Mallorca, Spain is the largest of four Balearic islands (including Ibiza, Menorca, and Formentera) in the Mediterranean Sea. If you have heard of it, it is likely as a beach destination especially popular with German and British holiday makers; or, maybe you are familiar with the classic book by the French author, George Sand, called “A Winter in Majorca,” in which she describes a miserable stay in the hilly village of Valldemossa with her children, and her lover, the ailing and tubercular composer, Frederic Chopin. I knew of this destination from stories my parents, brother, and sister told me, of their visit almost 30 years ago, when I was left behind in California as a busy, high school student. I was made jealous by tales of waterparks, magical caves twinkling with lights, and pristine beaches with warm, azure water.
Our family’s opportunity to visit arose serendipitously, springing out of the generosity of a German friend. When we were traveling in Udaipur, India, and my beloved iPhone dropped into the murky waters of its polluted lake, Peter was the first to try and assuage our pain with a numbing glass of whiskey. This act of commiseration cemented a friendship that has continued to this day. He made it his duty to banish our negative thoughts and misdirected blame toward the spirit of a place, by sharing with us his favorite restaurants and rooftop swimming pools, and introducing us to expat friends who expounded on the charms of Udaipur. Peter visited us in Portland, where we shared our plans to move to Spain. He convinced us that we must see Mallorca, as guests in his finca (a modest cottage on agricultural land). Unfortunately, he was not present at the time of our travels, but he opened his home to us, for our 10-day sojourn.
Here is a sample of where we roosted in relative peace, listening to the clanking of sheep and goat bells, the crescendo of cicadas, the deep purr of a orange, creamsicle-colored cat, and the cawing of a male peacock in heat. Dan watered Peter’s garden in the cooler evenings or still mornings, with a coffee cup in hand, and we dined alfresco, testing out familiar recipes with Mallorcan products, like their soft and flavorful, sobrasada sausage. The kids explored the brush, hunting for turtles and collecting peacock plumes. It was idyllic despite the pesky mosquitos and the carnivorous wasps.
Mallorca is gorgeous, but for Dan, this beauty verged on torture. This was no vacation for a man who had to work. While the kids and I frolicked in waves, he sat in a co-working office, lashed to his computer screen, by the invisible but very real chain of “adult responsibility.” Despite my and the kid’s clear advantage, I can still grumble about the circumstances. Since we were too cheap to rent an automatic car (which I could drive), or pay the exorbitant daily fees for a second driver, we were at the mercy of Dan as chauffeur. If we did not want to be trapped in the countryside for an entire day, we would have to choose a single destination where Dan would drop us off, between 2-3PM, then wait for his pick-up by 8PM. Trust me when I say that this is a very, long time to be stranded on a beach, no matter how lovely.
This post will focus on all of those strips of sand that we explored, saving the civilized towns and sights for another post. I start with the beach, as most visitors do, because this is THE calling card of Mallorca. Before I gut and slay those land-locked readers with images of sloth-filled playas, let me share a description of the Mediterranean Sea as written by George Sand. She was dazzled by a vista: “It is one of those views that completely overwhelm one, for it leaves nothing to be desired and nothing to the imagination. All that a poet or a painter might dream of, Nature has created here.” Basically, the Mallorcan coast is perfection. Enjoy.
Can Picafort, the land of sun packages:
Cala Major in Palma, where all the pretty city people go:
Cala Millor (the kid’s favorite beach for its wind and waves. I loved the boardwalk sculptures):
Playas Illetes (I found these beaches, which include the one at the head of this post, to be the most photogenic, but the kids did not like the crowds, calm waters, or kissing couples):
These are views of the stunning Northwest coastline as we traveled from Banyalbufar to the Mirador de Ricardo Rosa. We ate grilled and salted padron peppers and seafood paella at the cliffside Restaurante Es Grau, before finally getting wet at Playa De Camp De Mar in the Southwest:
Some more ugly beaches, starting with a view of Cala Figuera, then an actual swim at Platja de Formentor (both along the majestic Peninsula de Formentor), ending with Port de Soller and its topless scenery:
Another long afternoon with battling children at Son Moll near Capdepera:
Our last morning at the nearest beach in S’Estanyol bay, and least crowded of those we visited. This also marked Stella and Gabriel’s first nudist beach: