One of the things I try to do as a traveller is keep a really open mind about destinations, and visit with as few pre-conceptions as possible. I know for example that many people have the wrong idea about Rhodes, which is actually one of my favourite islands in Greece; but even I’ve avoided visiting Ayia Napa, Benidorm and Magaluf – or, for that matter, the entire island of Majorca/Mallorca.
Until, that is, last Friday when we were on our first cruise around the Spanish coast. I really wasn’t expecting very much at all from our first port of call, Palma de Mallorca; I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Our day trip began with a trip to a famous vineyard, Macià Batle. Now I don’t drink wine – ever; an allergy to sulfites means I can’t tolerate it at all (I can just about do carbonated – Champagne and Prosecco, unfortunately for anyone buying my drinks – but I struggle with Cava or anything else); so obviously, ordinarily a tour of a vineyard wouldn’t have been high on my list of things to do. But it was actually fascinating.
We learned all about how the grapes are selected and fermented…
…and then we were taken into the cellars to learn more about how it all works, and how to select wine (and why 2012 was a seriously bad year for all wine, apparently. Don’t say I didn’t tell you.)
…we also learned a bit about what goes in to label design (Gilbert and George are among the artists who have designed labels for Macià Batle).
How pretty do these bottles look?
Then it was time for some serious wine tasting; I stuck to water and enjoyed the proliferation of flavoured balsamic vinegars mixed wth olive oil and olive pates which were on offer instead.
I couldn’t resist though buying a jar of blackberry balsamic vinegar to bring home with me – isn’t it a gorgeous bottle? And the vinegar is such a fab colour.
Then it was on to the centre of Palma, and right away I knew I was going to love it. Wide boulevards, palm trees – it reminded me a bit of a town in California…
…and of course the Gothic cathedral La Seu is absolutely stunning…
…as is the 13th-century Almudaina Palace.
My friends and I sat in the sunshine (bear in mind that it was cold at home at the time, so getting some sun on our faces was a real treat) and those of us with kids agreed that Palma de Mallorca would actually be a great destination for a family holiday; with all the yachts in the harbour it reminded me a bit of Monte Carlo, actually – maybe it doesn’t have the Ferraris that you get in Monaco, but it is very stylish and there’s also a wonderful relaxed vibe, plus it has all that gothic architecture, the palace with its history, and loads of restaurants for al fresco dining. When we visited there was a beer festival going on and I could see that there were lots of streets to explore close to the palace. It would be a brilliant place for a weekend break.
But I’m guessing you probably know that already, don’t you? Sorry for being late to the party – and it just goes to prove that when you’re travelling, you should ALWAYS keep an open mind. And yes, this is another street lamp. Told you, it’s my new obsession.