Island Life – Mallorca

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Hiking the Headland

I am Rebecca Horan, a sun-worshipping, salty-haired, barefoot, coconut scented, leather skinned,  beach bum.

However, unlike the description in the Urban Dictionary; ‘An unemployed bum on welfare with no real education who makes extra cash by selling margaritas while naked at the beach’ I work very hard, much to the chagrin of my family and close friends, I don’t live on a beach or own my own rundown cocktail bar. I am a fully functioning adult (for the most part) with a responsible job, a neurotic mutt, ever-expanding family and a front door, albeit somebody else’s front door, but a front door nonetheless, who just happens to adore sand in her bikini bottoms and overpriced gambas.

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Beach Bar

Instead I think I like the description from the Cambridge Dictionary, it describes a beach bum as ‘someone who ​spends most of his or her ​time having a good ​time on the ​beach’ which sounds like something or someone I can relate to.

Par Example – Whenever a foreign wedding is being discussed those around me frantically check their remaining holiday leave and sombre bank balances as they try to come up with excuses not to go, me? I’m there, I’ll even go for a week, in fact I’ll even organise the flipping wedding. I adore the sun, I think it comes from my time spent in Crete and the Greek Islands as a child, or perhaps because I’m Irish and we see it for maybe 15 days a year.

I am Magda in There’s Something About Mary. That is me.

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Magda soaking it up

It isn’t hard to see why the sun is my drug of choice, the wave of heat that hits you as you disembark the plane,  the feeling of freedom as you tighten your rucksack straps around your waist and the eavesdropping on locals speaking their native tongue, serenading you into a holiday stupor.

Anyway, I think you get the idea, I’m an Island girl, a freelance beach bum, and in my first travel post I will touch on the Balearic Islands, the largest being Mallorca.

In a later post I will discuss the Greek Islands and the wonderful Ibiza.

Unfortunately Mallorca (Majorca) usually conjures up images of sunburnt Irish students drinking shots on the streets with their pants down around their ankles, well that’s just a very small part of what this stunning island has to offer, Santa Ponsa, Magaluf etc – that’s for the foam party people.

I prefer the quieter side. I head north, starting with Port de Soller, a wonderful little village situated in one of Mallorca’s most beautiful horseshoe harbours. Surrounded by the Tramuntana mountains, this town has the best of both worlds – magnificent mountain scenery and a sea view to boot. Along with the village of Fornalutx and the hamlet of Biniaraix they combine to form Sóller. The combined population is around 12,000 people and a vintage tram links the inland town of Sóller to the port, running along the beach-side road. The resort consists of shops, restaurants and bars but is quiet.

Two lighthouses sit on the headlands on either side of the bay, La Badia de Sóller. Luckily development on the east headland has been prevented as the area is used as a training ground by the Spanish Army.

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Chilling out
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Port De Soller
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The harbour by night

There are some great restaurants, Nautilus is lovely for dinner with a sea view or Ses Oliver’s on the port and the best late night bars are Agapanto, Port De Nuit and Randemar. By taxi from Palma Airport it is approx. 30-40 minutes. by bus approx. 1 hour.

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Apartment rentals are very affordable

IMG_8158Jumeirah, Hotel es Port and Hotel Esplendido are all lovely places to stay.

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Esplendido

Next up is Deia, Deia, put simply, is paradise.

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Belmond Residencia
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Deia
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Cala Deia

The name Deia originates from the time of the Moors conquest of Mallorca, the word meaning ‘village’. It has welcomed artists and musicians for decades, among them famously Robert Graves, whose house is now a museum to visit. The area remains an artist colony to this day,

There are plenty of things to do, head to the mountains for walking trails, explore the terrain on mountain bikes or explore the waters. Cala Deia is a lovely cove to splash about in for an afternoon.

Son Marroig is well worth a visit, I got married there, It is a museum with a Folli that sits a the top of the cliffs looking out into the ocean. Next door is the Mirador restaurant.

My wedding songs;

There are a wide selection of restaurants to choose from, from Michelin starred or Mediterranean fusion to authentic Mallorcan tapas.

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Son Marroig

To lay your head awhile I would recommend Hotels Belmond ResidenciaHotel Es Moli, Sa Pedrissa or Es Puig. For an incredible dining experience go to Bens D’Avall .

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Wedding bells may ring
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Of course diva features herself was Bridesmaid. Corina and I.
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Eeek the walk to freedom
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Yes I had two dresses, it was hot OK

Then comes Soller Set in a lush valley of orange groves between the mountains and the sea, Soller is popular with day trippers who arrive on the vintage train from Palma and do little but sit outside the cafes in Placa Constitucid soaking up the atmosphere and the sun.

With a selection of pastry-shops, local ice-cream and freshly squeezed orange juice, there is little temptation to move on and explore the surrounding villages.

It can get very busy in the summer as people make the trip down from Palma but if you have the time there are some beautiful boutiques and museums well worth checking out.

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Vintage tram in soller
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Fiesta of the orange

Soller hosts many fairs and festivals throughout the year – ones of note include the Apropa’t A L’Art (art weekend), from the 2nd to the 17th of June they celebrate the festival of the orange and then there’s Moros y Cristianos Fira & Firo in May.

If you are planning a day trip, come here by train from Palma, rather than car. There is a road tunnel on the Palma road ( with a toll fee of €4.70 each way) through the mountain if you do drive. The alternative is to drive up the Coll de Soller, with its 57 hairpin bends, it is one of the most twisty drives in Mallorca. Not for the faint of heart.

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Placa Constitucid


Palma de Mallorca comes as a surprise to many people – it is stylish, sophisticated, intimate, yet bursting with energy.

Half of Mallorca’s population live here, enjoying the island’s best restaurants, shops and nightlife as well as a thriving arts scene and a lively cafe society.

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Palma
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Rooftop relaxation

Mallorca has been subject to numerous invasions, conquests & sea-trading throughout its history. Palma was known to the Arabs as Medina Mayurqa (902 to 1229) and to Mallorcans thereafter simply as Ciutat (City) – Palma was in fact named after the Roman city of Palmaria (founded around 120 BC). The Roman city still exists, a metre or two beneath the ground; inhabitants of houses near the cathedral are still discovering Roman remains. The Moors were finally overthrown by the Spanish in the 13th century, and Palma became an important port & commercial centre in the Mediterranean.

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The Cathedral at night

Palma has an urban beach just beyond the cathedral to the east. It’s a reasonable size and easily within walking distance from the old quarter. Those looking for a quieter beach will be rewarded by heading further east towards Portixol & Ciudad Jardin, where you’ll also find a couple of decent beach clubs. Beyond Ciudad Jardin is the monumental Playa de Palma beach, kilometres of golden sand backed by the resorts of Can Pastilla and S’A renal.

To stay I can recommend Hotel TresHM Jaime 111, Hotel Saratoga and Urban Rustic.

Here’s a list of some of the best restaurants and for the shopper, the main shopping areas in Palma are Avinguda Jaume III and the Passeig des Born for up-market boutiques, and the pedestrian streets around Placa Major for small specialist shops.

There is also a modern shopping mall and hypermarket complex – the Centro Comercial Porto Pi – 2km from the centre. Just to the north of Palma is Festival Park, a large out-of-town shopping mall, which you can access by train or metro if you do not have a car.

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A spectacular city

Other hotspots for shopping include Puerto Portals for upmarket fashion and Cala d’Or and Port d’Andratx for fashion and gift boutiques.

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Doorways in Palma

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Right I’m off to drink a hot whiskey and sit by the fire.

Rebecca

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