Mad About Majorca: Getting By Without a Car / by Nicole Paulus

Palma

Last week my best friend of 20 years visited me in Berlin. She was the first person to visit me when I moved here 2 years ago, and now she was coming back! I couldn’t wait to show her how my life had transformed since then.

When she first visited me, we were sleeping on a couch in the room I was subletting, the walls adorned with graffiti. "So Berlin," I thought when I signed my sublease. Flash forward two years later and I am much more settled. I have an actual bed and blank walls, lovely friends, and a much better understanding of my city and the German language. Though I cherish the friends I have made here, there is something so special about friends who have been with me through thick and thicker (I was chubs y’all! Middle school was not kind to me). 

To celebrate the fact that we both were turning thirty this year, we decided to take a short jaunt to the crystal clear waters of Majorca.

When I told my Spanish roommate where we were going, she immediately asked if we were renting a car. “I don’t trust myself ordering chicken nuggets in an Atlanta drive-thru, let alone navigating rocky terrain in a foreign country. So, no. I think we’ll be fine without.”

When we arrived, however, I understood why she had begged the question. Unless you want to sunbathe on a generic beach with a flock of British and German tourists (who are probably only there for a Hen Party) you’re going to need a car. When we began to do research, It surprised me that it wasn’t that easy to find a way to the other parts of the island.

  • Why weren’t there any air-conditioned shuttle buses that transported you around?
  • Why was their bus system so hard to understand?
  • Why did Google Maps not seem to acknowledge that the city had a bus system?

Luckily, I have a very patient friend who stayed up a few hours after I went to bed, researching how to fulfill both of our trip goals; my friend wanted to hike amongst nature, and I wanted to enjoy beautiful seascapes. We both wanted to eat yummy things.

To save you some time, I thought I would briefly explain what we did below. If you are like us and find yourself in Majorca for 2 days (sans car), these tips should help you get the most out of your time there.

Day 1

1. We arrived from Berlin to Palma, Majorca on Air Berlin (operated by NIKI) around 7p. Cost: about 60 euro/per person, one way.

2. We took a taxi from the Palma airport to our Airbnb (we stayed near the Parc de la Mar) Cost: about 20 euro

3. We ate at a restaurant recommend by our Airbnb host. It wasn’t that good, however, so I won’t even bother mentioning the name.

Day 2

1. We saved some money by eating breakfast at our Airbnb. We left the house around 11a. 

2. We each bought tortilla, a salad, and a jamón bocadillo from the shop below us (around 13 Eur total). Our Airbnb host informed us that the water was not potable so we also bought a giant jug of water (1.80 Eur), filled our smaller water bottles, and left the rest in our room. 

3. We flagged down a taxi very close to where we were staying and asked him to take us to St. Elm. He then showed us a card that had a list of how much it costs to go to all the different parts of the island. Cost: 40 eur 

4. About 40 min later we arrived in St. Elm. The water was crystal blue and there were hardly any people around. We found a nice spot overlooking the water and ate our lunch. 

5. We headed to the tourist information shop to use the toilet and asked where to catch the ferry to Sa Dragonera (Dragon Island). 

6. The very kind woman informed us that the last ferry leaves in 10 minutes and that we should hurry if we wanted to catch it. We take off running. 

7. We arrived at the ferry and settled in with the others. We were informed that we pay on the way back (13 Eur per person, round trip). The ferry ride lasted about 15 minutes.

8. When we arrived on dragon island, we immediately used the (rough) toilets, and then examined the trail map. Because the ferry skipper informed us that we only had 2 hours to explore, we decided to take hike number 2 which led to the south lighthouse and could be completed in 1.5 hours. 

9. It was so beautiful that we kept stopping to take pictures. Everywhere we turned was picture worthy. There were also really cute lizards wandering around everywhere. A woman warned us not to eat anything around them or they would swarm you. Duly noted.

10. After the hike we had a few minutes before the ferry arrived, so we hung out on a rock by the water and ate a snack. 

11. We took the ferry back and explored the town a bit more. By then it was around 3 and super warm. The sun felt so good, but please make sure you put on sunscreen before you leave the house! I waited too long to do so and ended up looking like a lobster. Take my word for it, the sun is super intense there! There was a public beach where people were swimming, but neither of us felt like going in.

12. To catch the bus back to Palma from St. Elm, take bus 100 towards Andratx (about 2 Eur/per person) and when you reach Rot. ctra. Port d'Andratx, switch to bus 102 towards Palma (about 4 Eur/per person). Though the bus takes twice as long, it costs half as much. If you don’t mind paying a bit more for the taxis, I did see a few empty ones waiting for tomatoes, um I mean passengers at St. Elm. 

13. When we arrived at our Airbnb, we cleaned up a bit, charged our phones, and then I did some research for restaurants. I found a really well reviewed one, about 15 minutes walking from our apartment that I would DEFINITELY recommend.

Here is what to order at Bar España: skip the Thai chili egg roll thing (it was good, but not awesome). Instead, try the mini jamón burger (damn I wish I had ordered two of these instead). We shared a patatas bravas, though I could have eaten one alone, (not because the portion was small but because it was so good.) Because my body was feverish, I also ordered a cold Majorca-made IPA on draft (and boy was it damn delicious.) Oh, how I love tapas culture. I like tasting a little bit of everything and ordering as much as will fill me up (opposed to ordering a huge meal, taking half home, and then having to heat it up the next day only to discover it doesn’t taste nearly as good.) 

Day 3

1. Our Airbnb host let us leave our bags locked up in a storage room. since our fight was later that evening. We had a hard time finding a place to eat lunch (we had to be out of our apartment at 12p..quite early for Spanish-lunch standards) so we walked around aimlessly until places started to open. Lunch was just ok (so I won’t mention it) but afterwards, we bought ice cream at a vegan ice cream shop called Cream Crew.  Though it's a silly name, it sure didn't taste silly to me. My god, I would go back to Majorca just to taste heaven again. I ordered two scoops, cookies and cream and chai latte (and I am not sorry y’all.) Was a bit pricier than Berlin ice cream (4 Eur for 2 scoops) but honestly, it was so good, I wish I had gotten 3 scoops. 

2. Then we ventured off towards Bellver Castle, although I highly recommend skipping this journey. It’s a hike to get there and then you have to pay 5 Eur to get onto the grounds (we were so hot by that point, and didn’t want to pay to walk around with no shade or air conditioner.) Instead, we enjoyed the views from their open air cafe nearby and rehydrated. Before we had to start making our way to the airport, we wandered around the city of Palma, popping into a store when something caught our eye. We decided to take a taxi back to the airport (another 20 Eur), although you can also take the bus for arbout 5 Eur/per person. We then flew back to Berlin on Easy Jet, a different airline (buying one-way tickets gives you more options for times and prices). Cost: 43 Eur/per person

Hope this information helps anyone planning a trip to Majorca! Remember, taxis are your friend!