Palma Diary, June/July 2018 – An Englishman abroad
Day 5 – Friday
One of the things on the list for Kaleb is the old wooden train from Palma to Sóller. We buy the tickets in Palma and have a little time until the departure of the train, so we wander down Carrer Sant Miguel and stop at Forn del Santo Cristo for some ensaimadas.
The Ferrocarril de Sóller must be one of Majorca’s major tourist attractions. The train trundles through the outskirts of Palma and then through the most glorious countryside into Sóller, stopping at a spot in the mountains, overlooking the town, for a panoramic photo-shoot.
On reaching the town, we wander up and down Carrer de la Luna, “Moon Street” with its eclectic collection of shops, before having a cold beer at Café Sóller in the centre. Then we take the tram down to the Port, which Charlotte and I remember as a quaint little place with its pretty horseshoe-shaped bay and arts & crafts shops interspersed with tempting restaurants. When we get there, it is heaving. I mean, you can hardly move. Whether we’ve been slightly out of season before (I know that once there was a torrential downpour) or whether this is an example of the “tourist massification” which is the flavour of the moment with the media, I don’t know, but we don’t stay long before taking a taxi (cheaper than the tram) back to the town.
We wait a little while for the train back to Palma, which is absolutely packed, though we still manage a little doze along the way. On our return, we remark on how busy it seems and then it dawns on us – it’s Friday evening. In the resorts, one day is pretty much the same as another, but in the city, it’s a different story. Consequently, when we reach Más Bosch, they don’t have a table until 8.30, which is a bit late for Elizabeth.
Of course, there is no shortage of good places to eat in central Palma, but the problem is finding something for everyone. I decide to have a look around La Lonja and we eventually concurr that Chez Camille appears to fit the bill.
It starts off ok. The décor is nice and we have a table by a window. Then the food is dumped on us. The Broken Eggs is acceptable; the potatoes nicely smoky as promised, though the eggs are slightly overcooked and the chorizo under, as if it has been thrown in as an afterthought. Then the dish which drew me in – Chez Camille’s King Prawns flambéed in Cava with Spinach and Garlic. What I get is a bowl of large, but mediocre-quality prawns in a nondescript orange liquid with slices of apparently boiled garlic in the bottom. It takes a rare skill to render garlic tasteless. When I mention the complete lack of spinach to the surly waiter, I receive nothing in return but a grunt.
You know, I am genuinely not a food snob and if simple home-made food is presented to me with a smile, I am happy as Larry (whoever he is*), but if the menu promises something wonderful and I have rubbish thrown at me, I feel insulted. Moreover, I now feel embarrassed when I have been showing the family around my favourite haunts and we end up in what appears to be a tourist trap. How this can be the sister restaurant to La Paloma, where I have had excellent food (possibly the best lamb I’ve ever eaten) and impeccable service, is beyond belief.
So, a quick look at the cathedral from Parc de la Mar and then a leisurely stroll back to Placa España and the bus. Now, the buses are cheap and frequent and one doesn’t expect executive travel, but this journey is something else and it’s only around 10pm. Whether it’s the bus from Hell or the bus to Hell, I’m not certain, but a large proportion of its passengers seem to be exhibiting demonic possession.
It is thus with some degree of relief that we alight outside the hotel.
*Isn’t Google great? Larry was the Australian boxer Larry Foley, who never lost a fight and retired a wealthy man, prompting a New Zealand newspaper to run the headline, “Happy as Larry”.