It was “only” five years ago when I treated my Mum to a one-off city break with her son to Barcelona for a significant birthday. Since then it has been clear that that break set a precedent and in the following years we have had weekend breaks in Venice, Florence and Nice. This year the choice was Palma de Mallorca in the Balearic Islands.
The trips are hard to organise:
- They have to involve sun. This has meant a reluctance to go to Northern Europe.
- They have to be cheap. Neither of us are plan on spending a fortune – although Lauren tried to spoil this by treating Mum to a New York trip this year.
- Flights have to be taken from both Liverpool and Stansted – and they have to arrive and depart within minutes of each other. Ideally my Stansted flight arrives first and departs last so that Mum has to spend as little time on her own as possible (sitting in bars watching the world go by is not a hobby that we share).
- There has to be stuff to do in the destination. In particular there has to be plenty of tourist queues to join.
This year Palma, Mallorca, fitted the criteria. But as we tick off the destinations, I can forsee next year being harder.
The Ryanair flights seemed to go fairly well. This was a bit of a dissapointment as I normally enjoy moaning about Ryanair. The only things worth noting were the strict one item of hand baggage that was enforced at both airports by trained agressive staff, and the slightly bizarre experience of having a gin & sparkling water when I thought I was having a gin & tonic.
On arrival in Palma, while waiting for the Liverpool flight, I discovered that just 30 mins before Eta had blown up two police officers in Palmanova a few miles from Palma. This incident caused the airport to be temporarily closed to departing planes, but did not significantly affect the arriving ones.
Our hotel was in the centre of the long promenade in Palma overlooking the fairly large harbour. When we arrived it was dinner time so we had a quick drink in the bar and then headed out to have a little explore and some food. After walking for 2 hours Mum had been unable to find any tourist menus offering 3 courses of food she liked for less than €15. We eventually agreed to go back to the hotel which had a buffet for €19. However this was now closed due to the late hour. Eventually we found another restaurant and managed a steak and some lamb between us. In order not to repeat the two hour search for tourist menus again that holiday I agreed to spend the remainder of the nights eating in the hotel from the buffet. There was no nice Spanish tapas for me. Our tourist menu hunt did take as past the Cathdral though which was lit up spectacularly at night.
On day two we went to Soller on the north coast. This involved a nice walk through the city, getting a bit lost, and then taking the old wooden train (popular with the tourists) to Soller. From here we took a tram down to Port Soller and spent a pleasant afternoon exploring the harbour. We had a couple of fresh orange juices and then made our way back to Palma, stopping off at an Irish bar near the hotel for a flat and tasteless Guinness.
Day three involved a local bus from Palma to Port d’Andratx to the west. This was another pleasant place with a large-enough harbour. We found a quiet cove away from the tourists and relaxed for a couple of hours in the sun.
On the final day, after visiting Bellver Castle, we chose to take the bus to Santa Ponca. While the weather was again very nice, the place was overloaded with British tourists. My horror at the thought of dining in a crowded restaurant, full of Brits, overlooking the street for a €8.50 English roast dinner in the boiling heat was made just a bit worse when Mum actually showed an interest in doing so. I refused, and eventually we found a restaurant with a beach and sea view and fewer sunburnt Brits hanging around.
I was treated to the Stansted rush hour on my return (midnight, Sun) and didn’t make it home until 2am.