Seeing through the Circus Act: A Week in Mallorca

A long-overdue post—but life happens. I’ll call it a Throwback Blog Post anyway. 🙂 To set the mood, I’ll open with a recording of this awesome duo we caught at the Sineu Mercado—aptly named, “The Market Noise”. Just imagine this blaring through the sunkissed, cobbled streets of a century-old village—picture yourself peering through throngs of people, over stalls loaded with greens and fresh fruit, through the hanging skeins of freshly shorn Serrano Jámon, trying to identify this strangely hypnotic sound…

Sineu Mercado was a riot of color and smells. It was hot, bright, sensorial. Everywhere there was food to try or crafts to admire—each stall was, in the brilliant Spanish sun, almost a work of art. We wandered through the narrow aisles, picking up parts of a picnic lunch that we’d enjoy by the sea, later in the day.

 

Pro Tip: The Sineu Market is every Wednesday. Get there early to beat the crowds (and the heat), and make sure to buy some fresh olives and jámon to take with you.

That picnic lunch was just the first of many meals eaten by the beach. With views like these, why wouldn’t you? We rented a car for the entire trip, driving every which-way imaginable across this tiny island. Epic scenery awaited us at every turn.

Pro Tip: If the weather doesn’t hold, or you want a break from the sun, check out the Cuevas del Drach. The tours will be crowded, but if you aim for the front of the group, you can appreciate the amazing rock formations with minimal selfie intrusions.


In between the jaw-dropping views were tiny villages, constructed out of the same, warm sandstone. The architecture in Mallorca ranged from Roman ruins to green-shuttered farmhouses to the soaring cathedral in Palma itself—where the Spanish Royal Family had celebrated Easter just days before we arrived.

Palma was beautiful and bustling. We spent an evening watching the sunset from Sky Bar at Hotel Cuba (technically closed for the season, but with a quick tongue, we made it happen). The city is crowded with cafes, trendy shops, and trendy bars. Drinks are cheap, and the food is bountiful and delicious.

Which brings to me my favorite thing memory of Palma. If you are there on a Tuesday, do not miss the Ruta Martiana. It’s an almost city-wide pub crawl, where different bars and cafes offer platos/tapas and a drink for only 2EUR. We arrived on a Tuesday and did the Ruta Martiana on our first night—it was a great introduction to the city, and we FEASTED on some of the best food of the trip for a fraction of the usual cost.

What I really loved about the Ruta Martiana—and why it beats out even the beautiful scenery for my favorite thing about the trip—was how authentic it felt. There weren’t a ton of tourists; in fact, most of the people we saw were groups of local friends, just out for a cheap drink after work. The best part of it was just exploring the curving streets of Palma: looking for the Ruta Martiana signs, debating whether this bar or that one was too crowded, strolling hand-in-hand and experiencing the city as the night unfolded.

Mallorca was beautiful, no doubt about it, but there’s a joke that it is the 17th Federal State of Germany, and that joke holds largely true. The menus and signs are all in German (or on the “British side”, in English) and tourism makes up the core of Mallorca’s income. To that effect, the experience can feel largely contrived—as if the island was putting on a show for all of us visiting…and we didn’t even visit the Ballermann! The night on the Ruta Martiana felt like we were seeing Mallorca with its guard down—and we could appreciate the experience without it feeling like an act.

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