Visiting Majorca on Carnival Breeze
The Carnival Breeze docked in Palma de Mallorca (Majorca) fairly early one morning near the start of our transatlantic cruise from Barcelona. Not having scheduled any shore excursions, we got ready at our leisure and set out to explore. After a trip through the duty free shop we got shuttle tickets for 5 euros each.
The shuttle took us past the modern architecture in the area of Europe’s vacation homes and into the old town district across the street from La Seu, a massive ancient cathedral.
From just about any angle La Seu has something interesting to photograph. With giant doorways full of intricate figures and designs, to tall crumbling spires, there’s always a new view.
Horse carriages waited near the cathedral, hoping for tourists wanting to go for a ride.
Construction on this cathedral began in the 1200’s on the site of a former mosque. It took until the 1600’s to finish it. Beggars dressed in a variety of colorful and creative costumes tried to catch the attention of passers-by in hopes of earning a few coins in exchange for the photographs they know people will take of them.
Many of the ancient streets still have brick paving. Some even had overhead decorations running the length of the street. Besides looking nice, tourists find these decorations helpful in recognizing where you came from when the time comes to find the way back.
Walking down narrow streets past quaint shops, we found the banks of the region quite paranoid. This is very unhelpful for the tourists in this touristy area. Most banks had double doors that locked prospective customers first out and then in. A single teller sat in a glass cage, and when confronted with a $100 dollar bill found themselves unable to exchange it for euros. On the fourth try we found a French bank that seemed much friendlier than all the Spanish ones. Not only did they have just one front door that opened easily, but the teller also sat out in the open behind his desk, no glass cage. This bank exchanged the money with no hassle. If you should happen to find yourself in Palma de Mallorca with a need to exchange dollars for euros, bring $20 bills for better luck.
Down the road a bit we noticed an interesting looking building containing a coffee shop called merely Cappuccino. Along with a cup of tea we got free wi-fi, necessary because we found the ship’s internet much too slow for photos. We got a bit of work done and then moved on.
A little farther on we found an outdoor plaza surrounded by hi-rise buildings. Here we saw the most creative beggar of all, a girl dressed in gold colored clothes who appeared to sit in mid-air supported only by a stick in her hand.
Other nearby beggars wore headless suits and one even had a head at his feet for the collecting tin.
John wanted to find some wine, so we wandered about until we came across a nice little wine and cheese shop on what appeared as the outskirts of the touristy shops. They had quite a selection of local wines. He found a couple inexpensive bottles, and after returning to the ship and tasting one he proclaimed it one of the best wines he’d ever tasted. Spanish wines are free of the sulphites found in many American wines.
HISTORY IN A NUTSHELL
Humans have occupied Palma since before the time of the Roman Empire. The Romans built a city on the ruins of a previous civilization there. After a sacking by the Vandals during the fall of the Roman Empire, the city later was reconquered by the Byzantines and colonized by the Moors. The city spent time under rule by Muslims, Christians, and Vikings through different time periods in history. Majorca spent some time as its own kingdom, but became split by infighting of rival gangs within the city. Spain took control in the 1700′s.
Starting in the 1950’s tourism changed the island forever, adding to the population and causing major construction.
The average temperature of the island varies seasonally from 40°F to 87°F and rarely drops below 31°F or climbs above 93°F. Rainy days happen more often throughout the colder fall and winter season than in the warmer summertime.
THINGS TO DO IN PALMA DE MALLORCA
Palma de Mallorca is the biggest and the capitol city of the island of Majorca. Almost half of the island’s population lives in Palma. It is a major tourist attraction as well. Other Europeans keep vacation homes there. Even the Spanish royals spend summer vacations there. Cruise ship passengers have just a brief time to sample what this area has to offer. The ships offer some tours including sight seeing, wine tasting, train rides, or a visit to a cave. Some excursions include food.
Things to find exploring on your own include lots of old churches, cathedrals and other historic buildings, many touristy shops and some local markets. Palma also has a castle and Arab baths that are open to the public and numerous places to eat.
Like many other places that have a lot of tourists, Palma also has a hop-on, hop off double decker bus. In most places that provides a pretty good means of getting around to see the major sites of the area.