| Day 1: Route of good Mediterranean customs|
|Knowing Mallorca in detail is a challenge even the Mallorcans themselves cannot boast about. Although they all faithfully love their island and are the first to sigh in satisfaction as they utter the traditional saying of “how well one lives in Mallorca,” the island’s residents are quite comfortable in their routines and it is quite difficult to make them abandon them. |
Ultimately, if you simply try living like them during your brief stay on the island, you will understand this perfectly: the daily customs of Mallorcans are a perfect combination of work, fun, culture, relaxation, good food and sport. With little room for stress and a sense of distance that has nothing to do with that in the rest of the world, a Mallorcan lives calmly, even if he or she lives right in the middle of the capital.
The first thing to do in order to understand what Mallorca and its people are like is to visit it in winter and forget about rushing. Here, rushing will lead you nowhere: the furthest you can get is at a maximum distance of an hour and a half by car… So take it easy.
Laze around in bed for as long as you can (you have earned it!), get up with a smile and have breakfast while enjoying the breeze of the sea, in some terrace near your hotel or apartment. Turn off your cell phone, take a book or newspaper and devote some time to your coffee. This being your first day on the island, do not hesitate to eat an ensaimada pastry. If you are with your children, they will love this. Oh, and you can even grant them the whim of combining it with a home-made ice-cream: yes, these are eaten in Mallorca throughout the whole year – even in winter – and they are delicious as well as very, very healthy.
In Palma you can enjoy them in the traditional manner, with the classical quarts or trading the ice-cream for hot chocolate, in Can Joan de S’Aigo, a very long-lived café right in the middle of the old part of the city. Other typical places for having breakfast in the capital include the Bar Bosch, the terraces by the sea of the Molinar… And if you would rather be outside the capital, there are no breakfasts like those of Valldemossa, with its homemade potato coca cake under the silhouette of the Real Cartuja, where Chopin lived.
Following a good injection of sugar, if they have a free day, Mallorcans are very fond of sport. The common thing to do in winter is book a tennis court, play football match with friends, join in a paddle surf class or a sailing course. There are excellent nautical schools all over the island but the most famous ones are that of Cala Nova, the S’Arenal Nautical Club, that of Port de Pollença, that of Alcúdia (it is here, in fact, that lovers of surf and kite surf meet on the windiest days of winter), Son Serra, Puerto Portals.
Outdoor sport stimulates one’s appetite. Therefore, after a bit of exercise, you will always see good Mallorcans go to a terrace, bar or tavern to have something in order to regain their strength. If you happen to be in the north of the island, the centre of Pollença or the walled old part of Alcúdia will serve as the perfect retreat for an aperitif. And since we are meant to pass unnoticed among the locals, a beer with some olivas trencades (literally, “broken olives”) are the indispensable classic.
If you happen to be in Palma, any of the municipal markets, such as that of the Olivar or of Santa Catalina or, in fact, the gastronomic Market of San Juan are all good options for this aperitif and a good starting point for doing some shopping in the afternoon. The most commercial streets are concentrated in the centre of the capital: Sant Miquel, Jaume III, Unió… But you can also take the car or the public transport and visit one of the major shopping centres and outlets in the outskirts of the capital. On rainy days, locals will often fall back on this alternative.
However, if instead of being in the city, you have decided to stay in the small towns of the part forana, you absolutely must pass by Inca, as in addition to an incredible handmade footwear industry, it also boasts a wide offer in fashion, decoration and accessories made in Mallorca. For dinner, both in the centre of Inca and in the nearby towns (Lloseta, Binissalem…), you will have multiple options of either traditional or international cuisine. Alternatively, one can simply do a tour of the cellars in the area for snacks and wine.
| Day 2: Serra de Tramuntana: Esporles, Valldemossa y Alaró|
|Whenever a Mallorcan has a free day in winter, especially on Saturdays or Sundays, one of the most common leisure activities is that of organising a trekking route through some town of the Serra de Tramuntana. The children will be able to enjoy playing in the open air, without any danger from cars and right in the middle of nature.|
Although temperatures are usually not extreme, it is cold in winter so you must leave conveniently equipped: polar lining, mountain trousers and jacket. And do not forget about your footwear. Walking through the forests and paths of the Tramuntana requires sneakers or mountain boots with a good grip.
The most recommendable excursion and picnic areas for either families with children and groups of friends are those at a short distance from Palma. Esporles is a good example as, in addition to being a town full of life at weekends, it is also one of the municipalities with the best trekking routes for families. It has signalled barbecue areas, equipped with tables and zones for making a barbecue with absolute safety, and the sole difficulty is that of finding a place. Getting up early is key in these cases.
Valldemossa is another of the natural zones of the Serra that is crossed by paths suited for the whole family. The most popular for going with children is the Camí del Arxiduc. This is a circular excursion lasting about an hour and a half but it is not necessary to do it in full. The ideal thing, if you are going with children, is turning round before reaching the halfway mark, having a picnic con panades (pies) and vegetable coca cakes and returning to the centre of the town, where you will eventually recover your strength with a good dessert consisting of the traditional potato coca cake and hot chocolate or almond shake.
If you prefer to make the excursion and then go straight to a restaurant to have dinner in the purest Mallorcan style, Alaró has everything: the route for going up to its castle is one of the most emblematic in Mallorca, not only for the beauty of its countryside and estate but also because, from this vantage point, you will have one of the best aerial views of the Pla of the island and, further away, of the bay of Palma. Do not forget to bring your camera as the views here are truly spectacular.
On the route to the Castle d’Alaró, prior to initiating the climb through the forest, there is an area for parking one’s car, next to the restaurant. People eat there at a large shared table, in the midst of a family-like, rustic atmosphere, as if they were in an old Mallorcan “possession” estate. And the menu is composed of traditional dishes: snails, pa amb oli (bread with oil), roast suckling pig, fried apple dish, loin with cabbage… Pure winter gastronomy.
| Day 3: A brief trip to the South seas|
|Another of the Mallorcans’ winter retreats on their free days is the South. The coastline beaches that bathe the municipalities of Campos and Santanyí make the ideal location for a day outdoors, discovering the true beauty of the most virginal coves on the island. If you have visited this zone in summer, when you arrive there in this time of year, you will be surprised: the waters of the Mediterranean are crystalline, calmly caressing the sands of the totally empty beaches, while everything around this is almost fluorescent greenery. |
Get up early in the morning to take advantage of the day: just remember that daylight hours in winter are few and that mornings are the best moment for discovering nature in all of its splendour. If you travel down south from Palma, the car route will allow you to see the Mallorcan countryside at its best.
The plan we suggest will take you straight to the Colònia de Sant Jordi. From this fishing town, one of the great summer classics among Mallorcans, you will be able to start the trekking route through the interweaving beaches until reaching the spectacular cape of Ses Salines. There, in the south end of the isle, you will find the reward for your efforts.
You do not need much equipment for this excursion as the terrain is very comfortable for walking calmly, even if you are wearing urban sneakers. You will always go along the sea through a narrow path that joins the beaches. The whole round trip is of 19 km. Fill the rucksack with a good snack composed of brown bread, sobrasada sausage, Mahón cheese, camaiot cold cuts… And for dessert, cream and chocolate cremadillo pies, which are one of the favourite dishes among the locals. You will find them in any bakery of the island at economic prices.
If you do the tour calmly, you will be back at sunset. The perfect time for enjoying a delicious early dinner in the Colònia de Sant Jordi. You will find various restaurants during your walk on the beach, some of them with traditional food, others with international fusions. They all offer interesting menus, with various prices. If you arrive early, it is best for you to try out some specialty of the area such as caldoso rice or the infallible pa amb oli. Since this is also the slaughter season, it is also a good chance to become acquainted with the wide variety of pork products eaten in Mallorca, ranging from traditional cold cuts to Mallorcan frito.