God, don’t you just hate those people who are posting pictures of their holiday? As floods sweep through the UK and heavy rain disrupts our weekend mimosas, people on Instagram are uploading albums of their beach sojourns and cocktail laden escapes. And guess what? I AM ONE OF THEM. [cue evil laughter].
Okay, so that is thoroughly insensitive. The past year and a half has been pretty terrible for everyone involved. But as a double vaxxer, I had the chance to escape the monotony of the four walls of my home (now, my closest friends) and finally have a proper break from work. Yes, I totally switched off from emails, texts, and cut myself off from life at home so I could appreciate every single step on new turf, breath of fresh air and sip of sangria that a holiday can bring. For every second and moment, I was able to relish the joy of travel, and it was truly fantastic. But if you’ve forgotten what travel is like, let me break it down for you.
Flying on a plane
Back in the old days (before Covid), flying a plane was like getting the train to see your in-laws – something you just have to do every once in while and can lead to mild discomfort. However, after two years of counting a walk to Hyde Park as a holiday, even Ryanair can make life on board seem as thrilling as a trip to Alton Towers.
Even the shlep to Stansted airport didn’t bother me. In fact, quite the opposite. I was able to relish in the totally acceptable activity of having a beer at any time of day. Because that’s what us Brits do in airports, isn’t it?
I had filled out every single form (a passenger locator form for Majorca) and completed every test (Randox do green and amber packages, so you don’t have to worry about which test to get, but these do set you back a few bob), but even as I was walking past the steward to board the plane, I felt like a naughty school kid trying to buy alcohol. Was I really allowed to do this? Was I going to be interned for attempting to leave the country?
And then take off. Phew. The dulcet tones of the pilot as he described how far up in the sky we were, how far we had to go… not that I ever understand the metrics for any of that. Even the screaming child at the back and the loud chatter from school kids didn’t put me off. Because I was going on holiday.
Was I really allowed to go on holiday? Was I going to be interned for attempting to leave the country?
The destination: Majorca
So on arrival, me and my boyfriend hired a car ready to pootle around the island. The holiday was booked through Nemo, a luxury tech travel platform that aims to make travel easy and secure (and which is particularly useful during these very confusing times of paperwork). Our first port of call was the small town of Sineu.
We had hired four wheels from Europcar, who had attempted to catch us out with some ‘special deals’. It worked. We were soon bombing around in a dinky convertible Fiat 500 Abarth. I have never been in a convertible… but oh what fun. There is something about all that wind in your hair that brings about childish glee for no apparent reason.
Fortunately for me, my boyfriend’s playlist had decided to give up. So instead of his meticulously curated playlist, we listened to Lizzo and Taylor Swift on repeat as we overtook a steady stream of sweaty lycra-clad cyclists peddling around hair-pin bends.
Discovering the small town of Sineu
Our first resting spot was Ten Mallorca, a boutique hotel in the centre of Sineu, a small market town (and once the old capital) built from sand-coloured stone and terracotta tiles. The hotel is perfect for those looking for a couple of days to unwind; quiet, calm, with a secluded pool and plenty of beer on tap. The owners Jo and John were charming, delivering up hearty platters of fruit and smoked salmon and eggs for breakfast, alongside plentiful advice on things to see and do.
The first thing on the list was market day. On Wednesday mornings, the old town springs to life with stalls, selling everything from disgruntled chickens and buckets of fruit to crocheted white dresses and wooden antiques. What’s more, as you meander through the (extremely) narrow streets, buskers are dotted around on pavements and squares, creating different vibes for each pocket of town they can cover. We enjoyed a refreshing glass of Clara (essentially a shandy but with a cloudy lemonade instead of Sprite), and took in the jazzy beats of a trio of musicians called Whacky Tobacco, and then later a man who managed to create sounds from a didgeridoo that were not dissimilar to the bass you might hear at the Ministry of Sound.
In the evening, the town falls quiet and languid. It felt like stepping back into a post-WWII film, with the baking heat, old men and women sipping beers, and the sounds of a choir drifting from the church in the square. We chose the Santapí pizzeria for dinner, which serves up crispy crusts dripping with melted cheese. Our choice: the Capricciosa with tomatoes, ham, mushrooms, olives, artichokes and capers. We washed it down with a bottle of Pin Up, a local wine decorated with artwork of 1940s pin-up girls, and very quaffable.
The market sells everything from disgruntled chickens to buckets of fruit.
But by this point, I had remembered now what holidays are for: eating.
Next up: Palma
After wandering drunkenly back to the hotel and spending the next morning soaking up more rays by the pool, we decided to take the convertible on a trip to the capital, Palma. The grand cathedral was the first port of call; gazing up at its intricate Gothic spires and arches, the building looks more like a work of art than a place of worship.
But by this point, I had remembered now what holidays are for: eating. So before I got too hangry and overran the hour-long interval I had designated as downtime between meals, we found a table at La Rosa.
Now I don’t know whether what followed was a mixture of the overwhelming excitement of being on holiday, the slight haze of drinking too much alcohol, or the impeccable food standards in Majorca, but for the next five minutes I didn’t speak one word. Instead, I salivated, drooled and groaned over a platter of what can only be described as the most exquisite Iberico ham I have ever had the pleasure of eating. Then followed small plate after small plate of delectable tapas, from tender octopus (and normally I’m not much of a fan) to crispy padron peppers. If there’s anything you ever do in Palma, it should be visiting La Rosa.
Staying the night in a palace
As a treat, we spent the night at the Palacio Can Marques, an old palace that has been transformed into a five-star hotel. Our suite, was the Renaissance, an old ballroom that now was home to statues, a four-poster bed and not just one, but two massive showers, with a chandelier overhead.
Downstairs was a palm courtyard decorated with wrought-iron lions and dainty tables. A place that has an Oscar Wildean air to it and where I could comfortable recline for several hours in a silk robe and slippers.
The place has an Oscar Wildean air to it – I could recline here for hours in a silk robe and slippers.
All good things must come to an end
But then, our return to reality. More forms to fill out (a passenger locator for the UK), and nasal swabs to sneeze over, and we were back on the plane for our return journey. But the bubble still had not burst. Even the ridiculously long passport queue couldn’t dampen my spirits or the sideways rain that greeted us (although it did dampen my summer playsuit somewhat). And now that I was double vaxxed, life was so much easier (even thought I was arriving from an amber country).
They say you can have too much of a good thing, but when you haven’t had any good things, you really do appreciate one when it finally comes your way. Basically, the moral of the story is: go on holiday. You deserve it. And it really is all it’s cracked up to be. Especially the ham.