Vacation Destination – Mallorca in the Mediterranean

The island of Mallorca (Majorca) off the coast of Spain was chosen for several scenes in the sci-fi movie Cloud Atlas, released in 2012. The film is based on David Mitchell’s book of six interwoven stories. Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Susan Sarandon, and other members of the cast experience success and failure while traveling from the past to the present and beyond to the year 2300. We are reminded of Orwell, Melville, and Huxley, as the Cloud represents the changes and adaptations of the characters within a predictable pattern, the Atlas of human nature.

Of course most of us will be walking around Spain rather than traveling through time. The warm, usually mild climate in April, May, and June is perfect for walking holidays in Spain and attracts travelers worldwide, as well as members of the Spanish royal family and many artists and celebrities who visit or live on the island. Filming locations for Cloud Atlas included Port de Sóller, a small village away from the tourist areas, Sa Calobra beach nearby, the cliffs at Cap de Formentor, and Puig Major, the highest mountain on Majorca for the post-apocalyptic scenes. We will focus primarily on Palma the capital, as most visitors arrive at the airport here.

Things to See & Do:

Bellver Castle is an excellent example of 14th century architecture with 3 towers, a moat, and central courtyard. Besides a great view of the city below and the Bay of Palma, the castle has a museum of artifacts, the Despuig Classical Sculpture Collection, and the chapel of St Mark.

Hours: Daily. 8am-8pm, Oct thru Mar. 8am-9pm, Apr thru Sep. Sunday hours vary. Admission: Adults, $3.50, Students & Seniors, $1.50, Under 14 Free. Guided group tours free.

Pueblo Espanol was originally designed as a small village replica of famous architecture and artisan workshops. After changing ownership, however, the original atmosphere has changed into a place to hang out with discos, cafes, and fast food outlets as the main attractions.

Open: Daily, 9-7pm. Admission: $6.50 & $4

Visitors enjoy walking around the interesting old historical center within the city walls of Palma. There are many small shops, sidewalk cafes, and art galleries, with some of the best shopping along the Passeig des Bom and Avenida Jaume III. Shop at Antiguedades for locally made jewelry, Arte-Facto for handicrafts, or at the Placa Major underground shopping mall. Produce, fish, and craft markets open early at 6 or 7am, 6 days a week; Olivar indoor market receives positive reviews.

Spend some time at the small museum featuring the collection of the wealthy banker Juan March. Here are permanent displays of 70 paintings by Picasso, Dali, and Miro, the masters of contemporary art, as well as temporary exhibits by over 50 national and international artists.

Hours: Mon-Fri, 10-6:30pm, Sat – 10:30-2pm, Closed Sun. Free admission.

High on a hill above the city is the majestic Sa Seu cathedral, which was originally built as a mosque in the 13th and 14th centuries by Jaume I. Officially completed and consecrated in 1601, the cathedral is a national historical monument. Rebuilt after the 1851 earthquake, it features 4 towers, lots of stained glass, sculptures and paintings of the saints, and symbols of the Marian Litany. Sa Seu has the largest Gothic rose window in the world, over 100 meters square divided into 24 triangles representing the Star of David. This impressive structure includes 16 interior chapels, an Alms House, tombs of Mallorcan kings, a 9-bell tower, and a ceramic mural by famed Miquel Barceló. Gift shop of religious art, souvenirs, and other memorabilia.

Hours: Apr-May & Oct, Mon-Fri, 10-5:15pm. Jun-Sep, 10-6:15pm. Sat,10-2:15pm.

For something different, take the wooden train built in 1912 from the Plaza d’Espanya in Palma to Sóller. Travel through tunnels and citrus groves; stop at any one of 10 villages along the way. Runs 5 times a day every 2 hours, 1-hour rd trip about $22. The tram runs every 30 minutes from Sóller to the seaside port on the Bay. Cost: $11 rd trip.

Travelers will find numerous beaches along the Palma coastline–at popular tourist resorts including the Playa de Palma, Peguera, and Camp de Mar, as well as more secluded beaches at Illetes, Andratx, and Cala Mayor. Majorca is more than beaches, however, as there are numerous caves in the mountains to explore. Visitors to the Caves of Drach at the village of Portocristo enjoy a gondola ride beneath multi-color lights in the huge chambers while listening to a classical concert on the Martel, Europe’s largest underground lake.

Hours: Daily. 10-5pm, Apr thru Oct. 10:45-12, 2-3:30pm, Nov thru Mar. Admission: Adults, $15, Under 7 Free.

Accommodations:

Castillo Hotel Son Vida ranks among the best in luxury class for its location, service, and numerous amenities. Guests have a choice of elegant guestrooms or suites, even an option for a personal butler at an extra charge of $150 a day. There are 4 outdoor pools and one indoor at the Arabella Spa onsite, 4 tennis courts, and golf courses nearby. Interchangeable dining arrangements at 3 different luxury hotels. Rates: From $250 (incl breakfast).

Hotel Gran Melia Victoria on the waterfront has an excellent location near main attractions and town center. There are 3 restaurants, outdoor pool and fitness center, indoor pool, and a casino in the lobby. Rates: Std room – From $140, Seaside room – From $178. Buffet brkfst, $26; Half board, $73.

The Puro is a reasonably priced hotel with guestrooms and suites, a spa, sushi nights on the rooftop terrace, and good food in a somewhat Bohemian atmosphere. Probably fun for young couples; the bar/lounge and DJ music next door is a popular nightspot. Rates: Avg $200/night

If you prefer getting out of the city, there’s a beautiful hotel about 40 miles away at the Cap de Formentor where some of the cast of Cloud Atlas stayed. The Barceló Formentor offers guests numerous amenities including 6 restaurants, piano bar in the gardens, horse and bicycle trails, mini-golf, tennis, and sailing. Rooms and suites have satellite TV, wi-fi, and iPod connections, as well as splendid views of the mountains or the sea. The hotel is closed from November to 21 April, but reservations can be booked for 2012. (Small pets accepted.)

Rates: Sea view – $314, Mountain view – $222

Dining: A variety of food and tapas (popular for lunch and late afternoon snacks) can be found at La Boveda, Cellar Pages, and seafood at La Lubina near the harbor. Most cafes are open for lunch, closed for siesta. Among the recommended restaurants in Palma are Caballito de Mar near the town center, and the very elegant, expensive Chopin for French and international gourmet cuisine located near the cathedral square. The Aramis for Italian/Mediterranean and Opio in the Puro Hotel for Asian atmosphere and food receive good reviews.

Nightclubs: Pacha’s overlooking the yacht harbor is probably the best-known club. Open 10pm-6am, summer admission about $27. Tito’s is open daily from 10pm, and the Garito Club opens at 7pm, with DJ and live music, admission is free.

Transportation: International flights, train and bus service between villages. No bridges from the mainland, but ferries operate daily from Barcelona and Valencia. 8-hour trip, rd trip $90 and up. Cruise ships dock at Palma regularly.

Sharon L Slayton

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