Palma Diary, June/July 2018 – An Englishman abroad
Day 8 – Monday
We pick up the hire car, a Seat Ibiza, and after popping in to Mercadonna for a few things including a bottle of Trinxet red wine (named after the Mallorcan curved bread knife) for later on, we drive to Sant Elm. It’s a twisting mountain road and occasionally one of the wheels leaves the carriageway, but as long as it’s one at a time it’s fine, honest Kaleb.
After some window-shopping and a coffee, we board the ferry, “Marguerita” for the short crossing to the island of Dragonera.
It is probably so-called as it looks somewhat like a sleeping dragon. It is six kilometres long and uninhabited, although there was pressure to build a tourist development in the 1970s, but it is now a protected Natural Park. The indigenous lizards, which are relatives of the European Wall Lizard, are everywhere. We take a walk to one of the lighthouses and the views are dramatic. It’s a steady trek and not very difficult terrain, but we get back just in time to board the boat for the return journey.
We elect not to eat in Sant Elm, but as we have the car for the day, decide to drive to Santa Ponsa for dinner. After a few wrong turns, we eventually find a parking place and have a fair walk along the beach to where we know there are a few restaurants. We opt for El Balcón de Maria and sit on a terrace with stunning views of the sea and the subsequent sunset. From a very large and interesting menu, I choose micuit foie gras with fig jam on pan cristal, filo pastry roll filled with duck, leeks, and shitake mushroom, and frito with milk-fed lamb. Because I’m driving, I have a non-alcoholic Mahou, which is actually pretty good.
Charlotte and Kaleb share a paella, which looks great, but they are disappointed because it’s of a particular genre which is quite dry, not having the abundance of tomato of a traditional Valencian paella. It is also a bit heavy on the seafood, which is not to Charlotte’s liking. I try some and it’s ok, but the rice is perhaps ever so slightly undercooked.
Although I enjoyed the food, when we leave the restaurant I feel a bit flat, not the usual sensation of satisfaction, then as we are walking back to the car, I suddenly realise why – no wine! One can’t really use the old adage that it was like a day without sun, because there undoubtedly has been – 35° on Dragonera – but it’s a shame as they had some local wines by the glass.
When we get back, we have to drive around for ages looking for somewhere to park the hire car and then put the keys through the letterbox. I quite liked the Seat Ibiza and preferred it to the Clio we had in Portugal in terms of comfort and vision, but the gearbox was a nightmare. I don’t know if it’s a thing with Seats or if, being a hire car, it had been abused previously. Perhaps if we’d had it longer, I might have got used to it.