Monday, February 9, 2015

Scenes from Palma de Mallorca & Valldemossa

Shortly before our trip to Miami for the holidays, the Professor, the little one and I visited Palma de Mallorca and the nearby hillside village of Valldemossa. Mallorca is one of the Balearic islands and is a popular tourist destination for many Europeans, especially the kind who like to party and get trashed--but that's not why we were there. Seriously. The Professor is a casual (mostly beer) drinker, my limit is two glasses of rosé, and Roman can just do a bottle of milk before he passes out (what a baby!). The Professor was there to attend a conference, and the little one and I were there to keep him company (aren't we so supportive? Wanting to explore a new city had nothing to do with our decision whatsoever).

Apart from being a party destination, Mallorca attracts people for its mild Mediterranean climate, beautiful beaches and breathtaking nature excursions. But since it wasn't the right weather for most of that stuff while we were there, we mostly got to know the capital city of Palma. Palma, with its beautiful churches and stately palaces, was definitely worth seeing and was especially charming during Christmastime with all of the lights up everywhere and winter carnivals taking place throughout the whole city.

Here are some scenes from our trip:

We arrived in Palma a few weeks before Christmas and, as you can see, the city was ready for it. This is the Plaza Mayor in the city center with strings of light hung all over the place. So beautiful, right? If we ever move back to the U.S., one thing I will miss most about Spain is the way the whole city sparkles during the holidays. Inflatable Santas on your front lawn just can't compete. 

Apparently kids are not excited enough about Christmas, or so think the people of Palma. Kids shouldn't be able to walk more than a few yards without seeing a balloon seller, a clown, a carousel, a fun house, or what have you. The whole of the city center was like a kid's paradise, or a parent's nightmare. I had to put down more than a few tantrums when the little one wanted this balloon or that balloon or that really, really big balloon that only barely resembled Hello Kitty. He also wanted to ride every single ride (and some more than once) and as he doesn't understand the concept of money and that mommy has to pay 3 euro per ride, he thought I was just being mean to him. Cue the melodrama. I did give in occasionally, as you can see. I guess I'm just a sucker for a happy baby.

More beautiful lights on beautiful streets. Are you starting to understand my fascination?

Of course, there's more to Christmas than lights. There's also fried street foods and this one is one of my favorites. Bunyols are a typical doughnut-like sweet but the dough is made from potatoes. Sounds weird, tastes delicious. 

After they are deep fried, the bunyols are immediately rolled in sugar. Then, they are immediately consumed

No trip to Mallorca would be complete without sampling the most popular of Mallorcan desserts, the Ensaïmada, which is a sweet, egg bread that can be filled with cream, covered in powdered sugar, or my favorite, topped with apricots.

The postcard image of Palma is this building, La Seu Catedral. Definitely one of the most impressive cathedrals I've seen and the major tourist attraction in Palma. On the day we visited, it was chilly and kind of grey but the beauty of this building wasn't diminished at all. 

If you have kids, you could make a visit to La Seu fun by hanging out at one of the cafés by the water and letting your kid feed the ducks. If your child is as mischievous as ours however, you might find that you're actually just restraining your child from chasing the ducks into the water. There's also a surprising number of people with really high tech, expensive, remote control boats who come here to play and that's fun to watch too. 

When we travel, we always try to find a nice spot for Roman to run around and burn off energy. We visited two great parks in Palma. This was one of them, located right next to La Seu and the other one was the Parque de las Estaciones by Plaza España pictured below.  

On the third day of our trip, we decided to explore a little mountaintop village near Palma called Valldemossa. We originally wanted to take the little, vintage train to Soller, but alas, the train was down for maintenance. So we took a less scenic bus ride to Valldemossa after hearing about its beauty from a few of the Professor's colleagues. Here it is:

It was only an hour's ride away but when you arrived, you felt you were in a different place entirely, totally removed from buses, taxis, shops, people, noise, and everything. It was just so beautiful and so quiet and so peaceful.

Even the shouts and laughter of the children playing tag in front of this church seemed muffled and distant. I'm telling you, this place was magical. 

This is a bust of Chopin, who came to live here with his lover and reportedly called Valldemossa the most beautiful place in the world. And, really, who are we to disagree with Chopin?

All of the houses were beautifully kept and for some reason, all of them had bright green trim. It seemed to be fitting of a place where verdant green trees and hills surround you

It's a tiny village so there isn't much to see but if you do visit, definitely plan to stay around five or six hours, long enough to enjoy a leisurely lunch by the fire and then some coffee and coques de patata, another Mallorcan sweet made of potatoes. And don't worry about any of the calories you consume because all of the super steep streets will definitely provide enough of a workout. 

Walking around the village, we spotted this ceramic pig outside a shop that sells jewelry and pretty things for your home. We decided to roll Roman over so he could say hi to the pig but Roman thought it would be more fun to caress the pig's butt. My little weirdo. 

So that was our trip to lovely Valldemossa and Palma. I'd definitely want to return some day. How about you guys?

P.S. For pictures of our last trip, to Aix en Provence, click here.

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