I was especially interested in visiting Majorca which is part of the Balearic Islands. Next to the Majorca is Minorca. Majorca is a larger island than Minorca.
In Florida’s history was a settlement of Minorcans, who moved here when Florida was under British rule before the American Revolution. Not many people know it but there was a 14th and a 15th colony back then—East Florida and West Florida. No one cared about South Florida as they believed it to be uninhabitable.
Anyway, during the American Revolution, East and West Florida did not join the other 13 colonies but remained with Britain. They were loyalists.
When Britain lost the revolution, though, they gave the two colonies back to Spain; and the Minorcans had been in East Florida since moving there in 1760. They called their settlement New Smyrna.
Their descendants are 10 to 12th generation Floridians and predate my family’s settlement in Florida by over 60 years. I’ve always been interested in where they came from.
Because we try to have at least two days during the cruise for time on our own and to rest, as most excursions are off the ship by 8 am, we chose Palma de Majorca as a city to see on our own instead of going on an excursion. There was not enough time to do an excursion to Minorca.
Palma is a major city and port on the island of Majorca. Important to Spain, the Royals spent their summer holidays here. Piracy was its major economy during its early history, but today tourism is its economy.
So we slept late, had a late breakfast, and was on our way to the city by 10 AM. This is a short visit because we have to be back on the bus by 1 PM in order to disembark Palma by 1:30 PM
We caught a shuttle bus right outside our ship, and it drove us all the way to the city center which is a good 20-minute bus ride. They handed us a map, but this is a map that was put together by one of the Majorca pearl companies. This is where Majorca pearls are made. They are not sea pearls, by the way.
We have had bad luck with these types of maps. Again, we learned that you need a good map before going to the cities that you plan to do on your own—a map that is easier to get before leaving the US. You don’t really need one if you do an excursion.
The first streets we tried to find near where we got off the bus were not on the map. The shuttle dropped us off near the Plaza Espanya which is the transportation hub of Palma.
From the plaza, we walked down the de la Porta Pintada and turned left on Sant Miguel near an old church. Parroquia de Sant Miquel is the oldest church in Palma, dating to 1229 AD.
There was a marathon taking place in the city, and we had to be careful to stay out of the way of the runners. We planned to do a hop on hop off bus tour of the city, but they were not running because of the marathon. The streets were absolutely full of runners and people watching the runners. It would’ve been very hard for a tour bus to operate within the city today.
Sant Miguel was a great street to shop, and we bought a few more souvenirs for the grandchildren.
It was also a great street for photos.
Once we reached the Plaza Major we took Colom which is a continuation of Sant Miguel.
Then we made a left on Convent de Sant Francesc. We stopped at the Church of Eulalia.
Inside we were able to take pictures, and it was absolutely stunning. This is the church were James the Second was crowned king of Majorca.
On the exterior are gargoyles representing the bestiary of the Middle Ages. The church has an elegant facade with a tall narrow spire. It is dedicated to Eulalia a thirteen-year-old girl tortured and decapitated by the Romans. It was built in the 13th century.
We did miss another important church in the city. It is a Gothic style cathedral which was begun by Jaime the First in the 13th century. Called Le Seu, It has high arches with elegant columns and three knaves. In the royal chapel, there are the graves of Jaime II and Jaime III of Majorca.
The cathedral was built on a previous mosque. Began in 1229 it was not finished until 1601. Also we found out that Gaudi redesigned parts of the interior in the early 20th century, and we would’ve liked to of seen that. Gaudí seems to always be out of our reach here.
We did see La Seu from across the water and took pictures. It is a beautiful structure. We would have been unable to see it today anyway because this is Sunday and it is closed to tourist.
Another thing we would have liked to have done was to walk along the promenade in front of the church. We had heard this was a very nice place to walk, but it was too far away from our bus pickup.
Behind the cathedral is the old city, a maze of streets clearly hinting towards an Arab past. The walkways of the city quarter are fairly narrow, quiet streets. Walking here was how we stumbled upon the Church of Eulalia.
Finally, we were almost out of time so we backtracked to the Plaza Espanya to catch our bus which was leaving at 1 PM. It took us much less time, though, so before we boarded the bus we stopped for some sangria and tapas.
We made our way back to the ship, boarded, and sailed out by 2 PM. We are on our way to Marseille, France; but since Palma is on the south end of the island, we got some fantastic views of the northern more mountainous parts of the island. On the north side are cliffs. Awesome!
Finally, just after turning more northeasterly I got to see Minorca in the distance.