We decided to stay fairly close to the capital Palma, which we worked out would have some cultural attractions, and be useful for getting to other places on the Island. We opted for a Thompson 'budget' all inclusive holiday, and chose to stay at the BQ Belvedere Hotel close to Cala Mayor Beach. It was a large hotel, with our 'budget' room looking over the back towards the woods. From our balcony in the morning and evenings we would do bird watching and look down towards the sea too. We saw Hoopoes flying across, and even foraging along a well manicured hedge in the grounds just after watering, as well as swifts doing their best to clear the area of flying insects. The only criticism I could bring was that we had some cooking smells wafting up from the kitchen fans during their cooking times. Other sides of the hotel would not have had this, but then they would not have such lovely views of the woods and it was very quiet, except when they were some sports going on, which also meant there was a great vantage point to watch the volleyball, archery, or rifle shooting.
The Hotel was very well organised, very clean, and the food plentiful, varied and very well done. It was all buffet style, but the tables had table cloths, which were nearly always changed as soon as sitters left. The grounds were really beautifully kept, with interesting trees and shrubs and plenty of sunny and shaded places to sit on in. When we were outside, we found places under the trees, as the sun was already very hot. There was a free and frequent shuttle bus to Palmanova, and the Palma Bus stopped in a little shaded road just about 50 metres from the Hotel every 15 minutes. We got to know this one really well, and even worked out that instead of paying the 1.5Euros to get into town, you could buy a book of 10 tickets for 10 Euros from the Tobacconists in Palma. We found the best way to walk down the steep route to the coast close to the Hotel along steps and quiet roads, and were really quite fit by the end of the two weeks.
On our second day we took our first trip in Palma, stopping off at the top of the Tree Lined Passeig des Born.
The first thing that caught our eye was the fountain with an obelisk supported by turtles. It was at the top of a long avenue with shaded benches, beautiful trees, and elegant buildings.
At the top of the Avenue, is the Casal Solleric, an elegant 18th Century Baroque Mansion, which houses an Exhibition Space: our first of many very good Museums.
In addition to various paintings, and also modern 'Art', there was an excellent exhibition on The Archduke Lluis Salvador of Austria who came and fell in love with Mallorca. And horror of horrors, causing a big scandal, fell in love and married the daughter of a carpenter, must be a novel in this? I thought it was very romantic and would have loved to have time to read more about this. We loved reading and looking at all the artifacts, which gave us a great insight into how his delight with the island, his research and writing, brought the wealthier families of Europe to come and enjoy the Island. We loved the old photographs and drawings of the Island before modern tourism and property development changed the Island.
The Courtyard and building of Caso Solleric are really beautiful, and give an idea of what lies behind the large doors along the Mallorcan Streets. After this we always tried to glimpse through into the beautiful courtyards, if the doors were being opened or left ajar.
I love the way the City is laid out, and how the ground slopes gently to the sea, I felt completely orientated, down the Born and nestling below the walls of Palace are some pretty gardens, with good pavements, kept really clean and tidy, and then you come across this pretty fountain, reminiscent of the Alhambra Palace fountain.
At the end we turned right, with the sea on our left..an elegant walk with truly beautiful views, but my eye was caught by the piles of trimmings of flower buds from the Palm Trees,
a lovely study in Green...
A vey short way along is La Llotja, the old Stock Exchange, of course you have the imagine that when this built, the ships would have moored alongside. We were able to enter and marvel at this 15th century space with high vaulted ceiling held up by slender carved columns, with plenty of light coming in from the windoes. Its an amazing space and had some interesting Modern Art items. It is here that I started my collection of Angels of Mallorca...this is The Guardian Angel of La Llotja
After backtracking we started to walk along the side of the Cathedral where I found another Angel on the front of the Museu Diocesa, which we decided not to visit.
We did however visit the pretty cloisters of the convent of Sat Francesc, and the Church.
As we arrived at break time, the 15th century cloisters were full of children playing and running around, and oh so polite. We even were helped by some of the youngsters to find the entrance to the Church, and they seemed to beam with delight in showing off their language skills, with which I was impressed. The Church is well worth visiting, and as well as being the final resting place of Ramon Llull..the most universal Majorcan citizen of all time..and another angel from the Baroque....
Everywhere along our walk around the City that day we found more places we wanted to explore, so we knew we would be returning again during our stay, not only to catch connections for other parts of the Island.