Palma Diary, March 2016 – An Englishman abroad
After much unnecessary stress about the vagaries of public transport, I arrive in the departure lounge at 9am, a full two hours before take-off. So I chill out with a pint of Old Speckled Hen. No need to feel guilty though; most blokes are drinking pints of Guinness or lager. A number of middle-aged ladies are flirting with me, which is quite disconcerting. Were they young ladies, it would be fine – ageist and sexist in one!
The flight is uneventful; a hen party quite entertaining. I am good and save my money, but a nice Geordie couple next to me spend £40 on drinks. On ordering the last round, the stewardess says, “We’re landing in twenty minutes. Are you sure you’ll have time to drink it?” Geordies? Come on!
As I travel into Palma on the airport bus, I get that unmistakeable feeling. It’s not pleasure, anticipation or nostalgia, but something unique. Last time I was in Spain was Asturias and that was great, but there is something special about Sa Roqueta (“The little rock” in Mallorquin). Isla de la Calma – me encanta.
I find Hostal* Pons without much difficulty, though it turns out I have gone the long way round. Never mind, it’s a nice sunny day and plenty to see. A lovely old place, with a friendly greeting from the owners. The room is basic, but clean with a comfortable bed.
Just around the corner, I chance upon Gaudeix, a nice little restaurant with a small, sunny terrace. A friendly waiter informs me that as it is 5pm, a limited menu is available and brings me some excellent local wine, Dos Marias. I try the broken eggs with Ibérico ham – splendid. I chat with a Swedish couple who recommend the foie gras – best they’d ever eaten. It is sublime. I determine to return.
I mooch around for a while and call in Tast for a couple of tapas and a beer. This place has been around for a while and might be looking a bit jaded, but the food is as good as ever. Oxtail with puréed potato & truffle and pig’s trotter with egg.
Return to the hostal for a siesta – it turns out to be very conveniently situated. For dinner, I wander around La Lotja checking out menus. I am finally coerced by the maítre d’ into La Paloma and what a good choice. Slow roast shoulder of Mallorcan lamb with rosemary and fennel and puréed potatoes. Best lamb I’ve ever eaten. A waiter speaks to me in German, so out of politeness I reply in kind. We look at each other and realise it isn’t going anywhere. The maítre d’ shows me around the restaurant – a beautiful old building on three floors and full of character.
The hostal is all in darkness and it takes me several attempts to find my room. It’s a warren of artistically-decorated old rooms. A bit noisy during the night, but these places often are. Coughing from neighbours is not unusual, but the gurgling from the wash basin as somebody else lets out water is a bit of a surprise.
Hmmm. Turns out I’ve forgotten my shaver – just have to hope designer stubble is trendy in the Balearics at the moment.
*The hostal is a peculiarly Hispanic beast. They are generally smaller than a hotel and without all the facilities, so usually cheaper. They are frequently found on first floors, but are good quality accommodation and should not be confused with hostels.