Palma. The air, warm, like a wonderful welcoming embrace. 10 degrees in London direct to 18 degrees in Majorca really make you feel alive.
I quickly leave my bags at the hotel, just wanting to see the city, make it mine, settling on the Tourist Office as a first goal. Don’t trust your smartphone: it may tell you it’s only a 12 minutes’ walk away, it will take you at least 40… Palma will distract and seduce you at every step – courtyards filled with ferns, spiralling stairs, churches lit by hundreds of candles (each place has its own little shop selling them, as well as rosaries), art galleries. You will get drunk on Palma and the impeccable straight lines advised by Google Maps will become sweet zigzags all over the place. There is little traffic in the centre, a sense of freedom.
A walk along La Rambla, line with trees that meet and seem to kiss right above you. Tiny cafés and flower shops, the afternoon breeze bringing the honeyish fragrance of dahlias, gladiolas and lilies your way. Wooden window shutters, an invite to nap, colours cooked then faded by the sun, an Andalousian atmosphere. There ar architectural gems too like the modernist structure of the Grand Hotel, or the curved shapes of the Edifici Casasayas, which walls seem to unroll like a wave.
Indulging here and there. Falling for a robiol (a pastry folded in a moon shape) filled with melon jam. Soaking in the sun on the terrace of the Almudaina Palace. Admiring the Moorish arches, the palm trees, the cacti in bloom. Realising already, although it’s the first day and I am here for 19, that it will be hard to leave. Feeling so small looking at the cathedral by the seaside. Gaudi’s floating pulpit, Miquel Barceló’s extraordinary chapel with walls coming to life, the shapes (fish, leaves…) trying to escape from their world into ours. Wandering endlessly through the narroe streets nearby, the bow windows on each side so close you could play card, pour your neighbour a coffee.
Walking along the Parc de la Mar to see Miro’s mural. There is a Calder sculpture a little further too, in a garden with fountains and orange trees filled with fruit. Other cities come to mind – Turin, Porto, Sevilla, Cuba – as if they each had shared a little with Palma. As dusk settles, locals settle on the many café terraces for rounds of sangria or G&Ts, served in round glasses here. Listening to Spanish conversations, although mine is rather basic, amused at hearing mañana repeated so many times. Mañana. There’s always tomorrow…