Alternative guide to Mallorca – through the eyes of those who know it best | Mallorca holidays


Mallorca has fought hard against its sun, sea and sand stereotype and now tries promote itself more as a year-long travel destination, offering summer and winter sporting options, a burgeoning gastronomy scene and a long-established arts tradition.

I spent three years co-writing and and taking photographs for Faces of Mallorca a new book featuring 59 island characters. I would like to introduce you to five, to experience the essence of Mallorca through their eyes.

Tomeu Arbona, bakery owner

Tomeu Arbona: ‘I became a real food archaeologist.’
Tomeu Arbona: ‘I became a real food archaeologist’

Tomeu worked with “kids on the street” as a social worker, later retraining as a psychotherapist, but lost his job after just four years as a result of the economic crisis. Needing an income to pay for his children’s university fees, he and his wife decided to open a small bakery, Fornet de la Soca, focusing on traditional recipes.

A freshly baked ensaïmada.
A freshly baked ensaïmada

“We were lucky, as people immediately liked our idea of reviving old Mallorquín recipes – I became a real food archaeologist. One important insight I gained was the history of the ensaïmada. Very few people know that ensaïmades [sweet spiral pastries] and panades [little meat pies] come from Jewish culture.”

In addition to owning one of Palma’s most exquisite bakeries, Tomeu also sings traditional Mallorcan songs at special events. Every afternoon he cycles through the downtown area. He’s “in love” with the areas of ​​Pla de Mallorca, Sineu, Pina and Lloret, places that retain a great essence and a certain primitivism, and he likes to to go to the alternative Cineciutat cinema. He recommends that all visitors see the Tramuntana mountains: “It is my little paradise that transcends beauty.”

With his eye for stunning vistas, Tomeu says the Ermita de la Trinitat in Valldemossa is well worth the trip: “I love the peacefulness and the beautiful view of the coastline.”

To eat on a special occasion, he recommends Montimar, “a small restaurant of high-quality traditional cuisine, with a stunning landscape”. Other favourite restaurants include Ca Na Toneta, Botànic and Dins de Santi Taura – “they each represent different, authentic aspects of Mallorcan cuisine”.

Francesca Martí, international artist

Francesca Martí: ‘A good gallery brings energy to our soul.’
Francesca Martí: ‘A good gallery brings energy to our soul’

Francesca expresses herself through sculpture and multimedia to convey her unique societal reflections. She is perhaps best known for Dreamers, a set of sculptures dotted around Mallorca “shining in solitary contemplation”.

One of Francesca Martí’s Dreamers, at Sóller train station.
One of Francesca Martí’s Dreamers, at Sóller railway station

“I live in Sóller and love to visit the Ecocirer hotel, where you can enjoy a delicious and healthy breakfast. In Port de Sóller, there are several restaurants facing the sea. Pick any of these to eat fresh fish – you will not be disappointed! To relax, I like to be out on the water having a picnic or fishing around the coast. Two restaurants I absolutely love, which combine great food with beautiful sea views, are Sa Foradada and C’as Patro March in Deià; they are just super authentic!”

Palma is a cultural city. A visit to a good gallery “brings energy to our soul”; try Gallery Kewenig, Gerhard Braun Gallery or Es Baluard museum. Museu Can Marquès offers a fusion of past and present.

Maria Gibert, cook and YouTube sensation

Maria Gibert: ‘I am a bit of a local celebrity!’
Maria Gibert’s has become a YouTuber thanks to advice from a grandson

Maria, 84, is a custodian of traditional Mallorcan cooking and a media sensation with a YouTube audience of more than 43,000 and numerous TV appearances. Her first cooking experience as a child was when she stole some dry pasta from her mother’s pantry and attempted to cook it. It didn’t turn out well but her mother made her eat the whole plate of pasta as punishment: “That might have been the moment I decided to become a better cook!”

Seven years ago, her grandson, who lives in Japan, had the idea of making videos in her kitchen and publishing them on YouTube. “Little did we know that this was going to get so much attention. Now I am a bit of a local celebrity!

“I love preparing authentic Mallorcan dishes like sopes mallorquines [bread and vegetable soup], which is one of my favourites, or escaldums [turkey stew with tomatoes and herbs] and I am happy I get to share these original recipes, so they are not forgotten. Few people have the patience for slow cooking – everything has to be fast – but I have a feeling that the meditative experience of taking time to cook dishes in the traditional way is starting to appeal again.”

Maria likes to wander down to the “incredible” restaurant, Bodega La Rambla – “I have to say, Mallorcan variats [Mallorcan twists on tapas] are the best.” She is often to be found walking around the city. “I’m a walker and my passion is to relax by strolling along the promenade of Palma. The old town hides many stories and I find it very beautiful. The Paseo del Molinar and Portixol areas take me back to my childhood.”

Maria also recommends a visit to Palma’s Teatre Principal, and a trip to the village of Deià: “These are beautiful corners of magic and history in our little paradise”.

Nuria and Mikel, sailors

Nuria: ‘We always wanted to live life on our own terms, feel free.’
Nuria: ‘We always wanted to live life on our own terms, feel free’

Nuria and her partner Mikel are owners of the beautiful Rafael Verdera, used for sailing trips around the island. Built in 1841, it is the oldest operating boat of the Spanish naval fleet. The couple have lived on board for the past 40 years and Nuria gave birth to their children, Sara and Iñaki, on the boat. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch Sara and Iñaki practising acrobatics on deck.

Iñaki and Sara.
Iñaki and Sara’s onboard acrobatics

“I first met Mikel on this very boat, many years ago, and we have been living together on it ever since. I guess there are people who think we are crazy, but we wanted to live our lives on our own terms; we wanted to always feel free.”

Nuria suggests taking advantage of the dolphin and whale watching around Mallorca: “Not so many people know about this.” For keen swimmers, she recommends heading to the beach at El Toro. “The waters are always so calm, and I always have the best swims there.”

She strongly recommends a trip to Cabrera, a tiny island 10 miles off the southernmost tip of Mallorca. It is “an unspoilt oasis with the most aquamarine blue seas – and you have the best view of the stars at night”. Joan Aguiló, street artist

Joan Aguiló: ‘I am proud I helped to bring street art to the island’
Joan Aguiló: ‘I am proud I helped to bring street art to the island’

Joan’s huge murals can be found all over the island. They are easily recognisable as his style is unique, typically featuring Mallorcan childhood experiences.

“I discovered street art in Berlin and was immediately fascinated. When I came back here, I thought it would be easy to find other street artists in Mallorca, but this scene barely existed. I am proud that I helped to bring this culture to the island. The annual street art festival I have created in Can Picafort has become quite popular, and it excites me that many of the best street artists from various countries come together for this event.”

Joan Aguiló in front of one of his creations, Calvià.
Joan Aguiló in front of one of his creations, Calvià Photograph: Mark Julian Edwards

Joan’s go-to place in Palma for a good exhibition or interesting cultural event is the CaixaForum Gran Hotel. “It feels like it’s from another era; you can’t tell what century you’re in, and that’s spectacular.”

Out of town, he suggests going to Ermita de la Victoria, with a view of the bay of Alcudia, and hike for about half an hour to the Atalaya, the highest point, to see the bay of Pollença and visit Caló D’Es Cans beach near Colonia de Sant Pere: “It’s a delight!”

Faces of Mallorca by Mark Julian Edwards and Stephanie Schulz is published by Triangle Postals (£31.99).


Source link

‘My favourite Christmas abroad’: readers’ travel tips | Christmas and New Year holidays


Winning tip: A zen Christmas with disco karaoke, Japan

One Christmas, I went to a zen meditation retreat in Oita, on the southernmost Kyushu island, because I was feeling very burned out. The meditation retreat, as you would imagine, was pretty relaxed and the resident monk and I got along very well. Oita is famous for its fugu – the poisonous puffer fish – and for Christmas dinner, I took the only other person at the retreat and the monk into the city for a fugu feast. After a visit to a karaoke bar where we sang I Will Survive, the three of us rounded our Christmas off at a whisky bar before riding the train back to the temple to meditate before bed. Best Christmas ever!
Sarah Martin

Festive fireworks on the beach, Bangkok

Beach at Ko Chang, Thailand
Beach at Ko Chang, Thailand

In Bangkok over Christmas, we decided to head to the island of Ko Chang. A five-hour drive was livened up by the karaoke machine in the back of the taxi. Our hotel’s attempt at roast turkey – served beachside – was not a great success. Fireworks and dancing at the Sabay Bar on White Sand beach that night were more like it. And splashing out on a speedboat back to the mainland on Boxing Day was a fun end to the trip.
David Hall


Readers’ tips: send a tip for a chance to win a £200 voucher for a Sawdays stay


Guardian Travel readers’ tips

Every week we ask our readers for recommendations from their travels. A selection of tips will be featured online and may appear in print. To enter the latest competition visit the readers’ tips homepage

The belénes of Granada, Spain

Alhambra, Granada.
Alhambra, Granada. Photograph: Alamy

Arriving late by bus, still wearing ski gear, we trundled our cabin bags over the cobbles in search of our rented apartment in the heart of medieval Granada. It was Christmas Eve. Everyone was out: drinking cava, sharing tapas or queuing to see the belénes, the nativity scenes set up in all the plazas. We went to midnight mass in the Cathedral, and on Christmas morning, climbed up to the viewpoint at the Albaicín, the old Moorish quarter. From there, the Alhambra looked sublime against its backdrop of snow-capped peaks, the same mountains we had skied down just the day before.
Helen Barnes

Romance on the 102nd floor, New York

Moonrise in New York City
Moonrise in New York City. Photograph: Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

New York, 2009. Baggage handlers kindly mislaid our luggage, making our engagement more problematic than I’d have liked, but the snow and the scenery and the gasp of “really?” when I popped the question atop the Empire State Building on Christmas morning, followed by a Christmas dinner of burgers in the Diamond District, more than made up for it. There really is no other place like it, certainly not at Christmas. Visiting the Plaza, Radio City Music Hall, taking a horse ride through Central Park – they all sound like cliches but were simply magical moments we’d recommend everyone experience. We spent a lot on phone calls to the airline, but who cares?
Jonathan Greenbank

A bushveld feast, South Africa

Olifants River seen from Olifants camp, Kruger national park, South Africa.
Olifants River seen from Olifants camp, Kruger national park. Photograph: Alamy

We had a family holiday at Shimuweni, a remote bushveld camp down a small dirt track in the Kruger national park, self-catering. After a day of drizzle we spent an hour trying to extract ourselves from the mud before sundown. No Christmas dinner has ever been quite such fun as a spatchcocked chicken masquerading as a turkey, green peppers (the only greens in the camp shop) as sprouts, baked potatoes cooked direct in the embers and some barbecued pineapple for pudding. Having hidden tinsel and a few tiny gifts in our hand luggage the whole trip, pulling them out to my parents’ utter surprise was entirely worth it.

Retreading the missionary path, India

For Christmas in 2016, my family and I went on a trip to southern India to see where my mum spent six years of her childhood in the 60s when her dad was a missionary. It was a fascinating trip and surprisingly Christmassy in a weird and wonderful way – a whole cooked turkey with the head and neck still on, anyone? At the Christmas Day church service Mum bumped into a friend who she used to play with when she was a child, and we swam in the sea at Kovalam beach just as she did with her family all those years ago.
Alex Robinson

A wondrous walk, Jordan

Petra Bedouin
Photograph: Andre Pain/EPA

Our twist on Christmas was set in Jordan and began with a sleepless night on Christmas Eve in a wind-battered tent – although “tent” was a loose term for the patchy tarpaulins we used for shelter, and a structural collapse occurred at 3am. Despite the mishaps, Christmas morning began in style with a sip of prosecco and a bite of Mum’s homemade Christmas cake for all. Once clad in festive antlers, we set off on a walk through the mountains to the majestic monastery in Petra. Festive greetings from home and an unusual Christmas dinner, consisting of a cucumber, an orange and flatbread, rounded off a brilliant Christmas Day in one of the wonders of the world.
Rhian Thomas

An alternative white Christmas, Bolivia

Salar de Uyuni and cactus
Salar de Uyuni. Photograph: Aizar Raldes/Getty Images

My most unusual Christmas Day was on the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia – white, but salt, not snow. We visited the Salt Hotel, then drove over packed salt to walk on a island with weird cactuses everywhere. Then it was on to a very basic hostel – no electricity (cold showers) and unisex dorms with cast-iron bunk beds – for a dinner of spag bol reheated over a gas cylinder burner and carols by candlelight. After a short night, Boxing Day saw us visiting the amazing Sol de Mañana geysers before heading to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile, which was like a wild west film set.
Micki Hobbs

Viennese whirlwind, Austria

Crowd of people skating in front of Rathausplatza
Photograph: Tolga Ildun/Alamy

With no plans on Christmas morning we searched for an impromptu mini-break and chose three nights in Vienna, departing Stansted at 8pm. No traffic, no queues, last train into the city, and a taxi around the Ringstrasse – illuminated golden bright on a silent night – for chocolate in bed as the clock struck midnight. Cafe Hawelka, Wiener wurst, Christmas markets, ice skating, Belvedere Museum Klimts, the ferris wheel at Prater, feeling giggly after gluhwein, looking for the Third Man aboard a clanking tram … Vienna simply dazzles at Christmas. Sometimes the unexpected presents are the best.
Sonia Marshall

Mastering the haka, New Zealand

Piha beach and Lion Rock at sunset, New Zealand
Piha beach and Lion Rock at sunset, New Zealand Photograph: Andrew Watson/Getty Images

Taking part in a local haka contest – and winning it – on Christmas Day on a New Zealand beach was the last thing I expected to do during my backpacking trip around the world. While sunbathing on Piha beach near Lion Rock, just outside Auckland, I was invited to learn the ceremonial dance so decided to go for it along with several other tourists. My terrific trainer, Ari (whose name apparently means Lion of God), should take all the credit for my prize – a large live sheep and a Māori tattoo on my shoulder. Strictly Come Dancing it certainly wasn’t, but a Christmas with a difference it sure was.
Greta Cooper


Source link

New Year’s Eve celebrations around the world: readers’ travel tips | Christmas and New Year holidays


Winning tip: When Jesus fixed my Jeep, Chile

Our all-girls group’s plans to celebrate New Year’s Eve while camping and stargazing in Chile’s eerie Atacama Desert almost went wrong. Thanks to Jesus, it all worked out. Our tight budget led us to rent a Jeep from a backstreet car-hire firm in San Pedro. Result – a breakdown in the middle of nowhere. Fortunately, a friendly group of locals led by the aptly named Jesus, who had some mechanical knowledge, were also heading out to the desert and stopped to help us. Result: a shared trip, wine, food, campfires and songs in English and Spanish under the mystical Atacama skies to see out and welcome in the year in a stunning setting and with great company.
Yasmin Cox

Cold night with hot music, New Orleans

The Rock’n’Bowl in New Orleans.
‘Overrun with revellers’: the Rock’n’Bowl in New Orleans. Photograph: Ebet Roberts/Redferns

One New Year’s Eve in the early 2000s, my partner and I were housesitting a friend’s shack in New Orleans. The temperature had plunged to -5C, remarkable for Nola. Totally unprepared for this unusual cold, we put on our onesie long johns and walked to Mid-City Lanes Rock‘n’Bowl. We rented a lane, ordered po’ boys (a Louisiana sandwich) and beers, bowled, and wandered downstairs to hear legendary local singer and guitarist Snooks Eaglin (sadly no longer with us). Around 10pm, the Iguanas came onstage and the bowling lanes were overrun with revellers juggling food, drinks and kids while dancing to the Latin-tinged R&B groove music. New Year’s Eve, but just a normal night a Noo Or-lins.
Donna J Hall

Out with the old, Bologna

New Year’s Eve in Bologna.
New Year’s Eve in Bologna, when the burning of a large puppet is part of the festivities. Photograph: Getty Images

To see in 2019 we went to beautiful Bologna where there is a traditional burning of a huge effigy of a man – known as the vecchione (the old one) – in the square at midnight. This symbolises the discarding of all the bad things that happened in the old year and the welcoming in of the new. The night starts with dancing and music where people of all ages drink and enjoy life. As the clock struck 12 we hugged and the flames engulfed the wooden figure as confetti fell from the sky and balloons bounced over the crowd.
Louisa Guise

A Méri old evening, France

Wooden chalet in the mountains, Méribel, France.
Wooden chalet in the mountains, Méribel. Photograph: Nick Daly/Getty Images

In Méribel for New Year’s Eve, a couple from our chalet invites us to the local bar. We are a mixed bunch; some of us in snow boots, some dressed very fashionably. The champagne flows, glasses are raised, then raised again as the mellow sounds of a saxophonist flood the room. The fire crackles, while outside the crescent moon hangs amid twinkling stars; this is paradise. Later, we head to the village square where vin chaud is served by chalet staff as we watch expert skiers descend carrying lanterns while fireworks burst above them. The hour is upon us as we gather around a tree and welcome in the new year. Perfect.
Jean Broad

Wine and jive, Cape Town

Fireworks over Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront.
Fireworks over Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront. Photograph: Alamy

A sunset picnic on Table Mountain, washed down with silky-smooth Stellenbosch wines, was a great way to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Cape Town at the dawn of the new millennium. As the clock ticked towards midnight, I took the cable car down to the V&A Waterfront, looking down as the mountain tops of the 12 Apostles cast their dramatic shadows over the brooding Atlantic Ocean. An all-night open-air disco carried on the fun, welcoming in the new year for a crowd of all ages and races, with the then 81-year-old Nelson Mandela appearing on the big screen from his nearby home, jiving away, to join in the celebrations.
Gonca Cox

Salsa, sea lions and sculptures in San Diego

San Diego: Darth Vader and a host of stormtroopers join the annual Balloon Parade.
San Diego: Darth Vader and a host of stormtroopers join the annual Balloon Parade. Photograph: Alamy

The welcome sunshine was not just a bonus for me, but also for the sea lions who were basking on the jetty. The Balloon Parade was a party open to everyone, and it was a friendly family atmosphere along with plenty of salsa moves. At sunset, stunning stone sculptures were silhouetted against the skyline. Standing on the boardwalk in Seaport Village was the perfect viewpoint for the midnight fireworks and their sparkling reflections in the sea. A great way to see in the new year – and all for free.
Vanessa Wright

I found Paradise, Ethiopia

The View Of Lake Abaya from Paradise Lodge
Looking out on Lake Abaya from Paradise Lodge. Photograph: Grant Rooney/Alamy

One year I spent 31 December at Paradise Lodge, overlooking Ethiopia’s Lake Chamo in the south-west of the country, where the individual tukuls (round huts) could be described as primitive or charmingly rustic, depending on your take. At the gala dinner we ate berbere-spiced wats (stews) and injera, a flatbread that reminded me of foam rubber in looks and taste. The music ranged from Amy Winehouse to traditional Ethiopian tunes, and a group of Indian visitors proved funky dancers whatever the beat. Midnight arrived, along with a huge cake, poppers, streamers and more dance music. The international partying continued until the early hours when I returned to what seemed like a palatial room.
Helen Jackson


Source link