The following is an excerpt from my memoir-in-progress. I have been posting sporadically and that is because I have been going through some difficult personal issues and I took a break from writing. Slowly, I am getting back into the habit. Also, traveling is one of the main reasons I blog, and COVID did slow all of that down. However, we are getting back to normal in that sense and my wish to share my travel experiences has returned. I still believe you’ll never truly know yourself until you leave your home for either a short or long while.
I am always looking for my next favorite beach. Most major cities in Germany have constantly running direct flights to Palma de Mallorca, so when I was just starting to think of a beach getaway over a long weekend, this destination immediately came to mind. Flights were not really “cheap,” but they weren’t expensive, either. In less than two hours, I could reach countless beach front resorts on an island far removed from my daily life. My friend who lives in Madrid had never been to Mallorca and said she could take some time off in July. I got the clearance from work, and we booked our flights.
Because of the frequent news stories of European airlines having long lines and losing luggage due to the staffing shortages, I had made sure to reach the airport three hours ahead of departure time instead of the usual two hours. My plan worked out as there were long lines already forming when I arrived. In only an hour and forty minutes of flight time, I was at my destination.
The feelings of being simultaneously awestruck, overwhelmed and disgusted by humanity begin as I landed in Palma. Hords of Germans were everywhere, including droves of screaming children and groups of men in Lederhosen, already heavily intoxicated before noon. Everyone wore the same beach-ready clothing, except for the young men in their Oktoberfest outfits. It had been rainy and cool in Stuttgart when I left in the morning and I stuck out in my jeans and waterproof hiking shoes. I retrieved my bag and changed into shorts in the restroom. Soon my friend arrived and we made our way to the prepaid shuttle bus to take us to the other side of the island. Upon arrival, we had automated instructions to check in at the hostel as the reception desk was already closed at three. Everything seemed to be a well-oiled machine that efficiently shepherded tourists through their itineraries.
Mallorca is easily the most touristy place I’ve ever been. The island seems to be just a pile of hotels, resorts, hostels and Air BNBs clustered around the arid coastline. It was odd to be in Spain but to hear mostly German. There are different clusters of both German and British areas and then also more family-oriented or party-oriented areas. I figured a German kid-centric place like the town of Can Picafort would be quiet enough for me to relax. It was mostly true. Though the beaches there were packed to bursting, there was no blaring music or people falling over and puking in the streets.
I wondered why Mallorca was so popular with both the Germans and the Brits. Part of that history is connected to the common nickname of this place as “Putzfraueninsel,” or “cleaning ladies island.” Decades ago, when tourism between European countries via airline was still mostly for the higher echelons of society, Spain developed the island by offering some of the first direct charter flights from major cities in England and Germany. It was so cheap back then that even cleaning ladies could afford to vacation there. The first vacationers there brought their families and it became a strong tradition to return every year to a place that was affordable, convenient to reach, had the same language and food as home and had reliably hot weather and clear, tepid water. It can be truthfully said that most of these German and British tourists want a facsimile of their homelands but with a sunny beach.
Palma itself is a beautiful city with a cathedral and cute little cafes, like the highly recommend Bar Cafe Coto (Plaça de la Drassana, 12)
Restaurante Botànic (C/Forn de la Gloria, 14) was a worthy splurge. Reservations are recommended in this gorgeously decorated oasis of imaginative food and drinks.
Quiet resort villages coupled with a classy city – the island of Mallorca has it all. While it was beautiful, if I were not a Europe-based tourist, I don’t think I’d go out of my way to visit. However, that is its appeal. A beach that’s close to home and uncomplicated to reach is sometimes what you’re looking for.