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My Embarrassingly Horrible Expat Secret Exposed in Palma de Mallorca!

My writing includes my personal travel experiences, destination, history, and cultural information.

Landscape with beach and Palma de Mallorca town, Spain

Landscape with beach and Palma de Mallorca town, Spain

I didn't know I would betray myself when I disembarked the ship in Palma de Mallorca! And to make my self-betrayal worse, it was in front of my traveling companion! Before I tell you what happened, let's talk a bit about Palma de Mallorca. It wasn't the destination that drove me over the edge, it was my own self-denial.

A Bit About Palma de Mallorca

Some Background Info

As far back as 123BC, there is evidence of Roman settlement. After the Western Roman Empire fell, the island came under Byzantine control. This is proven by the discovery of Byzantine mosaics found in the oldest parts of the Cathedral.

Around 902 and for some 300 years, the region was under Islamic control. The coming centuries saw battle after battle, conquest after conquest. The island historically was a place of several bloody showdowns as one group after another fought for control of the geographically strategic location.

It wasn't until the 19th century, that the situation for the island improved. The occupation of Catalonia and Valencia was the catalyst for Mallorca's improved circumstances. The Catalonians and Valencians fled their respective regions looking for safety and peaceful life. Many of those fleeing residents ended up in Mallorca. Since this time, the island has become a lovely, peaceful place. Safety aided in the improvement of maritime trade. This in turn led to the flourishing of the island's economy. And that in turn led to the happiness of the inhabitants.

Palma de Mallorca Today

In the mid-1950s, Tourism began to play a huge role in the growth and economic standing of Mallorca. Today, tourism is the island's main source of revenue. About 80% of the population works in tourism or some hospitality venue.

The second largest revenue source of Mallorca is agriculture. The Mediterranean climate is conducive to the crops of almonds, oranges, lemons, and olives.

In addition to the above sources, there is also a small amount of revenue derived from the mining of copper, lead, and marble.

Tourism

With over 25,000,000 tourists hitting the island every year, it can get very crowded. That figure does not include those coming in on cruise ships. Those coming in on cruise ships add about 2.5 million additional yearly visitors. Trust me on this, the island is well prepared for its visitors. Everyone from shopkeepers and cafe attendants to taxi drivers are friendly and welcoming. I have been to some destinations where the locals seemed to detest the influx of visitors. This is definitely not the case in Mallorca.

Things to See and Do in Palme de Mallorca

Mallorca has a different feel to it than other popular tourist destinations. I was there in early September and surprisingly it was not crowded. It felt sedate and a bit more refined. While there isn't a plethora of attractions, part of the destination, I believe is a general atmosphere. Once again, to make the most of my time in Palma de Mallorca, I took advantage of the Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus.

Plaça d'Espanya

Plaça d'Espanya is on the northeast edge of the city center. If arriving by cruise ship, it is a bit of a walk.

This destination is a transport station for buses and trains. Why would a visitor want to spend time in a transport depot? Because it's cool and not just the normal transport hub!

Behind the depot is the city park, Parque de las Estaciones, which is where you want to visit. There is a beautifully landscaped lawn, a children's play park with old trains for the kids to play in, and a paved walkway. Each train in the play area is named after a city on the route of Ferrocarril de Sóller. The Plaza España square which is across the road from the station has become a very popular meeting point. In this area, you will also find cool restaurants and cafes. The sculpture of King Jaume I, a prominent conquistador in Spanish history. (James I of Aragon)



Plaça d'Espanya

Plaça d'Espanya

Palma Cathedral

Churches in Europe seem to always be on my itinerary. This one was not disappointing. Palma Cathedral took almost 400 years to build start to finish! Building began by instruction of King James I of Aragon in 1229. Completion was in 1601. Larger even than Notre Dame in Paris, it is the largest cathedral in all of Europe. The cathedral was built in the Catalan Gothic style but has northern European influences in its style and construction.

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In the mid-1800s, restoration began. The progress was slow. So, in 1901, Antoni Gaudi was asked to take over the project. Many of his ideas were incorporated into the restoration. Included in his thoughts, was to move the choir pit closer to the nave. this change was implemented. But, after 13 years, in 1914, an argument ensued between Gaudi and the contractor. Gaudi returned to Barcelona. And shortly thereafter, the restoration project was canceled.

Old Town

Walking through Old Town, you definitely get a sense of the time when Mallorca was under Islamic control due to the architecture. The streets are narrow and windy. Most are not wide enough for vehicular traffic, making the area mostly pedestrian. Old Town is mainly residential with a few restaurants and markets catering to locals.

The Arab baths, Banys Àrabs, are also located in Old Town. No longer usable, the home in which the baths were located is now a tourist destination and photo op.

My Impressions of Palma de Mallorca

Being on a cruise with Palma de Mallorca one of the ports of call, my time there was limited. Since there wasn't a lot to see in Mallorca and we were really just in the mood to relax, we ditched the Hop-On, Hop-Off bus tour.

And Here's Where my Downward Spiral Started!

Aimlessly walking the streets, we came upon a big square. It gets a bit fuzzy here because I went into frenzy mode! Sunshine, with tons of shopping stalls and boutique stores. Restaurants and cafes abound! This might not sound like relaxation to you but to me, it's like a mecca! But then, the betrayal of self began to take form!

Let me give you a bit of background so you can appreciate the story. At the time I visited Palma de Mallorca, I had been living as an American Expat in Albania for two years. Albania is a great country but let's say the "conveniences of the United States" are not to be found. No big box stores, no fast food, no department stores. I knew that before I moved there, so it was no surprise. Upon relocating to that country, I decided to fully experience life outside the United States and live like the local Albanians. And a side note; whenever or wherever I travel, I never eat at chains, always choosing local favorites. A good choice?

It Happened!

As we approached the square, I noticed a Burger King. Nope, not for me. I had vowed off the pleasures of fast food. Of course, the distraction would come by way of some shopping, having a coffee, and looking at the souvenirs! Right? I watched the people. But, the whole time, my brain was focused on Burger King. I tried to distract myself again by looking at the sea. And, then the hunger. My body was playing tricks on me. A few hours earlier, I had eaten a fabulous breakfast on the ship. There was no way I could be hungry. But yet, the stomach grumbling continued. And then, we walked by the Burger King again. The aroma! God help me, I was caving!

And Then:

I decided I could break my rule once. Just once! For those of you who know me, I'm a small-built person who does everything big. Real Big. I marched into the Burger King with grandiose ideas of moderation. Now there's an oxymoron! The next thing I know I'm ordering. Two Whoppers with extra cheese, extra mayo, and bacon. Then came the fries and onion rings with Burgers King's special onion ring sauce! Then 32 ounces of Coke! Diet Coke, at that! (save the calories, right?) What was happening? I was completely over the edge! My travel companion sat watching, mouth gaped open!

The Scene of the Crime!

The Scene of the Crime!

The Aftermath

First Whopper gone, 2nd Whopper demolished. Fries and onion rings obliterated! The overwhelming sense of days gone by filled me with pleasure. I finished my Coke and then it hit me! I was a traitor to myself. A horrible example of an Expat traveler. The years of a Greek mother's guilt washed over me like a tidal wave! The shame! And not to mention all that fast food is terrible for a person's body, or so they say. Damn, I was a very bad person! I scolded myself and then somehow found enough grace to forgive myself.

The Proverbial Moral of the Story

Sometimes, you just have to give in and not deprive yourself or you go nuts in foreign cities. To travel is to Live, right? Well, I traveled that day and I lived! And so should You!

Until next time friends, remember "To Travel is to Live!"

© 2022 Dee Nicolou Serkin

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