Mallorca was in the European news for quite a while, discussing the crowds of people from Germany and even UK, arriving to the island for the Easter holidays. I wanted to see how this situation is handled here during the pandemic but wasn’t sure about visiting Mallorca during the pick of the holidays. I took the EasyJet flight on 20 April in hope that by this time the crowds should be less imposing. Arriving at Geneva airport, I have noticed that situation did not change much since last year and there were only few flights scheduled for that day with very few people at the airport. The airplane was not full either with plenty of unoccupied seats. During the flight no food has been offered and masks were obligatory required.
I have reserved a rental car at the Mallorca airport with Goldcar, which was conveniently located right at the parking building across the street rather than at the airport, as it is in many other destinations.
Driving to my hotel in Palmanova, I was surprised about other drivers precisely respecting the speed limits. I was not sure if there was a radar on the road, but followed the rules accordingly. The area around my hotel looked shockingly empty. Everything was closed and there were no one on the street. In front of my hotel, Elba Sunset Mallorca, there were only few cars parked, which was great, considering that the hotel charges 25 euros for 1 day of parking at the hotel garage. I left my car parked along the street for free and went to the reception to check in. The hotel lobby was empty with a very friendly girl at the reception called Isa. Isa could freely speak English, French, German and certainly Spanish. I did not test her on other languages, being already impressed with her foreign language skills. She upgraded my reservation to a nicer room for free and provided all of the necessary information about the hotel services. Then, she offered a welcome drink, which was exceptionally good prosecco. I have enjoyed my drink relaxed in a cozy chair, while watching the view on the pool area and the sea horizon through the glassy wall of the lobby.
The Elba hotel seemed to be a completely new construction. Everything here was clean, fresh and good looking. The room was modern with glassy doors to the shower and the toilet. Leaving my luggage in the room I rushed to the restaurant for lunch, because I did not have a chance to eat since last night. The restaurant was on the open terrasse with a breathtaking view over the sea, cliffs and the little island close by. I was alone there apart from the waiter. A mature and highly professional waiter pointed on the QR code asking me for the order. It is probably due to the pandemic that the paper-based menu was not available here. I have selected Dorada fish, which was 16 euros, surprisingly good price for such a nice restaurant. While waiting for my order I was offered green olives and bread with white garlic sauce. It was delicious, I couldn’t stop eating these snacks, still hoping to keep some free place in my stomach for the main dish. When the Dorada arrived, I regretted my weakness of consuming so much snack food prior to this meal. The fish was very fresh and cooked perfectly. I just could not bear to leave any piece of such tasty fish on the plate and forced myself to finish it completely. To let it all settle in my overstretched stomach, I ordered black coffee, which was again exceptionally good.
The weather has turned within few minutes from sunny super-hot to black clouds super cold environment. I could not think about anything else but the Thalassa SPA available in this hotel. I must admit that it was strange to me that SPA is not included in the room rate and it should be paid 25 euros for each entry separately. The access to the SPA was also limited by reservation requirement. Considering that the hotel was occupied at 20 % only, such approach was not justifiable for me. I had to change my viewpoint; however, upon arriving to the SPA. It was very small, about 30 sq. meters room with whirlpool, hammam and the sauna. I would guess that such SPA is comfortable for no more than 4 people. Now, I have been convinced that reservation requirement and additional charges are justifiable.
Pulling the warmest clothes out of my suitcase, I got dressed to go out. The weather here was cloudy and windy, and the 18 degrees Celsius strangely felt like a cold winter. When the sun comes out of the clouds, its rays hit really strong. However, without sun in April, Mallorca is not comfortable yet.
My first destination to visit was Palma de Mallorca, the capital of the island. I could not wait to see the Cathedral and soak in Mallorca’s city lifestyle. Arriving there by 3 pm, the Cathedral has already been closed and all of the streets around were empty. The architecture of the Cathedral is truly impressive and majestic. Walking along the narrow streets I finally ended up on a busy square with many shops and restaurants. Here were many people, mostly local and young.
Nothing reminded now about the pandemic except the hand sanitizers at the entrance of every shop. Friendly personnel at the stores also behaved as normal and did not expressed any desperation for a rarely seen tourist. I talked with on one of the stores’ owner, Petra, who kindly presented her offering of local products to me. She said that there were no tourists since March 2020 and that local business is dying from this crisis. Those few tourists that reach the island don’t bring sufficient business for locals to survive. This statement was not so convincing in Palma; however, once I arrived to other small touristic villages, I could clearly see the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tourism industry here. Almost every building and every door had a sign “SOS turisme” or its variations “SOS hotels”, “SOS restaurantes”, etc.
Since it was too cold to sunbathe at the hotel pool, I took an opportunity to explore the island. My next stop was Andratx on the West end of the island. Despite the empty streets, there was no possibility to find a free parking spot. The line of parked cars was endless. I was just wondering where all of those drivers might be… and how the situation with the parking might look like during the high tourist season. As a result, I drove through the town and ended up on the top of the hill overlooking the valley on the South and pictures mountains on the North. To the West was the outstanding church of Santa Maria and to the West right next to me a beautiful castle, which is the local Town Hall. There were no people around, but I have noticed an open door to the police office. A lonely and obviously bored policeman was surprised to see me at the entrance door but answered with no engagement to my question about sightseeing around. He just said that there is nothing interesting to see here. I trusted him and drove further to the south to the Port d’Andratx.
Arriving to the port, I was relieved to find some signs of life here. I also was able to park at a large parking area, which unfortunately was not free. Along the sealine there were many bars and restaurants, with people enjoying their drinks and meals. Numerous yachts and fishing boats were parked along or drifted in the bay. The rays of sun breaking through the clouds created dramatic views of this place, shading the light on the turquoise sea water. I walked to the very end of the seafront to enjoy even more spectacular views of the sailboats playing in this bay.
Taking the route Ma-1020, I stopped few minutes later in Camp de Mar. Again, deserted place, but this time uniquely beautiful. Right next to the beach there was free parking with a nice path to the white sands. This small bay was protected by the hills on all four sides, so that the sea water was absolutely calm here and even warm enough to swim in April. A small island connected with the beach by a little bridge added charm to this place. I happily imagined being here during the summer season, when the weather is good for the beach activities but wasn’t sure about the potential crowds from the huge hotel nearby. In any case, it was a truly special place worth visiting again.
The next day I have decided to explore by car the seacoast to the west from my hotel Elba. The nature here was breathtaking with perfect roads and gorgeous houses. No hotel buildings were seen here but also the access to sea has been prevented by the numerous private properties. I had finally driven down to Cala del Mago leaving my car on the free parking there and walked to the secluded beach Platja del Rei.
This place was definitely not for the crowds and felt magic being alone there. Few boats of the local properties’ owners were parked at the small private port nearby. The white sand beach with turquoise water was well protected by the rocks and covered by the pine trees. The sea water was also warm and pleasant for swimming even in April.
The nearby Cala del Mago and Cala Portals Vells were clearly meant to accommodate numerous tourists, with appropriate infrastructure available there but still looked great without people in April. While I have been there, few people passed by me jogging along the beach. I guess that they were local residents from one of those gorgeous houses around, since no hotels could be identified in that area.
Palma Nova and Portal Nous.
Being tired of driving for the past several days, I have decided to explore the surroundings on foot. Passing by the ancient tower, just few steps away from my hotel Elba, I turned between the buildings to the right and discovered an endless beach paradise. Despite the bad weather and thanks to the wind, here were all sorts of surfers on the water. Some people were walking on the alley along the beach with their dogs or trolleys with children, others were jogging, while few were seen sunbathing on the sand. Nice bars and restaurants among hotels and apartment houses stretched along the road. I walked along the beach barefoot filming the surfers, who were playing with the wind. The fine white sand was warm and pleasant to walk on.
On the way back to my hotel I decided to walk along the road and witnessed an interesting incident. A police car stopped in front of one the cafes and policemen started to order the people to move away from each other and put the masks on the face for those who were not seating at the tables. People obeyed immediately moving their tables and chairs at the wider distances. While I was observing this movement one policeman approached me with an order to pull my mask up to cover my nose. I didn’t argue but was disappointed about this unfortunate situation where I can’t enjoy anymore the sea breeze with the pine’s aroma. It did not make any sense to me to stay next to the beach with covered face.
So, I took my car and drove to the Portal Nous, which was only few minutes away. Here I could observe luxurious yachts and walk along upscale bars and shops, most of which were unfortunately closed. Seemingly being almost alone in that port, I have found one restaurant that was full of people. It was Cappuccino Puerto Portals. I took the last available table there and sat among other people. It felt calm and at the same time inspiring to be a part of this lively tiny crowd. “No man is an island” continuously turned in my head while I was enjoying my coffee there.
Port de Soller
My next hotel was booked in Port de Soller, which is located on the north coast of Mallorca. Driving through the mountains towards my next destination, I was astonished with the quality of the roads here. Absolutely perfect road tops seemed to be done just few days ago. Along the road I was observing the bright green pine trees growing from the reddish rocks, interchanging with orange, lemon, almond, olive and palm trees. Unique and gorgeous combination! I have never seen so many oranges and lemons growing on the trees. I felt in love with this part of the island immediately.
Arriving to the Port de Soller I have noticed almost on each building a sign “SOS tourisme”. The town almost seemed to be abandoned with few cars passing by or being parked on the side of the road. My hotel was closed as well, and no one answered the phone, despite the fact that my accommodation has been fully prepaid. I have parked my car and walked alone the seacoast looking for signs of live. Finally, I have noticed several bars and restaurants with people there. One of the hotels was open and functional as well. It was a small but very cozy hotel called Los Geranios. This hotel had private parking and was located right next to the sandy beach with every balcony in rooms overlooking the bay. The weather here was also warmer and less windy than in Palma Nova, so that I could swim in the sea every day.
I have noticed that most of the people living here were quite sportive, spending their time biking, hiking or swimming.
Since this bay was surrounded with the mountains, I was curious to see what is behind there and started walking towards the opening into the sea. A curly road was climbing the hill towards a light tower on top of it. There were no cars and almost no people. I was enjoying the breathing views that were changing and opening new sceneries on each corner or the road. Bright green pine trees had strange shapes probably from strong winds and overhanging the cliffs. Finally, when I have reached the top of the hill with the light tower, I have noticed that there were numerous couples nested on every rock awaiting the sunset that was approaching. Behind the light tower there were even camp trucks with groups of people, seemingly living there, also expecting the spectacular sunset. I have also noticed that in this area there were many boards with the map of the hiking trails. One of such trails was starting right from this spot next to the light tower and going along the seacoast through the mountains to the nearby village. Unfortunately, I did not have appropriate boots for such rough trail, but certainly will bring them with me next time to walk along this path.
Since all of the restaurants had to be closed at 5 pm due to the pandemic, I had no choice but to eat at my hotel restaurant or to buy food at a store and consume it in my hotel room. There were no any open food stores around in a walking distance so my choice was limited to the hotel restaurant. The seafood is always excellent in Mallorca, but it was even better at the Los Geranios restaurant.
A little village in the mountains called Soller is one of the most popular tourist attractions here. It is connected by a cute train with the Port de Soller and is well known for export of its oranges to France. I heard many people were actually speaking French here and could not resist to ask where they were from. A nice lady explained to me that her parents were from Soller and moved to France because of the oranges business. So, she was born in France but keep coming back to Mallorca as she feels more comfortable and at home here.
She also pointed to a little store that is considered to be one of the most authentic stores here. At that store there were many different local products and in the middle on the floor a huge open bag with roasted almonds. I was offered to try it directly from the bag and have to admit that these were the tastiest almost I ever had.
Walking further along the street I have noticed a local market, where a kilo of oranges was only 1.5 euro. I took a kilo to try and could not stop eating them. They were very sweet and juicy with a thin skin. It was sad to observe that in even such a lively village most of the windows or doors had the same signs with “SOS” message, while local police were patrolling enforcing the mask requirement.
Valldemossa and Fornalutx
To the West along the mountains from Soller there is a cute village called Valldemossa. Interestingly enough, the weather in these mountain villages was much warmer and calmer comparing to the coastal villages and towns with freezing cold winds. Valldemossa looked so clean and beautiful that it almost felt like a movie decoration rather than a real village where people live their normal lives. Many cafes, shops, cute streets with ancient buildings and a park next to the cathedral created an environment of different reality on Earth. There was nothing here reminding about the pandemic. Even the tourist office was open. And the vast area of parking, which was quite expensive, was absolutely full. People sitting in the cafes or walking along the narrow and paved streets with lots of green plants in the pots were cheerful, enjoying their time in this magic place.
I have noticed a very attractive and well decorated ancient door that led inside of an ancient house. It was a restaurant Quita Penas. I was not sure about the menu but did not want to leave this unique house. So, I took a seat at the tiny inner yard or patio with a well and looked finally at the menu. The menu was very limited with several choices of bruschetta and local beer. The price for 4 pieces of bread with vegetables, cheese or meat was 25 euros. Not cheap, but we pay for the environment as well. So I ordered one of these few options offered, which was a bruschetta with grilled zucchini. I have to admit, that it was divine. I could never imagine that such simple ingredients could be served so tasty. It was a toasted homemade bread rubbed with garlic, sprinkled with pepper, salt and olive paste in addition to a well-prepared zucchini with herbs and a cherry tomato. The local beer was too bitter for me and also overpriced but went well with the bruschetta and acceptable as a try.
My next stop was in Fornalutx, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to the East from Soller. I thought that after visiting Valldemossa nothing can impress me more, but Fornalutx confirms its designation by UNESCO and represents a truly unique site. All of the houses are really well maintained here, built here out of unequal stones that gives rustic appearance. The narrow paved streets leading to hidden gems of this place were also well maintained and decorated with numerous plants. The surrounding of this village is as magnificent as the village itself. High mountains defending against the cold winds from all sides are slightly open towards the sky providing plenty of sunshine from every direction. Their slopes are covered with terrasses or bright green pines. In the center of the village there is a little square with cozy cafes and restaurants. I have ordered a freshly pressed orange juice made of the local oranges. It was delicious, but the unfortunate economic situation of the region cast a shadow on the service here. The prices were made up according to a brief evaluation of the customer by the seller and certainty no receipt was provided.