I had what might be described as a late-winter break in Mallorca, a place my grandparents had visited on a few occasions in the 1970s and somewhere I was curious to see. A friend expressed surprise at my visiting the island as he did not see me as one for a beach holiday. He is correct but, as I had found out, Majorca has much of interest inland and, no, I did not go for or on the beach. The same friend suggested that it was like a rite of passage to go to an overseas beach resort to make a lot of noise. But me? Am I worse than I think? Or, more pertinently, than he thinks? Fear not, I behaved myself.

I picked going on 26 March, the day that the clocks changed which might have not been the wisest idea but the flights were good value. It meant ensuring that I took special care in making sure that nothing went wrong time-wise. It didn't. It also meant keeping my fingers crossed that the trains ran more or less punctually as I had to travel on the first train of the day. It was a tad late and the Bristol Airport Flyer bus was also late but, in general, all turned out well and the delay meant arriving at Bristol Airport with less of a wait for the plane.

The plane was slightly delayed but everything went smoothly. It was nice travelling at decent hours and even nicer arriving into a blue and cloudless Palma de Mallorca in the late afternoon. I had booked into the Hostal Atlanta in S'Arenal which had my mother accusing me once again of parsimony in not staying in a hotel. The place, though, looked nice and indeed was. It is conveniently situated yet just far enough away from the centre to be quite quiet, the usual scourge of a few noisy cars excepted. Olly, the chap in charge, was most helpful and informative and my twin-bedded room was a very good size with private bathroom and even a balcony which was an added bonus. It was a good choice. The A2 Airport bus drops and collects passenger close by.

I keep neglecting that I am travelling to Spain more and more and really should get a better grip on their language, something I intend correcting by the time Mum and I visit Barcelona later this year.

Bus tickets can be bought for many routes around the island through the TIB website. It seems a trifle ridiculous to buy simple bus tickets in advance but tickets bought on the bus are up to 40% more expensive so it does make financial sense. I believe that one can buy a card which is tapped in and out and which benefits from the lowest fares too but, anyway, I thought it easier to buy and print out the tickets. When the ticket appeared with a bar code taking up 80% of an A4 piece of paper, I suspected that it might not be that simple trying to scan the ticket on entrance to the bus. It wasn't, and one driver wanted me off the bus as I didn't have a mobile telephone with the ticket on. Seeing the vast swathes of people transfixed to their telephones, I was rather pleased not to have one frankly and be able to see a little more around me. Anyway, the said driver let me on, much against his better nature, it seemed.

Having sorted myself successfully with the clocks the day before I flew, I did less well the first morning in Mallorca having overslept. Well, put more bluntly, I do have a mobile telephone but it does very little except allow me to make calls and has most basic features. It might well be described as prehistoric but serves me adequately. I had forgotten to set the time to Spanish time hence the reason for my oversleeping. Mea culpa. Mi culpa.
Having booked the TIB bus tickets, I did recover the situation for starting my prebooked trip to Pollenca and Alcudia but with little help from the TIB website. I can only suggest that the times on the website were quite different to those which operated and which were on the bus stops. Hey ho, it was fine and I was lucky enough to arrive in Palma's underground station, Estacio Intermodal, and immediately transfer to the Pollenca bus. It just meant seeing Palma later in the day rather than the morning as I had planned.

Pollenca and Alcudia are both in the north of the island but did not take that long to reach. My stays in each were not whistle-stop but just long enough to enjoy both towns. The square in Pollenca was impressive and the Parroquia de Nuestra Senora de los Angeles large, ornate and impressive inside. There was also a large flight of steps close to the church. I should add that the weather was gorgeous on both days.

Having been through the ports of Pollenca and Alcudia, I stopped in the historic centre of Alcudia. It too is very pretty with, like Alcudia, attractive back streets and its prominent church, Sant Jaume d'Alcudia. I am a fan of the palm trees, and many adorn the towns towns and villages of Mallorca.

Back in Palma, I inevitably struggled to find the celebrated cathedral located close to the harbour. You might think that it shouldn't be that difficult to find but the walk would, without interruption, takes between ten and twelve minutes but involved a maze of streets and, unhelpfully, there were not many signs. Those who kindly read these jottings will be unsurprised to learn that I, if not quite lost on this occasion, did not reach my destination quite as smoothly or quickly as the guidelines suggested. After working out where I was, I did at least set off in the correct general direction.

The cathedral certainly is impressive, especially from the harbour but I was surprised at its proximity to the Royal Palace which made the cathedral's entrance area slightly more cramped than I had expected. Opening hours seem to be slightly limited so my visit, even if it had been in the morning, would have likely been too early to go inside. It was the same in the afternoon: I was too late.

I found a restaurant close to the Hostal Atlanta where I ate well on the first two nights. Sadly, it was cerrado (closed) on my last evening there which left me looking for another similarly quiet place along S'Arenal's back streets. There are many restaurants and souvenir shops - places which attract me like the proverbial magnet - in S'Arenal and the sunset seems to be popular from the promenade. The prices seem very reasonable for eating and staying in S'Arenal: I do not know enough about other areas but if these lower prices suggested that there may be better places to stay, I can only say that I found S'Arenal enjoyable, convenient and quite pretty.

Hostal Atlanta, S'Arenal, Mallorca
S'Arenal promenade


Inside  a Pollenca church

Part of Alcudia's historic centre

Palma's impressive cathedral


Valldemossa, showing part of the monastery where Frederic Chopin composed

Soller and church

S'Arenal sunset

The second day was spent visiting Valldemossa and Soller, slightly west of Pollenca and Alcudia. Having belatedly altered the time on the mobile telephone, I was up and about as planned. It appeared that Valldemossa is a popular tourist attraction as evidenced by the number of tourist coaches flooding past the less-inhabited TIB bus stop in S'Arenal. After the dutiful stop in Palma, Valldemossa was around half-an-hour from the capital. It is set in the hills and, for me, has the feel of an Italian hill town with quirky back streets, what looked like expensive souvenir shops (meaning that I kept outside and window-shopped) but maybe its main attraction is its monastery where Frederic Chopin had a room and composed some of his music.

It was pleasant walking around the town but I ended up having slightly too long there as the TIB bus I hoped to catch was full and they would not have anyone standing. Had one more person disembarked at Valldemossa, I would have been on so it meant a further hour's wait before boarding a less full bus to Soller via the attractive Deia. It was sound wisdom not to allow people standing as the road to Soller was very narrow and winding. It was enough for me, even having had my lunch, to, well, feel glad at reaching Soller even though I had little time there.

I had enough time to see the very distinctive church in the centre, surrounded by shops, restaurants and cafes where people can enjoy a delightful view over whatever they chose to eat and drink. Sadly, the church had just closed, its opening hours for tours not being very long.

Whoops, mea culpa again. Foolishly, I boarded the wrong bus and ended up at Puerto de Soller, five minutes from the centre. The driver had not been interested in my ticket when I boarded and, having discovered too late that there were two buses at the same time one going to Palma and the other to the port, I ended up on the wrong one. Should have looked at the destination more carefully... It cost time and money (if only 3 euros) as the same driver took us back to Palma and somewhat assiduously took far greater interest in my ticket this second time and charged me the difference.

Back in S'Arenal, it was time for souvenir shopping which consisted of a bottle of Sangria and three drying-up towels for my mother. I have dutifully given her a helping hand with the Sangria but the only one of us who has so far used the towels is,yes, me.

I had a 10 a.m. flight back to Bristol the following morning which was slightly delayed. It came as a bit of a shock to see terra firma only seconds before we landed due to fog, and it hasn't stopped raining since I returned. Yes, it did make me appreciate the fine weather in Mallorca.