A Travellerspoint blog

Spain

Pascua en Mallorca

Rafa's refuge and Skase's last stand

sunny 20 °C

Taking the punt that Easter would bring some better weather - at least to more southern climes - we booked a week on the Spanish island of Mallorca. Lisa suggested that perhaps we could party on with the young 'uns at neighbouring Ibiza, but I knocked that one on the head after she took three days to recover from a 40th birthday party in London!

A straightforward Ryanair flight (100 mins give or take) plonked us down at Palma de Mallorca Airport, and when we emerged from gate 87 (of 99), it reinforced just how significant tourism is to this Balearic island. As a comparison, Bologna Airport - servicing a population of 400,000 - only has 19 boarding gates. Anyway, expat taxi driver Adrian shuttled us across to the east coast of the island (55 kms), and dropped us at our resort Club Pollentia. It turned out to be a really nice, well-run establishment with excellent staff, and predominantly German and British guests. It has also gained a positive reputation amongst the (amateur) cycling fraternity, so every morning after breakfast there was a sea of lycra out the front as group after group of pretty fit 25-55 year olds set off for some serious peddling (this was slightly disconcerting as we headed back to the breakfast buffet for our second serve of pancakes).

LPH out the front of Club Pollentia (sporting the new haircut)

LPH out the front of Club Pollentia (sporting the new haircut)


the common sight of (pretty fit) cyclists whizzing past the resort - Port de Pollenca in the background

the common sight of (pretty fit) cyclists whizzing past the resort - Port de Pollenca in the background

The resort had a lovely pool out the back (that was freezing), but thankfully also a spa pool which was heated that the kids loved. It was here that we met a family from Northern Ireland who turned out to be good fun, and all five girls got on famously. They were travelling on the 'all inclusive' package, so Anthony kindly shouted drinks on a couple of days from 11:30am onwards!

pool party - clockwise: Nat, Megan, Gabi, Mir (Anna out of picture)

pool party - clockwise: Nat, Megan, Gabi, Mir (Anna out of picture)


Mir and Gabi became good mates

Mir and Gabi became good mates


Irish eyes are smiling! Anthony and Ann were entertaining company

Irish eyes are smiling! Anthony and Ann were entertaining company

Club Pollentia was located a few kilometres from Port de Pollenca (to the west) and Alcudia (to the east). We ventured into Port de Pollenca one evening for a stroll and dinner, and enjoyed the laid-back vibe. An Englishwoman at the resort mentioned that (Sir) Bradley Wiggins has an apartment in town, and uses it as a training base; seems to be an effective strategy with victory in last year's Tour De France. The conversation was interesting because it transpired that she had won a silver medal behind Kathy Watt at the 1990 Auckland Commonwealth Games.

Port de Pollenca ... pre-dinner play

Port de Pollenca ... pre-dinner play


Port de Pollenca ... La Balada del Agua del Mar - a mouthful but worth tracking down

Port de Pollenca ... La Balada del Agua del Mar - a mouthful but worth tracking down

We had all planned to make a day trip to the capital Palma de Mallorca, but Gabi was a bit off-colour, so Nat and I jumped on the local bus and headed back west to take a peek. Outside of the centre Palma is a bit of a sprawling mess - a great shame given the lovely bay - but the centro has plenty of treats including the stunning Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma. After a couple of hours spent wandering and having lunch, we then caught another bus just out of town to see the Palma Aquarium, then reversed the journey to arrive back at the resort in time for dinner.

street theatre in Palma - this time the guitar playing puppet

street theatre in Palma - this time the guitar playing puppet


Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma

Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma


no seals in sight, so Nat was lucky to get Sammy face-painted

no seals in sight, so Nat was lucky to get Sammy face-painted


whoever coined the phrase 'toothy grin' was right on the money!

whoever coined the phrase 'toothy grin' was right on the money!


that glass thick enough Nat?

that glass thick enough Nat?


posted this for the delicious irony ... no doubt it is a thriving practice

posted this for the delicious irony ... no doubt it is a thriving practice

The last couple of days were relaxing affairs, with an evening visit to delightful Alcudia (as opposed to the soulless Port de Alcudia), and an afternoon spent at Cala de Sant Vicenc. CdSV - around 15 mins from Pollenca - is one of those beautiful little coves you occasionally stumble across in the Mediterranean, and subsequently dream of buying a seaside apartment and opening a gelateria or taverna ...

Plaza de la Constitucion in the Roman town of Alcudia

Plaza de la Constitucion in the Roman town of Alcudia


paella at last! Bistro 1909 didn't disappoint

paella at last! Bistro 1909 didn't disappoint


Cala de Sant Vicenc ... slice of aquatic heaven

Cala de Sant Vicenc ... slice of aquatic heaven


Lisa Penelope with sun and caffe = contentment

Lisa Penelope with sun and caffe = contentment


little wonder Rafa Nadal still calls Mallorca home

little wonder Rafa Nadal still calls Mallorca home

Whilst under no illusion that Mallorca would be as feral as any other popular Mediterranean coastal destination in July and August, it was lovely to experience it at a quieter time with some pleasant weather to boot.
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Posted by happellfamily12 04:11 Archived in Spain Tagged mallorca palma balearic pollenca alcudia Comments (0)

It's all Spanish to me

A photographers paradise (300+ shots taken)

semi-overcast 14 °C

Once again we chanced it with Ryanair for our trip to Seville. When the prices are cheap and it flies from Bologna the choice is semplice. However the lack of allocated seating slows down boarding, especially when the reluctant staff have to shuffle around even more reluctant passengers so children can (unfortunately!) sit with their parents.

We arrived in Seville at about 5pm and it was lovely to shrug off our coats, hats and gloves and enjoy the comparitively warm temperature of 14 degrees. It was (just) warm enough for us to sit outside for dinner on a roof top terrace overlooking the Guadalquivir river. We took our chances with the menu and somehow managed to order the right dishes despite our very limited Spanish.

dinner al fresco

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The next morning was a late start and a café con leche in the local Plaza Duque de la Victoria (not as good as Italian coffee - probably due to the lack of fresh milk) had our tour guide taking us to our first sight.

tour guide and conversation in the plaza

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A walk along the streets and we soon found our way to Seville Cathedral & La Giralda - the largest church in the world with an Islamic Minaret. After 500 years of Islamic culture Seville was reconquered by Christian forces, therefore much of Moorish culture can still be seen in the buildings. The Cathedral and La Giralda are stunning both from the inside and outside with a magnificent courtyard that adds to its beauty. It is easy to walk to the top of La Giralda because of the sloping floor, which was built this way so the muezzin could ride his horse to the top for the call to prayer.

La Giralda and Cathedral

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After our climb to the top it was time for lunch and we found one of the restaurants that Pedro (our apartment owner) had recommended. At 2pm we still had to put our name on the wait list. However we were shortly seated at a table and enjoying a range of excellent tapas, the restaurant buzzing with locals and the lovely staff managing keeping people happy with quick service. At 3.30pm when we departed the queue was even longer then when we arrived! Late meals are definitely the trend in Seville.

tapas lunch

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Feeling sluggish from all the food we slowly walked towards one of the University buildings (Fabrica Real de Tabacos - as the name suggests an old cigar factory immortalised in the opera Carmen) then on to Plaza de Espana. This plaza was built in 1929 for the Ibero-American Exposition. It is magnificent because it is almost completely covered in gorgeous glazed tiles depicting historic moments from the 40 regions of Spain. For Star Wars buffs it was used as a set in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. The children loved playing here and in the Parque de Maria Luisa gardens nearby ... Gabi declaring that she loved Seville! I think the kids have been a bit deprived of greenery and parks in Bologna, plus the warmer weather certainly was a bonus. A walk back along the river and an ice-cream (not quite Italian standard) then a rest before dinner at 8pm. This time the taberna was just up the road from our Airbnb apartment. This Michelin star restaurant (Dos de Mayo) provided us with another wonderful dining experience, and when a family of four is fed for 35 euro we continue to thank our lucky travel stars.

Plaza de Espana

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Dos de Mayo

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The dry weather was not to last however and on Tuesday the rain was heavy. This resulted in a purchase of gumboots for the kids (I think I found the most expensive ones in Spain), however they proved to be invaluable over the next few days. Dan enjoyed some time off in the morning while the kids and I did some shopping. We then met up at Las Columnas, another brilliant tapas bar. The place had plenty of atmosphere and we managed to squeeze onto a tiny table. Our lack of Spanish was again a drawback, so Dan did the obvious thing and left it up to the waiter! After lunch we visited Real Alcazar; this amazing palace complex is a series of beautiful rooms, magnificent gardens and courtyards. The complex has many architectural influences but mostly it is the result of Pedro 1 (1350-69) who rebuilt it as a place of retreat for himself and his mistress.

Real Alcazar

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Our final tour of the day was to La Maestranza; one of Spain’s most famous bull-fighting rings. The ring and the museum were interesting and gave an excellent insight into this controversial but important Spanish tradition. We all did feel very sorry for the poor old bulls however.

La Maestranza

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Our plans for Wednesday were changed as a three-hour train ride to Granada (and back) with a 5am start was not so appealing. The shorter 45 minute trip on the fast train to Cordoba was the preferred option. Cordoba is a magnificent city set on a beautiful wide river with plenty of gardens. Our first visit was to La Mezquita (The Great Mosque). This amazing building has rows and rows of variegated columns and arches that are supposed to be like date palms. Unfortunately there is a massive cathedral placed in its centre constructed in the 16th century. According to the guide books Emperor Carlos deeply regretted his decision and it certainly is ugly compared to the beautiful flow of the columns.

Cordoba highlights

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Other highlights of Cordoba included a walk through the narrow white-washed streets of the old Jewish neighbourhood (La Juderia). Lunch followed in a little courtyard where the children were serenaded by a Spanish guitarist, and then a stroll across the Rio Guadalquivir on a magnificent arched bridge with Roman foundations. However for the children the highlight was playing in an amazing children’s park set on the hilltop with over 30 pieces of play equipment ... a far cry from our sad and sorry park in Bologna.

During our final day and a half in Seville we managed to visit Museo de Bellas Artes, Casa de Pilotos, and take in a free show of flamenco dancing that started at 11pm - a bit late for some! Also an enjoyable walk through Barrio de Triana, a quarter once home to Seville’s gypsies that is well known for it beautiful ceramics. We topped off the day with lunch at Dos de Mayo ... this time I'm sure our lack of Spanish resulted in a plate of crumbed brains rather than crumbed fish ... best not to think too hard about it!

final Seville photos

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We arrived home in Bologna to a foot of snow - what a contrast.

Bologna

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Posted by happellfamily12 01:40 Archived in Spain Tagged seville and cordoba Comments (0)

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