Palma Diary, June/July 2018 – An Englishman abroad
Day 3 – Wednesday
As we get an early bus, it isn’t too crowded, so the journey into Palma is quite pleasant.
When we first started coming to Mallorca, the railway station was a simple affair with two lines in the open air and a tiny ticket office (most people paid on the train), with the bus station about half a mile away. Then a few years ago, work commenced on a project to incorporate both the railway station and bus station in an underground complex now known as the Intermodal. From here, it is possible to get to pretty much anywhere on the island.
So, a short walk from the bus to the train and it’s off to Sineu. Sineu is a pretty town in the centre of the island and was once the capital of the Kingdom of Mallorca. Today, it is probably best known for its wonderful market, held every Wednesday.
I’ve been at all times of year, but on this sunny summer’s day, it’s busy. Nonetheless, it’s not too difficult to get around. We stop at Son Toreó for a coffee and then continue. We buy a couple of siurells, the clay whistles; a demon for me and a tortoise for Elizabeth. I’m delighted to find a mule and foal and spend some time petting them. Don’t ask me why, but I love mules. Nearby, they are doing pony rides for children and I have to take Elizabeth. Charlotte has distrusted horses since I took her on a ride in Calvia when she was little and she hated it, and Kaleb is not keen, so me being an experienced equestrian, I lead the pony round the little course. Seriously though, it’s only tiny, but I can tell that if it had its head, it would be away, unlike the one in front which keeps stopping. We weren’t sure how Elizabeth would react to it, but she absolutely loves it.
There are quite a few restaurants in Sineu, a couple of which I have dined at in the past, but we decide to just have a cold drink and head back to Palma. One of the places on our list to take Kaleb is Celler Sa Premsa, so we go there for lunch. It’s only a short walk from the station. As I’ve said before, the food is ok rather than fantastic, but it’s a Palma institution and so atmospheric. I go for the very reliable Menú del Dia and have arroz negra, black rice, followed by frit, lamb’s liver and vegetables, and finish with púdin, like a kind of crema catalana, but made using ensaimadas.
In the evening, we head into Magaluf (no – wait before making any assumptions and read on) to visit a little restaurant that we used to frequent years ago. You see, we used to stay with friends who lived in Magaluf, because that’s where the work was and although we quickly found our way to Palma and the interior of the island, we inevitably spent some time in Magaluf and Palma Nova. In fact, this unassuming little place – Méson Español – was where I first ever had tapas and when we reach it, it really is a blast from the past. The menu is slightly different, but the place is exactly the same with el patrón still there serving the drinks and doing the cooking himself. I tell him that we used to come here when Charlotte was little and now we’ve brought my granddaughter and he smiles benignly, but I don’t think he really remembers.
I have Variado de la Casa, a big plate of freshly-made tapas and only €7. The table is fairly groaning under all the food and drink and the bill is next to nothing. I don’t actually know how to feel; it’s comforting to find that some things never change, but there’s also a touch of poignance in that this lovely man is still beavering away there doing the same old thing.
On the way back, I buy a bottle of Son Colom, Mallorcan red wine, with a curious drawing on the label of a cat with false wings and beak, with its arm around a pigeon. It’s apparently a reference to the local proverb, “Don’t leave a cat in the pigeon house or a goat in the olive grove”!