Having most of the day to kill before boarding our early evening flight from Palma to the UK, we decided to drive over the mountainous roads and death-defying curves from Puerto Pollensa straight into Palma.

If you have a competent driver with you, I would say it’s a must-do. If you don’t, I imagine you’d rather stay as close to sea level as possible. I was in panic sweats every time something bigger than a bicycle drove towards us.

In all its beauty and terror, the drive into Palma was nothing compared to the city itself. Palma is an interesting one; as the capital city of the autonomous Balearic Islands, it is equal parts historical and tourism-crazed. As you enter the city, you are welcomed by the gargantuan gothic Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma (commonly referred to as La Seu), only to turn a corner filled with street musicians and souvenir shops.

Palma is…rampant. And gorgeous. But mostly rampant.

After quelling all short-lived tourism desires, we spent the rest of our day be-bopping around the backstreets, consuming as much sobrassada and espresso as our bodies could handle, and getting harassed by persistent ‘designer’ bag street salesmen.

It’s been a beautiful journey, Mallorca.

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paddleboarding mallorca
Paddleboarding day was a day of relatively below par photos. As an apology to everyone who expects more from the blog: here….here is a death-defying gif of The Manfriend jumping off some caves.

Deciding it wasn’t a good idea to take my beloved SLR into the ocean while paddleboarding, the photos you see here are courtesy of a GoPro (and in honour of one of the fellow boarder’s GoPro, which now lives at the bottom of the ocean).

Long story short, paddleboarding – or surface water surfing with a stick – is an amazing workout, lots of fun, and gives you the chance to explore secluded beaches and caves that are impossible to reach by land. There are only a few things I advise:

Wear a hat and high-factor, waterproof SPF. Hanging out in direct sun for three hours makes you a prime target for sunburn.
Fuel up. I wasn’t hungry enough to have a full breakfast, so ended up with low blood sugar half way through paddleboarding. While we’re not all diabetic, much of the group got exhausted after an hour or two. A little extra fuel will go a long way.
Water. It’s an elongated workout in the sun. Hydration is essential. Take a bottle and hide it in your board’s netting.
Be sensible when exploring. We were fortunate to have very experienced guides, but I still ended up with battered legs from rock climbing around the caves. If you’re cliff diving, rock climbing, or swimming without your board, make sure you’ve checked the area.
Use your paddles the right way round. I spent a good thirty minutes frustrated that I wasn’t moving as fast as anyone else.

Having realised we hadn’t taken any obligatory ‘family outfit photos’, we decided to snap a few before we headed off for our final meal that evening. Obviously, regardless of great intentions, the photos ended up being completely out of focus (the un-cropped versions show beautiful detail on the pool water).

I think they might be my favourite photos, anyway.

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paddleboarding mallorca
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pollensa town
The first of two trips to Pollensa Town (or ‘Old Town Pollensa’) was for a leisurely grocery run at the Pollensa Town Market. Though the Sunday market is said to be in its peak in the late morning hours, we found that the square was bustling throughout the afternoon. In addition to the fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses and flowers concentrated in the square, the outskirts were dotted with everything from three euro bras to ‘Rooibos Cannabis’ tea (which none of us dared to sample). Culturally, it was a lovely experience. There was definitely a large number of locals milling around, playing music and doing their weekly shop, which was lovely to see in such an attractive destination.

On our return – a few evenings later – we decided to tackle the 365 Calvari steps. I would call them a step and a half, each. The long steps lead to the Chapel of Calvari (Eglesia del Calvari) and offer the most beautiful views of the city below. In fact, I found the process of turning back towards the city to take photos and admiring the quaint homes that lined the steps more enjoyable than the view from the top.

Pollensa. Mission: accomplished.

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food in mallorca
The food in Mallorca was a bit of a surprise to me. Though I didn’t really take a moment to consider what it would be like until I arrived, it soon became clear that I would be surrounded by seafood and tapas.

As a semi-Floridian, this was not a problem.

Now, for a round of mini restaurant reviews:

Restaurante Bodega Can Ferra, Puerto Pollensa
can ferra
On our first evening, we dusted the flight from our heads and headed for Puerto Pollensa to scout out an English-friendly restaurant with more Spanish patrons than tourists (the best thing to do to avoid tourist traps when travelling with a group that primarily speaks English). We lucked out at the slightly hidden Restaurante Bodega Can Ferra; jugs of rich Sangria, a mountain of moreish mussels, paella that could feed an entire town (when only ordered for two), and street-side seats to take in the sea air. If it wasn’t for my unwillingness to eat the same place twice when on holiday, I would have returned.

Stay Restaurant, Puerto Pollensa
stay mallorca
Stay was a funny one. Based on good reviews and its dockside location, we ended up dining here for double birthday celebrations.

The service was dire.

A shame, because the food (when it was finally ordered) turned out to be worthy of its reviews. Starting with beef carpaccio with a segue into sea-scallops and prawns marseillaise with saffron sauce, I essentially ate my dream meal.

It is one I would eat again, but would almost prefer making for myself so I didn’t have to deal with the pushy, confused ‘service’ of the restaurant itself.

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stay mallorca puerto pollensa
stay mallorca puerto pollensa

Quince, Porto Cristo
quince porto cristo
Quince is hidden treasure. After the Caves of Drach, we drove to the nearby town of Porto Cristo to soak in some sun and grab a bite to eat.

Quince is nestled in the far corner of Carrer Veri, and it is well worth ignoring the aromas of the restaurants you pass to get there.

Infatuated with great service and the intoxication of its surrounding seafront, we shared a pot of guacamole dip with lime, cheddar cheese, creme fraiche and fresh tortilla crackers while we waited for our mains. It quickly set the tone for a wave of fresh and flavourful dishes: everything from ‘Mamas tomato salad’ (with red onions, goat’s cheese, and a fine herb dressing) to homemade spaghetti (with tomato sauce, meatballs, parmesan, and basil). For myself? A leaf-heavy Caesar salad with parmesan, anchovies, croutons and sliced chicken – the best I’ve ever had.

quince porto cristo
quince porto cristo
quince porto cristo
quince porto cristo
quince porto cristo

S’illot, Alcudia
sillot alcudia
Unfortunately, S’illot comes with another record of bad service. We chose to have lunch here after a full-on morning of paddleboarding having spotted it from the ocean, nestled a short drive away from where we had parked the car.

The only explanation for the service? I simply think they wanted to stay hidden. After a few loud English/American/sexist insults shouted between kitchen and manager (how bizarre it is to assume that speaking to my partner in English means I won’t understand Spanish), we decided to stick around.

They did a solid pa amb oli, an extravagant iced latte, had an adorable stray cat knocking around, and beautiful views. But I wouldn’t return.

sillot alcudia
sillot alcudia
sillot alcudia
sillot alcudia

Port 31, Puerto Pollensa
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The pièce de résistance! On our last evening it was my job to pick the restaurant and – taking the role much more seriously than one should – I spent a good ten minutes staring at diner’s reactions to the food on their tables along Puerto Pollensa.

It’s a faff, but a faff that paid off.

Port 31 does exquisite tapas. No-one was particularly interested in the ‘set tapas’ menu (which was great value, but quite starchy), so we shared a bottle of house white and ordered everything a la carte. Choosing two tapas plates each, our table was soon taken over by a range of unique and faultless dishes. From tuna tartare to mozzarella and tomato skewers to truffled foie gras ravioli (I can’t even…), everything had a flourish and attention to detail that was just completely unexpected for an unassuming tapas joint. I only dream of finding a restaurant that could recreate this experience in the UK.

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formentor mallorca
While in Mallorca, the gang and I were all so excited to explore the island that we got into the habit of waking up at highly unreasonable hours. I mean, seafood and sunbathing at the crack of dawn? Aint nobody got time for that.

Instead, we filled our mornings with activities. One of our first was a hike into the clouds of Formentor.

Formentor – especially the ‘Cap de Formentor’ in peninsula’s Eastern end – is postcard perfect. Starting with 13.5km of winding roads that defy all safety and logic, the peninsula’s lookout points are the real attraction. Though many tourists take the curves and bends straight to the beach or lighthouse, the Mirador del Mal Pas is the all-encompassing ‘destination’.

From Mirador del Mal Pas’ dizzying heights and even more dizzying drops down (this virtual view can’t possibly encompass the fear you feel when a gust of wind blows through the rocks), you actually start to feel very ready for a trip back down to the beach.

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