a well, concealed by roman statues gifted by Cardinal Antonio Despuig y Dameto.
Castell de Bellver
Carrer Camilo José Cela, s/n
07014 Palma de Mallorca
+34 971 73 50 65
Primitive harmony at La Serra de Tramuntana
10 a.m. – Late sleepers only start to invade the castle and squeeze under the stone arcades. As I'm looking for a wilder and more rustic side of Mallorca, I push on a few miles further west. The northern wind blows into the Gulf of Lions, giving its name to the Serra de Tramuntana: filled with endemic species, this almost 5,000 feet high area is subject to heavy rain, in stark contrast with the arid climate of most of the island.
For the time being, I walk around the GR 221 marked path, still in the dry. I meet many hikers along the Massanella and Galatzó Puigs. Their protruding thighs show how tough the walk can get, but one can make out a growing euphoria by the look of the smile on their faces.
Inca market, wild yet refined
12:30 a.m. – Back to the Majorcan civilisation. I reach Inca, an autonomous community whose name goes back to a time when the city was under Muslim rule. There, the monastery of Sant Bartomeu rubs shoulders with the former convent of Sant Domingo and the Santa María la Mayor church. The covered market will soon close, but I find some time to walk the aisles, between various stands, full of figurines or handcrafted jewellery, and a wine cellar turned restaurant. I also take advantage to enjoy a few dishes of Mediterranean flavours. Inca is famed for its leather industry and I drag on around the various outlets. I find the products to be incredibly appealing and enchanting: I give a thorough inspection to jackets, bags and tanned accessories, all giving out a delicious scent.
Avinguda Gran Vía Colon
+34 971 50 57 45
Fornalutx, of rock and rust
3:00 p.m. – As I was lazing around the market a few hours prior, I chatted with a young lady who told me in basic yet charming English that I should absolutely go out of my way to one of the most beautiful villages of Spain.
Perched on a northern hill of Mallorca, Fornalutx is a medieval village entirely made of stone. Wearing a long flower-patterned dress, I go from typical houses to craggy streets, freshen up at thousand-year old fountains and whirl around ochre and honey-looking cobblestones. This genuine and picturesque place enthrals and wins you over. My eyes are wide open as I come closer to Ca n'Arbona, the current city hall, and then feel overwhelmed with beauty in front of many ancient stately homes – Casa d'Amunt, Bàlitx Inn, Ca'n Xandre, Ca'n Ballester and Ca ' N Bisbal.
In the mood for food at El Tapas de Flanigan
5:00 p.m. – Made of water and stone, Palma de Mallorca's city centre is now effervescent and the streets are filled with children shouting and cheerful chatter. El Tapas de Flanigan's open kitchen gives off fascinating Catalan aromas that I catch as far as Passeig Mallorca. Irremediably attracted, I seat outside at a bistro table, unable to hold back my voracious hunger.
The tavern brilliantly serves all kinds of traditional tapas, from fried fish and beans to squids, grilled pepper, cold meats and clams. Looking like a modern sailor's lair, the restaurant actually expresses Spain's culinary essence. And at the time of day when the sun sets softly over the sea, I enjoy a panna cotta with fruit pulp and cleanse my palate with a last sip of white Ribas.
El Tapas de Flanigan
Passeig de Mallorca, 20
07012 Palma de Mallorca
+34 971 67 90 17
Es Trenc, Palma's undomesticated land
7:30 p.m. – My stay in Palma is almost over. I have to check in tomorrow at 1:30 p.m., and therefore have some more time for a last visit in the cosmopolitan capital, surrounded with bays and secret coves. South of Palma, Es Trenc is the last non-built sandbank of the region. Sheltered by dunes and pine trees, a few men and women practice naturism with no hassle. As for me, I'd rather stay clothed.
Crystal clear waters cover the white sandy area, my feet leaving ephemeral shapes on the soft ground. I walk on the beach for a few minutes that actually feel like hours. I lost track of time. The gracefulness of this preserved piece of land monopolizes my senses. As the day fades into sweet obscurity, I remember Joan Miró's words: “Majorca is poetry and light”. And I can promise you I'll be back soon.
Fusion cuisine at Canela
8:30 p.m. – Before I leave, I finally improvise a last minute dinner at Canela, a restaurant that displays a pretty wooden terrace, shoplike front and a room decorated like a Parisian bistro. I browse through the exceptional menu and go for soft shell crab tempura served with spicy sweet melon salad, followed by Alaska Black Cod with Cambodian spices. Pre-flight melancholy eventually disappears when a hot-cold raspberry and dark chocolate dessert reaches me. What a way to end this beautiful trip!
Carrer Sant Jaume, 13
07012 Palma de Mallorca
+34 971 71 03 14