Another year, another shot at going abroad. And we made it this time. Hurrah! With no chance of chicken pox breaking out this time we booked up a week in Majorca (or Mallorca to the locals). We went in May, which meant the price was much cheaper but also that the weather was slightly more dodgy. It turned out not too bad - we had one day of rain and a drizzly morning but the rest of the time it was sunny and hot enough to enjoy the sun.
We went to the north of the island, to the resort of Puerto Pollensa. It was much quieter here than the resorts around Palma in the south, and a lovely place to take a stroll along the front. The only negative about our location was that most of the attractions were at the other end of the island. But we spent most of our time at our base anyway.
Our hotel was the Puerto Azul, a hotel wholly run by Thomson. We picked it because it had a kids club, but it was a lovely hotel anyway. Kept very clean, it has a good pool, surrounded on three sides by the hotel apartments. We were half board, so had our breakfasts and dinners in the hotel dining room, where meals were laid out in a buffet. The choice was pretty good and different every day, but drinks are extra for dinner.
Puerto Pollensa is set in front of some nice hills, which rose just behind our hotel. There are some walks you can take in the hills but we didn't manage to get out on any of them.
The kids facilities were very good at the hotel. The pool has two kids areas as well as the deeper part for adults. There is a sand play area with slides and so on, which was Cate's favourite place to play. There was a kids club on every morning and a drop-in room for most afternoons, which were especially useful on the rainy day.
As well as the club, there were lots of other activities on for the kids, including a kids disco every night at 8. The kids could get up on the stage and tell jokes or sing a song. Cate managed to get in a rendition of the Star Wars theme tune for her turn.
The reps were really good with the kids, so thanks to Super Sam, Tip Top Tash and the rest.
We really liked the sea-front area of Peurto Pollensa. The beach stretches along the length of the resort, backed by a lovely pedestrianised walk known as the pine walk. It features palm and pine trees, leaning out towards the sea. Behind the pine walk are hotels and restaurants and the roads are behind them so it's quite a safe environment. We were at the western end of the town, but it was only a few minutes walk along the promenade to get to the town centre, with its marina, town square and main bus stop.
We had a few trips to the beach, which wasn't busy at all. Cate loved running in and out of the water, though apologies are in order to the few strangers she soaked with buckets of water for a bit of fun. A fear of the slimy seaweed was quickly overcome and much of it was brought ashore to decorate the sand castles.
The sea was a bit warmer than the hotel pool so great for a swim and splash about. We often spotted little schools of fish swimming about, but didn't see any of the jellyfish I'd read were prevalent in the Med this year.
On our first visit to the beach we spotted our favourite shop in the area: The Monkey Shop. This shop sells a fine array of tourist-type stuff, including wooden puzzles, string animals and musical instruments. We visited often. One other shop we liked, which we only discovered on our last day unfortunately, was the Agate shop. This had loads of stones and minerals and we gained an addition to Cate's stone collection from there.
On the Sunday we took a trip to the nearby town of Pollensa. It's a short journey and well worth it. This town has managed to keep its traditional look while still catering for the tourists, and the old houses and narrow streets are lovely. Sunday is market day in Pollensa, so it was busy and there was plenty to discover.
Firstly, we found the play park. This is just next to the bus stop, so very handy to keep the kids occupied while you wait for the bus. Once we dragged Cate away from the park we wandered into the town and found a little square. Here was the biggest bouncy castle I've ever seen, and it was free to go on.
This part also had a flea market, which we didn't go into, and a nice restful area with a fountain. After a bit of a wander round here we followed the crowd to the market. All the usual stuff was on offer from clothes to jewelry, leather goods, toys and trinkets, as well as lots of fruit and veg.
The main tourist attraction in Pollensa is the set of steps leading up to a small church, called the Calvary Steps. Each year on Good Friday, the image of Christ is carried down these steps in a special procession. There are 365 steps up to the church and we climbed up every last one. Well, Cate climbed the first 50 and then wanted on my shoulders, but Claire and I did them all.
The church at the top is small, but nice inside, with biblical scenes on the walls. There's a viewing area just along from the church where you can see over the town to the hills surrounding it.
Back down the stairs again and it was time to stop for a sandwich at the cafe near the bottom. We enjoyed Pollensa and it's certainly worth a visit to get a taste of the more authentic Majorcan life.
The other trip we took during our week was on Tuesday. We planned to go to Marineland, which is on the south coast, so a fair journey from where we were. There are excursions organised by Thomson and by local companies but these looked expensive, so we thought we'd try getting there ourselves. This turned out to be fairly easy, but time consuming. The bus to Palma took about an hour, which was OK, but the shortish journey from there to Marineland took ages (nearly an hour) as the bus picked its way through the Palma traffic and stopped frequently to let people on and off. So you pay your money and take your choice I suppose.
Once we were in (21 euros each, but Cate got in free) there was plenty to see. There were a number of outdoor exhibits, including a tank with various ray fish and other flatties, a little pond of carp which some kids were feeding bread to, some penguins, some sealions and some seals.
Best of the viewing came in the aquarium, though. They have a large tank with a good variety of fish, including some black-tipped sharks and bamboo sharks, plus some lovely lion fish. There was a tropical indoors area with iguana, catfish, frogs, marmosets and the like and there was also an undeground viewing area to watch the dolphins in the main pool from below the surface.
Marineland isn't just about fish though. As well as the aforementioned tropical room, the place features a parrot show every few hours and an aviary with some exotic birds. The main feature, though, is the sealion and dolphin show. We'd missed the 11.30 show, so had to wait until 3, but it was worth the wait.
First were the sealions. They did the usual tricks, balancing balls, catching hoops, jumping through rings and the like. The music and commentary were a bit cheesy but the animals did their stuff well.
The dolphins had their turn next. This was great, with lots of impressive jumps, walking on their tails and towing a little girl in a boat. The folk in the front few rows got a bit of a soaking but they were well warned.
We had lunch at Marineland as well. Quite expensive, but everything was expensive as we picked a time when the euro was strong, so translating prices into pounds was always a bit scary. The other bit I haven't mentioned is the kids play area. this is a paddling pool with a few small slides and a big slide in the shape of a pirate ship.
After the shows we headed back. The bus trip back to Palma was a lot quicker this time, and there's a good play area next to the bus station in Palma, which passed the time until the Peurto Pollensa bus was ready to go. We made it back ready for our dinner and an early night. A special thanks to the nice lady who spotted that I'd left my glasses on the bus and followed us half way across town to give them back.
On our last day in Majorca it was market day in Peurto Pollensa (Wednesday). We put Cate in the kids club and took a wander round the stalls set out around the town square. Much the same stuff as we saw in Pollensa, but with more emphasis on clothing this time. After lunch at the baguette shop near our hotel we had a final visit to the beach, built a big sandcastle and got everything ready for leaving the next day.
The flight home was delayed a little but fairly uneventful apart from the trials of putting up with a 3 year old wriggling and complaining for the whole journey. Only a brief period of listening to John Williams' movie scores (Cate, not us) gave us any respite. Back in Glasgow Airport we had the biggest disaster of the trip, though. Cate's dog got left behind in the baggage carousel area. A return visit to the airport and several calls to lost property later, there's still no sign of him. Farewell dog, I hope another child found you and is looking after you.
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