A trip to Mallorca beckoned in October when our pickleball club, Runnymede Royals, planned a trip to Palma Nova. The club has used before as the tennis court there are now marked out as pickleball courts, as well as bring a tennis court. If you’ve never heard of pickleball, try looking it up on the internet! We hadn’t been able to travel on previous pickleball trips and hadn’t been to Mallorca for 40 years, so decided to get some winter sun, along with 30 of our fellow club members and the opportunity to play pickleball as well.
I was absolutely delighted to have won a week’s car hire with Avis as a result of a comment on the Silver Travel Adviser site, so we decided to use that on our trip. The journey out was smooth, and we picked up our car at the airport – we were even given a free upgrade, which was splendid. We did opt to pay for additional car waiver insurance in the UK in advance – at a huge cost of about £13! – instead of the somewhat extortionate cost which the car hire company would have charged had we done it on the spot. Fortunately we didn’t need to claim on the policy.
We were staying at the Fergus Bermudas Hotel in Palma Nova on a B&B basis. Palma Nova is not somewhere we would have necessarily chosen, but it was a nice hotel with a lovely pool and gardens, so a bit of an oasis in the local built-up area. We had a room with a pool view which was fine, and the staff were very helpful. Breakfasts were buffet-style and plentiful. The beach was about 5 minutes’ walk and there are many restaurants along the seafront of varying quality! The weather was mainly sunny and warm, which was wonderful.
We had the opportunity to play pickleball between 10 and 12 noon and again between 3 and 5pm, and we all gathered for drinks before going out to eat in the evening. We had a couple of meals where most people came along, one in a good Italian restaurant in Palma Nova, and the other in Portals Nous, where the glitterati moor their very expensive yachts, but definitely worth looking at and a good place for people watching. Local Thai restaurants were attraction for some of our friends.
We had several trips out on our own – one to Palma, where we took in the Cathedral – an amazing sight in the afternoon with the sun shining through 14 wonderful bright stained-glass windows. We visited the Diocesan Museum which was very interesting. One tip – if the queue to visit the Cathedral is too long (for example when a cruise ship is in harbour) you can buy your ticket at the Diocesan Museum as it’s a joint ticket anyway, and then just go straight in. We then wandered through the old town and ended with dinner at an Italian restaurant.
We drove up in the mountains to the monastery at Lluc, but unfortunately it poured with rain. We went on to Alcudia, a very interesting walled town, by which time the rain had stopped. Another afternoon trip took us to Andratx where we went up to the church (which was shut!), and then on to Porto Andratx and St Elm, right at the furthest westerly point of Mallorca. It’s a lovely little place with a sandy beach and lots of nice coffee shops and restaurants, as well as some quality tourist shops. We spent our last afternoon there and stayed on for dinner at lovely fish restaurant where we watched the sun setting over La Dragonera – an uninhabited wildlife island refuge. Another trip was to Soller and then down to Porto de Soller. We were intending to leave the car in Soller, experience the traditional train down to Palma and back, and then get the tram to Porto de Soller, but parking in Soller was a nightmare, so we just got the tram from Porto de Soller to explore Soller. On our way back to Palma we stopped in Deia, where we looked for Robert Graves’ grave (without success) and then went onto Valdemossa and explored the palace, Real Cartuja (Royal Carthusian Monastery), including the church, cloisters, and old pharmacy. Part of the monastery is King Sancho’s palace – later given to Carthusian monks, who converted it and other buildings into the monastery. Frédéric Chopin and his lover, the French writer George Sand, spent the winter of 1838/9, staying in rented rooms in the monastery. It probably has more visitors than any other building in Mallorca, apart from Palma’s cathedral.
Altogether it was a great holiday with good company and some exercise thrown in! Thank you to Silver Travel Adviser for our car rental prize!