Friday, 23 September 2016

Mallorca, part three: Double Perdito Midst Gaudi’s Great Cameo

Palma, Majorca, Spain (Palma de Mallorca, España)
April 2016
Spain and doughnuts go together like tea and biscuits. Not wanting to pass up the opportunity to have a Spanish doughnut again after being stuck in the land of mediocre doughnuts (London), Yannick bought a doughnut kebab for part of his breakfast.

Strawberries from the Mercat de l'Olivar in hand, we decided that the line to enter the cathedral was too long and we would try later, so for the time being we lounged in the sun and finished our morning meal.

There was a large park to one side of the cathedral with both paved and grassy areas. Seeing as it was softer on the bum, we chose the grass and munched on our strawberries for a while. After falling asleep briefly, we went hunting for a shot of the cathedral. I had seen a beautifully composed photo somewhere online and wanted to recreate it - after some deliberation we figured that the photographer must have been shooting from the marina, so off we went. However, an untimely exhibition on superyachts meant that the marina had a big fence around it, blocking all potential photography. Our plan thwarted, we returned to the cathedral to find absolutely no entrance queue whatsoever!

Constructed on the former site of a mosque from the Moorish period, the cathedral took nearly 400 years to build, and was completed in 1601. Along with Beauvais in France and Cologne in Germany, Palma has one of the tallest Gothic cathedrals in the world, and it's quite stunning to see from the inside.

Gaudi had been invited to help with the cathedral's restoration work at the turn of the twentieth century, and did so for over a decade. When he up and left one day, the work had to be taken over by other architects. It's theorised that the reason for his sudden departure was because of whisperings from the locals, saying that Gaudi was trying to upstage God and put too much of himself into the cathedral. As much of the work was completed after he left, it's not clear exactly where Gaudi left his influence, but to me the central pulpit area felt like it had a certain Gaudi-esque charm.

Yannick and I had been wandering around the nave at different speeds, so when I was ready to move on, I searched for him. I walked around clockwise, anti-clockwise, I stared at the pews thinking he might be resting his feet, I held still and scanned the room but could not see him anywhere. Thinking he must have just moved on, I walked through to the next section, which was a lovely courtyard with a well. But he wasn't there either! I sat on a bench for a few minutes, wondering if he was still in the nave or if he had continued to move forwards. Without much else to do, I entered the gift shop after an issue with the automatic sliding doors (I think I was too small for the sensor to detect me and a member of staff had to help). Yannick was nowhere to be seen in the gift shop, so perhaps he was getting a breath of fresh air outside and waiting for me. Nope! And now I couldn't go back through the gift shop and couldn't go in the main entrance unless I wanted to purchase a new ticket, so I waited for him. And waited. Just as I was getting worried and was on the verge of begging the gift shop's security guard to let me back in, I saw Yannick's white shirt in the shop and I waved frantically. He had been looking for me too, but had stayed in the nave for much longer than I did. We were both flummoxed at how we didn't see each other.
After spending a relaxed afternoon at our flat, we went out for dinner at 500 Degrees, an authentic Naples pizzeria. As the restaurant was on the long pedestrian street that we lived right next to (Carrer del 31 de Desembre), we had checked out their menu as we walked past and saw that they do marinara pizza, which is traditionally vegan! It was pretty scrummy. 

The next day we went a-wandering. For lunch we made a trip to Bon Lloc, the first vegetarian restaurant in Mallorca (opened 1978) that offers a four-course vegan lunch menu each day for €15 per person. To complement the food we ordered a bottle of Mallorcan wine!

A lesser-known type of sightseeing in Mallorca focuses on private courtyards. I suppose in a way, these were similar to the traboules we saw in Lyon, except without the passages linking residences to others and to the river.

Apparently, Mallorcan courtyards are a remnant of Roman architecture. In a Roman house, there would be a central courtyard called an atrium, which would be open to the sky but surrounded on all sides by the house. Though almost all of the coastline around the Mediterranean Sea has been occupied by the Romans at some point in history, for some unexplained reason Mallorcan houses in particular held onto this facet of ancient architecture.

An unattractive carpark and giant recycling bins were plonked right in front of the Basílica de Sant Francesc, so I don't want to show you wide angles from the outside. I will, however, present a close up of a highly detailed window on the face, with a statue of Saint George slaying a very small dragon beneath it.

This church took over 400 years to build (what you up to, Mallorcans?) but the end result was impressive, with a large cloister encircling a garden with palm trees.

Though not as tall as the cathedral, the basilica was still a gorgeous example of Gothic architecture and we had the place almost to ourselves to explore. 

On our way to El Corte Ingles, a hypermarket, we stopped by Amorino for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up and I experienced pistachio sorbet! Sorbet! As in, no milk! It was so delicious, and there was no dairy to dampen the flavour of the nuts so the pistachio shone. 

Also along the way, we found that we were walking along a pedestrian street that ran right in between two normal streets! A flower market was being held, and it made for a pleasant stroll. 
Once we had reached El Cotre Ingles, we beelined for the home department and found what we were searching for in about two minutes flat: a zumo wrestler (aka an orange squeezer). We had been looking far and wide in the UK since the handy one we had acquired in Liencres broke. It was a sad day, and the grief of our lost friend was made worse by the fact that all orange squeezers in England are shit! Either they're too small, comprised of shoddy materials or they don't have the strainer bit that catches falling seeds to prevent them falling in the juice. Is that so much to ask? Well, we knew that we could find one in Spain, and we did! Take that, England! While we were there we gathered supplies for dinner: cava and cointreau chocolate.
Before we knew it, our little holiday to Palma was over and it was time to board our flight back to the considerably more chilly United Kingdom. Adios, Spain. ¡Hasta luego! Though we didn't want to leave, we had a house sit lined up in the East London neighborhood of Bethnal Green. We would have a cat again! 

Today's post was almost called: Eat Like a Majorcqueen!