Palma Day 1

From the bus stop near the Estació Marítima Bareria building we took the 1 bus to Plaza Espanya (7:13am pickup, €1.50/person, up to €10 of change made by driver).  The bus/train station at Plaza Espanya has the only public left luggage in Palma, so we hoped to use their left luggage lockers before the office officially opened at 9:30am.  Their website was unclear whether these lockers are available outside of office hours.  We were excited to see the lockers outside the office, but then were disappointed to find that the office has to be open in order to rent a locker.

Bus stop near the Estació Marítima Bareria building
Bus 1, which runs between the port, Plaza Espana, and the airport

With no other choice besides carrying our larger backpacks around town, we decided to stay in the bus station for about 2 hours until the left luggage office opened at 9:30am.  There were no open chairs, so we found an out-of-the-way area and sat on the ground.  JT laid down and went to sleep while Katie stayed up and utilized the fast, free wifi.  About an hour into our wait, a security guard approached and we assume he told us we had to find seats (as we did not understand whatever he said in Catalan).  Luckily, some seats had opened up nearby, so we moved to these chairs.  JT tried to go back to sleep, but not surprisingly found it more difficult to sleep on the hard plastic chair than on the floor.

Once 9:30am arrived and a guy arrived to man the left luggage office, we slowly packed up and went over to the office (~10:00am). We ended up leaving both bags in one locker since the office was closing early at 1pm (and we needed to leave our bags until at least 2pm). Despite using just one locker, we were still charged by the bag. It was €4.5 each for our ‘handbags’ (it would have been €5.5 each if our bags were considered ‘large’). There seemed to be no guidelines for what constituted a ‘large bag’, so we were happy our bags were considered handbags.

Price list for Palma Lock and Go

After locking up our bags, we stopped in the station supermarket (~10:15am) to grab some breakfast items. We ended up with 8 small croissants (€1.5), individually-wrapped cheddar cheese – that tasted overly processed (€1.26), a pull-tab can of olives (€0.79), and a Monster energy drink (€2). In addition, we picked up champagne glasses pre-loaded with 12 seedless grapes inside (€1.25 each) which we would need later tonight. We ate the breakfast items in a small park near Plaza Espanya before making our way towards Plaza Cort and the Cathedral.

Breakfast in the park
 A massive but realistic Deuter backpack was in the middle of a street! (outside a store selling outdoor gear)

 In the morning, likely around 8:30am, there had been a ceremony in Plaza Cort. After this ceremony, a large group of drummers, horsemen, dancers, important community, and the Palma Town Band marched to the Cathedral. Once at the Cathedral, a mass was held. Due to not being able to store our bags and believing that we would not be admitted to the mass since we were not local, we walked through Plaza Cort and arrived at the Cathedral around 10:45am.  A ceremony had clearly already been held in Plaza Cort as a tall scented tree was standing in the plaza with it’s leaves laying all around as if it had been ceremonially trimmed.

Plaza Cort with the trimmed tree
Tall statues near Plaza Cort

Once we arrived at the Cathedral, we noticed people entering the Cathedral through a side entrance.  We followed them, and were pleased to find ourselves inside the Cathedral with the mass ongoing!  We saw some dances and then left since we could not get a decent view with the crowds and we wanted to stake out a place along the marching path back towards the Plaza Cort.

Ongoing mass in the Palma Cathedral
Dancing with fake horses during mass in the Palma Cathedral
Palma Cathedral

We staked out a position along the marching path where we could also see the large Cathedral.  We really enjoyed watching the parade, from the bag pipers to the dancers to the traditionally dressed families to the dignitaries.  It really was an experience!

One of the dancers with a fake horse was kind enough to stop for a photo outside the cathedral before the parade
The parade started with these three men on horseback
Drummers came next
Traditionally dressed families walked in the parade next
Traditionally dressed young women were also in the parade
Next were bagpipers and two young musicians
Next were high-energy dancers who seemed to prance down the parade route
Dancers with fake horses, followed by a female dancer (also with a fake horse) with many more elaborate dances
Finally, the local town band led the town dignitaries to Plaza Cort

After the march passed us, we followed it to Plaza Cort where there was already a waiting crowd and we struggled to see what was getting ready to happen.  A seemingly important man gave a short speech and then the traditionally dressed women did a call and response version of Pere d’Alcàntara Penya’s play La Colcada, where one woman seemed to have the enormous task of remembering the vast majority of the play!  The play was interesting but rather difficult to understand with only limited Spanish skills.  After the play, another important seeming man seemed to give a ‘State of the City’ address.

Plaza Cort was crowded for the play and speech
Flowers for the main speaker in the play
Crowded Plaza Cort for the speech

We assumed the event was over after the last address, so we walked shortly down to street to see tall wooden mannequins be carried away and back to their normal spots.   After seeing this, we heard bag pipes coming from the square, so we went back to find the traditionally dressed people dancing!  It was mesmerizing to watch them dance! As seems to often be common in dancing, there were many more women than men, so the poor men seemed to be getting rather tired.

A guy moving the tall wooden mannequin back to its indoor spot
With one of the tall wooden mannequins
The normal ‘home’ for the tall wooden mannequins
Dancing at Plaza Cort
At Plaza Cort after the festivities concluded
Once they signaled that they were finished dancing, we found a cafe near the Cathedral for lunch named Ca’s Caparrut (Calle Palau Reial 19). JT ordered seafood pasta (9.5€) while Katie ordered a 4 cheese pizza (10€) since she was still craving cheese. Although JT was very pleased with his pasta, Katie was disappointed that her pizza tasted like it was likely frozen. Katie had a “Coke Light” (€2.5) while JT sipped a cafe con leche (€2.5). The terrace we ate on (for about a €1/dinner item surcharge) was nice and peaceful, and even included guitar entertainment.

JT’s seafood pasta at Ca’s Caparrut
Patio seating at Ca’s Caparrut

After lunch we went to check in to our AirBnB apartment.  We were pleased to see that our room and bathroom were on their own private hallway, so we never saw any of the other inhabitants of the apartment (nor our actual host, just her ‘boyfriend’ – we have a theory that perhaps he was actually the host but made a female profile because people would rather stay with a woman).

When we walked through Plaza Cort after lunch, we were surprised how much progress had been made on resetting the plaza
AirBnB bedroom
AirBnB personal patio

We headed to Bellver Castle on the 3 bus (3:30pm pickup, €1.5 each), which dropped us below the castle and its park. Then we walked about 20 minutes uphill to the castle (mainly up stairs within the park).  Right before we got to the park gates, we saw three cats laying in the sun in the backyard of a nice house. They looked very content.

Happy cats lounging on this home’s patio
We entered the park and climbed up the stairs to the castle, finally getting there around 4pm. We had to go to an awkwardly placed, out of the way ticket office to buy tickets (€4/person) for the castle.

The no-longer-used castle entrance near the ticket office

We entered the castle and used the free audio guide made by the castle that Katie had downloaded beforehand.  We’re not sure we’d have wanted to pay much for it, but it was nice to have it for free.

We wandered the castle and enjoyed the excellent views and sunset from the roof of the castle until the castle strangely closed 30 minutes before its posted closing time. We think the staff just wanted to go home early on New Year’s Eve…

Interior court in the castle
Outside the castle on an elevated area
Looking towards the port from the castle rooftop
On the castle rooftop
Looking towards the Palma Cathedral from the castle rooftop
The interior courtyard as seen from the castle rooftop
The castle and its moat
We walked back down the hill through the park to catch the 3 bus back to Plaza Espanya (6:08pm pickup, 1.5€ each). We stopped at a supermarket and bought some throat lozenges (for Katie’s sore throat, 1.03€) and cava brut (for New Year’s Eve at Plaza Cort €1.89 for 750ml bottle).
Once back at Plaza Espanya, we retrieved our bags from the locker and went back to our apartment to settle in and unpack.
We noticed that many restaurants already seemed to be closing, and we were starting to get hungry, so we decided to wander and just find a place to eat. We did see a business card for a nearby ceviche restaurant in the apartment, so we walked over there, but found it was closed. We continued walking and found Mediterrani Avingudes (Avd Conde Sallent 5).
The posted menu at Mediterrani Avingudes seemed a bit expensive, but since we had few other choices and it looked good, we decided to go for it. We enjoyed beer (€2.9 each), bread with garlic sauce (which we were told were €1/3 pieces, but we were charged €1.4 for six), ceviche (€9.5), patatas bravas (€4.9), and chicken croquetas (€6). Everything was top-notch, we just wished that either the servings were larger or the prices were lower!

Our three dishes at Mediterrani Avingudes
Chicken croquetas at Mediterrani Avingudes
Patatas bravas at Mediterrani Avingudes
Ceviche at Mediterrani Avingudes
Cute bill/change box at Mediterrani Avingudes

After dinner (~8:30pm) we walked back to the apartment to rest for a few hours.

We left our apartment for Plaza Cort at 10:50pm. When we arrived at 11:10pm, the live band had already begun playing and many people were already in the square. It was fun to see all types and ages of people in the plaza to welcome the new year – from elderly women to young kids with their parents to tourists to babies to a guy who we can only assume was normally one of the street vendors selling flying ferries and such.

Plaza Mayor’s lighting was nicely done
All the balconies in Plaza Cort had identical lights
Live music in Plaza Cort before midnight and the New Year
 Awaiting the New Year in Plaza Cort
Just before midnight a man gave instructions over the microphone on how to follow the 12 grapes tradition. We did not understand him, but a local guy behind us who we had been chatting with earlier had already explained it to us.  Everyone should bring 12 grapes.  First there are a series of chimes – don’t start eating on these (Katie accidentally ate one). Then on each of the actual bells, swallow a grape before the next chime.

Our special seedless grapes
12 grapes each for good luck in 2016
The clock, and presumably the guy on stage, indicates that midnight is near
We both had trouble getting the final grape out of the glass, but otherwise we consider our performance a success!
The party at Plaza Cort continued until after 1am, with the live band being replaced by recorded top 50 hits at 12:45am.

The band came back on stage after midnight
We enjoyed bringing in the New Year in Palma!
Festivities in Plaza Cort were still going strong when we retired at 12:55am
At this point, we decided to return to our apartment as we were rather tired.  We could not resist getting some churros from a stand (Churreria Josana) near our apartment though! And we are so glad we did, as they were incredibly delicious.  We sat on our private patio and enjoyed the tasty treat while watching/listening to the surrounding fireworks.

Many different offering available at Churreria Josana
We recommend the churros though, as enjoying them on our patio was the perfect end to the day
Overall, we’re so happy we chose Mallorca over Barcelona or Madrid for New Year’s Eve – it felt much more low key and local, while still being lots of fun!

Leave a Reply